|Bluebells close to the 269|
We pedalled fast into Westerham, past the sign welcoming us to Kent, the 'garden of England', and soon found ourselves sitting at our usual wooden table on the green opposite the Grasshopper and behind the statue of General Wolfe, eating BelVita chocolate chip biscuits and drinking tea.
The worse thing about cycling to Westerham is the ride back, but these days, as I said earlier, it's not that bad, thanks to the new bike, but was it ever that bad? No, of course not, it's just an effort, like all hills. It's psychological. The problem with the climb out of Westerham is simple: it's long and drawn out and continues all the way to Botley Hill, but if you prepare yourself for it, engage in conversation en route, it's soon over and that great sense of relief kicks in. Hills are there to be conquered and I'm often amazed, when I go out for short rides around the block with people or, like recently, chatting about cycling in the area, that they all say, "Ooh, not round here, it's too hilly." But that's the point, surely? Cycling, in many ways, is all about hills, even if based purely on the notion of what goes up must come down. Hills are not to be avoided, they're to be tackled. Half the fun of cycling, in my opinion, is cranking the bike down into a low gear and going for it, staying in the saddle (and on the bike) being the ultimate goal. And yes, it helps having the right sort of bike. But that said, when I was a kid I used to ride a single-geared bike and when the hills got bad I'd get off and walk up the hill, so what's the beef with these people who don't like hills?
I reached home at 1003hrs, the sun was shining and the rest of the day lay ahead of me. I padlocked the bike in the garage and got on with my day.