Saturday, 30 March 2013

Easter weekend cycling – hilly route to Merstham (never again)...

I'd worked out a route looking at a street map. The sole aim was to find a route to Redhill from Sanderstead that avoided the A23. But street maps don't say anything about hills and there were plenty. So many, in fact, on the early, suburban part of the ride, that, before reaching a place in Coulsdon called Farthing Common, a kind of deserted plateau rising above deep valleys on either side, we were already knackered.

My sentiments exactly...
Andy was knackered and pissed off because he'd riden all the way from Caterham to meet me outside the main entrance to Purley Station only to discover that the route he was about to embark upon took him back to within five or ten minutes' ride from his house.

But let's get back to those hills. The road names should have given them away: Foxley Hill, just off the A22 Godstone Road, then Higher Drive, Hartley Hill and Rutherford Rise. 'Hill' and 'Rise' and 'Higher' should have sparked off warning signals, but they hadn't and by the time we reached Farthing Common, well, we both felt as if we'd over-exerted things a little bit. From there it was fairly straightforward: the Farthing Down bit became Ditches Lane then Church Lane followed by Hilltop Lane and then, as if by magic, we found ourselves at Rockshaw Lane, the road that leads down to Merstham. My plan had been to continue down Hilltop Lane which would have become Warwick Wold Road and then turn right after crossing over the M25 on to the Bletchingly Road and then up School Hill into the centre of Merstham – but we decided to take the road we trusted and within 10 or 15 minutes were standing outside Hunger's End – which was closed.

We wandered down to the Quality Café, which, everytime I pass it is normally closed and shuttered. Not today. It was open so in we went. Andy ordered a bacon roll and tea and I chose an omelette, chips and beans. We both had a couple of mugs of tea and sat there reading the Sun and the Daily Star, marvelling at how fit that model, Elle MacPherson, once known as 'the body' was looking aged 50. She's had kids too, but wow, is she fit.

Andy with bacon roll in Merstham's Quality Café
We were, it had to be said, tired and those earlier hills had played havoc with my general state of well-being. I was fine, but had I been able to sit in the Quality Café all day, I would have done so; but I had to get home and I seriously considered the train. However, all that stodgy food needed to be burned off so I resolved to cycle home along the very busy A23. Andy branched off at Shepherd's Hill.

I was knackered by the time I reached home and my right knee was giving me some pain too, nothing major, and once I'd rested a bit I was fine.

We're going to cycle to Tatsfield Churchyard tomorrow – a nice short one.

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