Monday, 31 August 2015

Bank holiday rain and a word or two about David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries...

Bank holiday Mondays are traditionally rained off in the UK. The very phrase 'bank holiday Monday' brings to mind past days of gloom when there was nothing much to do but watch the television and look out of the window at rivulets of rain in the gutters and the occasional person wrestling with an unruly umbrella.

I knew it was going to be raining this morning and I was right. When the alarm went off at 0600hrs I just lay there listening to the news headlines without any sense of urgency – EU crisis talks on migration, the death of US horror movie director Wes Craven, Isis inflicting severe damage on an ancient temple in Palmyra and, of course, the death of neuroscientist Oliver Sacks.

Well, at least the grass is greener after a downpour...
At 0700hrs I looked out of the window to see the rain hammering down on next door's conservatory roof. There would be no cycling today, I thought. Now, sitting in my own conservatory, the rain hammering on the roof above me and the time rapidly approaching 0730hrs, I feel quite relaxed about the prospect of not riding the bike. Sometimes it's nice to just not go out, although I'd much prefer sunshine and blue skies and the prospect of a ride somewhere.

A book I've been dipping into of late is David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries. I bought a hardback copy of it back in 2011 and have been reading it here and there in between other books. Reading about his rides around Buenos Aires in Argentina makes me want to visit the city and follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, George Harry, who lived in the Argentine capital for a short while before enlisting in the army to fight in the Great War.
My hardback edition of David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries
I've referenced Byrne's Bicycle Diaries in past posts and will continue to write about it in the future as Byrne is an interesting man. I flicked to the back of the book where he discusses bikes and the fact that he doesn't like the folding bike with small wheels. Byrne rides around the cities of the world using a foldable bike and while he started off with a small-wheeled Peugeot he now rides full-sized folding bikes with some form of suspension. He talks about Montague and Dahon folding bikes with full-sized wheels, which can be folded into a large suitcase with wheels and checked in (when travelling by air) as a second piece of luggage. But I wonder if Byrne is making a rod for his own back. Surely, if he knows where he's going he can check out local bike hiring or the availability of a bike share scheme.

Avid readers of this blog will know that I've used bike share machines in Indianapolis, San Antonio, Montreal and Essen and have hired bikes from hotels in Berlin and Amsterdam. Although, to be fair to Byrne, he writes, "An alternative to all this luggage and packing is to rent a bike when you get to where you're going."

I agree with Byrne's thoughts on bicycle maintenance – that bikes with expensive gears and brakes are a constant headache. "...keeping it in tune and running smoothly was such a never-ending process that when it was eventually stolen...I didn't bother to replace it," he writes. I feel the same way about my bike, although I don't want it stolen. At the moment, however, my bike uses only eight of it's 16 gears and has a faulty front brake. I can't remember the last time everything was running smoothly. It is, as Byrne says, a constant headache.

He is also right about helmets. They are 'notoriously uncool-looking'. He's tried other headgear, such as a baseball batter's helmet and an English riding helmet (I assume he means horseriding). He's even decorated his helmets and once tied a raccoon's tail to the back.

Proof that Byrne would be more than welcomed on a NoVisibleLycra ride at any time comes with his remarks about Spandex (Lycra). Byrne prefers semi-baggy shorts with a crotch pad. "We guys have read about bikes and the prostate," he writes, claiming that 'only once in a rare while' has he ever experienced what he calls the freaky feeling of numb nuts. David, that's why I bought the Spongy Wonder bicycle saddle – it also negates the need to wear Lycra cycling shorts.

Outside the garden is wet and dripping with rain and it looks as if the rain is here to stay, at least for today. I'd planned to visit the Peaslake Fayre near Guildford and will probably still go as the British tend to 'carry on regardless' and won't let a spot of rain get in the way of Morris dancing and tug-o-war competitions. That said, plans keep changing. We might drive to the south coast, we might simply go to Croydon. Who knows what the day will bring?

