Roger, Martina & Maggie at Claudio Funari's Community Garden on the Wandle
For the first time in the history of the Beddington Beginners we ran two rides out of Beddington Park on Saturday.
We had a newcomer, Martina, from Bologna and then Durban, who is determined to learn to ride a bike. She had only been practising in the park until she answered our leaflet and came to see if we could make Maggie’s old bike fit her on the Friday, so Maggie and Colin took her on the Wandle Path towards Morden Hall Park, which has only short stretches of road. Roger joined them because he could not face the prospect of riding to Banstead, one of his least favourites.
Ken, who lives near Morden Hall Park, and the other electric bikers who refuse to offer us the prospect of entertainment by falling into the river off the narrow path, wanted to go somewhere else, so we did the traditional thing and weighed up the alternatives until the drizzle started, then set off. I led Ken, Roy, Anna, Ray and Sharon up Demesne Road and through the back streets to Wallington Sainsbury’s, where the drizzle increased to scale two and we changed under the tree cover into our wet weather gear before continuing South of Stafford Road and then across and West of Woodcote Road to Dingwall Road. Ray left us to go home; whether because of the rain or the beginners’ pace he was too polite to say. It meant that only Sharon and I noticed the gentle but persistent incline, since the other three were on electrically powered machines.
The drizzle was light and of the refreshing variety as we went down the hill to Woodmansterne Road and then up the Warren and Pine Walk East, the first section of which is probably the steepest of our Sutton hills. From there it is a brief respite past the Royal Marsden and then a longer climb up Sutton Lane past the prisons, ending with the awkward and fairly steep and busy roundabout across Croydon Lane. Only one or two more of those carefully engineered London Borough of Sutton drain-potholes to avoid, including the Borough Engineer’s piece de resistance, the one on the apex of the blind bend where the road is at its narrowest, until tea at Pistachio’s, where I took advantage of having less raingear than anybody else except Sharon and moved in early for the last piece of lemon drizzle cake. There have to be some privileges of leadership.
The rain had stopped when we re-emerged for what, in the days before potholes, was my favourite local stretch, the almost flat, lightly used Woodmansterne Lane along the tops to the Woodman. Down the steep Carshalton Road, avoiding the metal drain covers strategically placed a couple of yards out from the gutter, re-crossing Croydon lane into Oaks Park where Anna and Roy left the three of us to cross the smallholdings and come back into Wallington on that enjoyable cruise downhill on Boundary Road. At home the other group returned, Martina rightly pleased with herself for having done something like ten miles on her maiden voyage.
A short ride in the rain; 21.2 Km door to door at 10.6 K/h, but with 239m of ascent it afforded me a bit of sneaky practice for the TriVets on Wednesday and Sharon enjoyed the hills. For the others, of course, hill practice was a mere flick of the switch.