A select group of four of us set out from Elstead on a cool Sunday morning, our leader, our retired airline pilots – who are no doubt far fitter now than they were when they were forced to retire – and me. Our route was south out of Elstead along the straight, to Churt, Headley, Hollywater, Whitehill, Blackmoor. Oakhanger and West Worldham before picking up the A339 across Alton. Much of it highly familiar except that we always cycle much of it the other way. I have said it before, and no doubt I will say it again, it is amazing how different a road is depending on which way you cycle along it. Coffee, or in the case of Don, brunch, was taken at the Departure Lounge, a new venue for him and he was as much taken with the aircraft bits scattered across the site as with the food itself. The combination of both lead to a plane load of pilot humour.
The pilots turned back leaving Clive and I to aim for Rotherhill Garden centre. A week prior I put in new brake and shifter cables and as is their want, they decided it was time to bed in properly leaving the front mech cable a bit slack. A quick adjustment of the screw on the shifter affected a temporary fix which sufficed until I got home and adjusted the cable at the mech clamp. Reminded me of a bike that I had long ago where the front mech just gave me endless trouble and I swore never to buy another bike with a front mech, so bought a Rolhoff equipped bike instead and the one I am dreaming about is a 1 x 11. Dream on!
Clive and I made a steady pace and arrived at Rotherhill – a place new to me. The food was very good, and the café seemed to have more visitors than the garden centre. Despite many plants in flower it did have the air of end of season, of getting ready for autumn and winter. Feeling rather full we cycled out but as there was a track heading due west we risked it rather than doubling back on ourselves to get to the road. Without incident we made it and headed north. Clive took pity on me as I was facing a 30+ mile journey home alone and offered me the opt out. I took it. I am easily swayed by a cup of tea.