Oooh, look! Hills!

Some time back in July I went up a lot of big hills in the Pyrenees. You may remember me writing about it. It now seems distinctly possible that I haven’t actually been up hills in earnest since then.

On Sunday I decided to take advantage of some nice autumnal weather and head out on the Surrey Hills ride with the club. Not a big group as it’s late season, a time when people are either winding down and avoiding longer rides or desperately chasing those last points.

It looked warmer than it actually was so it was probably not a good thing to forego the baselayer, arm and knee warmers. It was that annoying temperature when it’s not quite cold enough to merit a gilet on the flat but anything above training pace is a bit nippy – it’s that time of year, when the gilet becomes your favourite bit of kit.

Paul H took us on a route through the hills that I’ve not been along before which included two brutish climbs, one of which bordered on being more suited to a cyclocross course or insane Belgians. Rough, wet and steep, it was the sort of experience which puts paid to the myth that there’s no climbing to be had in Britain.

Stick a strange dutch name on it and they’d be screaming Spring Classic in no time. Don’t ask me to find it on a map though, I’m trying to forget I ever saw it and tried to ride up it. At least it meant we had an excuse to skip the ritual purgatory of the climb up to Ranmore Common.

It probably didn’t help that my legs weren’t as fresh as they could be from racing on Saturday. I could feel the race in my legs when climbing – that touch of tightness mixed with a burning sensation and lack of top end power – as ever at my own pace at the back of the group and trying not to push myself too hard.

I felt better for getting out and for the nap I had later on that afternoon. I wasn’t considerably off my pace and it got me a bit more motivated for keeping riding through the winter. I may shuttle back down a bit to Saturday rides to keep things itcking over and to avoid that sense of dread about getting out into the Surrey Hills in the depth of winter.

I might still invest in a turbo trainer, or I might give cyclocross a whirl. Something to keep me interested and active is all I really need and the latter is currently seeming like the more likely option – I’ve set myself a 200 quid ceiling (the same price as the turbo) for a cyclocross setup from existing bits and Ebay bargains etc and, fingers crossed, I might just achieve it.

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