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bank Holiday Weekend – the Tatsfield Bus Stop and then the Village

Saturday was a little on the cool side when I left the house around 0700hrs. The skies were a greyish colour, but there were blue skies poking through as I pedalled along Ellenbridge Road en route to Warlingham Green to meet Andy. While we'd talked about riding to Bletchingley, we went instead to the Tatsfield bus stop where we met and chatted with Dawes Galaxy. No photographs were taken.

The Old Ship, Tatsfield, has been given a coat of paint and some galleons
On Sunday there was plenty of evidence that it had rained heavily during the night – there were puddles and a general gloom in the air and signs of rain and dampness everywhere. I texted Andy to say it might be best sticking to a conventional route rather than branching out and being caught in the rain. We opted for Tatsfield village and rode leisurely along the 269 towards Botley Hill seeing nothing of yesterday morning's propellor-powered hang gliders.

The Tatsfield village noticeboard – complete with colourful floral display
We're almost into September and it's getting towards the time of year when our destination is determined by whether or not the seats will be damp when we arrive. Normally this means we spend a lot of time at the Tatsfield bus stop as it provides shelter from the rain and invariably offers a dry bench on which to sit. Going anywhere else would mean standing up to drink our tea and we can't have that, can we? In fact, with the exception of the bus stop and Tatsfield village, there's very little in the way of shelter at any of our destinations.

Yesterday, as we approached 'our' bus stop on the Approach Road, we spied a Lycra monkey relaxing on our bench. He was waiting for his associates to fix a puncture further back along the road and then he (and them) would be heading for Edenbridge to tackle a few punishing hills, he said. We told him about White Lane across the way from where we were standing and explained how, once a year, there was some kind of time trail. We had attempted the climb and I remember having to dismount half way up, but Andy made it all the way; it's about maintaining momentum and keeping the front wheel on the ground.

Gimme shelter – but not today
The rain held off and we soon found ourselves in Tatsfield village where we noticed that the Old Ship pub had been painted and a couple of galleons had been left on the window sills facing the small green. We decided to sit on the circular wooden table outside the pub rather than use the bus stop – the seats were dry – and soon we spied Dawes Galaxy (odd to see him twice in one weekend). He joined us for a chinwag and told us that, apparently, Tatsfield was the most isolated village inside the M25 – a hefty claim, we thought, but it could be right as there's not much in either direction once you're outside of the village. It's about two to three miles to Westerham in one direction and around three to four miles to Warlingham and there's not much in between. In the other direction there's Biggin Hill, but in between there is nothing but rural lanes – or so says Dawes Galaxy. In fact there's nothing but twisty lanes in the direction of Addington either so, all told, Tatsfield is fairly isolated. As Andy pointed out as we rode towards Botley Hill, it's about 25 to 30 minutes by bike to Warlingham Green and no more than 10 to 15 minutes (downhill) into Westerham.

This Tatsfield restaurant offers a Sunday roast at £25.95 per person
There's an expensive restaurant in Tatsfield (isolated or not the residents won't starve – or perhaps they will when you consider the extortionate prices being charged). I went over and checked out the menu: £25.95 per person for a Sunday roast, meaning that with wine it's probably closer to £30 or more – not my cup of tea, especially when I could pay a visit to my local Waitrose, buy a decent joint of beef and a fine bottle of wine (or two) and feed a few friends for about £30.

One of two model galleons at the Old Ship, Tatsfield
Last night Andy watched Red Bull Rampage, a downhill cycling event characterised by very narrow tracks and almost vertical drops. Apparently those who take part often brag about their injuries – broken backs, bruised livers, damaged spleens, you name it. We wondered what the contestants would make of a leisurely jaunt with NVL to the Tatsfield bus stop. I imagined the scene: Andy and I plus some bleached blond American 'youth' wondering when there would be some 'action'.

"Would you care for a cup of tea, young man?"
"Tea? Haven't you got an energy drink?"
"You're not going to need one. Biscuit?"

