Saturday, 17 September 2016

To Tatsfield Village, but not without a soaking...

When I was a kid, probably around 11 or 12 years old, I can't recall exactly, my dad bought me a new bike. I'd never had a bike before and, while I didn't know it at the time, the bike he bought me was pretty progressive. It was called a Moulton Mini, a red one, and the best way to describe it, by comparison with bikes today, would be that it looked a little bit like a Brompton, but it wasn't a foldaway bike. It had small wheels and, well, it was my first ever bike. It was only recently I read that the Moulton Mini was one of those breakthrough bicycles and that there was a guy called Moulton who really pushed the old envelope when it came to design.
A healthy breakfast before the ride...

Going back to my young self, however, all of this would have been lost on me. All I wanted – hell, all I was excited about – was having a new bike. The only trouble was it was December. My birthday is 10 December, always has been, and yes, like all of us, I was born when I was young. It's a lyric, from a band called Spirit.

So I had a new and unconventional-looking bike, but because it was December it was raining outside and I had this brand spanking new bike that I didn't want to get wet or dirty, so I didn't take it out. Not even to the end of the Cul-de-Sac. I was waiting for drier weather. I wanted to keep the tyres like they were in the bike shop. I wanted that bike to look new all the time.

I'd love to know where that bike went. I can't remember giving it up, although I know that when I joined 'big school' I bought a more conventional bike, with ape hanger bars, and then myself and my pal Alan set about transforming it into what everybody at the time called a 'track bike' – the forerunner of today's mountain bikes. Tracking cogs, cow horn bars, an old leather saddle that had seen better days. My bikes went through many different phases. Sometimes I had a fixed wheel, other times not, but one thing was for certain, I enjoyed many a carefree day riding here, there and everywhere.

The difference between then and now is my ability to fix things. Back in the day, I used to take bikes apart and build them up again; but ask me to do it today and I wouldn't know where to start.

The point of all is this is simple: when I have a new bike I don't like getting it dirty. Similarly new shoes, by the way. Anything for that matter. So now I have the Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc, I don't particularly want it covered in mud – or rain for that matter. Ever since I bought it the sun has shone brightly and the bike has remained nice and clean. Until today.

Virtually identical to my Moulton Mini. Wish I still had it!
I left the house later than usual and rode to the green where Andy was waiting. The skies were grey and it was an overcast day. It looked as if it would rain so we decided to head for Tatsfield Village. We might have chosen the bus stop, but it was still taped up, like a police crime scene, ever since some idiot drove into it a month or two ago, probably longer. This morning, however, we didn't know that it was still taped up, it's just that every time we've passed by recently it has been. And sure enough, as we passed by today it was still taped up.

We'd been riding no more than a few minutes when the rain started. Spitting rain at first, but soon it was heavier and I remarked that it didn't matter because at least it wasn't a cold day. I can't recall the temperature exactly, but it was probably something like 18 or 19 degrees. We kept on riding, doing our best to ignore the weather and soon we found ourselves on the final stretch before reaching the village. We were soaked through, but thanks to that rear mudguard, the one I transferred from the Scrap, I didn't have a wet arse. The rest of me was drenched through.

Tatsfield Village bus stop...
Under the cover of the wooden bus stop we drank tea and ate Belvita biscuits – no sausage sarnies this week as Phil was not on the ride.  We chatted about this and that and then Andy brought up the subject of 'Gear Acquisition Syndrome' – or GAS as it's known. GAS means buying 'stuff' just for the sake of it, but don't take my word for it, read Andy's own blogpost on the subject by clicking here. The rain eased up and stopped and the warm temperature meant we soon dried out. The roads were wet, but there was no more rain and eventually we headed home.

The Botley end of the 269 was blowy and Andy remarked how exposed it was; he was right. There was a strong wind blowing and we didn't really escape it until the road dipped and we descended a little. We parted company at the green and rode our separate ways, Andy to Caterham and yours truly back to Sanderstead. I put the bike in the garage and yes, I'll admit it, I gave it dust-down with a dry cloth.

Here's to a drier day on Sunday.

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