Sunday, 8 March 2015

Good weather, Belvita biscuits and Phil's sausage sarnies – a top weekend's cycling

The first good thing about this weekend was the weather; at last a break in the cold and frosty starts. Saturday had been bigged up all week by the TV weather bods and lo and behold they were right – it was a positively balmy 8 degrees Centigrade, the sun was shining and the skies were blue and what's more, it wasn't just confined to Saturday. While the forecasters had warned that Sunday would not be as good as Saturday, they were wrong. Big time! On both days the weather was simply amazing.

It was so good that we should have bitten the bullet and paid a visit to Westerham, but we went to the Tatsfield Churchyard – me, Andy and, wait for it, Phil. It was really good to see him again, especially as he brought his legendary sausage sarnies with him, made with home-made bread. Amazing. What with Andy's Belvita biscuits and my flask of tea, it meant that we were to enjoy a feast when we reached the churchyard.

Phil (centre) back on the ride... along with the sarnies!
As for Phil, he's alright. It's been a while, but Phil detests the cold weather so he's stayed away from the bike and what's more the bike in question (his dad's old Raleigh) is in serious need of replacement. So, Phil's back and he's already gained the first 'respect is due' commendation of 2015 – for once again proving to be NVL's catering manager. Alright, I bring the tea, Andy's in charge of the Belvita biscuits and Phil? Well, he's more the executive chef, the guy behind the famous Bakewell tarts and cakes of last summer and, of course, the sausage sandwiches, all of which never disappoint.

When we reached the churchyard we parked up the bikes, I made the tea, the bikkies came out and Phil revealed the sausage sandwiches. Andy and I had to share as I forgot to inform Phil that Andy would be on the ride. He'd originally planned for riding only on Sunday, but changed his mind late in the day and, if the truth be known, I didn't want to simply presume that Phil would be making the sausage sarnies, so I didn't say anything like, "make it three rounds, Phil, as Andy's coming". How presumptuous would that have been? As a consequence he made just two rounds so I shared with Andy, although, to be truthful, bearing in mind my new rules surrounding the eating of too much bread and 'junky food' I was quite happy to let Andy have the lot, but relented when I saw the wonderful home-made bread and sniffed the aroma that flew out from the silver foil once the aforementioned sarnies were unwrapped.

We chewed the fat as usual – not that there was much fat in the sausage sarnies – and it was good to have Phil back on the team.

One of Andy's new gold wheels
Sunday and it was more of the same. We met on the green as usual and then debated where to go. Westerham was mentioned, but we aimed for the Tatsfield Bus Stop (the slow way) which, as always, proved to be a bit of slog. The worst bit is Beddlestead Lane to Clarks Lane because the former is such a slow and tiresome hill and it seems to go on forever. After flying down Hesiers Hill it's not long before the speed slows and riders find themselves putting in the effort along the first uphill stretch, which ends when they encounter two cottages on the left hand side of the road. Then there's a smallish glade which, during the summer months is like a tunnel of greenery, but in the winter is characterised by bare branches that let in the daylight. The next milestone is a mobile phone mast and then, fairly soon after, Clarks Lane. We turn left and sail towards our destination – the wooden bus stop we talk so much about.

Unbelievably, Phil had done it again – this time he unveiled THREE rounds of his famous sausage sarnies and then Andy produced chocolate Belvitas. I poured out the tea. Wonderful. We sat there doing what we usually do: see who could flick their teabag the furthest using Andy's teaspooon, the goal being to hit the road from the bench in the bus shelter. Andy's managed it, but alas, both Phil and I need some practice.

Tea consumed, biscuits munched and sausage sarnies scoffed it was time to get back on the bikes and head towards the green, this time along the B269. We parted company with Andy at Warlingham and then continued on along the Limpsfield Road, through Hamsey and then Sanderstead High Street, down Church Way and home.

What a brilliant weekend of riding. Alright, we didn't go that far – just two rides of approximately 16 miles each (32 miles or thereabouts in total) – but what with Phil back on the team, sausage sandwiches, Belvita biscuits and, of course, a decent cup of tea, we had to ask ourselves: what could be better? Not much! And the good weather is set to continue for a few more days and hopefully it'll last until next Saturday when we'll be back on the bikes and heading out towards, well, towards the Tatsfield Bus Stop probably, although we have said we'll aim for Westerham. Let's wait and see.

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