Box Hill via Staples and Crocknorth

75km, 650m.

With Chris and Jim out early for a ‘serious ride’, two sleep-ins, a missing frog, a missing frogman and a love-struck retiree, a depleted bunch thought they’d stay traditional and do a modest run to Box via Plough Lane, up Staples and Crocknorth.

Cloudy, warm weather meant for comfy riding, though Karen’s description of the weather as tropical may have been a stretch. In any case, jerseys were out.

A solid pace was set by Robin for the first few miles into Esher, eliciting one or two grumbles from the back of the bunch that the warm up was being compromised. Rolling hill roads soon settled things down.

Early on we had an encounter with some odd looking cyclists racing past us in Esher, going in the direction usually used for short, easy ‘bun runs’. Looking somewhat like excitable versions of Jim and Chris, they made a lot of noise and gestures, but none of us has a clue what they were on about.

Onward we went the long false flat of Hungry Hill Lane sapped the legs a little, but we were in no rush, and kept a civilized pace. It should be noted that this KRM pace was still too hot for a number of other groups on the road.

KRMCC cyclists pose for a photo on Box Hill

Good laughs and average coffee on Box Hill

Staples Lane was the first climbing test. Nothing too silly — though Andy went up the road in a rush of blood and was shortly thereafter heard making a popping sound near the summit.

Loads of car traffic on the road today. Some of it a little silly.

We collected our thoughts at the top of Combe Lane with a group hug and a promise of downhills, coffee and cake.

Lack of oxygen affected some of the bunch badly. Frankly, I was concerned. Lil’ nick was seeing Lamas at one stage! The long decent toward Green Dene soon brought a recovery — thank goodness.

Joe took off at a terrific pace up Crocknorth while the bunch moaned and groaned, and tried to apportion blame for this routing decision — While all the while, quietly loving the challenge.

The climb quickly dispatched, we headed off toward Westhumble and Box Hill. If Lil’ Nick was still seeing Lamas he was keeping quiet. There was the usual mad dash along Ranmore Common, the result of which I’m not privy to, but which involved The two Nicks and Mick.

KRM dispatched some Dynamos on the way up Box before a well earned coffee and banter at the top.

The ride back via Epsom was fairly orderly, but for a couple of silly sprinty moments coming into Epsom and leaving Epsom (going the Horton Lane route).

All-n-all a nice ride with good banter over coffee and cake.

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Windsor the roundabout way…

Sunday 25 June. 

70km, 242 m climbing, 25.1 avg speed.

Karen writes:

The night preceding the Sunday ride had been spent enjoying the warm hospitality of Robin and Stine. It was a lovely evening, with a delicious and “on trend” (Tony’s term) dinner and good conversation. 

There was big talk that night about the Sunday cycle. Jim and Andy were committed to the LCC ride, but Joe wanted to navigate a separate KRMCC Leith Hill route and many were signed up to the idea. 

How does that proverb about ‘good intentions’ go…? Sunday morning was heralded by a flurry of Whatsapp messages. Chris had to spend Sunday packing, Joe had to walk the dog, Stefan was ‘running late’, and Tony was not feeling it. But five of us turned up at HSBC at 8:40: me, Franck, Mick, Mike and Nick B. There was little enthusiasm for a challenging ride, and the only one present who could actually lead a ride was Mick, who settled on the Windsor route. 

Or I should say A Windsor route rather than THE Windsor route, because we managed to go there and back without entering Windsor Great Park. In fact, we seemed to doggedly avoid pleasant scenery as we stuck mainly to busy A and B roads, though this was not intentional. 

We stopped for coffee at Cinnamon’s, but found that we are no longer welcome to park our bikes along the barriers. As soon as I’d done so, a grumpy old man dressed

You can’t park ya bikes here!

in a blue boiler suit and carrying a broom came over and barked at me “there’s a bike rack out back”—gesturing toward Cinnamon’s inner courtyard. For those of a certain generation and nationality, he was like a villain out of Scooby Doo (“And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”)

When I hesitated while I waited for the others to arrive, he came back again and growled at me. Mick parked our bikes on the new racks and Nick B found out that part of the agreement for Cinnamon’s keeping their lease involved discouraging cyclists from parking out front.

