Coffee Stop

Spring Ride #3 - Ride Captain's Report

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Group 1 - Report by Ride Captain Michael Blann

Spring seemed to arrive this week and the talk around the coffee shop was dominated with tales of extra sneaky rides grabbed during the week. To their bosses this translated as "a meeting off site" and "I'm working from home today". But, although the March equinox had just passed and in theory it was getting warmer those venturing out in shorts were probably jumping the gun a bit and wishing they had aired on the side of caution and worn leg warmers.

So the only thing to do was get going and seek out a few hills to warm up. Group 1, which was now bigger than previous years thanks to riders making the grade up from Group 2, headed off towards Cobham and West Horsley before the first leg stretcher up Pebble Hill. A quick descent down Combe Bottom, it was then on towards Farley Green along some narrow and sometimes slippery lanes which saw Ride Captain Mike Blann nearly come a cropper.

With everyone warmed up it was time to tackle the first serious and largely unknown climb up Horse Box Hollow. Magnus Backstedt or Big Maggy showed his Paris Roubaix class by powering up the 1:5 in the big ring alongside Sean Dines from Mavic. Everyone else opted for the 39x25!

A pattern emerged, as climbing alternated with descending and by the time they had reached the top of Holbury St Mary legs were really starting to ache. The descent towards Dorking was the last chance to recover a bit and take on food before the next climb of Ranmore where anyone with anything left in the tank battled it out to the top. Here they were greeted by Group 2, who were catching their breath before the descent and final climb of Box Hill.

So on to Box Hill and it's rough pot holed surface. Those struggling were wishing the council would resurface the road soon in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Road Race (which tackles the same route). However, 3 hairpin turns later all was forgotten - the last climb had been conquered, the sun was out and cyclists outnumbered cars and all forms of wildlife.

With a sense that the finish line wasn't far away all that was left now was the super fast sprint home through Epsom and Esher, which had the group strung out in one long snaking line. For a bystander it must have looked like the finish of a Spring Classic. What a great ride.

Group 2 - Report by Ride Captain David Bryant

Spring seemed to have sprung earlier in the week and then tucked its head back away by the weekend, but with dry roads and (slightly) warmer temperatures it was time to take on some more challenging terrain. The Surrey lanes of the North Downs were this months "highway of hurt" with the promise of Box Hill, Leith Hill and a few others. So charged with a finely crafted double macchiato we got Groups 2 & 3 underway together.

Groups 2 & 3 split at the crest of the first climb and not long after the haze gave way to some sunshine. Out on the road the other groups criss crossed our path and we got to see some Group 1 magic on Box Hill and the run down to Epsom. The final 15km or so run back in to Walton was pretty swift with the stronger riders setting a pretty solid pace testing the mettle and the legs of the rest of the group - all of which held up very well. Thanks to SIS representative Mark for the energy bar, I needed it to get me those last 15km!

The new look Group 2 has arrived. Keep up the training and safe miles until next ride on 1st May.

Thanks for a great, incident free ride.

The Bull

Get the route on map my tracks -

Group 3 - Report by Ride Captain Jim Lees

Well, what ended up being a gorgeous day, started out to be rather chilly. Jumping in the car at 7.30am I noticed my temperature gauge displayed 6 degrees at which point I thought I may have under-dressed. Nope! I had to man up and get riding.

Arriving at Carluccio's just before 8am there were people already hitting the coffee and feeling really enthusiastic about the huge number of hills ahead of us. The BIG man Magnus Backstedt was already there and looking very trim. I think Group 1 was going to be quite fast and painful!

With RC's Dave and Will, Groups 2 & 3 joined forces with the intension of splitting when we got into the hilly stuff. This made it easier for riders to find their feet, well legs, and let them settle into the group which most was applicable to them. This really helps to keep people moving and loses less time regrouping.

As we hit the first of many climbs, Newlands was a good test for the riders, with some suffering more than others so we decided to split at the top. Mike Attenborough and I continued with Group 3, which was made up of around 10 riders who really worked well together. We continued down to Peaslake and followed on to Hurtwood. At this point the sun was starting to peek through the clouds and the temperature was slowly climbing, helped by the sun's rays.

