Growing up in Newton Abbot, Devon I was never too far away from either the coast or Dartmoor. After seeing the UCI World Mountain Biking championships in Plymouth my friends from school and I were all hooked on mountain bikes. So after a lot of saving up I was the proud owner of a Kona Kilauea. We used to spend school holidays and weekends hammering around the bridal ways and country roads, going right across the moor offroad, or along the coast.
Hours were spent looking at the latest innovations in Mountain Biking UK magazine – Anodised purple skewers or white onza porcupine tyres!
Around my time at Sixth Form I started going out regularly with a local group called Teign Valley Pedal Bashers – http://www.tvpb.org.uk/
Each week we would meet on a sunday at a different location in South Devon and people took turns in planning a route. In those days planning involved a provision for both on and off road as there was a complete mix of bikes. TVPB was a great mix of ex Hash House Harriers and ex local Rugby Club members. Everyone had a nickname and mine was Indurain – as he was exactly the same height as me and was winning lots in those days. Every route involved lots of banter and always at least one pub stop for Cider or Guinness.
We went on ‘tour’ to Brittany with full panniers – cycling to plymouth and getting the Roscoff ferry with just our bikes which was great fun. Our bikes had to be strapped down on the way back as it was massively rough weather.
Moving up to Surrey after University I still had a mountain bike and went out only very occasionally as I was playing Rugby for Farnham and then joined Richmond RFC which took up my spare time. In 2005 we moved to Speer Road in Thames Ditton.
In 2013 a friend of mine mentioned that he wanted to do the London to Edinburgh Rat Race ride. (4 days – 425 miles). Which sounded like a good challenge. There was just the minor problem of not having a road bike or indeed any experience on one! I promptly did some research and after a bike fitting appointment at Sigma Sport in Hampton Wick, got a Trek Madone 2.1 through the cycle to work scheme. It was amazing cycling into Murrayfield having left Wembley Stadium some 4 days previous in Aug 2013.
I noticed an article about Dittons Velo in the About Thames Ditton Magazine, and decided I should get involved, and was bowled over by how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Joining the club has really helped me learn about road riding in a group and also taught me a lot about myself – how much food/energy I need for long rides, when to drink, and how much I love going downhill! I’m always bumping into fellow DV members on the train, in the village and in central London!
Since 2013 I have completed various Wiggle and Evans Sportives around the country, plus also the Gran Frondo Tour of Cambridge on closed roads. I also do yearly weekend trips to Bike Park Wales and the Brecon Beacons for a few days of downhill mountain biking adrenalin. I’ve also done a track taster session at the Olympic velodrome which was superb.
Over Easter 2016 I decided I wanted to cycle back to Devon – so planned a two day route to do just that and saw us rolling into Newton Abbot at 4pm on Easter Saturday afternoon. 192 miles of mostly country lanes and beautiful countryside. Devon and Somerset make the Surrey Hills look like the Netherlands.
I really enjoy the Saturday morning rides with Dittons Velo which I juggle with family commitments. If I can’t get there I often go out early just to be able to do one ride over the weekend.
- Exploring our local area
- Carrot cake and Flat White at the Dabbling Duck, Shere
- Social rides with lunch afterwards
- Any fast descent
- Group banter
- Steve Heath’s helpfulness
- State of some of the roads
- Strange overtaking decisions of various car drivers
- Cold wet feet
- Steve Heath’s year on year domination of helpfulness