Sunday, 19 April 2015

Phil aborts, Andy and I ride to the churchyard and I ride alone to Botley Hill...

Yours truly at Botley Hill standing on newly sown grass seed...oh dear!
Phil ruled out cycling this weekend due to family commitments, leaving Andy and I to our own devices on Saturday morning. We could have gone to Westerham but in all honesty I don't think either of us were in the mood for that hill on the return journey – the Northern Kent market town would have to wait a few more weeks. Instead we rode to the Tatsfield Churchyard where we drank tea and munched on my favourite variety of BelVita biscuit, milk and cereal. Dunking them in my tea, however, I had forgotten their vulnerability and, on two occasions, had to fish out part of the soggy biscuit with a spoon. We chatted about this and that, mainly my trip to Amsterdam and how it was a very laid-back city full of laid-back people.

The weather was good. Or rather it wasn't raining. It was a little cold, but not unpleasant and not dissimilar to today's weather. I had a bit of a broken sleep last night and kept waking up every hour, finally drifting off around 0430hrs and then waking up with the alarm at 0600hrs, feeling weary and strongly considering an abort text to Andy. My phone was off so I switched it on and, after leaving it on the console table downstairs, I distinctly heard a short buzz and soon discovered that Andy had aborted, probably because he too had a broken night – that's what I'm guessing, although I might be wrong [I was wrong, he was knackered].

But I was up and out of bed, the kettle was on and I found myself staring out of the kitchen window on to the garden where a huge pile of chopped down bushes awaited my attention – it needed further chopping and then stuffing into green plastic bags and I was thinking that perhaps I didn't need to ride out after all as I had my exercise waiting for me on the lawn. I'd virtually resigned myself to not going out and when I checked my watch and noted that it was 0800hrs I decided that the garden would be my sole source of Sunday morning exercise...until I realised that my watch was still displaying Amsterdam time. It was only just gone 0700hrs, meaning I still had time to change my mind and get out on the road.

Austin Sevens on the Limpsfield Road...
I dithered. Why bother? But eventually, after a little more soul-searching, I put on my trainers and headed outside, hoping, perhaps, that I might have a flat tyre (although in all honesty I wasn't really hoping for a puncture, I think it just crossed my mind as a last resort). When I reached the bike there was no sign of anything wrong so I unpadlocked it and headed off in the usual direction.

Half the battle when confronted with a solo ride is getting out of bed, but that's not the end of it; once out and dressed there's plenty of time to over-analyse the situation and convince yourself that there are other things to do instead of cycling, but that nagging guilt is always there too, especially when the weather is good (or reasonable) and there's no real excuse other than pure laziness. For me, it's not until I've climbed Church Way that I'm fully out of the metaphorical woods. Once on level ground and riding through the churchyard – which has just re-opened after weeks of something or other being done to it – I knew that, bar a puncture, there was little to stop me.

I decided to head for Botley Hill, although Westerham crossed my mind (fleetingly) and I did consider the old faithful Tatsfield Bus Stop, but decided that Botley would do for today. Having left the house around 0730 – actually, later, it was roughly 0750hrs when I found myself on the bike and moving forward – I reached Botley around 55 minutes later. I wasn't really exerting myself. I left that to the Lycra monkeys in their Colnago-branded cycling shorts.

Solo rides often mean no tea or biscuits so riding to Botley was a good idea as there was nowhere to make myself comfortable and then regret not making a flask of tea. I lingered around a little bit to take the rather stupid photograph that accompanies this post (I should have been at least another two feet to my left) and then I headed back along the B269 in time to see what must have been some kind of Austin Seven car rally: there were loads of them and they were all being driven by grey-haired, grey-bearded men who were probably as old as the cars themselves.

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