Cycling without a plan….

I want to go out for a ride tomorrow morning but can’t decide where to go! I’m not one for just pointing my bike down the road and seeing where I end up…..I need to ride with an aim, for a purpose. I know that just being out on my bike should be encouragement enough and I do love the feeling I get from just riding.

As I didn’t get out for a ride last weekend due to the snowy weather I really feel I should do something worth while tomorrow. Part of me is thinking of heading straight out of Croydon down the A23 and to keep on going until I hit Redhill, then find the A25 and turn east and follow that along until Westerham before heading back up Croydon Road and home via Fairleigh. It’ll certainly be a decent amount of miles but I’m not sure if I just want to ride for distance….

Yet my “I want to challenge myself” side is wanting a shorter but all the more challenging route as make an attempt at riding up Succombs Hill, I say attempt as this particular one is sign-posted rather ominously as the bottom as a 25%! I drove up it once on a reccy and remember thinking the start was steep but then turning a corner was like hitting a brick wall as the road headed skyward! Yet I am still filled with a sense of fear and excitement at the idea of conquering this! It’s relatively short and I’ve done other short and sharp climbs as well as a few more drawn out efforts before. One of the group of cyclist that I went to Wales with took one look at me in the pub the first time we meet and said “You’d be great up hills!” I think my combination of diminutive stature, light weight and fairly strong legs make for a rather promising rider. I’d never fancied myself climbing much but it wasn’t until we visited Wales and I got my first crack at what I consider a proper climb that I realized what I could do.

On this particular Welsh hill I was one of the last of our group to start the ascent as I waited back with some members of the group who’d had mechanical issues. Once we got started I asked if they’d be OK if I went off ahead and duly set off up the road. I remember riding straight past most of the rest of our group of riders plus some Welsh riders who’d come past us earlier. I put this down to being rather fresh due to the brief rest and my competitive side kicking in – all those riders on the road ahead where like a carrot to me and I was chasing them! As I got into the gap between our front 2 guys and those I’d passed my legs and lungs started protesting. Having ridden with these guys before I wasn’t *really* expecting to catch them but to keep them in sight was enough. As they turned each of the corners I lost sight of them until I also turned but eventually the road levelled out and they stopped to allow the group to re-form. I vaguely remember a comment along the lines of “See, I told you you’d make a good climber!” from the same mate who’d past the comment in the pub. I’d say since then I’ve certainly looked at my cycling differently and now try and hunt out hills to test myself 🙂

I did try looking on for some inspiration but I’m not sure if I’d get away with spending the whole day riding to Brighton and back and the other routes would be a bit sketchy as I don’t have maps for those areas!


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