Saturday, 27 February 2010

The River Wandle as it flows through Grove Park, Carshalton

The River Wandle as it flows through Carshalton.
The River Wandle as it weaves through Grove Park in Carshalton. It brings back happy memories of fishing with a net on a bamboo stick and playing with our Star model yachts, made in Birkenhead, but probably not any more. I've still got one in my attic.

The River Wandle will always bring back happy childhood memories for me; Dad used to take us fishing for sticklebacks with our bamboo fishing nets and I remember sailing many a model boat here too. Just down from where this shot was taken there is a gushing waterfall and an old mill where it is rumoured that a small boy, died; but that story is as old as the hills, although probably true. The mill used to have – probably still does, I haven't looked for ages – a mill pond covered in a green algae of sorts. Looking at it gave the illusion of solid ground, it was that still, but throw a stone into it and the 'plop' told the truth – it's water! Just down from the old mill used to be a mortuary. It was used during the war and closed down shortly afterwards, but that didn't stop Graham Knowles and I from venturing inside when we discovered it was fairly easy to gain access. I had a large remote control Tiger Tank at the time (what a great toy!), which we sent in first, like one of those remote control robots used in bomb disposal and about the same size. I cannot recall if I had the bottle to go inside the mortuary, but others did and found old shrouds and coffin lids and some dried-up blood on the old slabs. Not nice. My dad called the council and got it closed down. Today there are new houses in its place – now there's got to be a plot for a story there, a brand new house, haunted, but why? And then someone digs up the history of the mortuary – spooky!

Jack Shit handle grips...

My Kona Scrap, complete with Kona's Jack Shit handlegrips, leaning against a tree in Grove Park, Carshalton, Surrey.

Mine were getting a bit worn and full of holes, so when I took the bike in to have the hydraulic brakes made safe, I bought some Jack Shit handle grips. The bike, incidentally, needs a service.

Over to Carshalton, supposedly to fix Jon's puncture

Top shot: a milk float similar to this one accompanied 'Dynamic Norman' and myself on a milkround in the Woodcote area of South Wallington.

Larger photo shows All Saint's Church in Carshalton taken from the Grove Park and looking across one of two lakes; the other one is to the right of this picture and is separated by a road bridge, over which that rather ugly bus (the 157, which, apparently, the singer Matt Monroe used to drive, according to my mum). The two lakes aren't actually separate at all as the water flows under the road bridge making it really just one big lake. The water, incidentally all forms part of the River Wandle, which joins the River Thames at Wandsworth.

Mild rain yesterday, unlike today's torrential downpour, which has led to an 'abort' text to Andy. The plan was to head out to the Tatsfield bus stop, but the rain is still hammering down on to my conservatory roof as I sit here in the halogen glow of the computer writing this blog.

Andy wasn't cycling yesterday (Saturday 27 February) so Jon and I decided to cycle to mum and dad's and fix his puncture. When we got there, having met halfway along the road towards Woodmansterne Green (I was running a little late) we headed down through South Wallington in the heavy Saturday morning traffic towards Carshalton but then decided to veer left and follow the quieter roads where, many years ago, I used to do a milkround with a man known as 'Dynamic Norman', probably because there was nothing dynamic about him. He was, I recall, a film buff, but that was all I knew about him, apart from the fact that he had a son who he took the movies at the weekends. These were the days when it was always summer. I can't remember doing the round in the rain ever.

There are some nice 'gaff's' at the top of Wallington and riding down Boundary Road towards the mini roundabout at the end, memories of my time working for the Express Dairy from their depot in Shorts Road came flooding back. I'll always remember how mum used to ask me if I was going to be doing my round that morning to which I would always reply, 'might, I dunno'. It became a family joke.

We rode through Ruskin Park, otherwise known as the 'dip park' because of these huge craters where I remember cycling as a kid. Jon and I considered going down the dips again and stopped to prepare ourselves, but I knew (and so did Jon) that coming up the other side would be an effort so we didn't bother. Instead we pushed on: across the Ruskin Road, down past Carshalton Library, along West Street past the Racehorse pub and then past Dog Shit Alley and up Colston Avenue, past Audrey's (which is closing down) and then up Rossdale to mum and dad's.

