Today the plan was to have a change of routine, so Warren suggested a ride he’d done before from Banstead (Surrey) out into the countryside and back via Boxhill. When I first bought a bike in England (6 years ago) it was a hybrid and my good mate Ben took me for a ride up Boxhill fairly early on in my cycling and as it had a triple I managed to get up it but I found it a bit intimidating. Now quite a few years later and quite a few thousand metres of climbing in my legs – I ended up making the climb again.
It’s very rare that I put my bike in the car to drive to the start of a ride – so last evening I started to get everything ready, bike, pump, kids seats out of the car (so I could fold the seats down), drinks made, clothing organised. All of this made this morning pretty straight forward. I left the house on time – plugged in the route to the sat nav and set off – it was all going fine until the sat nav stitched me up and sent me towards Gatwick and as I was running low on fuel anyway (warning light on) – I stopped for fuel as well. My leisurely drive with 20 minutes to spare turned into a bit of a dash and only a couple of minutes to spare before our 10am meeting time. A minute of two after I arrived, Warren did too. We got organised and set off.
As neither of us have a bike sat nav – I’d printed off half a dozen maps and Warren had written a list of all the roads we needed to ride down. So with these in our pockets we set off. Riding out past Epsom Downs racecourse. After only about half an hour, Warren wasn’t happy with his rear wheel – it was making an odd pinging noise under load (climbing) and it was making him a bit uneasy – nothing seemed to be obviously wrong. We rode on for about another 20 minutes then stopped for another check – again nothing obviously amiss but the pinging was still happening. Whilst we were discussing this, Warren’s phone rang and the news wasn’t good – his little girl had fallen and hurt herself. So Warren turned back and headed for home.
I decided to carry on as I’d made the journey over and had the maps in my pocket. I did my usual things of stopping every 5-10 minutes to check the maps and of getting lost as I do with every ride somewhere I don’t know. As you’d expect in Surrey there were loads of people out on bikes from £7k+ uber bikes to some very basic steeds (I did see someone riding a fixie too).
In between Betchworth and Parkgate I started chatting to a bloke called Myron (not sure of the spelling) who was riding a Liquigas CAAD9. We chatted for a while and in fact while we were chatting I rode past the road I had been meaning to turn down. So after we parted company not long after that I ended up stopped and spent another five minutes working out how to get back to my bike route. From there it was actually fairly uneventful until I got back to the bottom of Boxhill. As I passed the car park, I saw about 100m ahead another cyclist (not a surprise given the location) and as I closed up behind him as we made the turn up the hill I could see he was on a 2010 Cervelo R3 (I’m a Cervelo fan – amongst many others). I was on his wheel from pretty much the bottom of the hill. I had no idea how long/steep the hill was so sat there for a while as he was doing an ok pace and I didn’t want to go past only to blow up further up the hill – anyway by the time we got though the second hairpin in the zigzag – I went past anyway as I was feeling good and could comfortably lift my pace. In end I got up the hill pretty easily – Warren had said it wasn’t as tough as quite a few of the ones we normally ride and that’s definitely true. It is however, a classic hill for Londoners and Surrey residents and I’ve heard is going to be in 2012 Olympics road race course (don’t know if that’s true though). It was good to do it again though and especially to do it comfortably. I decided to stop at the top as about a hundred other cyclists were doing the same thing (including loads of people in team Sky kit – but with their names printed on them – so don’t know if there was anything to that). Whilst I was soaking it all up – who should appear but Myron, so we had another chat during which he told me that he lived in Banstead so I was welcome to tag along with him to save on the map reading. I willingly accepted – so the trip back was much quicker and with some good company.
All in all it was only 58km and 635m of climbing so a reasonably easy ride – but a good one – I enjoyed it but I’m looking forward to getting back to the local climbs this week.
Thanks for reading.