Monday, 31 May 2010

Woodmansterne Green – and we discover a park bench

Joyce Lowther's park bench on Woodmansterne Green
Not a great deal to report about today's cycle to Woodmansterne Green, other than the weather was pretty overcast and looked as if it might rain at any moment, despite forecasts to the contrary by the TV weathermen. It's still pretty dreary out there now.

Left the house later than usual – around 0745hrs – and reached the green around 0820hrs. We, that is Jon and I, chewed the fat about this and that and then set about trying to find an interesting photograph. We found this park bench, which is about as interesting as Woodmansterne Green gets; it's dedicated to Joyce Lowther who was born in 1914 and died in 1994, aged 80.

Assuming the bench had been in place since 1994 or thereabouts, it's odd that neither Jon nor I had noticed it before; clearly we're always too wrapped in the mundanities of our lives to notice old Joyce Lowther's memorial; but now, of course, we'll always remember it and might even use it the next time we cycle to the Green. I like that bit of concrete in front of the bench – somewhere to put the flask, unless, of course, she's buried under there; let's hope not.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Back to Basics at Botley...

My bike leaning against a sign at the Botley roundabout
Once, a long time ago, a friend of mine suggested that Quadrophenia, the album by The Who, could have been trimmed down from a double to a single album. Many people, of course, won't understand the terminology of single and double album because these days, Quadrophenia would come on just one CD or, indeed, be downloaded from itunes. In the old days of vinyl, however, albums were either just that – albums – or they were double albums, meaning two discs, and normally a really decent piece of double album packaging was involved: a fold-out cover which opened like a book was the norm and sometimes (as in the case of Quadrophenia) there was a kind of book thrown in too – black and white pictures of eel and pie shops, a half-eaten fried breakfast and that woman who impersonated the queen, whose name escapes me.

"Looking bleak at the Botley" and yes I sent this pic to Geoff
Althoff, the illustrious illustrator
Anyway, I'm digressing. This friend of mine who, sadly, I don't see anymore, used to say that if you cut out all the sound effects between the tracks, Quadrophenia would have been a very tight single disc album. Well, no... Quadrophenia is what was known as a 'concept album' and it was eventually turned into a film so I say no, it was what it was and cutting it down would have ruined it.

The only reason I remembered the conversation with my old pal (Andy Penfold) was because today I cycled out to Botley Hill Farm alone, something I haven't done for a long time. In fact I haven't really been that way alone for the best part of four years, as it was back in August of 2006 that Andy Smith and I started the cycling that led to this blog and all our adventures (see archive). I left the house just after 0730hrs, reached Botley about an hour later and then cycled home. I was back home at 0910hrs, a good two hours before the time we get back from Merstham on most Saturday mornings and it just got me thinking about how things have grown and expanded. From a small cycle out to Botley and back (very boring on my own, I hasten to add) we now have this blog, a number of different routes, there are tea and cereal bars, visits to Hunger's End for huge breakfasts accompanied by mugs of tea and, of course, there's the conversation. In other words, we've turned what could have been a single album into a double or maybe even a triple album, like Sandinista by the Clash (yes, I had the vinyl version, which was three discs).

Newspapers everywhere – so I nicked one!
I reached home at just gone 0900hrs.

The weather was fine today although there were a few large grey clouds looming. Fortunately, no rain. I went the fast way to Botley up the B269 and it was great. Not many cars about, cloudy but bright skies, the sun peeking through here and there and the only blight on the landscape was a load of newspapers that, I assumed, had literally fallen off the back of a lorry. They were everywhere and I managed to find a huge pile of poly-wrapped copies of the Daily Telegraph so I put one in my rucksack and carried on towards the seven-mile marker that was the Botley Hill Farmhouse pub, a great live music venue, as it happens. I carried on to the roundabout a few yards beyond the pub, took a few pix on my iphone and then headed back. There was a strong wind blowing in my face all the way home but I remained dry, there were no punctures – a big fear as I'd somehow mislaid my 'leeches', which would have meant walking home with the bike.