Dad was on his way out for a haircut down at Scissors in the village but we stayed and had Shredded Wheat and and a mug of tea before heading our separate ways: Jon to Epsom and me to Croydon, via Wallington in the traffic.

Woke up this morning (Sunday 28 February) and realised I hadn't yet bought Jon a birthday card for tomorrow. Oops! Better stop writing this blog and do something more constructive. It's still pissing down outside, has been since I was rudely awoken by the alarm on my mobile phone. It's now 0731hrs and it looks as if cycling is going to be the last thing on the agenda today.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Punctures, sore throats and dodgy brakes

Well, for a start, I'm back! God knows what happened, but for a few days it was impossible to get hold of this blog on either computer in the house. Anywhere else, fine, but not here; so imagine how pleased I was when I logged on and it sprung up (the site, nothing else, novisiblelycra isn't a porn site, for heaven's sake).

Anyway, no cycling at all this weekend for the simple reason that there was something wrong with all of our bikes. Andy was fixing new brakes to his and was having a few problems; my brakes were non-existent and need to be replaced; and Jon's bike had a puncture, possibly the same one and, on top of that, he hasn't managed to shake off that sore throat.

Saturday was fine in terms of the weather, but Sunday was bad: it rained on and off all day long, so there was a definite chance that, had we all been fine, the cycle would have been aborted.

Today (Tuesday 23 Feb 2010) it looks as if it has been raining. Outside it is very overcast and grey and will probably rain. Yesterday it rained all day. I need to take my bike into Evan's (a cycle shop in West Croydon) to get the brakes sorted out before the weekend and, hopefully, a trip to Merstham, our new destination.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Guardian article on cycling in the Scottish Highlands

Entitled Cycling for softies, with satnav and silk sheets, the Guardian's Laura Burgess (above) has penned an interesting article on touring the southern Scottish Highlands by bike. Read the article by clicking here.

Valentine's Day 2010 – out in the snow

Today's photographs, courtesy of Andy, show just how bad the weather was out by the Tatsfield bus stop on the junction of Clark's Road and Approach Road. The handlebar shot was taken at the bus stop and you can just make out the beginning of White Lane on the other side of the road. The other shots were taken after Andy and I parted company just before the Botley Hill pub on the way back. Either way, they're good shots.

It started off as a fine rain, nothing to write home about, but as we edged our way towards the Tatsfield bus stop, the slow way, it turned to snow. Soon, the snow was on the ground, the roads were white and there was a lot of mist. As Andy quite rightly pointed out as we sat sipping tea and munching on our cereal bars, there's an element of fun about getting there, but the going back is not a laughing matter. How right he was.

By the time we embarked upon the return trip, the temperature had dropped considerably, our hands were starting to freeze and it all got a bit nasty. Andy went home on the quiet roads, I took the fast way back but decided it was too dangerous to be on the road. Instead, I risked the off-road track, praying that I wouldn't get a puncture. It was more luck than judgement that I found myself at Knight's Garden Centre with two fully inflated tyres. The rest of the journey was cold and wet and I was tempted to stop off at the Village Café on Warlingham Green, but managed to resist.

I was home by 10am where a hot cup of tea and a couple of hard-boiled eggs sorted me out nicely.

Jon, incidentally, braved the off-road hell of Epsom Downs where the snow was just as bad as it was for us. The puncture I fixed for him yesterday was obviously not the only one he had; the tyre was flat when he woke up this morning but it was a slow puncture.

It's been a good weekend of cycling and it now looks as if our default cycle will be to Merstham, and in particular the Hunger's End café – it's the best part of 28 to 30 miles and there's a welcoming mug of tea and a caff breakfast when we get there.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Hunger's End, Merstham and Jon gets a puncture

My bike outside Hunger's End, a long shot of Andy and I outside the café and one of the caff's windows. This really is a great caff, so great that's made the pages of – go check it out.

I must have a sixth sense. In fact, I'm convinced that I have a sixth sense. This morning we, that is Andy, Jon and myself, went to Merstham. Initially, Jon wasn't going to come due to a sore throat, but when we reached the cashpoint a few yards from the Hunger's End caff, there he was.

Naturally we all enjoyed a caff breakfast – Andy had a sausage bap, John a Full English (with fried bread) and me two slices of toast and a small mountain of scrambled egg – and let's not forget the tea.

