I have a personal philosophy about Saturdays which I take seriously. Zero stress.
I have stood in shops many times with apologetic staff over some problem or other and I always diffuse it saying there’s more than enough in working life during the week, don’t worry, take your time etc. Today tested it severely.
A mate phoned me about 9am just as I was finishing my prep and waiting for Chris’ arrival at mine for coffees (and the coffee was something special today, more later). My mate joked about the Oxshott bridge closure and it dawned on me, Chris would be driving that way to find he couldn’t get through. I called him and left messages then something else dawned on me. He had his mobile stolen a couple of days before and may not have my numbers in the new one.
I called StevenD so at least one gathering rider knew, said I owed it to Chris to wait for him then hoped for the best. At 10am and at that point of leaving for Bocketts or not making my own ride Chris drove up. A relief and we got to Bocketts as quickly as we could conscious that riders would be waiting and getting cold.
On paper a fairly ordinary run to Newlands Corner and with Keith confirmed, any gaps in my knowledge would be nicely smoothed over, in fact it was good to see Dave at Bocketts as well so I could just turn the pedals, note the knowledge gaps for the future and be sociable out there.
Now the ‘recipe in progress’ heading is about the ride pace and tone and trying to cater for all. The idea is that it’s a less focused ride than the Sunday group for various reasons.
Firstly is fitness with riders who have to ride head-down on a Sunday and find it to be too much. Secondly for riders who perhaps are not out regularly. Then there are those nursing injuries and recovering. Lastly is that some want to take in the scenery as a distinctly sociable ride rather than a slower paced fitness pursuit. I’m not sure we got that right this week and it is possible that Saturday will see enough traffic for separate groups to head off.
Alternatively it might be that after the mandatory cake/pie stop some riders can return at a nice fat-burn pace and others at a gentle meander. I sensed that the back and front of the ride probably felt a compromise so it’s worth thinking about.
At Bocketts, I counted DaveC, Keith, me, Chris, StevenD, Lloyd, Trevor and Andy, making 8 riders in total . We set off along the Admirals Track toward Polesdon and a familiar voice greeted us by riding up behind us. JohnR had deliberately timed his ‘Dawn Raid’ ride and route to catch us setting off and worked his way through us chatting with familiar faces before heading off home. Incredibly sociable, brilliant John!
We gathered at the top of the tarmac run to Yew Trees, down it and up the other side and regrouped at Ranmore, had a fairly straightforward run along Badger Run and Collarbone to White Down and then warned riders about the chalky descent to follow. Since Wednesday night though and despite much rain Friday night, it was dry and I found it surprisingly easy.
Down past the farm most of us went oblivious that Chris had punctured at the foot of Whitedown and as we waited past the singletrack and over the road at the Abinger Roughs waiting-point it took us a while to realise this. We rode back, re-grouped, Keith and Dave had got Chris going again and we headed off. Dave took us on the route which neatly brought us down to the A25 at Abinger and then over to the South side and along the Shere trail, past Pretzel Alley and along the Greensand Way.
The final hard climb up to Newlands felt tough but I now enjoy this climb and hope to get gradually stronger on it over time. I think the re-fuelling was widely welcomed and my hunch that an egg bap would arrive quicker than bacon and egg proved correct. The ride felt like it could have been 3 hours but in fact was only a couple, time can be deceptive.
We took a conventional North Downs route back, Dave leading from the front, Keith peeled off towards Effingham and back at Ranmore, Chris and I rode leisurely back and bid farewell to the others. About 4 hours in total, felt about right for the blueprint.
For me personally, today saw an indifferent attitude to the puddles and mud. This was no small feat for me, I don’t do outdoor hiking, camping, the great outdoors etc. I am known for my creature comforts. I was filthy, the bike was filthy but from early in the ride I put my mischievous whinging away and said to myself that it could be worse, I could be trying to walk or run through it. It seemed to work!
I hope others enjoyed the ride and I’m sure we’ll work out the right mix or split needed so that the ride works for anyone who makes it.
Postscript: I don’t read coffee forums and I can’t stand the pretentiousness of “god shots” and so on. I don’t make a bad coffee though and the Cuban Serrano greens I have in my collection have never roasted fabulously. I have experimented with a’ drying phase’ and also high heat approaching 1st crack then much lower to coast to 2nd. In short, this roast was pretty special.
Standing in Bocketts, Chris had a choice of us heading to my Mother’s to clean the bikes where I keep the pressure washer or heading off to mine for a coffee. The coffee won and double-shot cappuccinos were in order. I hope it took the mind off the trails nicely.