Due to a slightly unfortunate error on the part of the CoBi UK we had 5 keen riders who made an earlier start in Windrush Square than was intended, arriving at 8am to be greeted by an enthusiasm sapping downpour. At 8.50, after some frantic phone calls, Ed rushed out in his short shorts, his untanned thighs shining, to find them huddled under a tree. Thankfully some cups of tea, bowls of Dorset Cereals and Nutella covered toast restored at least part of their earlier vim and vigour. The sight of the bike always perks up all but the most downhearted, so when we unloaded Miss CoBi from her trailer bed and pedalled her back to the Square it was as though the sun came out from behind a cloud. This effect was amplified by the fact that the sun did actually come out from behind a cloud and Windrush was looking lovely. If you haven’t been to Brixton recently, do go, because the newly refurbished square is great, with grass and fountains and the like with the excellent Ritzy Cinema looking out over it.
The bike attracted a lot of attention, even early on a Sunday morning, from market stall holders to weed sellers and from church goers to walk of shamers, who often get the “I’ll never drink again” expression when Miss CoBi pedals past. Jack was bedecked in the red, yellow, green and black of Ghana, a flag we got during the World Cup to show our support for a decent team.
As we left London got further into Surrey the Ghana flag attracted a few less donations. We’ve definitely noticed that while the South East does still contain many lovely and generous people, who honk and wave merrily, there are a couple more here who are more impatient and less understanding. We’ve still had only one or two one or two fingered waves but we’ve added a couple to our tally down here. Another person who didn’t quite enter into the spirit of the ride was the landlord of the almost appropriately named Bell Inn, just outside Epsom, who quite forcefully pointed out that the (empty) benches outside the (empty) pub where we stopped briefly for a bite of Mick’s cup cakes weren’t a picnic area.
We pushed on towards Leatherhead, with our now leather backsides protecting us from the worst of the saddle pains. The town were mostly hiding from the drizzle in restaurants and the shopping centre, but Miss CoBi made short work of the one way system and the ramps, and the impressed townsfolk donated heartily.
As we left Leatherhead the drizzle turned into a fully fledged downpour, but with our weatherproof radio from Pure blasting out the tunes, it was unable to dampen our schizzles or nizzles. Onwards we passed Fetcham and Bookham, looking out all the while for Tagham and Bagham and Loveham and Leaveham.
Distance in Surrey is measured in golf clubs and when we were about three courses out we had a brief halt in one of them to let the traffic past and drum up some support. A seven seater bike proved to be surprisingly difficult for the members to get their heads around as their donations were slightly below par if the contents of the car park were anything to go by.
The Borough Guildford had a few more hills to throw at us before finally letting us enter her environs, which we tackled gamely with the help of the mind reading 20 questions devil machine. It didn’t actually get what Mark was thinking of first time, suggesting soap, but perhaps because as well as button his mind was occupied with thoughts of hills, pain, bums and baths (Maybe that was where soap came from).
After about 60 more questions the Welcome to Guildford sign came into view and we pedalled into the town, getting our witness signature in Jamie Oliver’s place before saying goodbye to most of the hardy London folk who’d joined us for the day. Shall in particular deserves special mention for cycling the whole way in jeans, complemented with a leather jacket during the rainy bits, which was an awesome effort by any standards.
We were staying at the Camping Barn in Putternam, a beautiful old barn skilfully converted into a soggy walker’s paradise. It had a shower room and large platform beds (but the website suggested we bring our own mattresses which we did). After dumping our stuff we headed to the only food vendor we could find, another bloody Harvester. After our difficult experience in Stoke I was reluctant, but there was little choice so we took the gastric plunge. The place was practically empty, but somehow there was a half an hour wait until we could be seated, perhaps the ghosts of dead customers still waiting for their food were taking up all the tables. Once again we were met with a super-duper friendly, friendly I want to be your all singing, all dancing, all fluffing soul mate waitress. I must say that after we had been seated our order was taken pretty quick and the food (if you can call it that) soon followed!
The bunkhouse rode the night’s storm like a ship (Titanic?) and it was warm and dry. Some poor twit (naming no names) was sleeping on the dodgy air bed, which deflated on cue after 1 hour of sleeping activity. The afore mentioned twit was also given front row seats at the world snoring championships. Ian Clegg ducked out early and retreated to the van, but Ed, Paul and a random walker performed the snore chorus’s back catalogue until 7am. You can buy the CD from any bad record shop.