Of the breakfast of champions, wild foraging and just cycling.

Cycling - it's what I do really.

My blog has been "Blog Lite" of late for several reasons. The main one being that I'm disinclined to post anything and everything type reports. Sure there have been rides; myself and PP to Guildford; normal there and back things to Box Hill; and then the playing on and around Headley Heath, trying to find what the trail pixies have been up to. All good stuff, yet nothing that a milion other mountain bikers do not do.

Sunday then, what was different about that? Well in many ways nothing either. It's a well trodden route from Reigate this one, leading as it does to Westerham and beyond, route 21 sameness. Indeed Sunday was very well trodden - lots and lots of well packed tourers were evident. Some Germans on an organised tour were oddly inspiring. I did look up the tours last year; London to Paris, 80km or so a day. For fit you and I that would be easy. The Germans were not a day under 70, not a gram under what a doctor would call obese. Yet there they were, on big heavy steel hire bikes, for ten solid days doing what you or I do once a week. Who's the rad cyclist then? You on your 650b+ 160mm front and back, or them on a borrowed Posties bike?

Would you believe within the M25 on the borders with Croydon?

Breakfast of Champions.

I'm still travelling lite these days, using a runners' endurance pack from North Face. It does not carry much, which initially was a pain. Where do I put the spare gear cable, spoke spanner, second spare jacket etc. that I normally lug around? Simple answer, at home. Food and water must still be carried, and must still be eaten in odd locations. For spares I take, well, money. It's far, far lighter for a start and double use.

My breakfast

That's the wrong bike!

My neighbour asked why I'd downgraded when I took the Tassajara out. He normally sees me on big, burly bikes... which I use to mince about on, but we'll not tell him that. Anyway, this bike, downgraded? Guess on a group ride it would be in a way; 26" wheels, 90mm suspension, summer 2.0" tyres. Solo? Nope, perfectly suited to the job. It is, in a sense, a touring bike now and I was on a mini-tour. Must say I felt at home on it, all sub 25lb. It relaxed things quite a bit.

Garry Fisher Tassajara

I built it up a good six years ago, having spotted the frame on eBay. Cost me about £900 to do using a mix of old and new parts. The oldest being these steel Salsa handlebars with a huge backsweep. Not racy, not light, just comfy as anything. They kind of set the mood up. You're not hammering today, you're pondering.

Salsa handlebars

Indeed "relaxed" could sum up the whole ride. Not much above walking pace for lots, I was mixing with walkers in a very pleasant way. One old lady looked a little lost in the cafe, so I asked her if she was OK? "I'm looking for friends" was the reply. A smile and rueful look was raised when I commented on her open approach to life and would I do?

Can you see the cafe?

For coffee I stopped at a garden centre that I hate. Why? No reason other than I'd seen a sign saying there was a cafe hidden here, yet had been too grumpy to try it at the time. Signs leading up to it were ominous, watch out for elderly people type ones. Indeed the cafe was designed for elderly people, all small portions and china cups. I've lived in Wales and Devon / Dorset for long enough to know that where good tea is concerned, elderly people know a thing or two. Initially the cake looked mingy, way too small for a cyclist. However, us cyclists have short memories. Realistically those big cakes of yore always sit heavily post consumption. This time, whilst scoffed in seconds, it was actually just the right size.

Whilst there some roadies turned up, so it is cycle friendly as well. Naturally I smiled at them a bit too heartily in a "will you be my friend" kind of way as they ushered themselves indoors quite rapidly. They sat away from me, but watched me warily through the corners of their beady eyes.

Wild foraging.

Riding up to Caterham had been a smell sensation thanks to all of the wild garlic. It seems to have replaced the bluebell as flower of choice this week.

Wild garlic

Really must make pesto thought I. Naturally I rode on and didn't. That was until ahead I spied six women busy picking bags of the stuff. Being a ramble rather than a thrash this ride, I stopped and asked if the pesto was worth the effort? Ah, Lithuanians. Various fingers pointed to one woman who could speak English. "Yes!" came the hearty reply. What's your recipe was my next question? The answer was, well, Pesto really. So I emptied a water bottle and filled it with leaves, as you do much to their amusement.

Wild garlic in my water bottle

Later on, back home in town for a coffee there really was no need to ask where I'd been. The small of garlic was very strong.

Wild garlic pesto

You know what? I actually made some pesto from the stuff. It wasn't horrid. My 9 year old boy and 11 year old daughter quite liked the notion of eating it. Not at all phased by my bringing home food from a ride. I did text PP to say how clever I was, which wasn't. The thought of eating something a) made of vegetables and b) not from a factory put him off. Quite possibly 80% of my readers would think the same.

There's also the notion that the more processed a foodstuff is, then the less healthy we become. You cannot accuse me of feeding my family factory crap now!

True it's no Ray Mears this pesto, but it's a start!

Cleaning my bike.

Last winter I was in Llandegla for a spell. They have these funny bike hangers, so I made one from two old pallets and a bit of fence post. Cost me £3. It works remarkably well for cleaning and basic maintenance jobs.

The pallet work stand

Route 21 then, any good?

Well it's a bimble really. It's not hard core. It's used by German and Italian cycle tours. It goes places. For you Leith Hill gnarlsters it's boring. So why then, when I take people on the route do they come back for more? It's not in your face. It's pleasant, it's a cycle ride for cyclists. Slower pace, more integrating with people, things and places. Oddly more challenging in many ways. It's easy to get the big bike out, dress in black, alienate people through hardcore speed. Much, much harder to ride slow, talk to people, socialise with elements of society normally alien. 80 year old women? Lithuanians? Roadies?

Try it one day. Go for a solo ride along a Sustrans route. Stop fretting that one day your hobby of being a rad, hardcore mountain biker will cease through age or injury. There are so many other elements to riding. Quite frankly I enjoyed my amble yesterday as much as I did any trail centre gnar fest or thrash to Box Hill. I'm not about to sell my big bikes, turn my back on the gnar, yet by heck the thought of a proper touring bike appeals. Eastbourne for the day anyone?