Saturday 6th August, off road Wild Brunch, Walton Bridge

Six riders out today: Adam Domaingue, Mick Curtis, Dave Clarke, Gareth Moss, Sean Slammon and myself leading. The weather was in the ‘Goldilocks zone’, not too windy, not too hot as we headed out across the parched English countryside.

The route: Hogsmill River, Chessington South, Claygate, Esher Common, West End Common and the southern end of Hersham. We spied a fox cub sunning itself just after leaving the Hogsmill River, and it was extremely blasé about our troop of cyclists trundling by.

Esher Common had turned into a sandpit with the lack of rain and had us slithering across with some hilarity. The usually boggy West End Common south of Esher was bone dry and allowed us to ride through with ease. The ride was then briefly interrupted by one of the many sets of temporary traffic lights that have, like a plague, sprung up everywhere this year. Soon we were in the backstreets of Walton on Thames on a quiet road, because it was closed for roadworks -motorists’ loss is our gain!  We dropped down onto the Thames towpath around half a mile from the cafe. The sky was brilliant blue, with the odd jet con trail drawing like chalk across the sky. This gave the water a sparkling blue hue.

The tea stop was moderately busy, but we were all served in a polite and efficient manner. The team at this venue is a well oiled machine. Gareth unfortunately had picked up a slow rear wheel puncture not long before the cafe; fortunately the slime inner tube appeared to be doing its job. He put in some more air and crossed his fingers!  The group was having a pleasant elevenses stop until a rogue gust of wind had Mick Curtis wearing half his cup of coffee for the return trip. The curse of featherweight paper cups over good old fashioned China cups and saucers!

The return trip had Gareth opting to leave us for a straight run along the Thames Towpath to Ham, nursing a possible problematic slow puncture. Our group now down to five headed towards Kempton for the return through Hampton Wick, Bushey Park, Kingston and Worcester Park.

Bushey Park was like the dry Serengeti Plains. We cycled straight across the middle of it on dead grass entombed in soil-like concrete, bad for the grass but great for rolling speed as a cyclist. The deer were hiding under the shady trees, and at times difficult to spot. We observed one stupid dog owner calling her midget black ball of fluff back as it chased a deer. We were all secretly hoping said ball of fluff would be kicked skyward by the deer, but no such luck, no lesson learned by thick dog owner.

Kingston was busy, the bridge had people sitting on bikes. I couldn’t call them cyclists as one them could barely balance the bike and the other was a fellow that thought stopping in the cycle lane to play with his mobile was a good idea. I “politely” told him it was not! The peace and quiet of the Berrylands residential neighbourhood was where we rejoined the Hogsmill River, which was noticeably low and had very little flow. At Worcester Park Mick diverted for a straighter route home and we continued for another two miles before Dave and myself headed up to Horton and left Adam and Sean to head for Sutton and beyond.

A most excellent days riding chaps.

35.5 miles.

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