Fly me to the moon

Map reference: over the Hog’s Back to Haslemere. 98km

Carbs and Caffeine: scrambled eggs on toast, Darnley’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant, 3 Causeway Side, High Street, Haslemere GU27 2JZ. Friendly, prompt service and good value. Big tick from me

Don’t worry I haven’t given up riding since the Etape, but, to be honest, it’s very hard during the school holidays. I did a Rapha 100 on my return, and squeezed in a Box Hill outing with Jen, but apart from that it’s been a few laps of Richmond Park and a few sessions on the spinning bike. Three weeks to go and I shall have my daytime window back.

But this week I am down to one child – the boys being on a residential trip – and my daughter is doing a sailing camp. I intend to cycle every day, to get myself back on track. I’ve signed up for the Etape London (180k, pretty flat), which should be fairly straightforward after the Dragon Ride and the Etape du Tour, but not if I don’t keep ticking off the miles. 

Keith volunteered to kick off my week. The great thing about riding with him is you never know where you are going. Let’s be clear, he knows where he is going, but I have never travelled the same route twice with him. One of the joys of riding is the freedom, and restricting your rides to local routes that are easily learned is great shame. On my list of ways to improve myself is to increase my own map knowledge.

After a brief conflab in Ripley, we decided to head down to Haslemere, through Hindhead. I have only been down this way in the car before, heading for the coast, and it sounded like a really long way to me. The route essentially took us from Old Woking down roads on the western side of the A3 and then crossed the A3 near Hindhead to swing south towards Haslemere and then east before looping back to Guildford. Most of the roads were very quiet, with just short sections on the busier roads. As we came into Hindhead we pedalled along a beautiful wooded section and I was surprised to find the heavy smell of pine took me so strongly back to my golfing days. It’s been a long time since I’ve swung a club; golf and cycling don’t really mix, with both taking such large chunks out of the day.

Our average speed was just under 28k, with me hanging on to Keith’s wheel. I slipped off a couple of times, but was generally pleased to be able to hang on. The elevation was 840m, with some small hills at the beginning (although one hit 17 per cent at one stage) and a pretty flat finish after lunch. I felt dehydrated but refreshed by the end, if that doesn’t sound like a contradiction. A grand day out, not to the moon like Wallace and Gromit, but certainly out of my usual orbit.

Apart from the Etape London, I’m not sure what my future plans are. I’ll definitely do the Dragon Ride again and I’m hoping to get a small band together for that (Jen that means you). And I shall certainly be watching to see which stage comes up for the Etape Du Tour. Bealesy ( has mentioned the Nove Colli in Italy – the kids would like us to do that so that they can revisit our summer holiday in Viserbella, Rimini. We’ll see.

I am also toying with setting up a cycle club affiliated to the boys’ school, in part so they can participate in the London Youth Games next year, but there are many things I need to research first before I stick my head above the parapet on that.

Note to self: British Cycling have coaching information, find a moment to check out what might fit with a kids’ club


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