After a series of unfortunate events, I decided to take a short break from cycling with the hope that some time away from the saddle would help reset my mind and lower my stress levels….
Well, it worked.
I spent a very pleasant Saturday morning cycling in the Surrey Hills in the sunshine. It was brilliant to get back in the saddle after a few days off, and the ride reminded me why BRITTLOVEBIKE.
White Hill Down almost ended a nine year friendship.
I now know what a hill is. All other hills must bow down to White Down Hill. the first 200 meters is a gentle introduction which lulls you into a totally utterly false sense of security. As I was spinning up the hill, following the spec that was my friend in the far distance, I laughed to myself. ‘Call this a hill!’ I laughed to myself, ‘I’ve cycled up Leith Hill, this is a doddle!’
The following section of flat and then downhill did nothing to burst my cocky little bubble. But then. The last half mile suddenly loomed ahead of me. The climb gets up to its maximum gradient of 18 per cent at times, and it was a tough unrelenting finish all the way to the top of Dunley Wood on the South Downs.
I have never, ever been so close to getting off my bike and walking to the top. I thought I burst a blood vessel. I was sweating and swearing all the way up it – not helped by the fact that two cyclists over took me, and two cars had to pull over to the side of the road for me and upon seeing my red, glowing, puffing face, felt the need to wind down a window and shout encouragement at me.
It was awful. My average speed was less than 4mph – so really I could have walked up the blood thing quicker. I’ve since discovered that White Hill Down is number 17 in the Top 100 Climbs. Pleasing.
The best bit about going uphill is getting to go back down, and the descent took us right into Dorking to Box Hill. I absolutely breezed up Box Hill (let’s ignore the fact that my friend managed to do it twice in the time it took me to do it once).
From there it was a brief pasty stop, and then a pleasant ride to catch the overground at West Croydon. At once point I thought that I was going to have to call the ride short as I could still feel White Hill Down in my legs, but I soldiered on and made it back.
Getting out into the wild on a long ride has really boosted my confidence on the roads in London. Next week I plan to be back on the Hybrid and I’ll be commuting most days in central London. This short break has taught me that there’s no shame in just giving something a rest for a while – and if it gets too much for me again, then I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same again.