25/09/2011 ride report - AD had the legs on me.

Gosh, I've not been out for ages. Not been on a bike for almost three weeks. It had nothing to do with being on Snowdon and potentially finding our trails tame; just other things got in the way. So today I knew would be hard; cycling always is when you've not been on the bike for some time. Subsequently it was hard, but my base fitness was pretty good and that wasn't a factor. What was a factor was AD and his stunning speed.

Just myself and AD out - Ha! but then that's the case 90% of the time now. Funny how things pan out that way. Anyway we met at the top of Reigate Hill with no plan in mind. From the off AD had limited the ride as he had to be back for 12:00, so without a plan we set off for Box Hill via Headley Heath. It was clear AD had a set of legs with him today as he disappeared at a fast pace, and by the end of the ride we must have clocked an average speed of over 10mph, possibly hitting 11mph average. He didn't hang around, with each hillclimb being a sprint instead of a plod. We'd met post 9am and were in Box Hill prior to 10:00, all of it off-road.

Headley was odd. We always slow down for the horse riders and give them wide berth. Have a little chat with them as we pass kind of thing. There were loads out today, and all bar one was pleasant. The last was a funny encounter. We rounded a bend prior to a fun downhill but at the bottom, perhaps 75m away was a stationary horse and rider. She was on the right, so we slowed right down and kept way over on the left, right in the bushes. Called out our normal pleasantries but she gave us the Death Stare all the time. Why? We'd slowed, she'd stopped and her horse wasn't at all fussed by us. We were polite yet got that treatment. All odd.

Box Hill was interesting as there was some road sportiff going on so there were perhaps 60 or 70 road cyclists there at any one point. Luckily they had a feed station so we got served at the cafe quickly. I did spot the Dorking Cocks there, so mountain bikers were well represented.

Setting off AD had to be back early, but he was on fast mode so we took China Pig down, then Stane Street until we got to the golf course, then a windy path home. All taken very fast. On Colley Hill the option of dropping down the boring bit of Reigate Hill didn't appeal so we took what is now the chalk path default option. Now AD knows this path well - it's practically his back yard, so he flies down. Every time he beats me, as he ultimately did today. However up until now he's had time at the bottom to make a cup of tea, clean his bike, perhaps make a few 'phone calls before I got down. You see at the halfway point he'd take the inside line, whilst I went for the smoother outside. It gave him 10m to 15m every time. It was like I was on a different ride. So yes Dear Reader today I took the inside line, and it was so much faster. Hard work on a hard-tail though, and I almost got bumped off. Literally hanging on I was within 5m of AD by the end. He still smoked me though, and one suspects that he had speed in reserve.

An enjoyable little day out. I'd guess at 25 miles all up. Oh and boy was it humid. I suffered as the pace was such that each time I tried to drink I ended up breathless, so stopped drinking and eating en route. By the end I was all wibbly.

Oh and at the end some guy on a rather nice grey Superlite passed me at the bottom of the chalk path. I'd just set off from saying goodbye to AD so was going slow in a big ring. He gave me a look that said "all the gear, no idea" so I gave chase, as you do. He knew it so upped his pace as well. So there we were flying along but had to stop at a road junction. Now my formative years in London were as a cycle commuter, so I saw a small gap in the traffic and went for it. This gave me a lead and the guy couldn't close it. I'd say normally he'd absolutely whup me as he was fast.

Makes you wonder though. Here was a fast guy on a £3k rig, obviously local. Never seen him before, and probably never will again. He was doing his own thing, bothering nobody. So how many riders are there out there? Sure you do see the big groups belonging to the better clubs, like the Redhill Cycling Club or the Diary of a Mountainbiker lot, but the lone riders go by stealth and I bet they are the more numerous.

Cracking to be a cyclist. Must admit to being happy to have found AD as a riding buddy. There's no agenda, no big trumpet blowing ego, or bullying nature between either of us. We just ride and have a bit of fun.