There was little agreement on which route to take back, so we let Mike lead. Yep, you heard right. He’d said something about Englefield Green and the river, and we were happy to follow. All was going pretty well for a while, and Mike led us to the majestic buildings of Royal Holloway and then the descent of Prune Hill (which would be an interesting ascent). We’d just finished complimenting Mike on his navigating when things went slightly pear shaped. 

Approaching a roundabout, Mike did not signal his intentions causing confusion and a near crash (amongst each other) when he ended up almost turning, changing his mind, then going all the way around the roundabout. We stopped for a moment so Mike could work out his bearings, and then re-entered the roundabout. Mike proceeded to go all the way around the roundabout again. Some back tracking was necessary, and we found our way again to the busy A and B roads that would lead us home through Weybridge and Hampton Court.

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LCC Training ride 4 of 8

After last weeks zooming around the Surrey hills Team LCC took a more relaxed spin around the course. Andy and Jim were joined by Shibli, Tim, Alison on a overcast morning that threatened rain in the afternoon. 

Jim decided on a modified route, bypassing the heavy traffic (and average coffee!) of Newlands Corner and using Staples Lane as our first climb. 

Jim, Tim, Shibli, Alison and Andy on Box Hill

 Alison (64) was well prepared with a freshly serviced steed and a steely determination. Tim was cherry and happy to go along, blissfully unaware of the Leith Hill ramps that would test his legs on a bike that Andys (woefully underpowered) arms could barely lift. Shibli was all smiles too, catching up with old friend Tim and excited to be progressing his calorie burn with another long ride. 

Staples came and went without much fuss and the team decided to head down to Sheer for a cake and coffee. Lovely coffee and flapjack, though Shibli opted to skip the coffee and cake here, preferring to maximise his calorie deficient. You can see where this is going right?

Back on the route and on to Leith Hill. Always a good test, everyone’s legs felt the burn, but none more than our Shibli. He popped in a big way! A late banana helped get him to the top though a tree may have also suffered as he held on on the side of the road half way up. 

After a bit more food (incl. an emergency Mars bar from Alison), Shibli recovered a little and we headed out to Box for our last climb. We took it easy on the climb and enjoyed a bit of a tail wind as we headed home via Epsom. 

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Hot pace

LCC London 100 training ride 3/8

62mi (100km), Climb (745m), Av speed 16.8mph (27km/hr)

Well, summer’s here! The temp soared for the third ride of the LCC training season. Sunscreen and lots of water being the order of the day. 

Simon came out again this week with new faces Alex and Rob. To be fair Rob was actually pretty well known to Jim — being brothers ‘n all. Andy was also out today after last week’s Sportive diversion and keen for a good tempo in the perfect weather. After last weeks zippy ride with Jim, Simon seemed on for a quick one and Alex’s carbon steed suggested he’d be quick too. 

We headed off at a decent clip keeping the pace up, and as we headed out of Weybridge the pace warmed up further. It became apparent that Jim was serious about schooling his brother after an earlier urban commuting ‘loss’. Enjoying the quicker pace, Andy enthusiastically held the wheel at the rear. 

We had decided to stay on the official route and climb Newlands Corner. In the end the A246 traffic wasn’t too bad and Andy even found himself on the front pulling (he was tricked!). The climb up Newlands was marked by repeated ‘mechanicals’ for Andy which keep him behind Jim’s wheel until miraculously the problem sorted itself and Andy snuck though for an historic KOM. 

The team arrived quickly at the top and looked fresh. Jim resolved to work harder. 

A quick pic and bottle fill, and off the group shot toward an off-route coffee stop in Shere. Andy showed some decending skill, but no navigating skills by taking the wrong turn as usual. 

Coffee was great, with flapjacks, brownies and a huge ginger cake slice (for Alex, who may have regretted that choice later). Soon the group were back on to the route and raced off to the bottom of Leith Hill. 

