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

Underpass impasse

Map reference: Wimbledon, nearly to Box Hill, via Esher, Fetcham, Leatherhead and a cafe I’ve been meaning to visit in Lycra for a long time. Around 60k

Caffeine and carbs: Cafe Bean, Ashtead … at last

There were three women including myself for the regular Bealsey (bespoke-velo.co.uk) Thursday ride. It was wet and misty, with not much promise of anything different, so I was not surprised that a couple of faces were missing. It’s also a busy time of year, let’s face it. Bealsey was undeterred as ever, but sensing the mood, suggested a fairly flat run out to the Surrey Hills and back. New commuter routes are always useful, and in fact a reminder of some of the sections we have done before is also good. As ever, I mostly didn’t know where we were, except for the occasional crossing of major roads. Aha, I think, as if coming up for air, I know where we are, and then we plunge back into a labyrinth of unknown roads again.

We crossed swords in an underpass with a very unsavoury couple, complete with the inevitable ‘dangerous’ dog. They were very upset that we were ‘on’ our bikes, although we were uncleated and merely wheeling down at snail’s pace as the underpass has hairpin bends. Frankly I don’t have the skill to go at anything above walking speed in the space, but this couple were hardwired to loathe us. And, to be honest, following the stream of expletives I received, the feeling was mutual. I wished them a Merry Christmas and moved on. I learned this tactic from Bealsey who gives a cheery wave to all rude drivers (knowing it will infuriate them further).

We did a bit of hill practice on the way up to Headley. I was instructed to stand the whole way in a big slow gear. Jen clung on behind me, and by the end our airpipes were rattling. From there, it was freewheeling all the way down to Cafe Bean, Ashtead. I’ve been many times before to this cafe, and talked bikes and biking with Jamie, the owner, as it’s near one of my kid’s schools. Finally an entrance in Lycra, red in face and glasses steamed up. Mind you, our damp arrival was somewhat trumped by a large party of grey-haired mountain bikers. They looked very hale and hearty. It’s a small cafe, but there’s always a real buzz and hum about the place.

Note to self: For heaven’s sake, must get some clear glasses. Dark glasses, in rain, leave you practically blind.

Cut short

Chores done, I was on the spinning bike when the phone rang and Middle Son informed me that he had forgotten his games kit and would have to go to ‘off-games’ (the walk of shame) unless I took his kit to the fields. So I’m off the bike, sitting in the car waiting for their minibus to arrive, feeling deflated and dehydrated….

Castle train-ing

The twins: French bulldogs at Elm Nursery

Map reference: Windsor to Wimbledon, via Ripley

Caffeine and Carbs: Elm Nursery Farm Shop, 01483 755559, http://www.elmnursery.co.uk

Much excitement today as we all piled on the 9.12 from Putney to Windsor. Especially exciting for me as I had already been (admittedly in the car) to Raynes Park station, two schools in Kingston, done half an hour of car park duty, raced home, bolted to the garage and swung my leg over the pre-prepped bike and off down the hill.

But it really did feel like a school outing. Bealsey (Bespoke-Velo) guided us onto the cycle carriage, roughly in the middle of the train. A couple of women clearly thought we were showing off in our silly Lycra outfits, and who can blame them really. No one wants their carriage invaded by four exciteable women (and one laid back Aussie) on a brief escape from their daily routine.

We alighted at Windsor. Alighting being the exact opposite of what it felt like in cleats, and rummaged in all our weird pockets for our tickets at the gate.

And we were off. Up the high street and then on into Windsor Park. Past a king-on-horse statue whose creator killed himself for forgetting the stirrups (I haven’t checked this nugget from Bealsey) and onto a loop that took in a lovely new cake stop for me, Elm Nursery. We got a very friendly welcome and the cakes were fabulous. Why do I keep forgetting to photograph the cakes? They disappear so fast, maybe. I did photograph two resident French bulldogs, one half blind. Eventually I’ll find my way through the Microsoft filing system and post them here.

Then it was on past Ripley, a flooded Cobham, Esher and on and on (90k today) until we finally popped up, miraculously in Wimbledon again. I shall study the map. I don’t know how we got there, I really don’t.

Note to self: Don’t get angry at technology, it can hear you