A visit to Fulham Palace is planned for our first Saturday all day ride of 2020. It should be a good time to visit; the palace and moated gardens have been renewed and restored over recent years. There is a cafe for lunch, and volunteers planted out 25,000 bulbs last autumn, so the gardens should look wonderful,(as long as the squirrels haven't raided the beds!)
Meet at Mansion House 9.45 am for 10 o'c start, or Kingston Bridge at 10.40. Have coffee before we set out please. We'll head through Richmond Park via Ham gate, through Mortlake and over Barnes Bridge to follow the North side of the Thames through Hammersmith and down to the Palace. Cycle routes, greenways, towpath and quiet roads throughout. After lunch we'll cross Putney Bridge and head for tea, either Wimbledon Common or Roehampton.
Hoping for a nice day in the coming week to recce this route, and feeling optimistic that spring will be properly underway in a fortnight's time☺.
Saturday, 29 February 2020
Tuesday, 11 February 2020
It was a pleasant day for cycling, the rain over, the big storm yet to come and the only worry that there was a bit of a breeze and everybody in a car had decided it was their chance for a day out, too.
The rides list said Box Hill or Walton on the Hill for the long ride, so it was into the thrill of the unknown that we arrived at Nonsuch Park on Saturday. There were one or two unfamiliar faces and it was nice to see Tim, and a few Wednesday regulars.
The short ride was to Morden Hall Park, which is one of the shortest prescribed outings and has become too familiar to those of us who turn up to Beddington Park each month but there was a lot of chatting and the plan for the day was for leaders to depart like German trains; no announcement, quietly slipping away, you should have been paying attention. Lynda did it first and then Nigel so that by the time I had engaged my Strava and got on my gloves I was playing catch-up with Sue through the doggie lottery that was Nonsuch Park; clinging mud if you left the path.
It all added to the excitement, especially when you asked Nigel where we were going and he replied with an enigmatic silence. Mysteriously, though, neither Tim nor Helen was with us. There were eleven hats at first, ten machines (Rob and Ruth on the tandem) and I ended up self-appointed back marker. Sue did not really fancy Box Hill (this is the same Sue who did the Prudential 100 and the TriVets 100 miles last year!) and peeled off to do her own thing at Ewell. We used the Epsom Sainsbury’s route to Epsom but unusually for Nigel, we were moving at a sedate pace. This suited, for I too felt a bit lethargic and recorded the 8,521st fastest time ever up Col de l’hopital au centre du jardinage (Wilmerhatch Lane). At the top, Godfrey went his own way and we were left with Nigel, Lorraine, Alice, the tandem, Steve W and Ken on his electric bike, and new man Chris, out with us for the first time. An experienced rider, Chris had not been on his bike for a few months.
I expected we would take the Ashtead and Leatherhead route to Box Hill but no, we carried on up the lane, so I assumed it was Walton we were aiming for and we went right and left up the Headley Road until we met the impenetrable barrier that has been Headley High Street for a while. There we had a debate because Nigel was intending to get us to the bottom of Box Hill from there and take us up the zigzag, but Box Hill had also been closed when I was there on Wednesday and this out-of-date information and the views of the majority persuaded Nigel that Walton was the place for coffee. Two young women in a car were rude because they felt we were blocking their way, though when they start their driving lessons they will learn how to steer through a gap one and a half times as wide as their vehicle. Fortunately it was Gentleman Rob in discourse with them. Back under the M25, up The Bitch and along the Duck Pond sprint to the Village Cafe, which we made half an hour before closing time. Perfect.
At Nigel’s invitation, I led us homeward, and with the incentive of going out with Maggie to the cinema, at a less gentle pace. Personal firsts over the Tadworth Sprint and the Tattenham Rollers and the Shawley Way climb, where my unfitness overtook me, along with Steve and Alice, and Nigel and Ken. Rob and Ruth had fancied the A217, Chris had left us at Tattenham Corner to make his way home to Cobham, Alice and Lorraine split from us at Banstead High Street and the remaining three of us went down past the prison, a dangerous road for speeding now, littered with potholes and poor drains. Nigel took Ken homewards down Banstead Road South, where I said goodbye. One more climb for me, Metcalfe Avenue, but by now the cobwebs had blown away and I was in that pleasant place, wind in the face, cruising down the hills with a song in my head, happy to pedal up them.
Altogether a splendid ride. 40km, 427m elevation gain, 14.9Km/h. Thank you Nigel. But I still have that nagging worry that we left people behind at Nonsuch.