|From left: Jon, me, Andy and Richard (Andy's mate).|
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.
|From left: Richard, Andy and Jon at Brockham.|
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.|
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.|
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.