Sunday, 21 February 2016

The slow way AND the fast way to the Tatsfield Bus Stop AND two new people join the ride!

It's not so much a 'first' – that was when Phil joined NVL a couple of years ago (has it really been that long?). In that sense, it's a 'second', but yesterday (Saturday) two new people came on the ride. It was Phil's work colleague who had been considering riding with us and finally did, along with his son.

Steve and Josh joined Phil and I for a ride. We rode to the Tatsfield Bus Stop. The weather was good as we cycled along the Limpsfield Road, past Warlingham Sainsbury's and then hung a left into Ledgers Road (off of the 269) and then a right on to Washpond Road (or Washpond Lane, I can't recall). We rolled gently down Hesiers Hill and along the tedious and lonely Beddlestead Lane towards the now legendary Tatsfield Bus Stop.
Phil, Matt and Steve, Tatsfield Bus Stop, 20 February 2016

Steve works with Phil – or rather for the same company, but he spends most of his week in Paris. His son Josh is at Durham University, studying maths and physics, and is on his way to becoming a pro-cyclist. In July he's going to Italy to brush up on his cycling and from there he could find himself riding in a professional team.

When we reached Ledgers Road, Josh carried on along the 269. We next saw him on Beddlestead Lane travelling in the opposite direction and, we were told, he would later go out on a longer ride with a pal. Comparing the sort of riding undertaken by Steve and Josh to ours is like comparing chalk and cheese. We ride out, we eat biscuits, sometimes cake and pies and we drink tea and engage in inane conversation. Steve and Josh are a little more serious about their cycling. They keep their weight to a minimum, they care about precious grams, whereas we load up with weighty cannisters of hot water and steer clear of the Lycra. Our pace was much slower too, but as Steve said, it's not about speed, it's about getting out there and doing it and he was right.

I admitted – as I tend to now and then – that my Kona Scrap was completely inappropriate for the sort of riding we do, and Steve suggested that I consider a cyclo-cross bike. Not a bad idea and perhaps I will look at what's available when I decide – should I ever decide – to buy a new bike. The Kona Scrap is 10 years old in May. Isn't that amazing? Ten years old and not a cross word! But I still like it; it just needs a jolly good service so that the gears and brakes all work. I'm guilty of riding a bike that only has half of its 16 gears in working order and only a rear brake in action. I don't even think there are any brake pads up front. Cycle King claims that it will strip the bike down to the frame and fix the gears and brakes for under £100. Not a bad deal and I might well take them up on it next week, let's see how things go.

On the 269 – courtesy of Andy's on-board camera
As we rode along Beddlestead Lane, Steve got a puncture and Phil almost came a cropper. He rode through thick mud and temporarily lost control, but somehow – God knows how – he managed to stay on the bike. You know when things go into slow motion? It was like that as both Steve and I watched aghast as Phil grappled with his own dignity in an effort to keep himself afloat, so to speak.

Puncture fixed we rode the last few yards to the Bus Stop where the tea and Tracker bars were produced. Steve refrained from the latter but enjoyed a mug of tea and, as usual, we sat there chatting for about a half an hour before the photograph above was taken on Phil's iphone and we headed home.

Sunday – the fast way to the Tatsfield Bus Stop
This morning's Something Understood on Radio Four was all about repetition. I said 'this morning's Something Understood on Radio Four was all about repetition, but I couldn't hang around. I got up, made some breakfast, the same breakfast I had yesterday morning (Weetabix, two Weetabix, with cold milk, blueberries and sliced banana). I also had two slices of toast, one with butter, one with margarine (the butter ran out) and a cup of tea.

No Phil today, just Andy and I. It had clearly been raining overnight as the roads were wet and there were roadside puddles lining the 269 as we headed south towards Botley Hill. The skies were greyer than yesterday and there was every likelihood of more rain. We met at the Green and headed off in the usual direction. By the time we reached the bus stop a thick had fog drifted in, disappeared and then returned again. It was a bit like John Carpenter's The Fog (now there's a good movie).
At the Tatsfield Bus Stop, Sunday 21 February

Andy's bike had been in the repair shop. It now sported new "Black Shark" tyres and a gel saddle and once again I found myself thinking that I ought to sort my bike out sooner rather than later. I remarked that my front tyre was about nine years old. Unbelievable! We chatted about 'bike stuff' and the fact that my old Marin served me well – 12 years without a single puncture, but then I wasn't using it that regularly. We discussed cyclocross bikes, based on my conversation yesterday with Steve, and Andy's Black Shark tyres. Why were they called Black Shark? Simple: to appeal to 'blokes'. A woman wouldn't buy Black Shark tyres – or not intentionally at any rate. But then, Andy didn't buy them intentionally either, so what the hell am I talking about?

As always there was a few Lycra monkeys who rode by en route to some distant location. Various cars passed us by too, and the drivers and/or the passengers always looked over at us. I'm sure they wonder what the hell we're doing there drinking tea and eating biscuits. All we need is a table and we could recreate a Jack Venttriano painting.

I got back home around 1000hrs and watched a bit of Andrew Marr. The referendum on Europe will take place on 23 June and David Cameron was on the box – after a good night's sleep – putting the case for remaining in the EU, while Farage preceded him putting the case for 'Brexit'. I don't know which way to go and I need more information before I vote. Cameron made some good points, but I'm sure the out campaign will make some equally good points too. Boris Johnson – or 'BoJo' as he's now been christened by the media – Michael Gove, George Galloway, Chris Grayling and others will be putting the case for so-called 'Brexit'.

Arriving at the bus stop, courtesy of Andy's on-board camera
Right now it's 1139hrs and all is well. Everybody in the house is chilling, giving me time to write this blogpost in peace. Spaghetti bolognaise for lunch – I cooked it last night – which makes a change, and then a free afternoon. Tonight, the final episode of Dickensian. I can't wait. And then it's more TV, then bed and then... work!

Car problems: the old Toyota has decided to play up (for the first time, it must be said). The driver's door is permanently locked, meaning that the driver has to clamber into position via the offside front door. I drove it over to mum's via the Toyota dealership this afternoon and was told to bring it back in the morning at 0800hrs.

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