A long, hot, afternoon in the saddle saw me tackle Leith Hill and Box Hill for the first time. All in the name of training for the forthcoming RideLondon-Surrey100 which is only a month away!
Long, hot, afternoon
Let’s start with long… home to Caterham to meet with friend and slightly mad cyclist Matt – who recently suggested I should meet him at the top of Mont Ventoux in France. Fortunately he rode up it while I drove up in the car!
From Matt’s temporary home in the Caterham area we headed west enjoying some rolling hills as we followed the A25 towards Reigate and Dorking. Then it was on towards Gomshall, turning left shortly before that village and heading down towards Holmbush St Mary and the first of the bigger climbs of the afternoon. Shortly after a tight left took us to the foot of Leith Hill – 2km at 7% average beckoned!
Now, I’ve never been the greatest when it comes to climbing hills – my own weight is a bit of a disadvantage and I’ve rarely had encouragement or coaching to help with technique. So this was a bit different. “Select a gear, forget about the legs and just breath” says Matt… and you know what? It works! OK, I did have to go for bottom gear about 2/3rds of the way up but that was what it was there for.
Was it quick? Errr, no! But I really don’t care too much about that – I did it!
And, it’s the hardest climb on the RideLondon 100 mile route. OK, there are a couple of others to ‘soften up’ the rides before we get to this point but the route from Caterham included some pretty substantial climbs too.
From the A25 we headed back into Dorking following the route the RideLondon will take, turning left in the town centre and heading up towards Denbies vineyard – unfortunately not the site of a feed station – and the infamous Box Hill.
Now Matt had told me not to worry about Box Hill. Apparently it was a bit of an anticlimax to him when he first rode it – and now I can see why! Especially after Leith Hill, this was just a case of select a gear (2nd in my case) and plod up it. I suspect that’ll be the case on sportive day too.
The only fly in this particular climb came about because of my own cack-handedness… I fell off my bike for the first time since I don’t remember when (probably I was 7 or 8… so last century). Yep, we stopped at the top for Matt to grab a photo – and I put a foot down on some loose surface and over I went. Much laughter ensued!!!
From Box Hill it was a short-is run for ‘home’. Between here and Caterham there are a couple of nasty roads – that I thought we’d plotted a route around but somewhere down the line that got the GPS a bit confused… and the A213 wasn’t the greatest place to be during rush hour.
A few hills later (including a great downhill stretch) we made it back to a welcome drink and pizza!!!
47.5 miles and 3800 feet of climbing – must be good practice for the RideLondon-Surrey100!
According to Strava the 100 mile RideLondon route includes almost 6000ft of climbing (a figure I don’t quite believe) but the benefits of being able to sit in a group and recover will be massively beneficial.
Yes, I’m doing the 100 mile ride for Charity. Your can sponsor me by visiting VirginMoney Giving where every donation will be appreciated. My chosen charity is the Starlight Children’s Foundation who do superb work with sick and terminally ill children.