I pedalled up Church Way as the snow began to fall and it never really stopped until I returned home. When I reached the top of the hill the snow eased off, but only temporarily. By the time I reached Waitrose it was snowing again, it might have become rain or sleet, but then, once I reached the green, it was full-on snow again.
|Bleak at the bus stop...|
As we rode south along the Limpsfield Road towards Botley Hill, however, the snow didn't seem that bad. As usual with snow, it seems fine early on, almost enjoyable, but then it turns and things get nasty. For Andy and I the nastiness started when we made the left turn into Clarks Lane and found ourselves heading east towards Westerham. At this point the snow was blowing horizontally across the road and hitting us sideways on. Very, very unpleasant. We were both relieved to reach the bus stop.
It was truly awful weather and I think we were both wondering what the hell made us want to ride out in it. Yes, it would mean a 'respect is due' for both of us, but why? What was the point? There was no point.
We looked out from the shelter offered by the bus stop, our view slightly impeded by a sign advertising an arts and craft fair in Tatsfield Village, but the view was bleak: snow flurries travelling horizontally from north to south and showing no sign of abating. There was little else to do other than pack away our 'stuff' – flask, cups, milk – and then simply ride home, enduring the pain of the journey, which was going to be rough.
The ride to Botley Hill was unpleasant and I stopped after a few yards to cover my face with a scarf; not a brilliant idea as eventually the moisture generated by the heat of my breath dampened the cloth, which eventually cooled, becoming more unpleasant than comforting. When we made the right turn on to the 269 and headed north towards Botley Hill Andy suggested we rode along the off-road tracks for the sake of safety, but there was always punctures to worry about. It would have been the last thing we needed. Fortunately, all was well, although I can't guarantee that Andy's journey remained puncture-free as we parted company halfway along a windswept road.
I stayed on the roadside track until I reached the roundabout adjacent to Warlingham Sainsbury's and then, soaked through, I hit the road and continued the journey home. While there had been snow in the burbs, it had now turned to driving rain with rivers running along the gutters. Oh how I wished my bike had been fitted with mudguards, but if the truth be known I was already soaked through so in many ways it was academic, but it didn't feel good. My feet and hands were frozen and I knew that when I reached home I would have to stand under a warm shower for many minutes. All I wanted was for the journey to end and eventually it did. I rode through Sanderstead High Street on the path and then crossed to the Gruffy and Sanderstead Pond, into the churchyard and down Church Way. Church Way became Arkwright Road and I turned left into Morley, right on to Elmfield Way and then left into Southcote, hanging an immediate right into Ellenbridge and another right on to Barnfield.
Normally, we see plenty of cyclists, but today we were the only idiots mad enough to venture outside. There was something pleasing about that.
Having peeled off my clothing I stood under the shower and thawed out. My legs and feet were red raw with the cold and numb too, but after drying and putting on warm clothes, drinking a mug of hot tea and chilling, I felt the life begin to seep back into me. It was really good to be home.
The day remained cold and blustery and I'm wondering what tomorrow will bring. Perhaps an abort text, but not if things warm up, we'll have to wait and see.
In all honesty I wasn't keen on an early start in the cold so I sent Andy a text and discovered that he felt the same way. For the first time in God knows how long, I remained in bed beyond 0600hrs and then I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, but when I looked out of the window, while a frost still lay on the ground and it was clearly a cold, crisp morning, the sun was out, the skies were blue and I started to wish I hadn't wimped out. But I had, and I'd have to live with it.