Back in 'the old days' before Andy and I started cycling, I used to take a photograph on my mobile phone of the fields surrounding the Botley Hill pub and send it to my pal Geoff Althoff, the illustrious illustrator. A short message would either read, 'bleak at the Botley' if the weather was poor or, conversely, 'bright at the Botley' if the weather was fine. This I did again today.

When I reached home it was porridge and tea and a browse through the Daily Telegraph, albeit yesterday's, but who cares, it was free!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

'Down-and-outs', day dreaming and doughnuts

Andy's not around this weekend, so Jon and I met today (Saturday) on Woodmansterne Green. It's been a while since I've been over that way, but I was only planning on a short cycle today so it fitted the bill nicely.

The weathermen had promised rain from around lunchtime and then two excellent, sunny days tomorrow and Bank Holiday Monday, so here's hoping; although normally they get it slightly out of alignment, meaning, perhaps, that we'll get the rain throughout the night, a wet start tomorrow and then a nice, sunny day. If this is the case, I could get a soaking as my bike has no mudguards!

Peace protesters? Nope, children from the local churches in
and around Woodmansterne learning what it's like to be
homeless and living rough. They gave us  a doughnut. 
Back to today and as we approached Woodmansterne Green it looked as if a bunch of peace protestors had set up camp on the green. There were bits of old cardboard and other make-shift accommodation making lean-to style shelter for people – a bit like that bloke on Parliament Square. Or so it seemed... Closer inspection found the inhabitants of this cardboard city to be children and a couple of adults. I figured it was something to do with the local schools, but it turned out to be the church and a group of young kids learning what it's like to sleep rough and be homeless.

They camped out all night, according to a white-haired church-goer who, very kindly, provided Jon and I with a doughnut each. I spent the ride home wishing I hadn't accepted the stodgy foodstuff, but what is done is done, I figured, and started pedalling a little more vigorously in to burn off the accumulated fat on the six-mile jaunt home.

Time to go home. Jon, ready to head for home.
While on the green, Jon and I discussed our usual subject, that of winning loads of money and retiring to the south coast where we'd do absolutely nothing – apart from cycling on the beach at low tide. It hasn't happened yet, in case you were wondering, and probably never will – and now it definitely won't happen because, by writing it down, sub-consciously my brain was saying 'say it won't happen and it will' but because I am aware of that thought, it turns into a kind of inward and very conscious double bluff. In fact, now that I've written that down, I'm aware of what I was originally doing (setting myself up for a win along the lines of 'And there was me this morning saying it would never happen') I'll definitely not win now. And there, that does it, I'm going on about it, so I'll be forever poor and yes, I know, I shouldn't have said that either...or that...or that 'or that'...or that...

Jon's knee problem has gone and he admitted that going out for a run was definitely not a good idea. I told him it couldn't possibly be the cycling.

Doughnuts finished, tea drank, we headed off home, me fretting about that doughnut (next time it'll be 'oh, no, not for me, thanks all the same') and Jon dreaming about his lazy, millionaire's life on the south coast.

Stop press: at the time of writing now (1056hrs) the rain has started so I guess the weathermen were right this time and, fortunately, Jon and I got back just in time!

Monday, 24 May 2010

22 and 23 May – Merstham, Godstone and snakes in the grass

The weather didn't let us down this weekend. Not only was it forecast to be a scorcher, it really was a hot one. It makes a change. The last few weeks haven't been good, prompting posts on this blog about waterproof clothing. We've had a fair amount of soakings too and, yes, it was getting a little tedious.

This weekend, however, was a different kettle of fish: blue skies and sunshine. Check out the photograph (above) of Andy at Godstone Green, that hazy summer sun and the velvety grass. Hopefully we can put away our waterproofs for the next few months.

On Saturday we resolved to go to Merstham the long way round (see previous posts for details) and it proved a good cycle. Jon couldn't make it. I called him when Andy and I reached the quarry (and Andy took a leak) and he said he had a problem with his left knee. Andy said it could be something to do with the height of his saddle or, indeed, Jon's wonky pedals. Either way, Andy and I pushed on towards the caff (Hunger's End) where we enjoyed toast and jam, scrambled egg on toast and mugs of tea before heading home.

