Sunday, 28 June 2020

A bridge too far.... Beginners ride 27 June

Maggie and I did not much enjoy the crowds at Nonsuch, and the pretty thoughtless driving there, so with Nigel's blessing we set up an alternative Beginners ride.  As luck would have it, the weather had taken a turn downwards, so Nonsuch may not have been so crowded, but Anna, Roger and Ken turned up as arranged to join Maggie and me at Sutton Library car park; Steve let us know he would not be making it.

Following Wednesday's ride through Walton on Thames, I was inspired to take Beginners to the bridge there, where we knew there would be toilets and sustenance properly organised.  The idea was for a leisurely ride along the north bank of the Thames through Sunbury and a slightly shorter ride back past Sandown Park but Ken had not been out on a bike since the start of Lockdown and it became evident before Thames Ditton that we would have to enjoy a shorter ride and save Walton for another day.

So, Hampton Court it was, and though the coffees were nice, the only toilets were in the BP Garage, which involved queuing.  Who should pass on the cycle path as we waited but John French with another of the day's Beginners groups!

The homeward bit was different than usual.  First we cycled down Ember Lane and Chestnut Avenue to Weston Green.

Socially distanced selfie in Alma Road

Then we started up Weston Green Road but took Tim Court's favourite route home, along the path to Giggs Hill Green, past Long Ditton and Victoria Recreation Grounds, up Maple Road and Surbiton Hill park through Berrylands and home through the tunnel under the A3 to Worcester Park.  For us 47 Km door to door, a little less for the others.

Screw drivers, Birmingham screw drivers, chain's free, Bob's your uncle

A slight hold up for repair to Roger's gears and we had avoided all the rain for a gentle but really enjoyable ride!

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

More toilets reopen

Update from Debbie

 Good News Richmond Park is open week days now still got weekend ban and speed limit on bikes up to 20 MPH.  Toilets in park open so far at Richmond gate , Kingston gate , sheen gate . Roehampton gate  . 
Some more toilets open for you: Wisley, Kew Gardens, Wimbledon Park, Polesden Lacey,(NT)  and Nonsuch Park opened its toilets yesterday! 

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Half a league, half a league Farthing Down

For those wanting only cautiously to withdraw from lockdown, Nonsuch Park on Saturday was a worry, packed full of people wandering in groups on the paths and on the grass and with the car parks jammed so that it was difficult to cycle in or out.  Maggie and I had prepared and recced a ride which was medium distance for Beginners but hilly; we had found a take-away coffee and toilet place at roughly half way and posted our ride on the blog.  Colin had advertised the detail on Beginners WhatsApp but the plan to ride in with only a few minutes to spare and ride out within minutes with four people wanting to take the longer ride proved difficult in practice; Beginners gatherings are traditionally places of indecision and social chatting; riding is, after all, meant to be a social pleasure!

We commandeered Karen, Lorraine and Godfrey and off we rode, all of us relieved to emerge from the chaos of the park.  We cycled up past Cheam station, resisting the temptation of take-away beers from the Railway Tavern.  Sunny and breezy and the traffic on the road busier than in the last three months but not back to anything like old normal, it was an ideal day for cycling.  The long climb past the prisons to Banstead High Street and the equally long whizz down Holly Lane and then east along the Chipstead Valley wind tunnel to DDs cafe just after we had crossed the A237.  DDs may not be the most stylish cafe in Coulsdon and the choice is tea or coffee (what IS Americano anyway?) but it’s the only one with a loo; believe me, we tried them all over recent days, and Maggie, the harshest of loo critics, had given it a mean 5 out of 10; old fashioned but clean and with proper Covid hand washing!

Remember that scene from Charge of The Light Brigade when the exhausted survivors gather on the grassy hillock and Cardigan says “Shall we go again, boys?” and they all roar “Yes”?  Well, our three friends were claiming lack of fitness but when we put Farthing Down to the vote two and a half of them cried “Yes”.  That’s the spirit.

The Down was not a success; there was some driving at the base so bad that not only did it nearly cost Karen a trip into the ditch but a bystander joined in the remonstrations with the driver.  At the top there were so many vehicles on the narrow road that passing, even on a bicycle, was tricky and time-consuming and since we were not planning to travel through, but to look at the view and come down, we cut the trip short.  Still, we got in the full climb!

There are road works on the Chipstead Valley Road so we crossed the railway on the footbridge and cycled up the more undulating but less busy St Andrews Road, rejoining the Chipstead Valley Road to go under the railway bridge (where the road surface has become quite difficult).  Once on CVR, though, there is only one way out; upwards!  We chose Rectory Lane, allowed a little recovery at the top by taking a couple of pictures, and then went the flat(ish) route along the top back to Banstead High Street.  

Ten attempts to get everybody in the selfie and only one success!

We had earned our cruise down Sutton Lane and went our different ways when we hit Belmont.  Door to door for Maggie and me, 38Km with 400 metres climbing.  Thanks to Godfrey, who bought the teas.  The whole was our contribution to restore Beginners to fitness!      

Thursday, 11 June 2020

D-Day plus seven

Last week's landing on Coulsdon Beach had to be postponed because of the high winds.

