Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Boxing Day – to Tatsfield via White Lane

Today's now traditional Boxing Day ride was missing something very important. Cake. And it was all my fault. Or rather, well, no, it was my fault. Alright, others were involved, but I should have been a little more vigilant, a little more on the ball – but I wasn't.

Despite the fact that we had a cake, made by mum and supposedly for Christmas, it was finished with a good week prior to the big day, meaning that when Boxing Day came around there was nothing to take on the ride. A sorry state of affairs. I was desperate as there's nothing better than a slice of Christmas cake sitting on a wooden seat in one of those covered bus stops, accompanied by some tea. It was not to be, so I sent Andy a text, initially saying, some days before Boxing Day, that I was planning to make my own cake. I was too! I'd picked out all the ingredients from the supermarket (flour, mixed fruit, cherries, butter and so on) but crucially forgot to buy the grease-proof paper. I assumed (wrongly) that we already had some. Another text reminding Andy to bring the BelVita biscuits was pinged off and then, my head hung low in shame, I skulked my way to the green where I met Andy.
Our bikes at the top of White Lane after a tough uphill climb...
I was the first to arrive and used up the time taking a photograph of the Rockhopper next to a discarded can of Budweiser. It was good to note that the green had a Christmas tree and perhaps I should have taken a photograph of it, but I wasn't feeling overly creative so the beer can sufficed.

When Andy arrived we considered – for all of a minute – the prospect of riding to Westerham, opting not to go because of wet seats and no cover. A feeble excuse if ever there was one, but instead we threw in White Lane and a trip to the Tatsfield Village, based on the fact that the famous Tatsfield Bus Stop is still without seating. Andy reckons it won't ever have seating again. He might be right.

The weather was good. It had clearly been raining overnight as there were puddles everywhere, but as we set off there were blue skies and white clouds and no sign of any further downpour.

The decision to ride up White Lane wasn't as daunting as I thought it would be; in fact I was kind of looking forward to it. We rode 'the fast way' along the 269 and there was little traffic on the roads, which was good and then, instead of turning left at the Botley roundabout we went straight across and down Titsey (slowly) eventually hanging a left into White Lane, at which point I slammed the gears down to low and got my head down. It all seemed harmless enough until a car came down the hill in front of me, but I kept into the left hand side of the road and didn't lose the crucial momentum needed to conquer this amazing hill. The worst bit about it is the sudden increased gradient near the top, but I didn't lose my nerve and soon I found myself at the top of the hill feeling good about life and the fact that I managed to ride up White Lane. The last time I tried it I lost momentum and as we all know: once you're off, you're off, there's no way you're getting back on.

We rode into Tatsfield Village where Linda's, the store, was closed and, much to our dismay, there was no Christmas tree on the green either, just a rather sad-looking snowman made of wood painted white. Very poor.

The ride home was smooth and we parted company at the green, vowing to ride again tomorrow – the day after boxing day and this time with some much needed cake as I later stocked up round at mum's.

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