Friday, 18 June 2010

The mathematics of cycling...on the 'Woodland Trek'

Two 'Woodland Treks' equal one 'cycle', that's what I was figuring out in my head as I embarked upon a one-hour, ten-minute ride round suburbia, taking in a bit of woodland en route. It was a hot day on Thursday and I fancied a cycle, but knowing that a cycle around 1pm was going to mean traffic, I steered clear of the usual routes (Botley, the Tatsfield Bus Stop and so on) and besides, I had work to do and this was technically my lunch break (I was working at home). So I set off with my son on what I used to call the Woodland Trek (a route I've probably spoken of before, I'm not sure). In essence, it involves cycling around the streets near the house, a kind of 'world' in its own right and there's no traffic to speak of.
Cycling up this bit  of the woods requires a very low gear

What's the route? Well, briefly, it's turn left out of my house, down to West Hill, turn left, then left into the Ridgeway. Follow the Ridgeway to the top, turn right and left into Briton Hill Road, ride to Church Way, turn left, go down Church Way and then swing back on yourself, briefly entering Arkwright Road but turning back and up Church Way, then hang a left at Norfolk Avenue, follow it to the top where it bears left then take first left into Arundel Avenue. This bit is down hill and Arundel Avenue curves right before straightening out but towards the end you hang a left into The Ridgeway, a pleasant American-looking housing estate. The Ridgeway is self-contained, ie you've got to get out the way you came in, but I do one loop, then another and then hit an alleyway that leads on to the main Upper Selsdon Road, but I turn left back towards Croydon and then, within about 25 yards, cross the road and take a right turn down a track near the golf course; this leads me into Croham Hurst, a very pretty piece of woodland. I travel along a track, the dappled sunlight through the trees casting pleasant patterns on the woodland carpet of leaves and twigs (see photo) and then, just after it opens out a little bit, I crank the gears into low (believe me, if you don't, you'll have to stop, as I did) and head uphill to the very top of the woods where I can see my house down below and quite a distance away. This is always a good place to stop for a while. Many years ago (they probably still do it) the local church used to hold Easter services up here at 6am in the morning. It was weird: the vicar and a few of his parishioners standing around with bibles, but it was good too and while I'm not a churchgoer, there was something good about being up on the hill on a misty Easter morning – you could say it was a religious experience which, of course, it was.
At the very top of Croham Hurst woods, South Croydon.

Anyway, once at the top of the hill you have a choice: you can go left or right and this time I went right (on my second lap I saw a bald-headed guy doing press-ups, but that's beside the point). Going downhill in the woods can be a little treacherous and you have to watch your step, but soon you'll appear, as I did, on a patch of green grass hemmed in by Croham Manor Road and another road called Bankside (I think). I turned left along Croham Manor Road back towards the Upper Seldson Road where I turned left again and then right into West Hill, and then, if this was going to be a one-lapper, I'd turn left into Barnfield Road and finish. However, this was a two-lapper, so I simply carried on up West Hill, turning left into the Ridgeway and, to make things mildly different, half way along the Ridgeway I turned right into Hook Hill and followed the road until it joined with Briton Hill Road.

It was tough, but good and I kind of vowed to do it daily but, of course, I didn't.

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