Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Surrey Riding

The kind of evening where you toy with the idea of shorts but stick to 3/4 lengths because it will get cold later.

Planning the kind of ride where there is a later.

I drop off the hog's back hill towards the South Downs way and enjoy sandy trails until it's time to turn South again and head for the road crossing I have imagined at the A3.

A lady dressed in a flat cap and jodhpurs smiles at me.  She's a little older than me and weather worn and I feel like telling her she looks nice because in spite of her lady-of-the-manor dress and wrinkles,  she carries it well and does look friendly.

She paases me back in a transit van, still smiling as I realise that maybe she's just amused by the enormity of my plan to cross the hog's back road.

I find my descent route then wait around 5 minutes in total to leg it across 2x2 lanes of traffic moving at 70mph

A short,  sneaky footpath sees me doing the same on the A31 a few minutes later. This time the central reservation is not a grassy median but a narrow strip of armaco barriers and I sit with my butt perched and EmVee standing precariously on the struts designed to buckle under the force of a crashing vehicle.

I don't like crossing in front of trucks but it is likely to be 10 minutes before I get another chance so I heft EmVee on to my shoulder and skitter across the road in my cycling shoes. It's a long 300 yards to the slip road to my tiny back-lane turn where I see a lady on her commute home and I wonder how she does this road every day,  or what she knows that I don't.

For the rest of the ride I am on trail and beautiful countryside roads which aren't even used by cars, except by the occasional resident. I suppose I have the efficient and behemoth A3 to thank for that.

The bridle paths are beautiful but unremarkable in the level of challenge they offer, except for one descent. I reach a turn after a long climb. At the top a man is sitting on a fallen tree, staring into the tree canopy above.  I ask if he's looking at anything interesting,  hoping for a woodpecker or an owl but he simply replies,  "isn't it a beautiful evening" and I agree,  setting off down the best single track of the evening, a ditch so steep-sided that my bars almost touch the sides and enough bumps for me to learn that I can put more air back in the forks. It snakes through woodland and I am so glad of the Garmin nav because it means I can enjoy my descent until the point where I make my turn to start heading home.

I am riding home on bridle paths through parks on the edge of Hampton Court yet there isn't a person in sight.

I am slightly worried by a caravan and land rover parked up in the middle of nowhere. A bit of me is vigilant for murderers and rapists and a bit of me is wondering if it is a national trust land rover (to explain away the rapist theory).

The sound of something crashing through the undergrowth heightens my alerts.  Now it's either a big,  slobbering dog... or a rapist.  To my relief and wonder it is two deer who I have separated,  one each side of the path.  They both stand taller than I, their beautiful feminine faces and big, brown vigilant eyes watching me as I roll by, hoping that one does not try to join the other in a mountain biker death-leap of glory.

 I am getting tired now so I wind along the easiest trail I can and pop back out onto country lanes. My lights go on and I start to be glad my knees are covered and disappointed in my choice of socks.  The sun has disappeared behind the hill already but there's the remnants of a pink stain on clouds in the sky. My day is not over with work still to do but the day has definitely been 'done' to an acceptable level of detail.

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