We took a few snaps of the pub and the bikes and the galleon in the window and after finishing our tea and biscuits headed out of the village along the Approach Road and then west towards Botley Hill. Andy and I parted company halfway along the 269 and I rode on towards Warlingham Green and further north towards Sanderstead and home.

Our bikes outside the Old Ship, Tatsfield, Kent. Pic: Andy Smith.
It's almost noon but still no rain, but it's been predicted so we're expecting a downpour any second. Time to tidy myself up and see what the rest of the day has in store.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

New rides worth investigating?

Prompted by my own criticism (in the last post) of our rather 'samey' cycling routes, I've been checking out the map and I've found what could be a good ride... to Bletchingley in Surrey. It's east of Redhill and yes, we've been through the place before – on our ride to Hunger's End in Merstham – but there's a pleasant-looking route, accessible through Caterham and via the Warwick Wold Road. In a nutshell it's the way I ride to Redhill via the backroads of Merstham but instead of hanging right where the Warwick Wold Road adjoins the Bletchingley Road, ironically we take the Merstham Road (by turning left) and this eventually becomes the Pendell Road and then either Big Common Lane (a right turn) or Little Common Lane (a left turn) and that leads us on to Castle Street in Bletchingley.

Once beyond the M25 we ride south to Bletchingley
There's some interesting alternatives too. We could, for instance, ride further east along the A25 and take a left turn into North Park Lane, under the M25 and on to some rough tracks where many options lurk. One of the tracks is Roughetts Lane, which I recall from our Hunger's End trips via the challenging Enterdent, or, alternatively there are rough off-road tracks leading into a huge wooded area, the easterly flank of which is known as Fosterdown Wood while the more westerley tip is referred to as Oldpark Shaw and the middle ground, Ten Acre Shaw. There's even a place called Tupwood Scrubs, but I don't think it's a prison! In fact, there is a Tupwood Scrubs Road that runs right through the wooded area and has two exit points, one on to the A22 heading east and another, heading north, on to the B2030 or Godstone Road, which appears to be right in the heart of Caterham, not far from the North Downs Hospital in the CR3 postal district.

Mercers Park near Redhill
The whole area south of central Caterham, flanked in the south by the M25, seems worthy of exploration, mainly because it's all a bit rural, loads of woods and open land and a few interesting off-road tracks. In fact, talking about off-road tracks, there's a track called Green Lane adjoining Roughetts Lane that travels south through fields with nothing on either side of it. The track becomes Church Lane and travels through the middle of Bletchingley Golf Course and emerges in Bletchingley High Street.

The woods south of Caterham en route to Bletchingley
If we really had the time and the inclination, from Bletchingley we could travel east on the A25, through Godstone and out the other side, still on the A25 and then take a left up Flower Lane, which becomes, yes, you guessed it, Gangers Hill – not good if, like me, you're relying on just eight of 16 gears, so probably not worth it and besides, too much A25 for my liking.

For a clearer look at the maps, simply click on them.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

To the churchyard (again)

Things are really getting a little samey. We've kind of locked in to two routes – the bus stop and the churchyard – and we don't seem to be riding anywhere else. It's the usual excuse: time; and let's face it, riding anywhere is better than riding nowhere so perhaps we shouldn't complain, but I can't remember the last time we rode anywhere different, like Westerham or Redhill.

In fact, where Redhill is concerned, I know that on the outskirts of town, near the Watercolour estate, there is a huge lake similar in size and dimensions to another long lost cycling destination, Longford Lake in Chevening, Kent, which used to be an occasional destination (and one of the first rides I embarked upon with Phil back in May 2013 if I recall correctly.

My bike at the churchyard, Sunday 23rd August 2015
The weather was not as pleasant as Saturday (see previous post for details). It was warm but there was a stronger breeze, the trees swayed in the wind and there was more cloud, but no rain until just before noon so we escaped a soaking.

