Fred Whitton isn’t far now, just 2 weekends left in between. Training has been going well, almost. Had planned to ride 2 big rides in April – one with lots of ascent, and the other long in distance.
Rode the first one on 12th. Joined Andy, Nick and Damian for the Leith Hill Octopus, and followed it up with 3 reps of Box Hill to make up some more climbing metres. Combined with the ride home, over Ranmore Common, Greendene, and the home climb, the climb totalled up to just over 3000m of ascent. Item one: checked.
To be fair, it really isn’t one of the great roads to ride. It isn’t even the best, or hardest, of roads in its neighbourhood (I find Leith Hill both more interesting and, depending on the route taken, more challenging to ride). Yet, the zig-zag road on Box hill has developed a special place in the folklore of London & SE UK’s cyclists. No Surrey rides are marked complete without visiting this one road, and possibly gorging on some coffee and cake at the cafe in picture above. For me too, it must be the most ridden route after Richmond Park and the route to Cambridge.
So, here it is, marking a token local presence in today’s maverick collection of roads to ride.
Photo by braveheart cyclist, and a better triathlete, @TroyMaloy on Twitter.
The original plan was to ride to Brighton but having started really late, it became clear by the 1/3rd distance mark that I wasn’t going to make it in time for a return train. So, after getting over the Surrey Downs, I changed route and headed over to the famous Box Hill.
Frankly, it was a disappointment at first. I kept waiting for a killer climb but nothing came and suddenly I found myself in middle of the Box Hill village. This famous climb into Box Hill is featuring prominently in the road race at next year’s Olympics yet even the couple of Cat 5 climbs (acc to MapMyRide) in Surrey Downs had been much harder. The disappointment (actually, relief) was short-lived.
A quick review of the area on Google Maps in terrain view revealed a sharply rising road on other side of the village called, appropriately, Zig Zag road. At that point, I had two options – to head back the way I had come and just mark Box Hill as conquered or to head down the Zig Zag road and see for myself how much of a challenge it’d be.
Well, when I looked up after the first switchback on the way down to see how high the car I had just passed was, it became clear I may have bitten more than my legs & wheels could chew. Thankfully, I still had an exit clause. I could take an alternate route by passing Box Hill and climbing barely half of what ZZ road required in over 4 times the distance.
Took a short break, had a sizzling hot hotdog, a pepsi and some rest. Also used the time to research a bit and discovered that it was this Zig Zag road clilmb that was to feature on the Olympic road race route, not the easy tweasy route I had taken up earlier.
That bit of info was reason enough, so headed back up the Zig Zag rd.
Thankfully, saw a couple of other riders on MTBs just about 100m ahead of me so put in a bit of extra effort and quickly caught up with them. After that it was just a matter of using whatever of my will- & leg-power I could muster to stick with them. Made the climb without stopping even once and at least half the credit goes to those two fellas. Having them around prevented me from giving up midway or even stopping to take a break. It was the first time I realised how having a training partner, or few, could help one stretch self farther and improve faster.
After cresting the hill and passing through the village, it was a clean, mostly level or slightly downhill, 12 km stretch before I hit civilisation and red lights again. So, gave it a go and averaged, despite three red lights a little over 30kmph in that section. Once I entered Sutton though, it was just another urban ride with the magic of Surrey Downs and Box Hill well behind me. It became so boring that after a short break to buy some water, I even forgot to start the garmin (add 2.6km to the distance in the pic above for actual ride distance). Took a slightly roundabout way home so I could complete 100kms on the garmin and tick off this week’s century ride.
P.S.: Just saw that I have totalled 859kms so far in June. Wondering if I should go for a 41-ish km ride tomorrow to take that total above 900 mark :)
P.P.S.: Total for the year, despite the dismal first 4 months, now reads 1200 miles. Still 520 odd miles short of Martin. I had planned to equal his mileage this year. Seems now like a tough ask.