Cheese leaves us all toasted…

Map reference: 81k, 1,000m climbing, Cobham, Cranleigh, Rudgwick, Newdigate

Carbs and Caffeine: The Milk Churn, Rudgwick, bookhams.com

First ride after Spain for me, and the whole Spain (chain) gang were there plus Caroline and Lou (who had been on her own trip to South Africa). I knew Caroline was feeling a little flakey so told her that I would be driving to her house and leaving from there. This did the trick. She was forced out of bed and was ready by the time I got there, although she was clearly feeling a bit under par. A good effort from both of us.

It was odd to be back in the winter clothes, and funny to note that nearly everyone was wearing Castelli Gabba cycling jackets. Luckily they come in various colours. Mine is red and I love it so much that the first thing I do when I get home is zip it up and put it through a 15 minute wash. So far it looks as good as new. It really does seem to be the best jacket for British weather, water resistant and warm, and they keep the wind out too.

With all our winter kit on, and riding in a wind that picked up as time went on, our 80k felt long. Caroline was pushing through the pain, hindered by her saddle which kept lowering itself. No moaning from her – impressive. It’s never nice when your kit lets you down (literally in this case).

It was noted that Rach B was back in knickers. We had talked her out of her pants on holiday (no sniggering at the back there, it’s a serious issue for cyclists), but her favourite merinos were back in place. Maybe it was for warmth… she wouldn’t say.

Meanwhile Rach H was climbing ‘like a mountain goat’, according to Bealesy. This is the first praise ever uttered by him, in the four or five years I have ridden with him. The Spanish sun must have got to him. Not to take away from the fact that Rach was climbing really strongly. I’ll have to find out what she had for breakfast.

We were all ready for the caffeine stop at the Milk Churn. I’ve been there a few times now. It does the best cheese on toast ever. I really do mean that. Even Bealesy was digging into Jen’s double portion, and he normally just nibbles on a biscuit. But every time I push off afterwards, I remember that cheese is not cycling food, or at least not in any quantity. The wind had picked up and I was very glad that I didn’t have to cycle all the way back into London. I felt a mixture of guilt and relief as Caroline and I turned off, leaving the others with another 45 minutes to push through. Mind you they’ve banked 110k, which can be no bad thing as summer rides approach. I’ll have to get in some secret training to keep up.

Note to self: Dragon Ride will be hell unless you get some more rides in

Knees up to the cake stop

Map reference: Calpe, Spain… yes, really

Carbs and caffeine: tapas, of course, and hotel breakfasts, my absolute favourite thing in all the world.

I am just back from my first holiday in 15 years. Ok, this is a little unfair as we have had many enjoyable holidays as a family; bucket and spade, skiing, even cycling, some in hotels and some self-catering, but none ‘on my own’.

Obviously, if I had actually gone on holiday on my own that would be a bit sad. To be clear, on my own means ‘Without Husband and Children’. For four whole days my name was not Mum. No one asked me where their trousers were. No one asked me what was for lunch. I did not have to nip to the shops for more milk (we might as well get our own cow on current consumption rates), and I saw no popcorn, either in a bowl or stuck behind the sofa cushions.

Just me… and my bike. There were no lists rolling around in my head. I only had to remember how to put the bike together out of the bike box, and hope that my Lycra would stretch. To be clear, that’s not to picture a giant me squeezing into too small Lycra, but I realised too late I could really have done with another pair of bib shorts. I would just have to wash overnight. It’s not normally an issue as I don’t usually ride two consecutive days, and even if I do, you seldom get two days of similar weather on consecutive days in England, let’s face it.

The trip was a Bealesy special (bespoke-velo.co.uk). It been a while since I’ve blogged, so to remind you I’ve been riding with Chris Beales as a guide for a few years now. We ‘girls’ go out on a Thursday with him (with the odd guest husband) during his off-season months and I trained with him in Italy before my Etape two years ago. He’s great to ride with because he does all the thinking. We just think about the next coffee stop, and pick up tips on ‘roiding’ safely.

Why ‘roiding’? Well, he’s Australian. Many things come out a little oddly, and then the rush of wind in your ears can confuse things further. We turn ‘roit’, right? This still confuses Jen as she doesn’t know her left from her right, but she’s never let it slow her down.

Added to our normal list of aural confusion, this holiday we had ‘free cake at the top of the hill’, which sadly translated as ‘3K to the top of the hill’. And Jen, Rach and I were left looking at each other in confusion, when we had completely a lovely descent in good order we thought, but were told to ‘knees up’. Since we’d been working on having a straight outer leg on the turns this seemed to contradict our instructions. No, turns out it was ‘ease up’. Or in other words, wait for the others. Of course, it was ‘knees up’ thereafter, and ever shall be.

Much of our enjoyment falls into the ‘you had to be there’ category. There was much silliness and joy. The hotel was fabulous, right on the beach. I don’t know if everyone has the same sensation, but when I look at a beach and sea, blue sky and sunshine, I actually get a rushing ‘zing’ in my head. It’s quite overwhelming. Our evenings quickly fell into a pattern, of shower, meet in the bar for a fishbowl sized G&T, followed by buffet dinner. I know some people get funny about buffet dinners, but I love them, especially when you have been exercising. It’s not because I want to eat, ‘all you can eat’ style, but if I want a bit more cheese, or some fruit, some more Iberico ham just carved off the joint, I can. Freedom to browse, rather than pressure to chose the right thing off the menu.

You might assume we would be drinking into the evening, but no. We drank water at dinner (one bottle of wine between six on the last evening) and yet I’m sure we appeared utterly toasted as we giggled our way into the lifts at about 9.30pm to get to our rooms. Yes, what busy mothers/serious cyclists want at the end of the evening is… a room of their own, and how we enjoyed ours.

Note to Husband: thank you so much for facilitating my brief escape. I really appreciate it. x