Monday, 24 April 2017

To Westerham!

As always we met at the green and it wasn't long before we were on our way to Westerham, 'heads down' along the 269, Andy carrying that tennis racquet I lent him a week or two ago. I'd already realised that, once again, the weather was deceptive and that it was much colder out there than I thought. I wasn't wearing the old rust-coloured jacket, now ripped to shreds and old-looking, so initially I was cold and thinking to myself 'go back and put something else on'. But I persevered on the basis that the exercise of cycling would warm me up and sure enough, it did. I found myself powering along the road on the Rockhopper, loving every minute of the fact that this new bike of mine (I say 'new' but it's six months old – and no punctures!) was a great performer. It was a theme that stuck with me throughout the ride, the fact that coming back up Westerham Hill wasn't an issue. Alright, it's a chore, but a 'do-able' chore. Not that I ever failed to come up the hill (I never once got off the bike) but it's all about having the right bike for the job. For me the Rockhopper fits the bill.

Bluebells close to the 269
On the outward ride along the 269 we noticed a blanket of bluebells in the woods. Andy stopped to take the shot accompanying this post (right) and I continued towards Botley Hill, wondering when Andy would catch me up, surely before I reached the pub, I thought, but no, it wasn't until I was riding down Clarks Lane, passing the Tatsfield churchyard, that he rejoined me.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Hills are a good part of cycling. Great sense of achievement when you reach the top. A completely flat route. Where would the satisfaction come from?