Monday, 18 November 2013

To Tatsfield Village...the slow way

Sunday 17th November: Westerham had been mooted, but in the end we opted for Tatsfield Village, the slow way. I'd half expected frost on the ground this morning, but when I peered out around 6am, there was nothing. In fact, it wasn't really that cold. Here we are mid-November and I've yet to don the gloves.

Phil aborted so it was just Andy and I that headed out from Warlingham Green towards Sainsbury's and beyond.

When I awoke this morning, the television news was talking about a body being found in Warlingham. The body of a male or female? That was the question and forensics were looking into it; the body had been found in a well and seven people were under arrest. News reports suggested that a house full of Eastern Europeans were under suspicion.

The Warlingham Green Christmas tree in all its glory
As I cycled along the Limpsfield Road towards the Green I wondered how far I might be from the gruesome discovery. Where, I wondered, was there a well in Warlingham, because that was where the body had been found.

It all happens round these parts. In fact, this sentence is written a good 12 hours later than all that has gone before it and this morning I discovered on the radio news that the body had been assaulted prior to finding itself in the well. The plot thickens, but this story has made the national news headlines for two days in a row so I'll keep you posted.

The ride was good. The weather overcast and sullen, but no rain and a slight bite in the air. The cold weather is on the way, say the weather forecasters, and it won't be long before we are greeted by frost in the mornings and biting cold air. At the moment, though, it's pretty mild out there, although I recall one November, a couple of years back, when it was so cold that somebody left an ice sculpture on the Green – that was a very cold day and then I think we had snow that Christmas (or just prior).

Riding to Tatsfield the slow way is quite a trek and we both agreed, as we hauled ourselves up Beddlestead Lane towards Clarks Lane that it was probably a better work-out than riding to Westerham – or at least on a par. I've probably said this before, but Beddlestead Lane seems never ending; there are signs along the way that mark the route, signs like the dead tree trunk that stands alone on the right hand side of the road, like a totem pole, highlighting that the end is nigh. In fact, the totem pole (as I call it) is probably the only real sign that the end of Beddlestead Lane is nigh. The rest of the road is hedgerows, fields, gates, the usual stuff you expect to find on an NVL ride.

As always on Beddlestead Lane we are passed by Lycra Monkeys, who bid us a polite 'good morning' as they overtake us – we the overladen horse and carts, they the sleek sports cars. Our bikes are 'tractors' of the highest order and certainly not ideal for the sort of riding we're predominantly doing. One topic of conversation that has risen it's ugly head many a time is that we should be riding hybrids, with more gears and thinner tyres and possibly even trade in our high spec hydraulic brakes for old-fashioned blocks. Why? Because of maintenance costs. My front pads need replacing, I've just replaced my entire rear brake, it's never-ending. As I remarked to Andy while we sat at the Tatsfield Village bus stop, my Marin Bear Valley Special Edition had something like 21 or 24 gears and in the 12 years that I  rode it (on the London to Brighton a couple of times, London to Cambridge and London to Oxford, plus the odd excursion out to Botley Hill long before Andy and I took up cycling, I never had one puncture, never had to replace the brake blocks, nothing at all. The Kona has been a completely different story, costing me, on average, about £150 per year. Still, I like it and I know that if I sell it on Ebay I'll only get about £150 so I'm holding on to it for the time being. Having said that, I've often found myself in bike shops viewing 'sensible' bikes with thinner tyres, mudguards, block brakes and the like; worryingly, it sounds like I'm gaining a bit of maturity. Next thing you know I'll be considering the value of a basket mounted on the front bars – "It's so useful!"

Warlingham Church Hall, taken Sunday evening.
We sat at Tatsfield, munching the cereal bars and drinking the tea and, in all honesty, we were missing Phil's sausage sandwiches, which last week were fantastic.

I reached home just before 10am, having parted company with Andy halfway along the 269 – we came back 'the fast way'.

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