Sunday, 15 June 2014

Westerham, World Cup, sausage sandwiches...what a great weekend of cycling!

We managed to clock up 44 miles this weekend with two 22-milers to Westerham early in the morning. There was contrasting weather too. Saturday was bright sunshine and most definitely tee-shirt weather. Conversely, Sunday, while relatively warm, was overcast and there was always the threat of rain, although it never happened.

I was expecting a flat front tyre, but didn't have one when I entered the garage at 0630hrs on Saturday morning and soon Phil and I were on our way to Warlingham Green to meet Andy. We all agreed to Westerham and set off on the 269 – heads down, no talking – until we reached our destination.
Phil, yours truly and Andy at Westerham Green, Saturday 15th June 2014.
Once seated, we discusssed David Beckham's trip into the Amazon, which wasn't as good as it could have been in my opinion. Bring back Charley Boorman. I found the Beckham's programme to be a little shallow. There wasn't enough about Beckham and when he did open his mouth it was always to say how nice it was to be in a place where nobody knew his name, although there are not many places in the world where he remains anonymous and if I was Beckham I would have been a little annoyed with the other guys who kept asking those they encountered whether they knew who it was who stood before them – most of them did, but there was a group of remote villagers who looked bemused.

I wasn't too happy with those he chose as travel companions: two Americans and a long-standing mate from the days before Beckham was Beckham. In fact, I'd like to have heard more about his childhood friend as the two Americans seemed like much more recent acquaintances and there was no real attempt made to delve into their personalities, their backgrounds, what they thought of being in the Amazon rain forest and their thoughts on Beckham.

Also, I wanted to see Beckham roughing it a bit more; most of the time he wasn't under canvas and I felt a little short-changed and of the opinion that Beckham should leave 'adventure' programmes to the likes of Bear Grylls and Ray Mears, not forgetting real explorers like Benedict Allen. That said, I like Beckham, but in this programme, while he said that riding a motorcycle was liberating and that by wearing a crash helmet he could remain anonymous, I would have liked more than the notion that by travelling into the Amazonian rainforest, he can find people who don't know him – which, effectively, was what the programme was about. In fact, I felt mildly sorry for old Becks because it was quite obvious that 'being Beckham' means his life isn't entirely his own.

Sausage sandwiches – Matt and Phil caught munching as Andy sips his tea.
The weather on Saturday was wonderful, making the ride very pleasant. We parted company with Andy halfway along the 269 and reached home around 0942hrs. I had a fairly chilled day involving a walk in the Ashdown Forest. It was also the day England played Italy in World Cup 2014. Sadly it was on at 11pm – not ideal when you've got some serious cycling to do the following morning. I stayed up for the first 22 minutes of the game and went to bed with the score at 0-0. When Radio 4 woke me up the following morning I discovered that Italy had won the match 2-1, meaning that if England loses its next group game (with Uraguay) 'our boys' will almost certainly be on the next flight home. Oh dear!

There's a great Private Eye front cover this week showing the England team walking down the steps from the plane as they arrive on Brazilian soil. The pilot is wondering whether to keep the engines running. Judging by England's first match of the tournament, he should certainly keep them ticking over as it won't be long before we hear those magical seven words, "England is out of the World Cup".

Hazy sunshine on Westerham Green on Saturday morning...
Sunday was warm but overcast and while good weather was sort of hinted at by the TV forecasters, it never really materialised. As I mentioned earlier, there always seemed to be a threat of rain in the air, but it held off as we headed off again at 0630hrs to meet Andy on Warlingham Green. We aimed for Westerham again, arriving roughly five minutes later than yesterday, but still just before 0800hrs.

On Saturday we noticed that some wooden tables and chairs had been plonked on Westerham Green, making tea drinking and cereal bar munching a little easier, although we didn't have any cereal bars. Andy had brought some very tasty biscuits with him, which went down a treat. Phil, however, receives another 'respect is due' for surprising us with his excellent sausage sandwiches, this time made with home-made bread. Is there no end to this man's talents?

When I think about how our cycling has developed since the pre-blog days of 2006, I find it hard to believe how things have changed from when Andy and I stood outside the Co-op with a bun, saying very little and putting all our efforts into the ride. Today, it's morphed into a much more complex experience involving a regularly updated blog PLUS tea and cereal bars and now the odd sausage sandwich and Christmas cake and soon, perhaps, some corned beef tart as I discovered today that Phil's mum – like my own – is a dab hand at the old corned beef tart. It won't be long before it appears on the ride and now we're even talking, albeit jokingly, about bringing a bottle of wine along too (although if we ever did, we'd have to leave later, as the thought of a glass of Cabernet at 0800hrs on Westerham Green doesn't really appeal.

Over the next three weeks it will be down to Phil and I to motivate ourselves as Andy is off on holiday to the Canary Islands next weekend. So, when Phil and I are riding down the hill into Westerham – or wherever we happen to be going over the next fortnight – Andy will be fast asleep in his hotel room and won't have too much to do when he wakes up (other than pleasant walks in the sunshine, eating Mediterranean food and taking a dip in the hotel pool).

We rode out of Westerham at around 0830hrs and chatted most of the way to the start of the hill and then quietened down as we put all our efforts into overcoming the mental torture of what is a long, slow incline all the way to the Botley. We passed the Tatsfield Bus Stop and were approaching the mini roundabout at the top of Titsey Hill when Phil announced he had a rear wheel puncture. We stopped, Phil fixed it and soon we were on our way again,  pleased by the way passing cyclists took an interest in our welfare simply by asking if we were alright. Perhaps I was wrong about 'cycling etiquette'.

Phil's puncture caused very little delay – no more than 10 minutes – and after bidding farewell to Andy, Phil and I pushed on towards Warlingham Green, Hamsey and, of course, Sanderstead. We sailed down Church Way, said our goodbyes and got on with our lives – for me it was mowing the lawn (front and back). For Phil a family barbecue at his mum's place.

As I write this the weather remains warm but overcast. Here's hoping next week will be a little brighter.

No comments:

Post a Comment