We rode to the churchyard, encountering nothing out of the ordinary en route and when we got there we drank tea and ate BelVita biscuits (three each) as we chatted about the something for nothing culture that has built up over the past 20 years. By that I mean that companies expect far more for nothing these days than in the past. PR companies want photography taken for nothing – "it might give you good exposure to other companies who will pay" – and similarly some publishers expect writers to contribute articles based on the assumption that more work will come out of it. But it rarely does. We both decided that it only works when there is something in it for both parties: a product is reviewed and you get to keep the product; you're sent, say, a top-of-the-range bike to review and obviously you get to ride it. Each party gets something out of the deal. But just to do something unpaid? It's not on and it goes way back to the person who dreamed up the idea of internships on one level and, on another, there's a certain arrogance in trying to get people to work for nothing, not to mention selfishness. The Internet is also to blame (isn't it always?) especially where photographers are concerned. How many times, I wonder, do photographers spy their work being used online without being paid for?

We didn't see anybody else at the churchyard, it was remarkably quiet apart from that motorway hiss I think I mentioned in a previous post. While we used to see people tending graves, or the church staff doing this and that, it's been very desolate the last few times we've been there and that ain't a bad thing.

The ride back was as uneventful as the outward journey. Andy branched off halfway down the 269 and, as usual, I pushed on towards Warlingham and home, getting back some time before 10am.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

To Warlingham Green and then over to mum's...

I'd forgotten that Andy wasn't riding this morning and headed off around 0700hrs, having waved goodbye to Phil who was on his way to Devon for a week's holiday. It was a wonderful day, arguably one of the hottest this summer, with temperatures around 29 degrees Centrigrade.

Warlingham Green, Saturday 22nd August 2015, 0730hrs
As usual my first job was pumping up a deflated tyre – I have a slow puncture but have yet to fix it – then it was smooth-running all the way to the green where the trees sheltered me from the early morning sun as I awaited Andy's arrival, although, oddly, there was no sign of him. I had a distant feeling that he might not be riding so I sent him a text and sure enough, he wasn't going to be there – he was working and, as he rightly pointed out, he'd texted me earlier in the week. Somehow I'd just forgotten. I was getting confused with the week before when he had a dentist appointment on the Saturday, but would be riding Sunday. Hey Ho.

So I'd reached Warlingham Green and I had options: carry on to Botley Hill, the bus stop or the churchyard (where I could drink my tea) or ride to mum's and indulge myself with fruit cake and tea. There was another option: simply ride back home and accept that an eight-miler would suffice. But I chose the ride to mum's and decided to retrace my tracks back along the Limpsfield Road, taking a left turn at Hamsey Green heading down Tithepit Shaw Lane, past Warlingham School and on to the A22 towards Purley. It seemed like I was on the A22 for ages, but I wasn't bothered. There was a warm breeze and light traffic, but reaching the lights at the bottom of Downscourt Road felt good. All I had to do now was negotiate the rather tricky Purley Cross where the A23 and Foxley Lane and the A22 join up, but it wasn't a problem and soon I found myself riding the quiet, tree-lined Foxley Lane heading towards Woodmansterne, but branching off right near the lavender fields and riding towards Carshalton Beeches.

Tea and fruit cake round at mum's...
I sailed along, passing the Village Bakery and Carshalton Beeches railway station and then freewheeled down to the Windsor Castle pub where I hung a left and then a right into Shorts Road, under the railway bridge and then two left turns – on to Westmead Corner and then into Rossdale. Half an hour earlier I'd called mum to reserve a table at what I call the Grandma Claire Tea Rooms (mum's house) and soon I was sitting down, eating fruit cake (two slices) and enjoying a pleasant cup of tea.

Mum's having her fence done, but there are still two bits to be done and at present it's possible to see into next door's garden. It's not an issue and will be fixed very soon.