As Leith Hill is inclined to do, burn was duly dished out to the group as they steadily paced up the hill. At the top we all looked a little more knackered. Jim seemed cheerier. 

Riders on Box Hill

Andy ‘putting in 110%’ while Simon looks on in relaxed amusement.

A fast decent into Dorking and a relaxed climb up Box for another bottle fill-up, finished the days major climbing. At this point our group were considering the wisdom of the morning’s pace. 

We decided to head ‘off-course’ to avoid traffic and head back to Kingston via Epsom. 

A beautiful, quick day out. By the end of the ride, Jim had exhausted his brother and we had a great training ride. Perfect! 

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LCC Training Ride. Ep 2

Jim Writes:

Only two riders today for the ride out. But I don’t want to give the impression that the enthusiasm is waning. Today was also the King of the Downs sportive and I know that a number of the team were going in for that rather grueling ride.
Simon joined Jim for today’s ride. Simon has done the Ride London previously and so we agreed that we would alter the route a little to avoid some of the busier roads and to concentrate on the Leith to Boxhill stretch. The photograph shows Simon smiling at the top of Staples Lane with a great view of London in the background I had thought that he was smiling because he made it to the top of the hill I now realise that he was smiling because of my appalling “helmet hair”. Next time I’m taking a mirror.
After a coffee stop in Shere and a fast ride back to London we were in Richmond Park by 1 o’clock.

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A sensible pace…

Mick writes:

With the yoof off messing about at the King of the Downs (or whatever), the grown ups voted for a sensibly-placed two hills this morning. The plan was Effingham via Plough Lane, then Critten Lane to Ranmore Common, Westhumble, Box Hill and back via Epsom and the roundabouts. 

The weather was very pleasant and it was all going so well until the gentlemen got a bit excited across Ranmore, sparking a minor domestic amongst the Shortlands Road contingent. 

Criticism of the elevated pace was clearly justified, but hey, what do expect when the sun’s out. 

Decorum was restored for the descent to Westhumble and some of the ascent of Box, before it all got out of hand again. Only Robin could be accused of sticking to the original plan, while everybody else pushed hard with previous discussions of ‘suitable pace’ entirely forgotten. 

After refreshments at the top of Box, the descent to Epsom via Headley went smoothly before another bout of high jinx broke out through the Chessington roundabouts. 

Altogether a very enjoyable morning with very few responsible adults involved.

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North Side Story — Sun 28 May

55 miles, 2 Dance offs

Jim writes:

The scene is set on the Upper North Side (of Combe Bottom). The sultry summer heat had brought all the gangs out on the streets. KR(upke)MCC arrived at the top of Staples in the nick of time The Dynamos and Wheelers were facing off at the top of the Downs. I’m sure I heard some finger clicking. Had we not sent them fleeing then, who knows? With the tension in the air, it could easily have turned into an elaborate dance number. And there’s always some wise-guy who thinks he’s handy with a tyre lever who‘ll cause trouble.It was a gorgeous day. Frank, Joe, Karen, Andy and Jim (note – all now in training for Ride London) joined NickR for a ride out into the Surrey Hills – and beyond. As Billy Ocean once said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. At the first sign of hills, NickR turned tail and headed for home. That answers that question.

It seemed a little unfair to drag Franck up Barhatch, as he expressly said he did not want to go that far, or steep. Jim listened carefully to his concerns, and decided to go up

KRM riders at the top of Barhatch

All smiles at the top of Barhatch

Barhatch anyway. Down the lovely Cranleigh Link, through Cranleigh (stopping for a De Moulin) and on to the dreaded left turn and the “21%” sign. In fairness, I didn’t hear Franck complain, and as you can see in the photo, we were all smiling at the top.

