Who needs a small cog?

Map reference: triple Box Hill loop, all in the large cog

Carbs and caffeine: The Grey Dove, Walton-on-the-Hill http://www.thegreydovecafe.com/

I got ahead on beastly Beasley’s programme by doing my Monday session yesterday, leaving me free to cycle with Neil today. I haven’t mentioned Neil recently because he put himself out of action for six weeks by having a tumble cycling home one evening. Apparently very little alcohol was involved and yet a speed bump leapt out and tipped him off his bike. Very bad luck indeed.

Anyway, he is back on form now, but with his long layoff, I am back in the driving seat … just. Last time we cycled he was definitely faster than me. It’s going to be interesting as our training progresses.

Today we parked at Epsom racecourse, made our way through Headley to Box Hill, down the zigzag and round the back, up the Headley hills and back to the top of Box Hill, racing the last section where the road is extra smooth. Neil always beats me there, but he is only 31… and a personal trainer to boot.

After some debate we went down the zigzag and straight back up, standing all the way. For the first half I was holding my own, but as we got to the middle flatter section Neil pulled away. He then whooped encouraging cries all the rest of the way, while clearly making sure he stayed ahead of me. I just couldn’t get back on his wheel. I had my revenge on our final loop of Box Hill, up the Headley hills again, grinding my big cog as best I could. It felt good.

A quick pitstop in the ever pretty Walton-On-the-Hill and it was home for the usual family duty. No time to change or even go home and drop the bike, but I think the school mums are getting used to my mud-speckled appearances.

Note to self: next time bring Jen. Two on one, we’ll thrash him

Who are you calling old?

Map reference: triple circuit of Box Hill from Epsom Downs. 50k and close to 1k climbing.

Carbs and caffeine: The Grey Dove, Walton-on-the-Hill http://www.thegreydovecafe.com/

Out with my old personal trainer, Neil, today. Well, he’s not old, I’m obviously the old one, and he’s the secret weapon in my training plan. I was slower than him today (I’m blaming the heavy winter wheels) but close enough in speed to force a competitive pace. And I have the advantage of knowing my way round the Surrey hills a bit, especially the cafes. I also have a car so we can drive out, do circuits and then not have to commute home. It’s early days, we don’t need to slog home. This will work as long as I can keep up. If I could only shed a decade or two (and add testosterone).

Note to self: No stretching, come on you know better. No wonder your legs ache

Lucky break in the weather

Map reference: Wimbledon to Walton-On-The-Hill

Carbs and Caffeine: The Grey Dove Village Cafe, Walton. thegreydovecafe.webs.com

I am very relieved to have tested my winter wheels, especially as I had had my doubts about my husband’s fitting of them. I was worried that, since he had also changed the cassette, the chain wouldn’t fit. But it seems I was wrong. In making the swap he discovered that I had been riding the wrong cassette for my summer sportives, the Dragon Ride and Etape Cymru. How we laughed. I tell you, I’m going to insist on all the gears possible for the Etape Du Tour. Oh yes, I hope you are reading this, Husband.

Anyway, with our sensible winter-ride heads on, Jacqui and I decided to repeat the route that Bealsey (Bespoke-Velo) showed me the week before. Jacqui downloaded the map I had recovered from my basic Garmin to her more advanced Garmin and we were off. There’s a lot of weaving but it’s a good route through south-west London and I am going to try to commit it to memory. I’d much rather do this than go round and round Richmond Park for fear of traffic. After about an hour we were out in our familiar Headley and Box Hill area. There was flood litter all over the roads. My winter tyre has a large gash on the back wheel which I worry about. The occasional flat is inevitable, but you always think, please not this week. And today, my prayer was answered. We had a lovely ride, round the back of Box Hill, up the zigzag and past our normal tea stop at the top. We had a few mouthfuls of soggy jam bagel as we went, but were desperate for our cup of tea as we carried on. After another 15 minutes or so we finally got to Walton-On-The-Hill, a really lovely village. Several good looking pubs, some interesting shops and a beautiful church. And the Grey Dove. My second visit, I can recommend it. Good coffee (I can drink any tea, but coffee has to be good). The homemade cakes were delicious too. Bakewell tart this time for me. The place was full, as it was last time, it’s obviously a badly kept local secret.

Note to self: Must see if I can follow a route using my Garmin 500. It is supposed to be possible….