I went home via Caterham and, while a change from the usual route, it wasn't any quicker, thanks to hills, one being Tithepit Shaw Lane, a huge hill, but nothing's a problem where hills are concerned anymore, we just push on; it's a case of head down and get on with it. I reached home around 1110hrs but then we had dawdled a bit. I think we sat around at the caff for longer than usual.

A slow worm of the sort I saw near Bay Pond.
Photo courtesy of
Sunday was a conventional ride to Godstone Green via Gangers Hill and the weather was fantastic. In fact, when we reached the green we both wanted to stay there for the rest of the day, it was that pleasant. But, as always, we both had things to do, namely a Sunday roast. On the way back towards Church Town, along the alley skirting Bay Pond, I rode over what looked like a snake. Andy reckons it was a Slowworm (or lizard without legs) and judging by a website I checked out this morning, that's exactly what it was. Click here for details. We watched as the slow worm or snake disappeared in the grass and then cycled home.
Godstone Green pond through the reeds – summer's here

During the day I drove out towards the route of last week's Black Horse Ride, in search of the Frog and Nightgown, but as usual, I didn't want to ask for directions when I realised we were lost. I eventually asked some people with horses for directions: turn left, then right, then left again and yes, we got there – but it was closed. We drove into Rusper for a pint of Harvey's, a mineral water, J2O and a couple of bags of Real crisps and sat in the summer sunshine in the pub's garden. Very pleasant.

A great weekend's cycling but my Spongy Wonder saddle needs replacement spongy bits, which I have in the garage. At the time of writing I still hadn't gotten round to it. This week, maybe.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Frog & Nightgown

The Frog & Nightgown pub in Faygate where we stopped to fix my puncture. Sadly, we didn't have time to have a pint, but if you want to know more about this excellent little pub, click here.

The Black Horse Ride 2010 (May 16)

From left: Jon, me, Andy and Richard (Andy's mate).
The weather held out for us and was sunny most of the way round the circuit this year except for a few grey clouds and drops of rain. As Jon said on more than one occasion, "It's trying it's hardest to rain." Well, not hard enough, although I was wearing my Peter Storm waterproof top and had waterproof over trousers in my rucksack just in case of a major downpour.

Andy and I met at 0830hrs on the A23 and Jon met us further down at Merstham and then cycled through to the start line at the Black Horse pub in Reigate. Nick met us at the pub and so did Andy's mate Richard. This was Jon's first and my third Black Horse Ride, but Andy was on this fifth or sixth. David arrived on the Harley to be involved as a marshall, there were hot bacon sarnies, tea and coffee and this year, in addition to the piper, we had the Mayor of Reigate seeing us off.

From left: Richard, Andy and David (Harley man).
We had all opted for the 50-miler Black Horse ride and were given green number cards. I was 330 and Jon was 329 – there's probably a lottery number there somewhere. The ride started at 10am. 

For the early stages we all kept up a fair pace. In fact, most of the way round our energy levels – fuelled by many a banana – remained high. There was one point where the signage caused a lot of cyclists to go off route, but by the time we reached that point (Jon and Nick excluded as they'd been ahead of us) we had cyclists (including Jon) telling us to turn around. There was a left turn that a lot of the front runners had missed.

From left: Richard, Andy and Jon at Brockham.
The Black Horse ride is excellent. The route is superb as it follows some of the nicest quiet Surrey and Sussex roads, travels through some amazing villages and, well, as long as its not raining, it's the best.

Our first banana stop was in Brockham and by and large we kept going until Rusper where Jon and I stopped for something to eat and drink before heading off again. Everything was going smoothly and we really were gaining ground until, as we reached the Frog & Nightgown pub, my front tyre let me down. Yes, a puncture, and why? Because we'd gone along an off-road track. It cost me around 15 minutes so, if you include the eating stop, we were effectively 30 minutes behind. A quick release front wheel would have been useful.

