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.

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….