On Friday I Googled the route and was surprised to see that Google maps suggested the M4 or A4 even when switched to "cycling" as the method of travel. I decided, on balance, that the route suggested by David looked better. I didn't really check why we were going where we were going because the route looked largely flat and easy to follow.
I got up at the ungodly hour of 06:30, after 4 hours of sleep, in the murky blue black light of a cloudy dawn and realised I was out of soya milk and bread. I managed to locate some cow's milk and muesli and managed to get showered, dressed packed and downstairs for 07:30 with the bike.
David showed up shortly after and we grumbled pleasantly about the cold and lack of breakfast etc. all the way to Angel. Once we'd stopped and got money out we headed off to the wrong bridge. Then we headed off to the right bridge to meet two of David's friends.
Drop 1# prior to arrival
We ended up a peloton of Aluminium (Cinelli), Carbon (Merida* citation need) and steel (Kona and Condor).
Down through Chelsea and into Putney we stopped first in Richmond park at the cafe to get some coffee and belated breakfasts where required. Chat centred around Local government and bikes before long as we all found common ground.
It was sometime later that I first started to suspect the circuitous nature of the route we were embarked upon as we passed through Berrylands and Surbiton. I'd spotted Hampton Court and Staines on the route and assumed we were doing a different way there than back. As we approached Surbiton Cricket Club it was announced that we'd arrived at stop 2.
We had taken a slight detour into suburban Surrey to view a recent addition to the bike family of a friend of some of the group. A lovely new Canyon Endurace with full Dura Ace. Very pretty and well worth the extra miles. It (and the rider) didn't join us due to missing pedals and inclement weather... another time maybe.
Drop #2 in the carpark of the cricket club
Across Kingston Bridge and down the dual carriageway to Hampton court. Previous rides out this way I had gone along the Thames Path, but it was muddy and we had much more road bikey bikes with us on this trip. That said as we came around Staines we managed a small off road section before finding a lot of ponies and a window manufacturer in one particularly dead end.
Upon arriving at windsor we briefly considered the "All you can eat Thai Buffet" before settling on the roughest pub in Windsor. The falafel burgers may have been in the freezer as nobody working there was even aware it was a menu item. By the time the food arrived we were all starving and it was very well received.
The journey back was much swifter and easier than the route there. Despite rain and high winds (headwind in both directions... Oh yes) we were quickly back at Southall and before long I knew where I was without recourse to my phone.
It was during the more straightforward sections that I came to the following conclusions
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel makes nice bridges
- Southall smells nicer than many suburbs
- There are a lot of dual carriageways in London
- Oxford street is full of blind aggresive idiots
- I wanted a very hot bath when we got back
I'm not saying David and my bikes are heavy but we were at the back quite a bit. This isn't unusual for me but it is for David.
When we got back to Stokey I stopped at "mother earth" because I needed bread and eggs and they needed (apparently) all of the money I had on my person. I'd just started running a bath when Kev rang to see if I wanted beer that evening.