The descent into Shere is one of the great roads of the Surrey Hills, and the flapjacks and coffee in the Dabbling Duck were spot-on as ever – and so reasonable. There was no hurry to climb back up Combe Bottom, but we had our duty to keep the warring clubs at bay so made our way up. Andy led but made the rookie error of staying in his granny gear as the road levelled at the top, so Jim stole the KoM points. Back down the hill (yes, OK, not quite the route I intended) and the direct route through Cobham Estate and Hinchley Wood. A lovely ride out.

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The long one — Sat 20 May

90mi (145km), 6750ft (2058m) 6.5hrs ride time. 

So it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Andy and Tony thought that a look at the lesser known eastern section of course for the King of the Downs Sportive prior to the event would be a sensible move.

Turns out that this was a long day in the saddle.

Meeting up in Wimbledon Chase at 7:30, we headed south to Sutton and Chipstead to get to the start of the eastern loop. The weather was lovely and sunny, and the headwind wasn’t to bad.

Navigating was accomplished by Andy with a phone hanging round his neck, due to Tony’s Garmin taking a break from normal operations.

We cruised on down some nice roads with long descents and gentle rolling terrain until a warm up slog up Turners hill (from the west).

Kidds HillSooner or later the terrain had to go up hard and out first leg burner was the double ramp of Kidds Hill. Lovely surface, wide and straight it wasn’t too bad, but we took a note to save something on event day for the steeper second ramp.

Soon came the short steep Beech Green Lane and an aggressive climb between Bradley Rd and Bassetts Ln.

Tony and Andy have coffeeBy now we were really hanging out for some coffee and cake, but couldn’t find anything like a cafe. Eventually we had to settle for a pub and some instant coffee in Chiddingstone Hoath.

Next on the list was the climb up to Goathurst Common. Now this was a real test with multiple ramps and a last bit of the sort that leaves a memory in the thighs.

A last test up to Hawley’s Corner left us feeling like it was time to head home. Andys phone had died by this point so we had to rely on Tony’s deranged Garmin to get us home. This we did with a stiffening tail wind via Biggin Hill, New Addington and Croydon.

It was a long day out, but the weather was pretty good and it was good to have a feel for the challenge that approaches on June 11.

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Early birds only

29mi

While Kevin, Karen, Joe and Tony headed down to Brighton on the Pearson’s Sportive, a few remaining riders went out for a club spin. 

Life admin meant a couple of us needed to be back for 11am so Jim suggested park laps followed by a local coffee stop. This meant a 7:30 start and a half asleep Andy showing up just in time. Stefan and Robin completed the group of four early risers as we warmed up around the park. 

KRMCC cyclists at Teddington lock bridge

Is that a double chin?!

After about 1.5 laps we headed out through Ham Gate, across the river at Teddington Lock and out through Sunbury to Walton for a cuppa joe at The 1955 Club. A steady medium pace was kept up, helping us stay warm on an overcast, breezy and not so warm day. 

Coming home we took the loop through Bushy Park and into Richmond. Andy was the only one to take on Nightingale Ln today for some reason, though Stefan was on his single speed. 

Nice morning out for a quick cuppa and flapjack. 

PS. Lil’ Nick got out of bed finally, after a very late night (working he said) and headed out to Windsor. Apparently he did not wheelsuck anyone and recorded 5 Strava KOMs. This has yet to be verified. 

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A long ol’ road to the coffee shop

The players*: Capt. Kevin, Lil’ Nick, N-Dog (Big Nick), Andy (the compass), Renaissance-man Stefan, Prof. Karen and Smokin’ Joe with a special guest appearance from Carbon Jim and padawan Katie. 

The route choice was a bit chaotic today. The original proposed lumpy route fell out of favour as we started off, possibly due to Lil’ Nick’s over excited warm-up pace. 

After some on-the-move discussion, acting road captain Lil’ Nick declared the route to be out to Ramore Common via Cobham and returning via Headly Lane / Lodgebottom Road instead of the usual Box climb. A cafe stop at Bike Beans in Ashtead was planned. 

KRMCC riders on Ranmore Common

In the bluebells

A nice rolling, but somewhat windy route out to Ranmore was finished off with a fast run along the Common to the Church. We paused to admire the bluebells while we recovered our composure and Smokin’ Joe took a work call. (Fortunately not a video call as SJ was wearing his lady tights).

