First question, is Leatherhead High Street a good, safe meeting place for a small group of cyclists (say six) which might be allowed when Lockdown is further eased? Answer, yes. Benches and plenty of standing/lamp post leaning and social distancing space outside the Dukes Head (closed at the moment and probably not busy at elevensies time even after Lockdown). Sunshine Cafe next door was open for two take-away cappuccinos and - wait for it - a Bounty Bar. Had not had one of those for many, many weeks, Oh the joy! Perhaps scoffing Bounty Bars is what they did in the Pleasure Pit.
Second question, how testing a ride do returning B-riders want? Main thrust in the morning was to take the Old London Road in a southerly direction and cycle over Little Switzerland, turn south towards Pfizer's, and come in to Walton-on-the-Hill over the golf course for our packed lunch on Banstead Heath (never knew it was called that, it's nowhere near Banstead!). But although this includes a couple of decent inclines it is less than fourteen miles. Should we take the harder option and go down to and over Ranmore Common, doubling back through Denbies Wine Estate, approaching Little Switzerland by coming northwards up Old London Road, past Rykas? One theory is that many won't be fit after Lockdown and starting off up Ranmore Common Road may not be a popular idea!
We rode the shorter route, passing many a whizzing youngster going the other way, and though we did not hurry it took us only an hour to find ourselves sitting on the grass opposite the Blue Ball. But why oh why can't posh people take their dogs' poo home instead of decorating the trees with it? There were children wanting to climb.
The Coffee shop opposite Mere Pond was serving takeaway at the door and we passed that as we began Tim's design for the afternoon. Down Ebbisham Lane and Hurst Road and north on Walton Road and then Headley Road. It would not be a Tim ride without some dodgy off-road, would it? So we turned up gravelly Shepherd's Walk and made our way up clay-and flint and at one point get-off-and-push Stane Street. If that's what the Romans call a road it's a wonder they conquered anywhere! We eventually cycled back in a triangular pattern and worked out a rideable alternative, where once you have settled for going through the horse poo instead of falling off the bike trying to avoid it, passage is not too difficult. Why can't they house-train horses?
Who's pulling a selfie face then, in the off-road section?
The track down had a few difficult tree roots and there was a teasing tantalizing glimpse of beautiful tarmac between the trees long before we got to ride on it, and lo and behold, we came out on Dene Road, on that tight, unsighted corner near Coffee Active in Ashtead. From there we sailed down the hill behind Epsom Hospital to give ourselves the pleasure of climbing Chalk Lane. Along Tattenham Corner Road on top of the down to the tea shack opposite Tattenham Corner itself. Not sure about the social distancing; it was London's equivalent of Brighton Beach. Still, a leisurely cup of tea lounging on the grass before going our separate ways home.
Now, THAT's a proper selfie face; he's not even looking at the lens! Tattenham Corner.
A pleasant day out, 62 Km door to door with just over 640m of climbing but for a B ride the ride itself (as opposed to the getting to it) was a touch short. Perhaps we'll have to throw in Ranmore as a morning treat. Or perhaps if we have to ride in sixes we could offer an early starting ride without Ranmore, and a later one including it; that way they would not catch each other up? Either way, many people might be grateful just to be riding in group company again, even with the likely restrictions.