Saturday, 24 April 2010

Saturday April 24th, to Merstham, the long way round...

I knew I would be cycling alone this Saturday so the temptation, as always, was not to bother. But knowing that last week, while I was in Exmoor, Andy had got up early and sailed down Gangers Hill, meant that I had to put in an effort.

I must admit that, while seated in front of my computer, looking at and writing a bit of the blog, I did consider remaining there and doing nothing; but that would have been to waste what was already an amazing day. The weather all last week, last weekend and now this weekend (today is the day of the London Marathon, by the way, and the weathermen are warning that it won't be ideal for the runners) has been really good so I decided to get up and go.

My plan? To reach Hunger's End in Merstham and have breakfast there with Jon, who would be travelling the conventional route (just as gruelling as he'd have to tackle Hazelwood Lane in Chipstead). Anyway, off I set with, quite literally, all the joys of spring. I was feeling optimistic about the whole thing, especially considering that breakfast would be thrown in at the end for good measure.

Me at the top of The Enterdent having climbed the hill
When I reached the golf course in Woldingham and a deceptively difficult stretch of off-road, it dawned on me that it wouldn't all be plain sailing: I had the Enterdent to climb, and this realisation deflated me a little as I was concerned that I wouldn't get there in time for Jon. The last time Andy and I took this route – the first time we'd ever done it – my gears were playing up, we stopped to take a few too many photographs here and there and ended up in Merstham at around 0930. I was kind of expecting a repeat performance as along the route I was stopped and asked directions by a Lycra-clad person on a racing bike and then I stopped to take photographic evidence that I'd actually bothered to go cycling. During the week, actually last weekend, Andy had sent me evidence from his mobile phone that he'd gotten out of bed and I felt ought to do the same, so I stopped at the top of The Enterdent and took a self-timered shot of myself and the Enterdent looking down before resuming my journey (see pic above).

The rest, I have to say, was pretty smooth running: Rabies Heath Lane, into Bletchingley, an empty A25 to cross into Church Lane, that bit of off-road around the quarry and under the motorway and then Spring Bottom Lane and Rockshaw Road before hitting Merstham – quite a haul, though.

When I got there, no sign of Jon and having not looked at my watch, I assumed it was something like 0930hrs, but then, as I passed Hunger's End and noticed the 'Closed' sign on the door, I realised that I was mistaken. I pulled out my iphone and noticed that it was only 0857hrs. Amazing! A record time! Then Jon arrived; he'd been there for around 20 minutes or so and was cycling around Merstham, killing time.

We had a hearty breakfast. Jon tucked in to a large full English and I had scrambled egg on toast washed down with a couple of mugs of tea. Jon still hasn't bothered fixing that slow puncture and his front tyre was flat by the end our breakfast. I lent him my pump and soon we were on our way, this time riding back the usual way (for Jon and I) up Markedge Lane, past Fanny's Farm and on towards Chipstead, down Hazelwood Lane, left into Holly Lane towards Banstead High Street, where we parted company, and I carried on into Woodmansterne and the usual route home.

I reached home at 11.30am and then sat in the garden reading the Guardian before having a spot of lunch (pea and ham soup and a bottle of Shepherd Neame Spitfire ale).

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