Sunday, 31 May 2015

Respect is due: Redhill and back alone and in the rain...

Pot of tea for one and a pain au raisin in West Central, Redhill
Yesterday I should have gone out cycling. The weather was fantastic, but I dawdled about. At 11 o'clock I thought it was time to hit the road, but I stayed put, and then, at noon, I almost left the house, but ended up not bothering. It was, to put it mildly, the worst possible example of apathy and general laziness made worse by the fact that I knew Sunday was going to be a terrible day characterised by rain and blustery winds.

Sunday morning and the weathermen were proved right: it was a mildly blowy and wet day, but the rain was almost invisible; the sort of rain that is only visible if I strain my eyes while looking at the trees – it didn't even reveal itself in the birdbath. But drizzle, as such rain is often called, is known to get worse and turn into full-blown rain. So I hesitated again.

Standing in the bathroom I stared at the shelf on which brightly-coloured toothbrushes, like alien flowers, stood to attention among the shampoos, conditioners and disposable razors. There was a bar of soap resting on the ledge of the sink and the shower curtain was drawn across exposing its colourful pattern to my tired eyes. Outside, through the frosted glass, I could see the green blur of the garden and I found myself thinking that I simply had to go out on the bike. The alternative was to have a day like yesterday of just sitting around the house not doing anything – other than reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (I'm nearly on page 900!). So I metaphorically slapped myself around the face and resolved to take a ride.

I didn't want to ride to Botley or the Tatsfield Bus Stop, or even Westerham, so I decided to head for Redhill. The drizzle had stopped, the skies were grey but bright and, crucially, it wasn't cold. I rode the normal way, as if I was meeting Andy at the green, but halfway along the Limpsfield Road I turned right onto Wentworth Way, followed the road to Warlingham School and then headed down Tithepit Shaw Lane and into Whyteleafe. I crossed the railway track and headed up Whyteleafe Hill, turning right into Burntwood Lane and then left into Caterham, past the Esso garage and through Caterham-on-the-Hill along Town End and then High Street, which turned into Church Road. I realised that instead of turning right into Burntwood Lane I could have carried on along Whyteleafe Road, emerging on to Church Road shortly before the right turn into Stanstead Road where I was greeted by a leafy suburban street characterised by gated communities full of right wing people so scared of the proletariat they have to lock themselves and their families away from what they perceive as the cruel world – not far removed, perhaps, from the Michigan Militia and those awful people who store tinned food in hidden caves in preparation for the apocalypse.

Rural roads between Redhill and Caterham
Whyteleafe Hill was long and tiresome and time-consuming and so was Stanstead Road. I kept expecting to see the pub, the Harrow, but it kept me waiting as the aforementioned gated communities and the odd private school caught my eye as the bike took me into more semi-rural terrain. Soon I found myself on White Hill Lane – murder coming the other way but a piece of piss when you're riding downhill. I turned right into Spring Bottom Lane and then left on to Warwick Wold Road, which took me down into Merstham on the Bletchingly Road where I eventually turned left into Nutfield Road and then a short stretch of Battlebridge Lane before hitting Frenchies Road, which took me out on to the A23 for a couple of hundred yards and into Redhill.

I got there at 1055, having left the house at 0930hrs, and decided to find somewhere to chill and drink tea. I hadn't brought the flask so instead I headed for West Central, a 'not-for-profit coffee shop run by the church – although it cost roughly the same as other high street brands, such as Costa. I padlocked the bike outside and then ordered a pot of tea for one (£1.70) and a pain au raisin (£1.80) and sat at a table that allowed me to keep my bike in sight, not that any thieves would get far; it's a heavy bike and they'd have to carry it so I knew it was relatively safe.

West Central in Redhill – quite pleasant
Soon it was time to head home. I glanced at the time, it was 1140. I unpadlocked the bike and rode out of town, heading north along the A23. I'd decided not to hit the back roads for the return journey – or rather not all of them. Instead I rode along the A23 and through Merstham, turning right on to Shepherds Hill, which turned into Alderstead Road and then Dean Lane, which took me into the leafy suburbs of Chaldon on the outskirts of Caterham. Dean Lane became Rook Lane and then Chaldon Road. I turned left on the Coulsdon Road and cycled down towards the pub where I turned right on to Westway and left into Money Road before turning right on to Banstead Road, crossing into Burntwood Lane and turning left on to Whyteleafe Hill. I coasted downhill and across the railway line and then crossed the roundabout on the A22, up Hillbury Road and then up Tithepit Shaw Lane, a steep hill. Unfortunately my gears were playing up. I couldn't crank it down to the smaller cog at the front so I had to dismount and walk a few yards before jumping back on and hanging a left into Wentworth Road and then another left on to the Limpsfield Road. I rode through Sanderstead High Street and down Church Way where I encountered tragic circumstances. A woman called Jennifer Waller lay face down in the road in a distressed state of mind. According to a man driving a white van she was jogging down the road and simply fell flat on her face. An ambulance was called and when it eventually arrived I continued my journey down Church Way, left on to Morley, right into Elmfield Way and home.

While drizzly rain was present for most of the journey – and I was wet through – it was warm and, I must say, rather pleasant, although there was a heavy downpour around 2 o'clock, but, fortunately, I was back in the house by then.

The journey time to Redhill was one hour and 25 minutes at an even pace (and the same coming back) meaning that if I  cycled to work of a morning I'd need to leave the house by 0715hrs at the very latest.

Rural surroundings on the return journey from Redhill to Sanderstead

No comments:

Post a Comment