Following Ron from etape.org.uk‘s advice I made sure that at the end of Janaury I could do a reasonable and attainable goal for this stage in the training. So on Tuesday I made the most of my day off during the week and headed out to Box Hill and back for a little over 80km/50 miles.
The night before was spent tinkering with the bike to sort out my saddle position. It had been annoying me for a while that it wasn’t quite level but I hadn’t quite go round to unravelling the mystery of which bit was stuck and refusing to allow me to adjust it. A liberal dousing of WD40 and a bit of what is known as “twatting it hard with something heavy” revealed that it was one half of the clamping bit (I should know the name of it). Once released and adjusted my saddle position was far more comfortable, although it has led to a slight problem with a bit of chaffing towards the back of the inner thigh.
So from my house the route was relatively straightforward and as follows:
Over the Hogarth roundabout and Chiswick Bridge, up to the Richmond Gate, down through Ham and on to Kingston. From there following the A307 down to Esher and left towards Leatherhead via Oxshott. From Leatherhead (following a slight bit of dithering) pick up the road towards Mickelham and make use of the rather Surrey cycleway as far as the bottom of Box Hill then up the Zig Zag Lane side. Stop for coffee and flapjack and then make return journey, including a quick sprint through Richmond Park.
The most enjoyable part was probably discovering the Surrey cycleway which is reasonably wide and well maintained strip adjacent to the main road which I bombed along without having to worry about traffic. Sometimes a well maintained route like that is better than having to share to road and compared to many of the deeply compromised cycle lanes and routes I see around London it actually seemed to show some thought for cyclists of all persuasions.
Box Hill didn’t prove as much of a challenge as I had expected. Or rather, it didn’t at the speeds I went up it – a stately but consistent 15-16kph which may have dipped down to 11-12 until I found my climbing legs for the first time. I didn’t particularly push myself though as, with the air temperature around the 6 degree mark, the windchill factor meant it wasn’t much above freezing even at those low speeds.
When it came to descending, full of coffee and flapjack, I discovered that I had sweated my way through my breathable/waterproof layer. At 50kph this became rather painful as the cold goes through the damp bits and right to your core at this time of year. Not even the weak winter sun could help me out with warming up, making the ride back a determined effort to ride harder to warm myself up.
All in the ride took me roughly four hours, including coffee and flapjack, getting a little lost a couple of times, negotiating traffic and waiting at various sets of traffic lights. For a solo ride, averaging nearly 23kph according to my computer, in January conditions I’m fairly happy with that. In a group I’m sure I would have gone along quicker and in warmer weather I certainly wouldn’t have held back for fear of freezing. If that reads as an average closer to 25-28kph by the end of March then I’ll be happy.
Next on the list is to start with the fundraising which has been going pretty disastrously thus far with only Jon Richards having chipped in. This is probably because I haven’t got round to asking everyone in my email address book, just a few. I suppose I’d better start soon.