After two slices of cake it was tempting to ask for more, but I resisted. I also resisted a Kit Kat bar and a biscuit, but I did have a second cup of tea before heading home, riding up Alma Road, turning left on the Carshalton Road and then right up Cambridge Road, turning right at the top, riding a few yards of Carshalton Beeches high street before turning left and riding up hill towards the Village Bakery. I crossed into Crichton Road and then turned left on to Stanley Park Road. I cycled down to the mini roundabout at the bottom of Boundary Road and onwards to the top of Wallington High Street, past Sainsbury's and along the Stafford Road towards The Chase and that industrial estate that weaves its way round to the A23. I turned right and at the lights by the Hilton National hung a left.

The weather was wonderful, like a Texas spring, as I ambled past Rockingham's and the playing fields and then along Hayling Park Road to the A23 where I nipped into Jarvis Road, followed the Upper Selsdon Road towards Carlton Road and then hung a left into Essenden, a right on to West Hill and home. I was trying to work out the mileage – four miles to Warlingham Green then something like 10 miles from the green to mum's and an easy six miles from mum's to Sanderstead – 20 miles in total.

It was 10am when I opened the garage door and parked up the bike and a wonderful day of just lazing about in the back garden beckoned. We went shopping, I bought The Guardian and sat out back reading about all sorts of things: an interview with Jonathan Franzen (which I didn't particularly like, it was just, well, it was nothing to write home about). Then there was Tim Dowling. I like Tim Dowling's column and this week he was writing about his Greek holiday. Holidays are alien territory for me at present. Then there was Rita Ora's Q&A, all good stuff, not forgetting Nicholas Lyndhurst, who was born in Emsworth, Hampshire, discussing family life, and a travel feature about the Greek islands I remember visiting back in the early eighties.

It's gone 7pm (just) and Indiana Jones is on the television. Nobody is watching it. I can hear it, but that's about it. Indiana Jones and something to do with a Crystal Skull. You get the picture, you know the deal, and that's why nobody's watching it. Dinner beckons and then it's Sunday. I often feel as if I'm just sitting around waiting for Monday and another week of work, but there's a bottle of Rosé in the fridge and I've just enjoyed a bottle of London Pride so life ain't all bad. Looking forward to tomorrow's ride, I really am. Cycling is the best tonic there is these days and I sometimes wish I could just keep on riding, at least for a day or two. The weather's so good out there I'd like to camp in the back garden, but not in the huge tent I own, something smaller.

Somebody's switched the channels and now Would I Lie to You? is on. I can hear Rob Brydon's voice.
Hawker Hunter fighter

In the news: a Hawker Hunter vintage fighter jet crashed on the A27 near Shoreham in West Sussex killing a handful of people. The pilot, apparently, survived the crash but is in a serious condition in hospital. More bodies are expected, claim news reports. The plane had been performing at a nearby air show.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Churchyard with Phil and a solo urban ride to mum's...

Phil and Matt at the Churchyard, Saturday 15th August
Despite a pretty awful week in terms of the weather, the weekend proved to be perfect for cycling with sunshine and blue skies from the offset and no sign of any rain. Sunday, on a drive to the south coast, I saw a few clouds gathering north of the downs, but once on the beach it was sunshine all the way.

Andy was absent on both Saturday and Sunday and Phil decided not to go on Sunday, but we ventured out together Saturday morning and headed for the Tatsfield Churchyard the long way. I haven't seen Phil for a while so we had a lot to chat about and decided that the long route via Hesiers Hill and Beddlestead Lane would be best, even if there were a number of Lycra monkeys suddenly appearing right behind us and on one or two occasions causing me to jump, as in they made themselves known at the very last minute.

The playing fields near Purley, Sunday 16th August
The churchyard, as always, was very peaceful and we both enjoyed sipping tea in the early morning sunshine, even if there were no BelVita biscuits courtesy of Andy.

