Stefan, ‘Lil Nick, Big Nick, Karen, Joe, Mick, Jim, Andy
Plan A. Coffee and cake. Usually means a civilised pace and gentle route.
Plan B. Something else.
Thinking we’d agreed online to Plan A, Stefan brought out the single speed. Having arrived at the start point in the morning, Plan B somehow got the nod. Shere via Whitedown (north to south) and Peaslake, then home via East Clandon and Oakham. Stefan looked pensive.
A very quiet start for the ride with barely a word spoken. I think this may have been due to the stiffening westerly and very autumnal feel. It had the feeling of a bit of hard work.
And it was. The way through Effingham was tough with its false flats and the nagging cross wind. The group got split to pieces with the rolling slopes of Beech Ave and before long Joe burst off the front and disappeared up the road. Lil’ Nick and Andy made a half arsed effort to catch up, but couldn’t really commit… until Andy realised he’d passed a guy in a skin suit. A face saving, full gas escape to the foot of Whitedown was the only option.
Ignoring the signage stating Whitedown was closed, we proceeded the rest of the (muddy) way to the summit in no great rush. Stefan put in a huge effort to climb on his single gear. He got within meters of the top only being thwarted by traffic on the narrow lane. The decent was taken with care over leave mulch.
Some more rolling terrain followed, but soon we were in the safety and warmth of the Yurt at the Dabbling Duck, tucking into hot coffee and cake.
One more little climb to best before home. Combe Lane. Jim and Joe belted off the front for line honours while the rest of us watched transfixed as Stefan powered onward on his lonely struggle. I can’t say whether a foot down was required on this hill. It hardly matters. The attempt was heroic.
At the top a lonely parking warden, disguised as a cyclist, told us off for inappropriate parking as he passed while we recovered our composure at the side of the rode. No doubt he was annoyed at himself having to rest once again halfway up Staples.
The hope was for a tailwind some of the way home, but alas the wind stayed stubbornly westerly with our group really only enjoying a cross-tail at best.
There was a little bit of sprinty silliness on the A307 by the hot headed few, but largely we headed home at a reasonably pace coming into Kingston on the Portsmouth Rd in time for lunch.
Today we learned;
- Stefan is officially hard arse
- Joe attacks like Contador (his hero)
- Karen is also hard arse, but doubts remain over her TUEs.
- Andy still can’t navigate
- Jim’s put away the legs until next summer