Saturday, 28 September 2013

Tatsfield Bus Stop...

Last week I thought the Tatsfield Bus Stop was for sale, until I noticed that, while an estate agent's board was clearly standing in front of our famous covered bus stop, it was little more than an advertisement for a beer festival.
Life's a Blast – Andy's bike at the bus stop today.

We, that is Andy and I, rode to the Tatsfield Bus Stop. The weather was good and while I think it must have rained earlier in the morning, it was fine and fairly warm. We discussed our general reduction in mileage. Andy has an iphone app that charts his cycling, in particular his mileage, and he knows that this year, as opposed to last, he didn't put in as many miles as in 2012.

We both feel as if we're not trying as hard and I think it's true, we're not. There are too many 'aborts', too many one-ride weekends and too many shorter runs.

Going back to the early days, even the pre-blog days, there seemed to be more time than there is today, but I suggested that it wasn't so much that there used to be more time, but more that, today, we are more anxious than we used to be; so, whereas in the past we might ride out to the same destinations that we ride to today, the rides of the past were not so 'anxious'... perhaps. Today we're always thinking about the time and when we're going to get home. In the early days, either we didn't worry so much or we simply can't remember worrying. You see, the venues haven't really changed. We still ride to the lake occasionally, we've been riding to Westerham quite a bit of late, the Tatsfield Churchyard, Village and Bus Stop have all been visited recently, so perhaps it is purely a lack of anxiety that characterised our earlier rides than those of today.

Both Andy and I recall sitting down and drinking tea and munching cereal bars (like we did today) without a care in the world, but is this merely a case of our memories failing us? I remember how we used to visit Woodmansterne Green and how, sometimes, we'd be sheltering from the rain under the covered gateway of the church on the green, or other times when we stood on the green talking to Jon, my brother, who was always there whenever we visited Woodmansterne. And it all seemed so timeless and fret-free.

But what about those longer rides? The long route to Merstham via The Enterdent, the big breakfast in Hunger's End? What about Jackass Lane and Tandridge? We haven't experienced them for a while and I put that down to a lack of time, other commitments and so on. But I think our memories are playing tricks on us to a certain extent. We still visit the same destinations, give or take, we still have the same chat, drink the same tea, munch the same cereal bars. We just think that things have somehow changed. How? I think it's that, rather than enjoy the ride, we're pre-occupied, to an extent, with what we have planned for the day ahead and what time we need to be home. We no longer simply ride out and enjoy the ride, that's what has changed. I'm not saying we don't enjoy the rides, we do, but these days we're more pre-occupied with other non-cycling matters – what time we need to be back and so on, which is understandable as we all have family commitments.

My Kona Scrap at the bus stop this morning.
Being at the bus stop today brought it all home to me: a ride we've done many times before, a view – from the bus stop – that we've seen many times before: White Lane, the road sign, the grass in front of the bus stop, the Lycra monkeys passing by along Clarks Lane, the tea, the cereal bars, the chat. Nothing has changed with the rides. We have changed, not the rides! Perhaps it's because we're all older and a little more tired and weary in the mornings. Perhaps getting up so early is getting to us a little bit, perhaps we simply need a new destination. Perhaps it's a case of familiarity breeds contempt: cycling has become so much a part of our routine that it's something we, on some level, resent – the early starts and so on. It's hard to know the answer.

I think we need to be a little more disciplined. We need to get back to the two rides to Westerham, meeting on the green at 7am like we used to. We must remember that while we enjoy the rides, the key here is fitness - not munching on buns and drinking tea. Yes, we'll keep the tea and cereal bars going, but we need to get out there every weekend and head for Westerham, just like we used to, and that way the mileage we clock up will mount up, our fitness levels will increase and we'll be happier in ourselves. Not that we're not happy.

As for the blog, that has to stay as it has given structure and life to the rides. It gives us a record of what we've done in the past and it makes the whole idea of getting up so early worthwhile.

We simply need to ensure that, as far as possible, we get out there, twice a weekend (weather permitting) rather than press the abort button. But perhaps we should simply not even think about it. Go when we can and not get screwed up about the mileage. By and large we've been out most weekends for the past six years.

Ironically, I can't go tomorrow, due to a sponsored walk I'm doing across London (12 miles from Earls Court to ExCeL. But I'll be back next week and happy to ride to Westerham. And perhaps we ought to be thinking of Hunger's End again; the Enterdent; Jackass Lane...

The key is not to lose heart.

Pix by Andy Smith

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