Friday, February 03, 2012

Cycling in Peaslake

After getting lost and driving around Gomshall and Shere in ever decreasing circles, I finally found the carpark at Peaslake, half an hour late.

Toby, Jason and Dango had all arrived and unpacked, and were ready to jeer at me. But still, I'd been in a nice warm car while they were in the cold. Who's laughing now?

Because I didn't have any tools to take my bike apart, and because I was borrowing my father's car, which is almost entirely filled with tennis balls, I hadn't been able to bring either of the bikes that are in the family shed. Fortunately, Jason brought his spare.

Unfortunately, he hasn't ridden his spare for the last six months, and the forks haven't been serviced since he fitted them. About six years ago.

Thus as we rode out into the hills, I was immediately being battered, both from the rear, banging over the frozen ground, and from the front, where the fork was doing a good job of being rigid. I'm not sure if it was that or the cold, but one way or another my neck began to make clicking noises, as though it was seizing up under the mechanical abuse.

About half way through the ride Jason was feeling guilty or merciful, and swapped bikes with me. What a revelation. For the second half of our ride, it was actually enjoyable to ride down hills, rather than feel that I was on top of an agricultural battering machine.
It's strange to go back to something after a long absence. I can still remember roughly how to pedal, but all the trails we rode had this strange feeling of familiarity that was utterly bogus, as I'd never been on that particular hill before. It also turns out that riding in temperatures where you begin to lose sensation in your face is still preferable to riding in Hong Kong's outdoor sauna. I might have turned icy white and stopped talking, but I wasn't reduced to feelings of grim death as I had been every time I ride in the Special Administrative Region.

We rode for ten miles, which sounds disappointingly short, but was a very long time in the saddle. Or pushing a bike up a hill. But by 2:30 it was time for the warmth of the pub.

When we got to the pub, all the staff were hiding. After about fifteen minutes they finally came out, to tell us the kitchen had closed for last orders five minutes previously. That seemed a bit cheeky: I wondered if a panicked chef was out back, trying to hide the frying pan for fear some nasty man with sticky-up hair would make him cook something. Oh well. We went over the road and ate vegetable samosas at the village shop, that traditional English meal since time immemorial.


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