May was a packed month for us, We are paying for it now as Mrs Notinthepeloton keeps finding jobs for us to do whether it be gardening or painting, its payback for all the weekends we spent with the mistress! First up, we had a weekend away taking on the London Revolution which included a night camping over at Windsor Racecourse. Next up was a weekend MTBing in the New Forest with 2 of the original notinthepeloton crew Tom and Dave (with the latter chickening out on a bit of splash!) and just inside the month of June, an epic and long adventure to Northern Ireland with another notinthepeloton original Ali to take on the Gran Fondo NI (this blog is to come!). Sandwiched in between all this was a ride which has now formed part of a series which is known in these parts as The One.
The One was made as a joke, we got bored on strava one day and decided to see if we could make a really hilly ride taking in the Surrey Hills. Version 1 had 13 hills and a small group of us including Dirty Wknd and UKCycleChat, who had never met before had a great day out, probably one of the most enjoyable rides we've had over in the years. Version 2 upped the ante to 15 hills and it turned out to run as an unofficial sportive with a group of 25 turning up to smash the hills. Mainly through Nick but there was a call for version 3. Our first draft looked ridiculous, just spikes of elevation so grouped together you wasn't too sure if the hills just merged into one mountain! After a little editing, the route was finalised. 80 miles, 9000ft and 17 hills. This is the story of The One v3.0....
#1 Staple Lane
Track: Easy Like (Saturday) Morning / Lionel Richie
(We should explain at this point that due Richard and myself singing up a few climbs to take our mind off the pain, we thought we would give each hill a song which is relevant to its profile or what we felt like at the time as we were riding!).
The meet for this beast of a ride was the Queens Head at the bottom of Staple which would also be the rendezvous for a (spoiler alert!) well deserved burger and beer later on. It was a smaller group this time round, maybe the profile put many off but we were there and so was David with his A-Team from DirtyWknd. He was also sporting his new kit which looked stealth with his bike, think he's got a soft spot for The Dark Knight! David is an original Onesie and so is Chris Gregory who defies age and is currently training for next year's Giro (you might as well mate with the way you ride!). A few original Onesies had to unfortunately pull out including Nick who had an important TT the next day which was completely understandable. Also in the group was the notinthepeloton groupies Sam and Chris who are allergic to the word slow (hopefully this shows how quick these guys are!). Mark had travelled all the way up from Sussex after graduating from v2.0 so he was looking for another notch on his palmares. Richard T was also back and on a personal mission. Unfortunately Rich had to duck out after Whitedown in v2.0 as he knee played up but after a bike fit, he had been flying in his training and had v3.0 as his personal aim this year. Along for a ride also was Catherine and Stephen who thought it would be a good challenge to try out especially for Catherine's summer mountain challenge. There's someone missing....some guy who rocked up on a Pinarello but looked like he only just found out what stabilisers were...Ali something.....sounded posh but think he was an extra on Jeremy Kyle once???
After a quick debrief, David's lot shot off. Literally. I was having problems with my K-mount still so I decided not to use the GoPro at the last minute which made me play catch up with the others. Rich held back and he became my riding partner for most of the hills. Didn't mind this at all, top lad and our joint aim was to complete the ride at our pace. Hats off to the guys upfront, one day we hope to be at that level but we know our place in the cycling world which is why we are notinthepeloton! Now something I hadn't mentioned but myself and Chris had chose to ride to the start so we already had roughly 20 miles on the clock so the legs weren't as fresh as the others. Chris is a bloody machine, he would of cycled to his own birth if he had been given the choice! Staple was a nice warm up and nothing to write home about. It was a little damp as we climbed but it was all about pacing. Cresting over the top, the descent down Combe was a bit twitchy and we rode past a couple of guys huddling around someone on the corner who obviously had come off.
#2 Houndhouse Rd
Track: Long and Winding Road / The Beatles
I got worried about Sam as we descended down Combe because he held back when we flew down. His aero wheels and tyres didn't like the slippery surface and like many of our steeds, his Giant is his pride and joy so took extra care rolling down Combe. We climbed Houndhouse together which is a long drag without any real kicks so another climb which allowed our legs to find their rhythm. We knew what was coming next so we were careful not to push any more resistance than we needed to. Houndhouse in some parts turns into a medieval climb with the trees' roots laid bare paving the way up into Winterfold (not Winterfell!). We had all regrouped in the village of Peaslake which is becoming more and more popular each time we cycle through with a big mix of MTBers and roadies all getting along despite the differences in disciplines.