My bike at the Frog & Nightgown pub near Faygate.
Energy levels remained high until the very end when the last few miles never seemed to end. Marshalls told us there were only three miles to go and then, whenever we met another marshall, it was always the same, 'oh, about three miles'.

The Black Horse ride was fine where hills were concerned; there weren't that many and when they did appear they were fine, certainly nothing like the big hills on our weekend cycling trips. Having said that, there were some punishing inclines towards the end but they were only punishing because we were getting tired. The worst was Trumpet Hill Lane right at the end before turning left on the road through Reigate Heath. Like all long cycling trips, it's the last few miles that are the worst.
Nick Thorp relaxing after the ride.

Jon and I crossed the finish line at 1520hrs and made our way round to the pub garden and a free burger with onions, not forgetting a free pint of Young's – just what the doctor ordered.

My family was there and it wasn't long before we were all together – Andy, Jon, Nick, Richard and myself. We had a few more beers and then, after Andy, Jon and Richard had gone home – Nick and I were going to cycle Redhill – and the rain came down hard. We ordered a couple more beers and sat underneath one of the umbrellas chatting about this and that before heading off in the drizzle to Redhill.

Jon having a well-earned pint of Young's after the ride.
I bade farewell to Nick and made my way through Redhill streets knowing that I could be arrested for being drunk in charge of a bicycle, a reality that came fairly close when I stumbled across three police cars and a bunch of coppers trying to quell some kind of disturbance between a group of 'youths'. I passed unnoticed, bought a ticket and jumped aboard the 1846 Victoria train, got off at East Croydon, took another train to Purley Oaks and then cycled home in the rain.

In fact, ironically, having brought with me waterproof trousers, I took a soaking mainly because I had a ten-minute ride to my house and couldn't be arsed to stop and put them on.

Thankfully, a Sunday roast was in full swing when I walked through the door; all that needed doing was the gravy! I went to bed at 9.30pm, woke up at 3am and then went back to sleep around 4am. Now, as I write this, I feel good: no aches and pains and no stiffness, thanks, I guess, to our regular weekend cycling jaunts.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Clear skies so far...

It's the morning of the Black Horse Ride and I was up at just gone five am. The curtain in our bedroom had been pulled apart by about a foot but it was enough to let a huge bar of sunlight into the room. If the truth be known, I was awake by 0430hrs and just lie there hoping I'd get back to sleep, but it was not to be. I got up and moseyed on downstairs to make porridge, toast and marmalade and a cup of tea, not forgetting a glass of fresh pineapple juice and then I looked out of the window: clear, blue skies. That was around 0530hrs. It\s now just before 7am and I really ought to be moving and sorting things out, but the skies are still blue bar just a sliver of white cloud. The sun is still out and the temptation is just to go out wearing nowt but a teeshirt and shorts.

I think I'll go prepared, however!

The big deal yesterday was how to get to Reigate: meet Andy on the A23 or simply get the train. I've opted to cycle down there, meaning I'll be riding over 60 miles today – 70 if I cycle home. We'll see how it goes. Jon's on the ride, so, of course, is Andy, and possibly my old pal Nick Thorp from the mighty spud! Who knows?

When I get back I'll report more on the event and post some images too, so watch this space. Better go.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Andy, you're gonna get wet in those trousers...

Peter Storm packable waterproof jacket – only £22 from Blacks,
click link below for more details.
Just a brief one to say that I strolled into Blacks, the camping shop, yesterday afternoon to discuss waterproof trousers and it turns out that those Endura trousers (that Andy purchased online) are water 'repellent' but not waterproof. What's the difference? Well, in general, light rain, they will 'repell' the rainwater, but in a heavy downpour (ie when you're on a bike even a little drizzle becomes heavier) they will begin to soak through like normal trousers.

The guy in the shop told me that waterproof trousers are basically the 'over trousers' like the ones I've got. You put them on OVER your trousers and you should keep dry.

Andy's top is fine, that's waterproof. I found a North Face top in Blacks that might be worth buying, but even in non-cycling shop, they're pricey. I think it was £80 for the jacket and £50 for the waterproof trousers – that's £130!