Then, just as we got comfortable, it was time to go home and a pretty strenuous ride up Markedge Lane, past the famous Fanny's Farm teashop and home. Just past Fanny's a man in a JCB was trimming the shrubs and bushes lining the road and the debris was landing in the road. I started thinking this is puncture time as some of the bits of cut branch carried thorns. For some reason I thought that Jon was going to get a puncture and I started to play the conversation in my mind:

[Mobile phone ringing, I stop to answer it; it's Jon]
"You'll never guess what."
"I've got a puncture."
"Where are you?"
"Just up Park Road, about halfway up."

And then it all depended on how far away I was and whether I could get back and help him. These were the thoughts going through my mind as I approached Smitham near Coulsdon. The phone didn't ring but later in the afternoon, while at home, it did and it was Jon saying he had a puncture. "It must have been that bloke who was cutting the bushes," he said as I recalled my thoughts on the way home earlier.

I've offered to fix it. All he has to do is put his bike in the car and drive over here and I'll sort it. Anyway, it was a good cycle and for Andy and I it's the best part of 30 miles, which is good exercise. Got home around 11am having left Andy on the A23 (he knows a quicker home).

Feeling a bit tired if the truth be known. I need to get to bed earlier the night before a cycle. Right now I'm just waiting for the hot water to warm up so I can have a bath and then hopefully Bon will come round and we can fix his puncture.

Oh, almost forgot. Shaving man was there again but minus the razor.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

February 7th 2010 – not Woodmansterne again!

Yes, its Woodmansterne Green again. A nice place but we're getting bored of it.

Well, yes, Woodmansterne again and we discussed how we need to do something more than what we're doing at present as it's all getting a bit samey: Woodmansterne Green, basically, is too boring a venue. Yesterday was good fun in Merstham but we need to do more. The problem is multi-faceted: time is a big issue. To do more than we're doing now will take up more time. Then there's the whole issue of doing more off-road riding. Well, yes, we can, but there aren't that many places round here where you can go off-road, bar little bursts of it, ie en route to Westerham, Westerham Woods, Banstead Woods (where many 'quiet coach' people lurk) and odd little footpaths at the road side, like the tiny bits on the way to Woodmansterne Green.

The only way we can really make things 'different' is if we invest more time and get to grips with cycle racks on the back of our cars. I say 'invest more time', to be honest, I don't have more time and nor does anybody else so it's got to be down to using cars or trains to reach new places, like Richmond Park.

Equally, we need to revisit past venues more often: Westerham, the Tatsfield Bus Stop, Dunton Green, Chevening Lake, Knockholt.

Where 'off-roading' is concerned, I figure we're not going to get much joy out of it. Most of our cycling, by virtue of our location in the UK and the world, is, at best, going to be rural roads, like those encountered on the Black Horse ride or en route to Chevening Lake (Pilgrim's Lane, for instance). We have never gone 'off-road' for more than a few yards and on some of those occasions it's been very tough, ie thick mud, getting off and walking the bike and so on.

The only answer I can see is to have one 'different' event every month so that, say, a four-week period might look like this:

Week One: Westerham.
Week Two: Chevening Lake.
Week Three: Tatsfield Bus Stop
Week Four: Richmond Park

and then Week Five Woodmansterne Green.

I say that next week we go to Merstham on Saturday (because the caff's open) and then on Sunday go to Westerham Woods. Thoughts?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Cancelling out the exercise

We'd cycled around 14 miles to Merstham in total and sat down to eat huge sausage sandwiches and, in Jon's case, a full English breakfast. Not sure what the equation is, but I'm beginning to wonder whether we cancelled out all that good exercise by eating all that stodge. Still, we had to cycle home and tomorrow it's back to tea and cereal bars.

Saturday February 6: to the caff at Merstham

Man with a razor likes a shave outside the caff, just one of the many attractions of Merstham near Redhill in Surrey.

