Cranking it up…

Map reference: Husband’s local bergs route, double Richmond Park flip with Surrey pals and shortened trip to Shere

Carbs and caffeine: good coffee, my choice of wrong cake at The Dabbling Duck, Middle Street, Shere

I’m still nursing a sore back. The pain is travelling up and down my right side and I can’t walk any distance. Yesterday, even the post box 50 metres away looked a little too far and I drove to a box instead. Nonetheless, with the help of paracetamol I have been doing short rides, followed up by intensive stretching. Incidentally, I have it on very good authority that you should try to stay off the anti-inflamatories for training purposes, tempting as they are.

I felt better enough on Sunday to get Husband to ride me round his local bergs route. For the first 20 minutes I was absolutely fine, and after that it as clear I needed to head home. Nonetheless, I captured several pieces of bling on Strava… second best this year up one of the local hills? I need to go back when I’m fit.

On Monday a couple of friends I ride with in Surrey decided to travel up here. This suited me perfectly and it was a real pleasure to see Richmond Park through fresh eyes. It’s perfect terrain for Jo, who professes to not like long hills and loves blasting along the flat. She enjoyed the commute here too as she says she’s tired of the Surrey Hills. If that’s not a lesson in ‘the grass is always greener’, I don’t know what is.

Finally yesterday, I had my regular Tuesday date with Jacqui. We were planning on driving to Cobham and then doing a Leith Hill loop. Unfortunately, by the time we had chatted our way to Staple Lane and beyond, it became clear that Jacqui’s heart wasn’t in it. Her son has scholarship exams next week and, poor love, is getting himself in a pickle. And of course, as the mother, she is trying to do everything she can to make it all right; keeping him calm and helping him through his work load. Sometimes the juggling just gets too much.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, so I persuaded her to pedal on to Shere, and The Dabbling Duck, usually a port of call on our way back from Leith Hill, where a caffeine fix would surely make the outing worthwhile. Unfortunately, out of all the delicious cakes on offer, I chose carrot and pineapple which turned out to be too sugary for my taste. Luckily I had some of my apple and prune oaties packed, and we cleaned our palettes with those.

One of things we chatted about was crank length. Jacqui is a physio and one of her clients was getting terrible knee pain and struggling to climb hills, despite being really fit. Apparently she is seriously under-tall and yet, even with a bike fit, had been given 170 cranks. Jacqui was able to advise her to go back and get 165, which the shop conceded would be right. So there you go… Husband’s intensive studying and my spreading of the word should hopefully make a big difference to a complete stranger.

Here’s the link again on cranks if you are interested

Note to self: get snacks – and painkillers – ready for long one tomorrow.

Double Staple secures a hilly ride

Uplifting view of the Downs: free to anyone, you don’t have to be on a bike

Map reference: Richmond Park, through Cobham to Staple Lane, Crocknorth Road, Box Hill and back through Walton-on-the-Hill. You will have to take my word for it as the Garmin turned itself off. Just under 100k

Carbs and Caffeine: Box Hill cafe, cup of tea and a flapjack, cycling fuel and lunch rolled into one delicious homemade slab

Making my way to my Richmond Park rendezvous with Jacqui, I had my doubts about today’s cycle plan. The winds were horrendous. As a gust hit, all I could do was stop pedalling, grip the handlebars and hope the cars would have the sense to know how difficult the conditions were. One senile old gent chose this day to try driving (so slowly I had to overtake going up cardiac hill – aka Broomfield Hill) while holding his iphone in front of his face to take a video. The silly old duffer is now the proud owner of a shot of me gesticulating to put the thing down. Leaving your brain at the gate because you are driving through the park is not acceptable… and that goes for parking in the middle of the road to see the deer too.

I was still worried about the gusts as we continued. A cycling friend has bust his knee skiing, and it has pricked my fear that all this training would count for nothing, should I sustain an injury. We actually got off our bikes in Kingston, as the wind funnelling between Peter Jones and Bentalls was too dangerous to ride through, but things improved from there and by the time we were in Cobham I had settled down and was enjoying myself. We pedalled on to Staple Lane and, since I climb faster, I decided to do it twice to Jacqui’s once. The plan was to catch her a bit down the road. Jacqui obviously took this as a challenge and pedalled off as fast as she could. She was most of the way up Crocknorth Road (which we know as ‘the steep one under the bridge’) before I caught sight of her. She must have been holding back before. Anyway it gave me a chance to stretch my legs along the rolling ride between the two hills and I’m sure I would have set some personal records on Strava if the Garmin hadn’t failed to record that section.

My screen told me we had done 60k as we pulled up outside the cafe on top of Box Hill. I wish I had looked at the climbing rate, as that information is now gone forever.

We were trying to ‘make time’ as we set off for home as Jacqui was late for all sorts of household admin, but were stopped as we turned into Headley Common Road by a police block and ambulance. Unfortunately a motorcyclist had been hit by a falling tree. I dread to think what would have happened if it had been us. At least the guy had his protective clothing. A policeman told us that the biker will be all right, but it is very sobering seeing someone stretchered into an ambulance.

As the road was closed for an investigation into the accident, we were forced to take a rather long circuit through Walton-On-The-Hill and Tadworth (made slightly longer with a wrong turning from me). Poor Jacqui was now very late, and had to call her mother, who was at home with the children, and explain to her that there had been an accident – no, she wasn’t in the accident – and she would be much later than planned. Mobile reception is not great up there, the conversation went round and round in loud circles for a while before the message was received.

So not everything went according to plan. Jacqui was very late and I have no record of the ride. And hail had not been forecast but fell anyway. But we banked some miles, and that’s a good thing with 10 weeks to go the the Dragon Ride.

Note to self: turbo tomorrow, need to start building up the stamina