Sunday, 13 July 2014

Westerham alone and in the rain...

Up with the lark this morning. Well, not with the lark, I wasn't sleeping in an aviary, for heaven's sake. I was conscious at around 0540hrs and then, when the alarm went off at 0600hrs I was ready to jump out of bed and head downstairs for some tea, a banana and Weetabix with cold milk (I slice the banana, sprinkle it over the Weetbix and then add milk and sugar). Then, at around 0630hrs, having gazed out of the window to check the weather (and finding it was not raining) I retrieved the bike from the garage and headed for the green to meet Andy.
Sheltering from the rain Sunday morning outside Waitrose around
0645hrs – at this stage I was only planning to reach Warlingham Green
But the weather was going to let me down, I could feel it. Outside there were grey skies. All was downcast and it was threatening rain. It was fine as I weaved my way around the suburban streets of South Croydon: up Ellenbridge, up Elmfield Way, across Morley and up Church Way but then, as I made my way along Sanderstead High Street (which, incidentally, is a long way from Sanderstead railway station) the rain started to drizzle down. Andy sent me a text saying it was raining. He'd only just left his house, but I'd been out for a good 15 minutes and, once you're out in it, you feel slightly different about it. Fortunately, I found shelter at the Waitrose in Sanderstead where I hoped the bad weather would blow over.

Andy aborted and Phil was in the Cotswolds so I sat on a bench and watched the rain for all of ten minutes before it stopped and I resumed my ride. I'd decided to head for Warlingham Green, have my tea and then head back, but as I sped along the Limpsfield Road I decided to go further: Botley Hill, perhaps, or even the Tatsfield Bus Stop where I could stop and have tea before embarking upon the return journey.

I didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes before resuming the ride...
The weather seemed fine. A little grey, perhaps, with plenty of puddles in the road, but the rain was virtually non-existent as I sailed past Warlingham Green and headed towards Sainsbury's and Knight's Garden Centre. It was either Botley or the bus stop, I thought.

Fortunately I was wearing swimming trunks. Not 'budgie smugglers' but 'shorts' that I'd bought in the USA, probably somewhere like San Antonio, I can't remember, but they were more akin to the shorts worn by boxers than swimmers. Anyway, trunks they were so if they got a little wet it kind of didn't matter so I continued on, past Botley, past the Tatsfield Bus Stop and down the hill towards Westerham. Low cloud hung over the woods below me and the spray from my tyres provided an impromptu shower as I headed down the hill, crossing the Surrey/Kent border and then hitting Westerham proper where a 30mph speed limit sign announced that I'd arrived in the town. I felt good about the fact that I hadn't aborted and that, rather than call it a day at Warlingham Green I'd continued on past the Botley Hill Farmhouse, past the Tatsfield Bus Stop and past the entrance to the Tatsfield Churchyard and on towards Westerham. The ride turned into a good 22-mile work-out.

It was a bit like being on a non-stop train that was passing through empty stations en route to its final destination and in that sense it reminded me of my childhood. When I was a kid I used to pretend that my bike (the old Moulton Mini) was a train. I invented stations along the streets surrounding where I lived. One was called Plumbury because of a Victoria plum tree, the fruit of which hung over a fence. Then there was 'Wanash Gardens'. We lived in a cul-de-sac (my mum still lives there) and Wanash Gardens, while, in reality, the name of a dreary block of flats on the Carshalton Road (which is also still there today) it was the name I gave to a semi-circular chunk of our cul-de-sac. These memories flooded back to me as I rode down the hill into Westerham.

Churchill's statue in Westerham
There was a moment of panic when, for a moment, I thought I was going to fall off the bike. Somehow, my swimming trunks had become entangled in the saddle and I knew that if I stopped the bike I would simply keel over to the left or right and hit the tarmac. This was mildly worrying as I had nothing on underneath the trunks and I suddenly realised that, to untangle myself, I might have to somehow wiggle out of the shorts and then, while stark bollock naked from the waist down (bar socks and trainers) – and certainly while lying on my back with the bike on top of me – I'd have to disentangle the trunks before putting them back on. How humiliating would that be? Very!

Fortunately none of the above happened and I cycled into Westerham fully clothed and without any cause for embarassment, and found myself on the green. The benches were wet, the skies were still grey and it could have rained at any moment, but it didn't. Time for tea... except that when I opened my rucksack I discovered that I hadn't packed my cup or teabags. All I had was a flask of hot water and some milk. Luckily I only disappointed myself. Phil and Andy would have been a little pissed off as tea and cookies are the highlight of our rides. And judging by the way we've been talking of late, it looks as if future rides will be taking on a culinary twist. Yesterday Phil said he was planning to make Mary Berry's Christmas cake – including the icing! I've discussed making a corned beef pie as Phil wants to compare his mum's recipe with mine, and we've even talked about bringing a white tablecloth and a bottle of wine to make a real feast of it all – along with bread pudding for dessert and some Ambrosia Devon Cream custard. We'll see how things go on that front.

Back to the present and, dejected, I resolved to simply ride back home. I sent Andy a text and a photo of yours truly in front of Churchill's statue – with a certain smugness, having reached Westerham alone despite the rain – and then I climbed back on the bike and headed out of town. There was no more rain. In fact it got a little brighter as I headed up the hill, past the churchyard, past the bus stop and past Botley Hill and then back along the 269, into Warlingham, through Hamsey and home.

Saturday 12th July 2014

On Saturday we rode the long way to the Tatsfield Bus Stop, our first ride with Andy since he returned from the Canary Islands. Last week our cycling was rained off so it was good to get out on the bike. Going the slow way to the bus stop enabled us to chat about this and that (cakes, Lance Armstrong, Phil's new wheel) and when we reached our destination we enjoyed biscuits (quite a lot of biscuits) and tea before heading back the fast way and parting company with Andy at Warlingham Green – when Andy rides his racer, as he did on Saturday, he never takes the short cut across the fields halfway along the 269. Phil and I headed down the Limpsfield Road, through Hamsey and along Sanderstead High Street. The weather, incidentally, was wonderful: beautiful sunshine that remained all day. We rode down Church Way and home where Phil announced that he had a puncture. A good place to get a puncture, when you reach home, I thought as I unlocked my garage door and padlocked my bike.
Waiting at Warlingham Green for Andy on Saturday morning, but without any 
money to visit that Coughlans Bakery for a mug of tea and a bun. Oh dear.
With such beautiful weather I made my way to the back garden where I enjoyed a cup of tea while reading another, yes another, Bill Bryson book; this time, Made in America. On Friday I finished Down Under.

All in all a good weekend of cycling: 22 miles today and around 16 miles yesterday, so, that's almost 40 miles. Good work!

In the news, the Netherlands beat Brazil 3-0! Last week the Germans beat Brazil 7-1! Today is the final between Germany and Argentina. I'm rooting for the Germans, who I think will win.

No comments:

Post a Comment