Mind you, there's always Peter Storm! How about a waterproof jacket for just £22? Click here!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Seems like I was wrong!

Well, I'm not afraid to admit that I was wrong and it seems as if I misjudged the intentions of the Liberal Democrats. They DID go in with the Tories and Cameron has now formed a government; he is the new PM. I know that Andy and Jon will be pleased and I'm getting used to the idea, but there you have it. Only time will tell if the Con-Lib Pact is the right way ahead for the country.

Having said that, as we discussed in Hunger's End on Saturday morning, will life under Cameron be any different to life under Brown? Probably not. By and large, certainly since I've been working, many governments have come and gone. Let me see now...when I first started in work we had a Labour Government; they went out in 1979 and in walked Thatcher, then it was Major and, my memory is a little hazy but after Major it must have been Blair in 1997. And now, 13 years later, Blair and Brown have gone and we have a coalition in power – Nick Clegg and David Cameron. By and large, however, nothing has changed in real terms as far as my life is concerned. I've always existed from one month to the next where money is concerned, I've never been able to afford a new car (not that I want one) and, yes, everything just tends to carry on as normal.

As long as it doesn't affect the cycling, I don't mind.

Photograph courtesy of Top News Law.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Andy in his new clobber

A shot of Andy just after going off-road at Tandridge.

Off-road tracks – they're amazing.

Map shows a small section of our off-road route towards Godstone Green. The track passed through Castlehill Wood past three sizeable ponds, used for fishing and then followed Leigh Place Lane towards Glebe Water, another pond, through Church Town, down a more developed track bordering Bay Pond and then, of course, our final destination, Godstone Green. The above map shows how close we were to The Enterdent, the hill en route to Hunger's End in Merstham. I know for a fact that we can get virtually all the way to Merstham off-road.

The map above shows the off-road tracks from Tandridge. We had turned right from Jackass Lane, travelled down Tandridge Lane and took the track on the left just before the Barley Mow. That stretch, all the way to the A22 is open fields. Note the other tracks on the map.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

May 9th 2010 – treading new ground

The route to Tandridge down Jackass Lane is yielding new routes for NoVisibleLycra and today was the best so far. I'd checked out the map and found off-road tracks linking Tandridge with Godstone so Andy and I set off to find them. While rain threatened, we avoided a soaking, much to Andy's annoyance as his Endura Hummvee cycling kit had arrived and he wanted to see if it was waterproof. I offered to throw some pond water over him when we reached Godstone Green, but for some reason he declined the offer.

How to explain this excellent cycle? Well, quite simply, we reached Tandridge we rode down the hill, past the pub, re-traced our steps, found a footpath, followed it and found ourselves in the middle of rolling hills and ploughed fields. Totally amazing! We stayed off-road all the way to Godstone Green where we sipped tea, munched on cereal bars and watched the ducks.

I can only assume that Andy did get the chance to try out his waterproof gear as it started to rain towards the end of my ride, although often I have noticed that when it's raining where I live, it's dry over Caterham way so he might still be none the wiser as to the effectiveness of his new clobber.

Blogger, by the way, is a bit annoying. Sometimes it enables me to write picture captions, other times not. This is one of those 'other times' so to explain, the top shot is the off-road path from Tandridge and the other shot, the one with the bluebells, is the same track but further along the route. 

May 8th 2010 – Merstham the long way (avoiding a soaking)

A copy of the Sun in Hunger's End, Merstham, Surrey.
Amazing! We didn't get that wet! After last week's soaking – and judging by the skies overhead – I thought I would be coming home in shiny wet trousers, but no! Okay, I was a little wet, but this was definitely a  result.

Andy and I met at Warlingham Green as usual and, as we pootled along we discussed the hung parliament and the fact that, even now, as I write this at any rate, nothing has been resolved. Will the Lib Dems go in with the Tories? Let's hope not. Why would they? I mean the two parties are not only ideologically opposed, they positively hate one another (like Manchester United and Liverpool).

