In the underground carpark of a Twickenham Hotel there was a man sitting on a chair, a man on a chair guarding (what I estimate easily to be) in excess of £150,000 of bicycle. Upstairs about 130 people drank coffee while we waited for the start of the ~40mile ride through the Surrey roads to Box Hill and back.
By the time the ride got started we had built up a sweaty mist at the bar that I’m sure will be lingering there for days. The riders self divided into 4 groups, 1 being the fastest, Barry and I choose group 2. This proved the most popular group, mainly of people who were too scared to try group 1 (like me) and too ashamed to be in group 3 (like Barry*).
The Hotchillee ride captains (we had The Bull (very nice chap)) kept the bunch in good shape and speed, and dealt with the few punctures that the autumn roads threw at the 30 or so riders. We maintained a good speed upto the infamous Box Hill, which turned out to be not so infamous; but its reputation preceded it and I ended up taking it much easier than I should have. Out of interest, on the Portsmouth roads a typical Strava segment would be tackled by some 1000-1500 people, the Box Hill segment has been attempted by near on 30,000 – no doubt in part due to the RideLondon route).
By now there was thunder and lightning and Esher, with about 7 miles to go I got a front puncture, I didn’t get the call out quick or loud enough to stop the bunch but 2 riders did stop: Barry and another, who turned out to be Dermot Murnaghan of Sky News fame. We had a quick chat with DM (he said he likes to be called DM because of its association with Danger Mouse*). When reinflated we all set off and Barry’s joy of being behind the Sky man was evident as Dermot sprayed in his smiling face (from the wet roads)*. The puncture was from a thorn by the way, and as it happens, when we loaded the bikes in the car at the end of the day I noticed my rear was flat, that too was a thorn. DM was a jolly nice chap and ended up guiding us back (at a fair pace) as we had lost the bunch.
Back at the hotel, we showered (separately) and ate the tea tray biscuits (Vienesse fingers and shortbreads) then headed to the bar. At lunch I had a good chat with Dean from Purple Harry who gave me some good tips on cleaning/finishing titanium and told of some new/upcoming products (the warming cream sounds interesting). The portions were impressive (Lasagne and Chocolate Brownie) and the pre-dinner tray food compared favourably to the recent bowl food. I don’t think DM stayed for lunch but I noticed he’d ordered the Beef Burger and Cheesecake.
After dinner Adam hosted a Q&A session with some names from cycle industry: Sven Thiele (Hotchillee), Simon Brotherton (BBC), Mick Bennett (Tour of Britain), Jordan Addison (Giro), Ian Whittingham (Sigma Sports), Ellis Bacon (Author (new book)), Gareth Nettleton (Strava) and Daniel Lloyd (GCN).
* These things may not actually be true.