Saturday night Sunday morning

Michael Jackson may blame it on the boogie but I’m blaming the champagne. Somewhere around the second glass I had the Bright Idea.

‘Why don’t we do the time trial tomorrow morning?’ Trace glanced briefly at my glass and said ‘Huh?’ I was on a roll. ‘Sunday morning. We get up early. Avoid the traffic. Do the Pett’s Wood Loop.’ Trace looked at my glass again and said nothing.

A time trial is usually done on closed roads and I’d been wondering how I could replicate the experience: laps of Richmond Park or Lea Valley Park weren’t appealing to me. But the Pett’s Wood Loop (as it’s known in our house) could work. It’s a cheeky 30kms which, if you get the timing right, can be an exhilarating bike ride out and back with a few climbs and descents.

On Sunday morning I had a few regrets. That I hadn’t got my bike ready the night before. That I hadn’t sorted my clothes the night before. That I hadn’t chilled my water bottles overnight. Trace woke up long enough to say ‘I need more sleep’.

It was still a bit cool as I turned out of the street where we live and I wondered whether I should go back and change my shorts for long legs. But I knew if I did that the chances of getting out again were remote. I pressed on along the A21 and reached Bromley where, I had learned the previous week, Elizabeth ‘Tetty’ Porter, the wife of lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson, is buried. No time to visit her gravestone, I skirted the Glades shopping centre, and headed towards Bromley Common, passing a barefoot man clutching a pint of milk and a newspaper. Somewhere around here I started noticing the remnants of Saturday night: small silver canisters lying in the gutter.

At Locksbottom (which is at the top of a hill) I turned left for Orpington, avoiding most of the town, and started the climb to Petts Wood (no time for a detour on this trip but Chislehurst Caves are worth a visit if you’re in the area). There’s a couple of junctions on the climb which always make for an interesting bike ride if there’s a bit of traffic. I was lucky and the only driver wanting to turn right across my path waved me through, which allowed me to keep a steady pace up the hill. At the top the road flattens out as it bisects the woods of Chislehurst Common. Saturday night was marked here by half-empty bottles of beer and cider carefully placed at bus stops.

I continued on through Elmstead and Mottingham, where I watched a woman walk home from Saturday night – in her socks, hugging her shoes. I reached the south circular and, realising I was short of a few kilometres, turned left along one of my regular running/trotting routes to pile on the necessary distance before heading back home for a second breakfast.


Road cycling time trial. 32kms in 1.47.37. 28 June 2015

Cost: Free