It was supposed to be Boxhill today and there was nothing to stop us: the weather was fine, a little nippy but just about right and, well, we didn't go. I think it's just that we all know it's going to take up most of the morning and that we all have other things to do. I for one have a lot of boring jobs around the house: getting rid of the downstairs cloakroom door, which currently rests against the wall. But it's not that simple – nothing ever is; the door is too big to fit in the car so it's got to be sawn in two before being taken to the dump and boy do I hate the dump! It's full of unwashed, slightly overweight women in grey tracksuit bottoms and Ugg boots throwing away bits of Formica. Horrible.

Anyway, where was I? Merstham. It's seven miles from Woodmansterne Green and it provided us with a decent 'halfway house' sort of ride: we couldn't be arsed with Boxhill and as for Redhill, well, it's just a dreary old place. At least Merstham has a kind of village atmosphere – a pub, a caff (two caffs if you include the Quality Café down near the railway station), and let's not forget the man with a radio who was standing outside Hunger's End (our chosen caff) in the High Street shaving his face with an electric razor while listening to the radio.

We reached Merstham at around 0850hrs, ten minutes before Hunger's End was due to open. It's a great caff, one of those places with uncharacteristic furniture, in this case a couple of sofas mixed in with the pine tables and chairs. I'd been there before because a couple of doors down is an amazing music shop where I've sat and messed around with the bass guitars, but that's another story.

Hunger's End serves typical caff fayre and Jon settled for a full English breakfast. Andy and I had sausage sandwiches and we all had mugs of tea. We sat there, right on the A23 (which doubles as Merstham's High Street) and watched the Lycra-clad cyclists race by; where they were going was anybody's guess, but let's not talk about them, this is, after all, NoVisibleLycra and we ride heavy inappropriate mountain bikes and eat sausages, we don't care about 'precious grams'.

So we sat there and chewed the fat, talking about nothing in particular while watching the strange guy shave, something he kept up for the entire time we were there – talk about a close shave. Soon it was time to cycle home again. It was a good 30-miler and a great destination for a Saturday. I think we were all glad to be in a caff and not standing around on Woodmansterne Green drinking tea from my Thermos.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Another interesting cycling blog...

Check out

They're up the road in Hampshire. Well, I say 'up the road', it's a good car journey away, but they're nearer than our friends across the water.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Check out the human bobsleigh!!!!

It's definitely worth checking out the video clip on the OneGhostIndustries blogsite listed below. Just scroll down a tiny bit and you'll see the clip on the right hand side of the page. Click the clip and enjoy the ride. 

But just in case you can't be arsed to scroll down, click here instead.

Distance to Redhill from Woodmansterne Green

Well, I thought I was going to win the bet and I almost did, to be fair. The distance from Woodmansterne Green to Redhill is 8.9 miles. It's 7 miles to Merstham.

So, the distances are as follows:-

Woodmansterne Green to Boxhill = 11.4 miles.
Woodmansterne Green to Redhill = 8.9 miles.

Click on the destination names to find out more about them.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Some other cycling blogs to check out

Gravelo knows the true meaning of extreme cold weather: check out the snow in the top pic; that must be the man himself (on New Year's Eve) and look at that, he has the exact same Thermos flask as we do – great minds obviously think alike. Click link below to read more about Gravelo.

Monday, 1 February 2010

31 Jan 2010: Woodmansterne Green in the cold

Top shot of Andy and Jon on the Green – we found somewhere different as all our pix were looking a bit samey – and the second shot is a self portrait of yours truly wearing the terrorist balaclava.

Yes, I know, we went to Woodmansterne Green again, but to be fair, it was really cold. So cold that I wore my balaclava, only to discover that it wasn't that cold and then to realise that it was that cold and the reason I felt warm was because I was wearing the balaclava.

At the green and the conversation turned to modern art. Andy said that anything called an 'installation' was not art. He was referring to the artist who likes to throw things away, crush his personal belongings, that sort of thing.

We chatted about a lot of other things too, but putting them into print would be a bridge too far. Suffice it to say that we had a good laugh even if it was cold. Alright, we were talking about people that turn up at A&E with strange objects inserted in strange places, but that's it, other than to say that if we were that way inclined – and we're not, I hasten to add – we'd have to leave the country, if anything appeared in the local press, and live the life of a hermit, in exile and in shame. The humiliation!

Woodmansterne to Boxhill distance in miles

It's official. The distance from Woodmansterne Green to Boxhill is 11.4 miles.