Anyway, it's getting boring so I'll say no more – although when we reached the caff, Jon and Andy carried on the conversation. Perhaps we'll hear something today, who knows? Perhaps the country will lurch towards anarchy? Fine, as long as it doesn't affect our weekend cycling.

I guess the phrase 'fine drizzle' would sum it up; all the way there was a fine drizzle, which at times got a little heavier but overall it wasn't unpleasant. We stayed on the tarmac at the end of Church Road instead of the off-road bit under the motorway (I figured it would be too wet and muddy) and met Jon halfway up Rockshaw Road.

For some reason I was feeling extremely energetic. It might have been the porridge for breakfast or a good night's sleep, although I woke up around 2am and then fell asleep again. The next thing I knew it was 6am and time to get out of bed for the cycling.

Picture shows an interior shot of Hunger's End in Merstham. The drizzly weather meant that we couldn't sit in our usual seat outside. There was no sign of shaving man either. Note copy of the Sun claiming that Gordon Brown is squatting in Number 10 Downing Street. Obviously, the right wing tabloid knows nothing about politics.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Are the Endura Hummvee trousers what we're looking for?

Thanks to some digging on the internet by Andy, we've found these trousers for cycling. They look good and they don't appear to contradict our 'no visible lycra' credentials, ie they're not body-hugging, tight-fitting, racing bike material; nope, they're baggy and cool and I like them. Thoughts? Click here for more details.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Mileage note.

Photo courtesy of

The trip to Merstham the slow way is approximately 16.8 miles, that's taken from Matt's house in South Croydon. From Woodmansterne Green to Merstham is 7 miles and from Woodmansterne Green back to Matt's house is approximately six miles.

Matt's house to Merstham (slow way): 16.8 miles.
Merstham to Woodmansterne Grn: 7 miles.
Woodmansterne Green to Matt's house 6 miles.

The round trip, therefore, is, give or take, 30 miles.

Down Jackass Lane to Tandridge...

Andy at Jackass Lane. I've promised him that I will stand behind
Arse-Whip Avenue just as soon as we stumble across it.
The weather had improved on yesterday's torrential rain, but it was gloomy skies overhead and cold winds all the way to a new destination: Tandridge. We travelled down Gangers Hill, our 'portal' to new destinations, and then took a left fork down a steep hill. We crossed over the M25 slightly east of where we normally cross en route to the church at Godstone and then turned right on the A25 for about 500 yards before hanging a left into Jackass Lane.

At the end of Jackass Lane we'd arrived at what we both imagined was down town Tandridge, a sleepy little place with a pleasant church, St Peter's, and a 'no cycling' sign. We cycled up to the church as there was nothing else, no café, nothing bar a few walkers and somebody jogging. And then a fine drizzle of rain that was almost invisible.

Monument to war dead outside St Peter's in
Tandridge, Kent
It was tempting to investigate a little further, see what we could find: a covered bus stop, maybe, or a teashop, anything, but we just got that feeling there would be nothing and then, of course, a 10 per cent climb back up to the small patch of grass on which we had decided to stop and drink our tea. Checking out the iphone I found a route west which would have taken us towards Rabies Heath Lane and Bletchingley or back up through Godstone down the Enterdent, past St Nicholas Church and back towards Gangers Hill.

Instead, we went back up Jackass Lane, turned right on to the A25 and then back up Tandridge Lane for a longer and steeper climb towards Gangers. On the way up I found a track veering off to the left and vowed to investigate it later. Right now, I am looking at the map and the track cuts across open ground and then through Old Park Wood and finishes at the A22. There's likely to be a tunnel underneath the A22 which then joins up with Leigh Place Lane (also a rough track by the looks of things) and this joins up with Church Lane (Godstone) a little further south of the Church there. Interestingly, the track continues on the other side of Church Lane and joins up with Bullbeggars Lane and then goes into Godstone – so, theoretically, we could cycle to Tandridge along Jackass Lane, hang a right near the end and ride off-road all the way to Godstone.