On Sunday I decided to embark upon an urban ride to mum's and set off some time after 7am following the usual urban route past the playing fields and through the industrial estate towards Wallington and then Carshalton where tea and fruit cake awaited me. I rode back through Carshalton High Street and on towards Wallington, but turned left into Demense Road and then retraced my outward route towards The Chase and then through the industrial estate towards the junction by the Aerodrome Hotel and the rather ugly-looking Hilton National, past the playing fields and home.
Empty streets – Sunday morning on the A23 near Purley
I must point out that while at mum's I enjoyed some of her excellent fruit cake, a welcomed treat after riding the bike through the mean suburban streets of Croydon, Wallington and Carshalton and washed down by a couple of mugs of tea. Perfect.

Tea and cake round at mum's, Sunday 16th August
Later in Littlehampton I stumbled across Coastal Cycles, a decent bike shop selling Dutch style bikes from Batavus and Raleigh and an amazing-looking Koga tourer (for £1,800). Coastal Cycles stocks electric bikes, road bikes, Dutch bikes, hybrids, folding bike, trikes, BMXs and scooters and runs a hire service too. Based at 46a Pier Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LW there is also a website, which is accessible by simply clicking here.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Henty Wingman – a multi-purpose, all-weather bag cyclists have been waiting for

The Henty Wingman
Have you ever thought it was about time you did something healthy such as cycling to work instead of taking the bus or the train? Me too, but you know what? It's never that easy – nothing is. Cycling to work is a terrible hassle, mainly because it involves an element of planning. It's not just a case of strolling into the garage, jumping on the bike and riding away. No, there's plenty of 'stuff' that needs attending to first, like where are you going to take a shower when you reach the office? If there's no shower then you need to locate the local leisure centre and if it's up the road from the office, ride there first and freshen up.

All well and good, but there's more. After a shower you don't want to be putting on your sweaty cycling gear again as that would defeat the object of visiting the leisure centre. It's all very well saying that if you were organised you might have taken some work clothes to the office along with a shirt, a pair of socks and a pair of shoes – but for me that's one of the reasons why I don't cycle to work. It's just too much grief – until now!

The Henty Wingman – ready to ride!
There's a new piece of kit on the market that takes the hassle factor out of cycling to work. It can't fix punctures or bad weather, but it makes life easier for people like me who feel that urge to ride to work but often think twice when the reality of carting a shed load of clothes to the office kicks in. And who wants to arrive at the office in their cycling clobber for all and sundry to gawp at prior to changing into that suit? There's nothing worst than skulking off to the bathroom, suit on a clothes hanger and saying, "I'll be back in a minute, just going to change out of this cycling gear...".

Cue the Henty Wingman. It might sound like the nickname of a Second World War fighter pilot, but it offers a solution for all those people who, like me, want to get on their bike but simply can't face the palaver involved in a ride to the office.

The Wingman is a combined suit carrier and backpack that conveniently rolls up once loaded and can be slung over your shoulder in preparation for a ride. There are two elements to it; first, the suit carrier, which is self-explanatory; and second a small, zipper bag that extends the width of the suit carrier and is big enough to carry a towel, shoes, your sandwiches and any washing gear you might require (shower gel, soap, a razor and so on).

The zipper bag connects to the suit carrier by means of sturdy plastic clips and then the suit carrier is simply rolled up and joined together by a couple of larger and equally sturdy clips forming a cylindrically-shaped backpack. Sling the whole lot over your shoulder and off you go to work carrying everything you're going to need when you get there.

Once on the bike the Wingman feels perfectly fine, it's exactly the same as a conventional cycling backpack except that it can carry your clothes, your washing gear, a shirt, a pair of shoes... it's brilliant!

The Wingman, says Henty, the Australian company behind the product, was designed by a couple of guys who cycle to work regularly but were frustrated by the lack of products available for transporting business wear. They put their thinking caps on and came up with the Wingman.

Henty describes the Wingman as 'a multi-purpose bag that enables easy and versatile all weather commuting and travel for active business men and women'. According to the company, "If you walk, cycle or fly to work or exercise before, during or after work, the Wingman is your new best friend."