The proposed ride will now take place this Saturday, 13 June, God willing!

See you at Nonsuch at 2, and Maggie and I will take the first four who want to climb up to Banstead and then Farthing Down, to make a group of six.

Bring tin hats and hand cleansers.  We have tested out the cafe and Maggie (who is a famously tough critic on these matters) gave the toilet a five out of ten.

Friday, 5 June 2020

D-Day; Beginners Rides from Saturday 6 June

We are now lawfully permitted to ride in groups of up to six, so long as people keep two metres social distancing from those of different households.  Our club Committee's interpretation of the scientific evidence and guidance from Cycling UK suggests we keep a distance between us while riding on the road one behind the other of ten metres or so; enough to allow a car to pull in between us.

Despite the unpromising weather forecast (high winds), Beginners Rides will be running along these lines from Nonsuch Park, starting at 2pm this Saturday (tomorrow 6 June).

Maggie (back marker) and I will be taking the first four members present who want a long ride along a not-too-long-but-a-bit-hilly route to Coulsdon, where we have found a take-away coffee cafe with toilet.  There, we will take a vote (considering possible lack of fitness and possible high winds) whether to go up Farthing Down.  Either way we will return via at least one further hill to Nonsuch.  Nothing too ambitious but it is a start to the New Normal.

Happy group riding, everyone, but keep safe.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

A return to the Pleasure Pit, Group riding at last

From Monday groups of six were allowed to meet in the open and ride together for the first time in more weeks than we care to count, so on Wednesday the Committee (minus Jeff, still confined to barracks) took up a ride hastily prepared and recced by Tim and me and designed for use by B group out of Leatherhead, in order to test on the road the distancing and outdoor meeting and lunching arrangements which form the basis of the plan for Wayfarers' rides in the New Normal.

The first ride of the month is usually out of Cobham, so how to adapt in two days a ride designed to start at Leatherhead?  Simple, send the leader out the day before to recce an extra bit and ride from Cobham to Leatherhead before doing the prepared ride.

Thus we met on Wednesday morning outside Fego's coffee place on Anyard Road, armed each with an electronic version of the route, hand cleansing material and a packed lunch, and sporting a variety of Lockdown disguises including a new beard and a huge white frizzy Einstein barnet.  We had a socially distanced coffee, relieved ourselves, one at a time, in the loos behind the British Legion (which we knew, thanks to Jennie's sterling survey of every toilet facility in the Northern Hemisphere, would be open) and set out down the Stoke Road.

The Met Office had promised thundery rain but all we got was a grey day at temperatures well below the recent balmy ones, and spots of drizzle at inconvenient moments.  We rode through Leatherhead and a sparsely visited Little Switzerland and had a socially distanced lunch on Banstead Heath with only a hint of rain.  

This was followed by an adventurous afternoon negotiating tree roots in the paths south of Ashtead, a descent into south Epsom, a climb up Chalk Lane and tea at Tattenham Corner standing socially distanced as the drizzle came with increased persistence.

On the way we had tested how group discipline works when each rider is at least ten metres away from the others, how we could hold the discipline up some fairly steep ascents with members wanting to travel at different speeds and all this in a range of weather.  The New Normal had, in the end, worked rather well once we had remembered to get unused to riding solo and to signal road surface hazards to those following behind.  Strict corner marking was necessary because the distances between us were greater, but up the steep and narrow lanes we were leaving enough space for drivers to pull in safely between us.  We also decided that it was more important in the New Normal rather than the old than the back marker had to stay at the back, giving the corner marker confidence that the whole group had been accounted for.  To some extent the rider can manage his own risk on the road because he or she decides how close is ten metres and can hang back if behind a cougher, sneezer or spitter.  In the morning there was a little "catching up" on the hills but we discussed this at our lunch stop and concluded that conversation on the road is best ruled out in the New Normal.  As a result we held formation better in the afternoon.  The two snags were the need to use natural toilet facilities (the bushes on Banstead Heath are thin) and the plain fact that lunching could have been pretty miserable in the pouring rain.

Next Wednesday the leaders will be invited to try riding the New Normal, and the week afterwards we will further open up the rides.  Despite the downturn in the weather it was a delight to be riding in a group again, a real mood-lifter, and a joy all Wayfarers will soon be able to share.

My door to door stats were 72.62 Kms and 684 metres of climbing at 16.7 Km/h.  Ged's Strava recorded, of course, from a different door; 84.92 and 654 metres; 18.1 Km/h.  You get the picture, including how much faster Ged rides when he does not have to follow me!

What do Ray & Chris do when they come out of Isolation?

Ray and Chris  go straight on to the tandem.

"We thought we’d go out this morning.
As I still have to be very careful we thought we’d go round my 8 mile circuit on the tandem so we would never be more than 2 miles from home.

Is this bad luck or good luck - I haven’t left the house for 10 weeks and exactly at 1 mile we get a drawing pin in the front tyre (bad luck?).We quickly turned round and just made it home before the tyre went flat ( good luck?).
When I got home I quickly repaired the puncture and we did the 8 mile circuit.

This afternoon we did 85 minutes in the gym."