Sunday, 3 January 2016

To St. Leonard's Church, Chelsham – the first ride of 2016

Tiredness forced me to hit the sack earlier than usual last night. I was in bed around 2130hrs and immediately regretted the decision. As soon as my head touched the pillow I started to yearn for being downstairs again and vowed to get up in around 15 minutes to watch the news. The next thing I knew it was 0215hrs.

When the alarm went off – and by 'alarm' I mean Radio Four springing to life – I was in no mood for getting out of bed. I listened to the news in a state of semi-consciousness and around 0614hrs realised I had to get up. Oh for an abort text! I checked the phone and there was nothing but the photograph that accompanied my last post staring back at me, reminding me of the time.

Outside St. Leonard's Church, Chelsham. Pic: Andy Smith
As soon as my two feet touched the carpet there were problems. Problems are amplified when you're half asleep and don't really want to get up. First, a missing sock. Where the fuck was it? I found it pretty quickly, mumbling under my breath like the Camp Tramp, and then, having put both socks on, I staggered sleepily towards the wardrobe, the one with the squeaky, creaky door, in search of my cycling clobber. It was so dark that I couldn't see a thing, although I knew one thing: my cycling trousers were outside on the clothes line so I'd have to improvise in some way. This means using a pair of 'normal' trousers in the hope that it won't be wet and rainy and that they'll arrive home wearable and in no way damaged. I did, however, find a pair of 'trousers' that I use for painting the house complete with some white paint marks that date back years (I can't remember the last time I picked up a paint brush).

With the paint-marked trousers on, my next task was to find my cycling top. Where was it? I remembered that my iphone had a torch facility so I walked to the other side of the bedroom – it's dual aspect and pretty large – and retrieved it from the the ironing board, only to realise, while scanning the wardrobe, that the top in question was simply resting on the armchair on the other side of the room.

Eventually I made it to the kitchen. After the trauma of the last 15 minutes I opted for a big breakfast: Shredded Wheat (two biscuits) a couple of slices of toast and tea. Wonderful.

Later, after checking out the blog I felt the phone vibrating in my pocket (I was just about to leave the house). A tired-sounding Andy was on the other end. He'd just woken up and wanted to know if we could meet at 0800hrs instead of the usual 0730hrs. Why not? I could use the extra chill-out time myself, I thought. So we've agreed to meet at the usual place at the slightly later time of eight o'clock. Being as we're heading out later than usual, we'll probably ride to the Tatsfield Bus Stop, although one of my New Year Resolutions – I don't normally make them – is to ride to the lake at least once a month. Or, failing that, more often than we rode to the lake in 2015. I'll have to check the blog, but there's an outside chance that we never rode there last year, although I can't believe we never saw Longford Lake. We need to get to Westerham a few times too.

I left the house at around 0735hrs and found the cycling heavy going. There was a mild headwind as I rode along Ellenbridge, and Church Way proved to be equally hard work. I was glad when I reached the churchyard. I rode past Sanderstead pond and headed along the 269 towards the green where I found Andy. We didn't stop, but rode off in the usual direction, both wondering whether we should be riding to the bus stop in the rain. Yes, the rain had started and it prompted us to aim for St. Leonard's Church instead of Tatsfield, a shorter ride and, it has to be said, and a more picturesque one. Country lanes are more appealing than busy roads – not that the 269 is busy early in the morning.

The rain had stopped and started and by the time we'd reached the Warlingham Sainsbury's roundabout we changed our minds and decided to head for the bus stop. However, as we passed Ledgers Road – the last possible opportunity to ride to St Leonard's – it started to rain again so we did a U-turn in the road and cycled along Ledgers to where it joined with Church Lane where we turned right and kept going.

While the rain had stopped, Ledgers Road was swamped with puddles and wet leaves and within a matter of minutes I was soaked through. Just before the church there is a shortish climb and at this point I considered suggesting that we push on towards the Tatsfield Bus Stop, but the thought of Beddlestead Lane's slow and laborious climb put me off. Soon enough we arrived at our destination and set up camp under the gable-roofed gateway to St. Leonard's. No benches meant that we had to stand up to drink our tea and munch our BelVita's, but it didn't matter.

Everything was damp and after two cups of tea and a small pack of BelVita biscuits, we started to pack things away and consider the ride home. Unfortunately it had started to rain again, but it was fine rain and as we wound our way towards Warlingham Sainsbury's along rural lanes, it started to rain properly.

We parted company at the green and vowed to meet again next weekend. I rode alone towards Sanderstead while Andy made tracks towards Caterham.

I was soaked through by the time I reached home, thanks mainly to my lack of mudguards, but after changing into to dry clothes and drying myself down I felt better and now I'm simply chilling until somebody finds me a job to do – like sorting out the coats in the cloakroom or cleaning the washing machine's filter, two of many little jobs around the house that need to be done.

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