Beyond the aerodrome

Ride report from Maynard.

It was a chilly start but the forecast was for a balmy 20 degrees, so dressed in a light top and shorts I made my way to meet the group for a ride around Redhill https://www.strava.com/routes/18981746 . When I got there, everyone else had vests, gilets, arm warmers and jackets, and I was starting to question my judgement! We set off early and for the first time ever I saw Worcester Park without massive queues of traffic. Speeding through surburban streets we made it to Sutton and did a cheeky right towards Carshalton Beeches along increasingly leafy and pleasant roads. By this point I was starting to warm up!

An early highlight was Farthing Downs - a beautiful stretch of countryside complete with cattle grids (even though the cattle were hiding) and wonderful views. Dipping down Ditches Lane through tree-lined narrow roads lead us out of the city and past the M25. We cruised up and down gently undulating routes stopping briefly to admire the windmill at Outwood before turning the corner to head back west and north.

The break stop was at Redhill Aerodrome, where an excellent cafe looks out over small planes and gliders being made ready for their next flights. The downside is a long walk to the toilets but you do go through a hangar with more planes and some fascinating historical displays. And I'm told the breakfast sausages are excellent.

We headed north and west towards the big hill of the day - Reigate hill, a cheerful slope which lets you believe you're doing well until towards the end when it steepens significantly. Everyone paced themselves well and hit the top in no time, ready for a quick descent and another smaller but slightly vicious ascent of Markedge Lane. This was followed by the terrifying trip down Castle Road, a one-way lane which would be a lovely exciting run if the tarmac wasn't covered in gravel and pot-holes. Everyone made it down unscathed, and we headed off towards Chipstead as our brake blocks cooled.

A busy trip up Holly Lane was slightly spoiled by the volume of cars but we were soon through Banstead and heading down towards Cuddington Way, a private road whose poor condition clearly spells out why letting the council manage roads is sometimes the way forward! Back through Cheam into a much busier Worcester Park, and returning to New Malden in good time.

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