We rolled on at a very smooth rhythmic pace, thanks to the super smooth skills of Mike, and soon busted the climbs of Holmbury St. Mary, Leith Hill (the long way round!) and Coldharbour. With a small group it was really nice to have some quality time talking to veteran London-Paris riders and newcomers alike, and it was great to reflect and share memories from last year not to mention wet people's appetite for the forthcoming event in June...

Everyone rode well together and worked hard to overcome the gradients of Dorking and Ranmore before having a quick regroup and top-up on our sugar levels before the blast home which took us over Staples Lane and through East Clandon which left us with a nice fast burn-up through Cobham and Esher. I raised the pace a little and everyone tagged on and worked together to keep our group moving swiftly, hugging each other wheels. Great team work guys!

Overall, it was a fantastic ride mainly thanks to the great riders and team work from RC Mike, not to mention the beautiful weather and scenery which the Surrey hills provide in abundance.

Group 4 - Report by Ride Captain David Thomas

So, here we go again, The London-Paris Spring Ride #3 and this time it really was spring. The only complication was a clock change the night before - would I be able to set the alarm for the correct time? Thankfully, Steve Jobs had thought about the problem & my iPhone got me up at the correct hour.

As usual there was a lively buzz at Carluccio's as lots of familiar faces caught up and downed their caffeine shots before the customary briefing from Sven & The Bull. As we divided into groups it became apparent that we had a good-sized bunch of sixteen in Group 4. Once again, we were lucky enough to have the route-finding (or should that be hill-finding) services of Eddy Lewis.

The plan was to get a few kilometres of warm-up on the flat, followed by a selection of climbs in the Surrey Hills. So we headed out through Weybridge, Byfleet and Ripley. Then the roads turned upwards and we took in the climbs at Crocknorth, Greendene, Leith Hill and Holmbury St Mary. By this stage the sun had cut through the early morning cloud and everyone was removing gilets and jackets as the temperature rose and our effort increased. Finally, we found ourselves at the foot of Box Hill for the last climb of the day. Just as we turned onto the hill, Groups 1 & 2 rolled up and we all went up in a mixed bunch. Reforming as Group 4 at the top, there was time for a photo stop and to refill bottles for the ride home.

There were some tired legs on the run in back to Walton and some very heavy traffic but finally we turned in to Carluccio's again. Just over 90km done with more than 1000m of climbing. Well done all!

Things to try for next time:

- Close the gaps - there is a huge advantage to holding the wheel in front

- Keep the cadence high - don't try to power your way up the big climbs, select a low gear and try spinning

- Improve your climbing - read Captain Kirkby's advice on building endurance & strength in the March Newsletter (there's a link to it on the News page of The London-Paris website here)

Three down, three to go. Enjoy the light evenings and see you for Spring Ride #4, can't wait!

Group 5 - Report by Ride Captain James Booth

So as the clocks had change we were wondering whether we would have a full house for today's ride. As we arrived at the coffee start surprisingly it was Murph and myself there first which was worrying as maybe we had got the timings wrong! The sun was shining all be it with a fresh bite in the air but when the sun is out everyone is in good spirits, even as we briefed the Group before left the cold bite and proposed 3 climbs had everyone smiling.

The route was planned to head out through Esher and Effingham heading for the tester of the day up Ranmore. In the last few rides it is great to see how much hard work riders have put in and how much more confident they are riding in a group, this bodes well for the event and the time when maybe one of us Ride Captains needs a push! As the Group rolled up Ranmore it was a fairly solid group, with a quick regroup at the top to check things.

Then they rolled down the other side and headed out towards the zig zags of Box Hill and the climb which will feature in the Olympic Road Race. This was another great effort from the Group coming at this point in the ride and from then on in it was a steady roll to the finish and a well deserved coffee and piece of cake.

The next Spring Ride at earlier time of 08:00 on Sunday 1st May.