Rising in the East…

Map reference: Ashtead to Oxted, further east along the Downs than I have been before, 86k, including Chalkpit Lane climb

Carbs and Caffeine: Bike Beans Cycle Cafe, Ashtead, and Cafe Nero, Oxted

After a three week break I was finally able to get back to Bike Beans for the Thursday ride. There were supposed to be two rides going – a 9.15 ‘advanced’ and a 9.30 ‘intermediate’ – but they rolled into one for the first half of flat riding. Keith was in charge and had organised for us to start as one group and split after a coffee stop. I forgot to count the heads, but I think we were about 12, with some now familiar faces among the dozen. The joint ride was in part to accomodate Jo, who is carrying a skiing injury in her shoulder and so can’t do hills. In fact her doctor has told she shouldn’t do group rides. Unfortunately this advice doesn’t take into consideration Jo’s addiction to riding and this was her second group ride in two days.

The first part of the route was fairly routine commuting across the county. As ever we were going at a fair old pace, our average speed for the ride was over 26km/h, which is probably rather faster than Jo’s doctor would have liked.

I know I shouldn’t go on about the bike, but it is simply amazing the difference the last changes have made to my comfort and speed. I would love to know whether it’s the shorter cranks, or simply the upgrade to Dura-Ace groupset. And my new confidence with the better brakes earned me some QOMs (Queen of the Mountains on Strava) on a couple of descents.

Cafe Nero in Oxted coped very well with being swamped in Lycra and the group then split into three with one woman getting on a train home, a group taking the most direct and flat route home – including Jo whose shoulder was now aching – and four of us electing to tackle Chalkpit Lane with Keith. As usual there was a lot of talk about how long and how steep the climb was. I tried to tune out; so much of climbing is in the head. And, of course, it was fine. I am definitely getting stronger and I think it’s time to diary in some solo hill repeats to build on the winter base, now the weather is better.

The view at the top was stunning, if somewhat marred by barbed wire, and from there it was an hour and a half of the gentle rises and descents that make up much of Surrey. Mostly I was able to keep up. Hanno had to drift back and pick me up at one point, and Keith did the same as we bolted through the familiar roads of Headley with coffee on our minds. I earned another piece of Strava bling here, QOM of The Lord of The Flies segment, which I’m quite please with as I’d had to sneak a couple of jelly beans at Walton-on-the-Hill to get me home. No flies on me…

Note to self: don’t chicken out, you must take your heavier bike today for ride with brother

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