108km (67mi), climb 1,219m (4,000ft)
An over enthusiastic Bob* decided mid-week that he quite fancied a Friday ride into the hills to celebrate the start of spring and looked to the team for some support. Andy and Lil’ Nick stepped up and soon had a GPS route file showing just how enthusiastic (and slightly mad Bob) had become. A warm up of Chalk lane and Hazelwood Lane followed by the main course of Leith Hill (S–N), and Whitedown Lane over a 108 km(67mi) parcours. Spring madness indeed.
It was chilly, breezy and overcast as the trio headed out through the morning traffic through New Malden and Epsom and on to Reigate — where Bob’s navigation skills may have been questioned a couple of times on unfamiliar roads. Needless to say he keep us on track for the most part, though we did have to pass a group of ladies out on a leisurely ride twice due to a slight detour.
We soon turned south toward Gatwick with a growing need for a caffeine hit and a bit of cake. A few grumbles (a lot of gumbles) from Lil’ Nick and Andy (mostly Andy) later we arrived at the Tanhouse Farm Shop in Newdigate for a cup’o’joe and a cheesy scone. The ladies we passed (twice) back in Reigate soon arrived (!). Thoughts of our (lack of?) pace ran through all of our minds but were not given voice. Replenished and much happier after fueling (and freshening) up we headed back into the wind.
Lil’ Nick’s suggestion (twice) of a Dorking Gap return route was ignored (twice) and we headed for the classic stepped climb of Leith hill. The trio stayed together for the most part with Bob and Andy competing in the classic male cyclist game of ‘appearing to breathe in the most relaxed fashion’ and with Lil’ Nick making sure his companion’s climbing form was good from a more rearward location.
With Leith dispatched Lil’ Nick was feeling particularly aggressive for the 18% slopes of Whitedown Lane and we quickly made our way north. We paced ourselves up steadily, accompanied by a constant gentle moaning sound from Lil’ Nick and a distinct wheezing sound from Andy. Andy managed to get far enough ahead to be out of sight — to be able sneak an unseen foot down (but did he…? He’ll never tell!).
As we raced off home, thoughts turned to how our performances would be recorded in our memories — and this report (epic), and what we’d have for lunch (everything). Bob also finally cracked, revealing that he felt Lil’ Nick and Andy had not spent enough time in the wind (they didn’t — as usual).
We arrived back home with the sun finally making an appearance and all silently acknowledging that an afternoon nap was certainly on the cards.
A very nice (and exhausting) way to spend a Friday morning at the start of Spring.
*Not his real name
All opinions and recollections are those of the author and are entirely biased — or may not have even happened that way. Sledging is optional and depends on the authors mood.