Yesterday turned out to be a rather lovely, if somewhat windy, afternoon and with the children finally back at school the pressure to present a varied and fun filled 12 hour itinerary before breakfast every day has been lifted. I celebrated by heading out the door and made my way south towards the Surrey Hills. The advantage of a strong southerly wind in this situation is that you can ride into the teeth of it when you still have some energy in your legs and then, the best bit, have it helping you all the way home as you marvel at how your stamina is improving as your Strava map lights up with all sorts of personal best times!
I was also keen to try myself out on Pebble Hill just outside Betchworth. This is a hill I must have driven up countless thousands of times during my life as it’s just by my parents house where I was brought up but I have never tried it on a bike. The sign says it’s a 16% gradient and although relatively short, there is a steady build up to the base all the way from the railway station a couple of miles earlier so I thought it would be a good test of the climbing legs .. if such things actually exist yet! So having ridden down it at an alarming pace en route to my parents for a quick cup of coffee I turned around and made my way back up. Much to my relief I didn’t need to get off and push and, even more surprisingly, I don’t think I even had to use first gear so that was a rather uplifting experience. Even so, nobody was more surprised than me when, as if on some sort of auto-pilot, my bike turned sharp left at the top of the hill and headed off towards Box Hill! A fresh set of personal best times for the Box Hill climb later (it’s not so hard to set a pb when you’ve only done it twice so don’t be too impressed!), and I was powering my way back towards London with a very welcome wind at my back making me feel far more powerful than I really am. Even the final climb from Chipstead up Rectory Lane couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm and I was actually starting to believe that I really do have a pair of climbing legs after all! This is quite surprising because when you watch Le Tour on tv you’ll notice that the people that are good at climbing look like whippets on a diet and weigh about 50kg soaking wet whereas when you look at me …. well, …. So perhaps best not to get too carried away with the climbing prowess but it’s progress nonetheless. I have a feeling though that I’ll be less smug about my climbing ability half way through the approaching South Downs Way in a day mountain bike challenge! 10,000 feet of climbing – off road!
Strava stats here
Mapmyride stats here