#3 Radnor Road
Track: Old Pine / Ben Howard
The reason for this chosen track is twofold: 1. It has Pine in the title and this climb although I can't confirm if there are Pine trees in this area, it's very woody and 2. It's our wedding song and it's our blog so our rules! Dave's A team shot up the road again, swear some of them popped a few pills in Peaslake?! We dropped back as usual and just chatted away with Rich and Ali whilst the others went ahead and played. Radnor is not a particularly difficult climb but the loose gravel can make it tricky in the wet and it's a cow of a climb if you climb from the South, narrow lane with blind bends make this as risky as it is technical.
Track: F*** It (I Don't Want You Back) / Eamon
Think the track says it all....but before we dive into the actual climb, the front derailleur which I had replaced that week started to have a mind of it's own which meant me pulling over with Ali and fiddling about with it. I think this was the moment when the ride just disintegrated into groups scattered all across the Surrey Hills. We feel behind the speedsters up top but I knew if my energy reserves would be lower than most because of Chris' crazy idea of cycling to the start. We have only climbed Barhatch a handful of times, we try to avoid it because it's horrible. But over the past couple of years we have climbed some hills which have really made us squeal so Barhatch is not the menace it once was. Those who know the climb know that when it starts to kick, it doesn't plateau and the steepest section is the last ramp. It's hard not to go into the red here but we scraped through with not much fuss, just a lot of heavy breathing which wouldn't be out of place in a raunchy movie!
#5 Combe Lane
Track: The Climb / Miley Cyrus
Once we all re-found our legs, we all descended the rough road of Houndhouse, it could be doing with some TLC and this was proven on our way back down by Rich's jacket popping out of his back pockets and becoming tangled in his cassette. I had to shout at him to stop and was really worried of the rear wheel jamming then seeing Rich flying into a hedge somewhere. That wasn't the last of Rich's mishaps as just before Shere a pothole threw one of his bottles out which made him spin round. This ride was turning out to be a scene out of Mock The Week: 'Bad Things That Happen When You Cycle'! Combe is another one of those hills where if you're a newbie, it's a tough cookie to crack due to it's hairpin which catch many out. We know it inside out these days so we saved the legs for that section, got out of the seat and stretched the legs so they weren't just accustomed to climbing in the saddle. The other Onesies had bolted on so it was turning out to be a bit of a cycle date with me and Rich, at one point he was talking about dinner but I assumed that was his plans with the wife and not me...I hope so!
Track: Under The Bridge / Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Can I just say before we move on that I'm no fan of RHCP, I can't stand their lyrics because it's like they played a random dictionary game who can create the most nonsensical lyrics and the loser has to drink a shot! Anyway, the song is relevant as Crocknorth has a picturesque bridge which you roll under and it was on this climb that Rich was beginning to show how much progress his knee has made because he started to pull away. Granted we weren't giving 100% but he was setting a strong pace up these climbs so early and he was opening up a good gap on me. Think our dinner date went out the window here!
Track: Numb / Linkin Park
This track title basically sums up our ass at this point! The amount of climbing already in such a short space of time was starting to take it's toll on the southern anatomy. A few miles after Crocknorth underneath Abinger you will find the hidden demon of Tanhurst. I took Rich up here on a recon ride so he knew what to expect but it's ramps are a grind. Again, when wet, you're fighting the wheel slips and avoiding the grime as much as you are climbing. It was on this climb we began to notice Rich's 'cheating' technique of swerving across the road to ease the gradient. We kept on shouting to him 'swerving is cheating' but he kept on plodding along. We prefer to tackle climbs head on and go through the pain barrier, not saying Rich wasn't but we want to get the pain over and done with, not prolong it. Rich's bike fit was definitely showing it's benefits as he wasn't much out of breath and ready for the next ascent whereas I was trying to find a gear which wouldn't give me square legs!
#8 Broomehall Road
Track: Long Hard Times To Come / Gangstagrass
Anyone seen Justified? Great show, Timmy Olyphant plays a sheriff who cycles up hills to catch bad guys...well that's what it felt we were doing! Broomehall is one of those climbs which looks easier than it is. The lane looks too continental European to be in Surrey but it kicks really only once before you hit the trees then it's a mild climb for the rest of the way. Richard continued his swerving which was proving to be an excellent strategy especially. All the groups up ahead were somewhere, would we see them again? Would Richard stop with the swerving? Would Ali realise he's not Chris Froome and drop back where he belonged?! Would Big Chris whip out his super cape and save some more kids?! (True story!).
Track: Hate Me Now / Nas
We used to despise this hill. Even if you don't now, if you know Whitedown, at one poin