What might be more exciting, however, would be to go down the 10 per cent hill mentioned earlier (which happens to be a continuation of Tandridge Lane), past the Barley Mow pub on the left and then, after passing a primary school on the right, there's an off-road track that goes on for miles. It joins the A22 but then runs parallel with Rabies Heath Lane (Greensand Way) through a wood and continues until it reaches Bletchingley where we normally cross the A25 and travel up towards the quarry, under the M25 and then towards Merstham down Spring Bottom Lane and Rockshaw Road.

It's quite amazing just how much off-road there is between Jackass Lane and Bletchingley. Infact, the Barley Mow at Tandridge looks good too. It sells real ale and it has a website, which is Perhaps the Barley Mow, Tandridge could be our venue for that much-considered later cycle?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Who needs waterproofs – when there's Speedos!

When Andy and I first started cycling back in 2006, we used to get up really early and meet along the B269 in the dark. In retrospect, getting up that early – and by early I mean we met at 7am, which was dark in the winter months – wasn't a bad thing as it meant we got back early too. But these were the days when we cycled fairly seriously. We hadn't coined the phrase NoVisibleLycra, we didn't have a blog and, well, we just got up, cycled off to Westerham, stopped for a cream bun and a bottle of mineral water and then, with little conversation, we cycled back, said our goodbyes and then repeated the process.

Gradually, however, we got more chatty, we started talking about stuff like politics and cars and Top Gear, we cracked a few jokes, talked about bikes and then, after a while, realised that having a cream bun kind of cancelled out the point of cycling: exercise. Then I thought about bringing along a flask of tea, Andy started with the cereal bars and suddenly, who needed a convenience store? Not us! We could park up anyway and sip our tea and munch on those cereal bars.

My memory's a little hazy about those early days with the flask. Did we use the bench next door to the convenience store, did we just stand around? I can't remember. When we went to Botley Hill, long before wising up to the Tatsfield Bus Stop where, hey, we could shelter from the storm, we'd just stand around under trees, even in the winter, and invariably got soaked as we drank our tea. Of course we did wise up and soon Tatsfield Bus Stop really was a port in a storm. But there were plenty of things we hadn't wised up to.

Whenever we had a puncture, for example, rather than fix it on the roadside using some kind of repair kit, we simply resigned ourselves to walking home, listening en route to the increasingly irritating sound of the tyre squeaking. Sometimes we just walked a cool three of four miles from, say Westerham to Oxted. Other times the walk was much longer: all the way home from Botley, for example, seven miles, it took hours. And then one or the other of us wised up: how about we fix our punctures on the roadside? Why don't we bring some kind of kit with us and a pump and save a bit of time? And it did save time even if sometimes it was so cold it made Andy lose his temper!

And yes, we're not called NoVisibleLycra for nothing. We just don't wear the stuff, we don't want to look like fucking Power Rangers. We ride chunky Konas and, to be frank, we wear normal clothes, not 'cycling gear'. Well, not for much longer. Now don't get me wrong; we're not planning on riding racers and buying Lycra, oh no, but we are kind of sick of going home like a couple of over-sized sponges, full of rain water and speckled with mud. And as for arse, well, it gets a proper soaking because I don't have a rear mudguard. Okay, I'm still mulling over the idea of ruining my bike's original lines with an ugly black plastic mudguard, so the wet arse might stay – or will it? Not if I buy some decent cycling trousers that are water repellent! And perhaps a matching top! Andy feels the same way.

I mean, put it this way; when I reached home this morning after a ride out to the Tatsfield Bus Stop, I was properly drenched. My trousers were so shiny I could have seen my reflection in them. My arse was so wet, I, yeah, it was wet and I can't think of simile. Anyway, forget my arse, that's a mudguard issue. No, I'm talking proper cycling clothes. Seriously, I was wet and cold when I reached home, wet and cold and it wasn't pleasant. I had to peel my clothes off and my hands were so cold I ran them under a hot tap and felt nothing, that's how numb I was; and there was no need. I could have been nice and comfortable in some kind of water resistant clothes.

So, we made an important decision today: to buy water resistant cycling clothing, but NOT, I repeat NOT Lycra, not body hugging. Mind you, a pair of Speedos might be worth considering. I mean summer's coming...