|Andy's bike and a pint of Harvey's Best Bitter|
We cycled along the A23 through Merstham and past Hungers End and up past Redhill college where we turned off and headed towards Reigate. The weather was fine and we knew the ride would be pleasant, which made a change from previous years when rain had taken its toll.
Arriving at the Black Horse, where other riders gathered, we parked our bikes and registered and then found a cup of tea and a bacon baguette – just what you need before a long cycle, although, once again, it was a welcomed 36 miles and not the 50 miles of past rides.
David, our friend with the Harley (which he's since sold due to cashflow issues) arrived. He's always a marshall. We chatted about this and that, mainly work and how things were generally tough and uncertain and then, after a bit of loitering about, it was time to go.
This year, the route had been reversed, making it not so hilly and rather pleasant. Andy thought we were dawdling and believed, at one point, that we'd covered less ground than we actually had, which caused a spot of despondency to set in until we checked the map and, to Andy's surprise, we'd covered 29 miles. I was elated. The weird thing about long bike rides of this nature is that, while they're good fun, they're also a bit of an ordeal and if you don't watch it, the old despondency will creep in. I always hate it when I'm told by a marshall that I'm almost 'half way' or that I've got so many miles to go. All I want to do is finish the ride and drink a pint of beer. But good things come to those who wait and sure enough, it wasn't long before Andy and I were climbing Trumpet Hill, the last incline before the home straight through Reigate Heath and back to the pub.
|Mine and Andy's bike taking a well-earned rest. Note the burger stall!|
There was, we heard, one casualty. A woman somehow fell off her bike and was taken to St George's Hospital, but we understand that she's alright, which is good as the ride is normally free of casualties.
When I reached home I sat down and enjoyed The Great Escape and then tucked into an excellent roast chicken dinner before hitting the sack.