If you would like to know more about the Wingman, log on to

• The people behind the Henty Wingman have kindly sent NoVisibleLycra a Wingman multi-purpose bag to test and it's packed and ready to use. I'm planning to ride to work and have a two-piece suit plus a shirt in addition to a towel, shower gel and a pair of shoes already packed. A report on my ride will follow shortly.

1. My Wingman with suit and shirt packed and the inner bag containing
shoes, a towel and some shower gel.
2. Packed and ready to roll into backpack mode...
3. Rolled up and ready to ride
• A word on putting the bag together, it's all very straightforward. In essence, as outlined above, the inner bag simply clips to the suit carrier and is then rolled up and clipped together. There's nothing complicated about this product at all.

Henty Wingman – if you're riding to work, this is the product to have

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bus stop and churchyard – and brilliant weather on both days

St. Mary's Tatsfield, Sunday morning
We didn't cycle far this weekend, but the weather was good on both days as we rode first to the bus stop (on Saturday) and then to the churchyard (in double quick time) on Sunday. It took us about 25 minutes to reach the churchyard from Warlingham Green, which was pretty good going. Andy had said something like 'heads down until the churchyard?' and that was it; we kept up a fairly good pace all the way and stuck close together.

The churchyard was very peaceful, apart from the hiss of the motorway about a mile away. The skies were blue, it was warm – a much better day than I had expected – and we sat on our bench and chilled, munching BelVita biscuits, sipping tea and talking about nothing in particular. There was nobody else about, we didn't even see the usual church people who turn up and potter about.

When it was time to leave the churchyard, I knew I had to get a decent shot for the blog, but I didn't want the usual stuff so I wandered over to the church itself and took the images that accompany this post.

The ride home was very pleasant. It was warm, the skies were blue and the sun was out. We rode up Clarks Lane, travelling west towards Botley Hill and then headed north on the 269 towards Warlingham. Andy branched off halfway and said he wouldn't be riding next Saturday (cue an urban ride to mum's perhaps). He'd see me again on Sunday. We'd talked about the lake, we'd talked about a later ride and a beer in the pub – and one day we'd do it, but probably not next week.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before on this blog, but I've been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. It's a good book, but it's a big one (1,168 pages to be precise) and it's taken me around eight months to finish it, but I can now report (as I shrug a sigh of relief!) that it's finished and I'm now enjoying Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, which is absolutely brilliant. Mind you, I enjoyed the challenge presented by Rand's masterpiece and will be looking for similar literary obstacle courses over the next few weeks.

Looking south to Oxted from the Tatsfield Churchyard, Sunday morning
When I reached home after the ride I put the bike in the garage and then set about mowing the front and back lawns. After that it was time for an excellent home-made tomato and basil soup and then a drive to Shere, a cake and a cup of tea and then a wonderful walk in the surrounding countryside. I sat in the garden on my return, the lawn a velvety texture and the skies still blue, but wasps disturbed the peace as I sat and read Long Way Down, accompanied by a bottle-conditioned ale. Wonderful. It's now just gone 7pm and the skies are still blue and the temperature warm. Countryfile is starting and it's time for dinner – salmon. After dinner I might sit outside again as I think the wasps have gone.

Until next week, enjoy your lives everybody.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Solo ride to the Tatsfield bus stop

With Andy taking part in Ride London – he cycled a total of 122 miles – I was left to my own devices on Sunday and was considering an early morning ride to mum's. But then I thought the Tatsfield bus stop would be a better bet, although I didn't take any tea with me, which always makes it a little depressing.

The Tatsfield bus stop
The ride was fine – and so was the weather, although not as good as Saturday when I didn't go out, although I did drive over to mum's, hence my reason for not riding there on Sunday morning.

Andy's Ride London route
Dawes Galaxy turned up and got off his bike. We sat and discussed nothing in particular and then, after saying our goodbyes, I took the shot accompanying this post and then headed for home.