Sunday, 31 August 2014

To Westerham...(22 miles)

If you're going to break the law, the best time of day is the early morning and I tend to do it once or twice a week, at the weekends. I'm not talking major stuff, like robbing a bank or indulging in a bit of house-breaking. No, simply riding the wrong way along a short stretch of one-way street and then riding through red lights – temporary lights, I hasten to add, along Church Way where there are some roadworks underway. It's a three-way set of temporary lights and, to be totally honest, at 0700hrs on a Saturday or Sunday morning there's never anybody around and if I really wanted to, I could simply ride on the pavement to avoid law breaking – although would that be law breaking too? – but in all honesty, I quite enjoy a bit of anti-social behaviour, especially when I'm wearing my rather ridiculous ASBO specials (as I tend to be most weekends when out on the bike).
Those ASBO specials should be locked away.
The weather was fantastic. Well, perhaps that's too strong an adjective, but compared to yesterday (when I decided not to ride out) it was lovely: the sun was shining, there were blue skies and cotton wool clouds. Yesterday it was a little overcast and the skies threatened (but never delivered) rain.

I was feeling good today as I powered up to the end of Church Way, crossed the busy road at the top and then sailed through the churchyard, across the green, past the pond and on to the Limpsfield Road. I powered along towards Warlingham Green where, at around 0730hrs, Andy was already there waiting for me.

An executive decision has been made. Andy was saying last week that he was having trouble getting to the green for 0700hrs. I know what he means. When I get out of bed at 0600hrs I like to chill for an hour, messing around on the computer, checking out the blog, drinking tea and having breakfast and when I've only got 30 minutes it's a bit tight. So the full hour chill is to return from next week, which will tie in nicely with the fact that it's September, the weather's going to get chillier and, sooner or later, the later starts will be back anyway.

The main reason behind the earlier starts is time. Or rather a lack of it, so we figured that to ride to Westerham and still have enough time to chill with tea, biscuits, cakes or sausage sandwiches, we'd need to leave earlier in order to get back home earlier. To a degree it worked and with the warm weather it wasn't really a problem, but that early morning rush wasn't pleasant so we're going back to meeting on Warlingham Green at 0730hrs, which means leaving the house at 0700hrs instead of 0630hrs. And let's not get beyond ourselves here: when we leave at 0630hrs for Westerham, we get there 10 minutes earlier than when we leave the house at 0700hrs so something's afoot. God knows what, though.

Today, wary of the fact that a later start would normally mean a shorter ride – usually the Tatsfield options of bus stop, village or churchyard – we decided to push the envelope and head for Westerham, with one proviso: that we simply shut the fuck up, keep our heads down and get on with getting there, which we did, in just 30 minutes. We left the green at 0730 and we arrived in Westerham at 0800hrs, giving us a full 30 minutes to chill before leaving at 0830 (the time we'd normally leave if we'd left Warlingham Green half an hour earlier).

It was tea and biscuits today (I love those biscuits Andy gets from Tesco) and our conversation revolved around many subjects including the Ukraine, ISIS and Brook's saddles (I've been thinking about buying one, but they're pricey – over £100). We took the obligatory photo (or rather Andy did – see above) and then headed out of town.

The long haul out of Westerham didn't seem too bad today, but I remembered how the climb doesn't end until we reach the pub (the Botley Hill Farmhouse). Up until that point it's a bit of a struggle and en route we pass many a Lycra monkey, eager to get home to check on his pension plan.

Andy branched off half way along the 269 and I continued into Warlingham, Hamsey and then Sanderstead. As Phil and I have often remarked, there's something really pleasant about riding down Church Way knowing that a ride has been completed and we're on the final leg of the journey. Today was no exception. I felt good as I followed, possibly too closely, a Skoda Fabia, which had to slow down to tackle the speed humps and then, the aforementioned temporary lights, which turned red, prompting me to take the pavement (behind a jogger) but darting back on to the road ahead of the Skoda, which was still waiting at a red light. Fortunately for me, nothing was coming the other way.

I continued to break the law after turning a sharp left into Morley Road followed by a sharp right in Elmfield Way, riding on the wrong side of the road down the hill in order to make a fast left turn into Southcote Road and another sharp right into Ellenbridge, hitting that speed hump just before the turn and allowing the bike to leave the ground momentarily. A brief period of 'no hands' followed but then, as I turned into Barnfield I jumped on to the pavement and rode home, getting back at roughly 0935hrs – really good going considering the later start.

Having not taken a ride yesterday, I'm glad we rode to Westerham as it meant we cycled 22 miles. It looks as if more trips to Westerham are on the agenda now that we know we can get there for 0800hrs if we just get our heads down, lessen the chit-chat and stop dawdling.

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