For our upcoming coast to coast ride it was suggested we do a bit more training on hills so with this in mind and also to full fill an ambition we decided on riding the Box Hill Olympic circuit and then a bit more to bring the ride up to the 40+ mile mark. The problem was and I am not sure if it was enthusiasm or alcohol but the bolt on bit to pad out the mileage was the Category 1 climb from the Tour of Britain at Barhatch Lane.
With son David and his father in law Jeremy we left Shalford heading south through Wonersh and Shamley Green and all too soon the left turn into Barhatch Lane. The climb was brutal and it summoned all my strength to keep going and renewed my respect for Cav and his fellow pros who seem to sprint up these climbs.
To my joy the next few miles were downhill allowing a decent recovery period. Through Sutton Abinger before crossing the A25 and the next climb up Whitedown Lane. Not so steep but a heart stopping moment soon after the start when the pedals did not seem to want to rotate, I got out of the saddle for a bit more effort thinking my legs were shot only to notice my gear change had not engaged and I was still in the big ring. It certainly amused my buddies and brought instant relief to have found more ammunition for the 2 mile ascent. At the top the next waypoint was Ranmore Common and then cutting through before the rundown to the A24 and the start of Box Hill.
I had been told that Box Hill was busy with cyclists but I could not believe the numbers we were talking, a constant prosession of devotees of all abilities. The climb was made a bit easier by the near perfect road surface still sporting the road graffiti in support of Wiggo, Stannard, Froomey and calling for Cav to made prime minister.
Occasionally some young whippet would sprint past at what seemed like double our speed and we also managed to claim a few scalps but the joy was riding the same route as our heroes . At the top of the climb is a cafe and a photo opportunity and the site of 100+ riders on coffee break was testimony to the popularity the Olympics has brought to this circuit.
From the top of the hill we followed the circuit down to the B2032 before crossing the A25 and then heading back to Dorking. At the intersection with the A24 a right turn before following the Guildford signs up Ashcombe Road before the final big climb up Ranmore road and a well earned descent back down to the A25, a fast run through Abinger Hammer, Gomshall and Shere following the Tour of Britain route to Albury and Chilworth to complete our loop back to Shalford and a very enjoyable if somewhat tiring 3400ft of climbing and 43 miles.
There are not many sports where you can compete on the same course as the professionals irrespective of personal ability and my appreciation of their performances is suitably enhanced by the pain I felt conquering Barhatch Lane and Box Hill.
Box Hill will always remain one of those iconic routes that have to be ridden, I am thankful we chose a day when the sun shone.