Hill reps by the book

Map reference: Hill reps, Staple Lane and Combe Lane Bottom. 51k, 1,269m climbing. Carbs and caffeine: gel and cake

I have had a few excursions since the Dragon Ride, but nothing very notable apart from a slightly irritating 10-hills ride with Jen on Tuesday. We spent half an hour trying to help a youth fix his broken chain (and failing) and then Jen had two major chain malfunctions and we had to limp home from Barhatch. We still covered 115k and 1,363m climbing, so not a waste of time. But irritating, none the less.

Today was definitely an on-the-bike day, but even as I got up, I was unsure what to do with myself. I had to pass through Ashtead, so I popped in for a caffeine fix at Bike Beans Cafe. From there, a large group was riding out and it looked fun. However, with the Etape five weeks away, hill reps were on my mind. It took self-discipline, but I was helped by the fact that second son was playing cricket near West Horsley.

I drove to the pitches and showed face for a few minutes, applying suncream to his freckly face and generally being a nuisance. I then pedalled off up Shere Road, a nice hill – narrow and twisty – although crumbling at the edges. From there I made my way to the junction of Combe Lane and Staple Road, a very familiar spot to me.

Starting with Combe Lane Bottom, I headed towards Shere and then at the main road turned and started back up. At the top I carried on down Staple Lane, past a young woman reading a book in a chair in the car park at the top. I repeated this five times, which sounds dire but actually I quite enjoyed the rhythm. It was a bit like swimming lengths.

After the first time, I did Staple Lane in the big cog to make it a different kind of climb. The reader began to notice that I was repeatedly passing her after about the third round. On the final pass I told her it was last time and she laughed, probably with relief. She had chosen a quiet spot and probably didn’t need me haring past her ten times, my top layer flapping in the wind as I tried to stay cool.

There is nothing interesting to say about this ride, other than I was surprised how much I enjoyed it; brain off, just trying to keep track of my circuits. And I was pleased not to feel too tired. The last Staple Lane was hard in the big cog, but not impossible. I could have gone on if necessary. Husband has extrapolated this out to a fine time for the Etape. Hopefully I have swept away fears of the broom wagon for now.

Note to self: You need to buy a summer base layer… who would have thought a string vest would be on your wish list?

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