Joe takes at work call on Ranmore Common

“You’ll need to do a cold restart” — Smokin’ Joe in his lady tights

Bypassing the congested entrance to Box Hill’s zig-zag we shot up the quieter and rolling slopes of Headley Lane / Lodgebottom Rd. Stefan’s lack of road time was absolutely not apparent as he toyed with Lil’ Nick out of some sadistic pleasure. (Andy may have joined in, but is easily led, so can’t be held responsible). 

Around about this time (23 mi in), there appeared the first signs of the ‘hunger grumps’ from N-Dog. The problems of choosing Ashtead as the cafe stop were laid bare. Even Prof. Karen looked a little fraid at the edges. 

We eventually made it to the fast run in to Ashtead and the welcoming oasis that is Bike Beans. We were happily surprised to find Carbon Jim and his young padawan holding a table. Coffee and cake was eagerly scoffed by the hungry group before heading off for a more relaxed journey home as one group. 

Last sprint of the day was in Chessington, where N-Dog put the hammer down at 35 mph (all be it with a slight wind assist). 

So want have we all learned today? 

  • Carbon Jim is generally needed for proper route planning, 
  • Stefan with low miles in his legs still has enough in his legs to make us all hurt. 
  • Andy (the compass) cannot find his own arse even when given directions. 
  • N-Dog needs coffee at ‘proper’ times during a ride. 
  • Lil’ Nick will generally be located on your wheel when you think you’ve ‘got away’. 
  • Karen’s white leg warmers don’t look good on Smokin Joe… actually, possibly ever, on anyone. 
  • Karen has a mean sense of humour (see above).
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Walton warm up

30mi (48km) climb 623ft (190m)

Kevin, Lil’ Nick, Big Nick and Andy decided on a flat spin out to Walton via Hersham. This made for a nice route out and some good roads esp. Burwood Road, a long straight drag with a little double rise to hurt your legs if you push too hard. 

Four cyclists at The 1955 Club

Enjoying coffee and snacks at The 1955 Club

The coffee stop was ‘The 1955 Club’ for some apricot flapjack (croissant for Big Nick) and coffee outside — continental style. 

We returned via West Molesey, but felt fresh enough for an extension through Bushy Park and Richmond Park, with everyone’s favourite little Richmond ramp — Nightingale Lane (at least for Lil’ Nick and Andy — Kevin and Big Nick were on a recovery day). 

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Strength = 7(!!)

41mi (66km), climb 787 ft (240m)

Ok, so the news is Pinnocks Coffee House now does a number 7 strength coffee! I’m not sure that the scale has been recalibrated to accommodate new divisions within the same strength range or that a new kind of unearthly coffee — the kind that the UCI would need a TUE for — has been found. 

Jim, Andy, Tony, Mick and Robin met up at the usual spot and Jim suggested we head out to Ripley for a quickish, flatish ride. Jim was on his single speed, which prompted a lively, but needlessly technical discussion about gear ratios and gear inches. 

We figured a route via Brooklands would get us to Pinnocks at opening time (10:00 am). Well, that was the plan, but it seemed we all had a a good breakie and so set a quicker pace than the race plan — sorry, ride plan.  We arrived 20 min early and decided to extend the ride a little further to kill time. Such is our dedication to our sport. Mick has to take most of the responsibility for the excessive speed up front. 

Lots of riders on the road today. The sheep seemed a little friendlier though. Quite a few ‘game faces’ out there and fewer ‘morning!’s. 

KRMCC Cyclists in Pinnocks Coffee House

The team at Pinnocks Coffee House

Great food and coffee today as usual from Pinnocks. Tony had some interesting insights into bar/cafe service and the parallels with dominoes (The game not the sad excuse for a pizza company). You’ll have to check back with him on that one. The sun came out too, brightening our moods further. Tricky to get a good selfie in the window glare though! 

Nice chatty cruise back with a gentle tail wind and warm sun to see us home. 

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