Well, almost. London to Brighton to Guildford, anyway.
Travelling home with the bike on the car roof was a comfortable way to rest weary legs after the London to Brighton Bike Ride. And then, somewhere along the bleak A23 south of Crawley, I saw them.
Lone cylists, still carrying their London to Brighton numbers, pedalling along the bleak dual carriageway and working their way through the late afternoon across Sussex. Heading north and back to London.
The idea was born — to complete the 54 miles of the London to Brighton Bike Ride, and then glide (or limp) home to Guildford afterwards. That would make a long day’s ride of perhaps 100 miles in all.
And the last four years, I’ve done that — although on different routes each time.
The Olympic torch is coming to Guildford in 2012 as its last stop before London.
The grass running track in Stoke Park was laid out again recently. It’s from here in Guildford that the Olympic torch will begin the the final leg of its journey into London for the 2012 games.
There’ll be an evening celebration in Stoke Park on Friday, 20th July next year.
Over the summer I’ve discovered two more tough ascents in the Surrey Hills.
Both lead through the woods up to Winterfold Heath, deep in the Hurtwood Forest set high above Cranleigh.
The Hurtwood is one of the largest privately owned estates in Surrey.
Mercifully, most of it is accessible on a dense network of footpaths, one of which is an ancient Roman road.
Alderbrook Road (A to B); Barhatch Lane (D to C)
The two ascents are different.
It’s late on a summer’s evening and I’m cycling homeward along one of the most beautiful country roads in England.
This morning’s London to Brighton bike ride is well behind me now and I’m rolling towards the sunset on the longest day of the year.
Eighty miles are in my legs by the time I pass the pretty Saxon village of Slinfold, with twenty more ahead to Guildford.
Beyond the church, I slowly climb a steady rise and turn right onto the main A29. One of my favourite cycling stretches, this — perfect blacktop, arrow straight, and for now at least, heading gently downhill towards the river.
This is Stane Street — the Roman road from Chichester to London. Built in the 1st Century AD, it’s more than good enough for me now. I pause to eat and think at the bridge across the Arun. Here, inside the meander of the river, the Romans built a staging post or mansio.
Ditchling Beacon is the high point of the London to Brighton Bike Ride each year, in lots more ways than one.
A whole year of training is finally distilled into one breathless blur of uphill climb.
And no matter how many hills I’ve toiled all winter, it never seems that success on Ditchling is guaranteed — because it’s the toughest ascent I do.
Here’s a map and a profile of the hill, and a comparison with White Down, the steepest climb in the Surrey Hills close to where I live, and the last training test I do before setting off to Brighton each year.
Things have been slow around here, for a little while now, and in more ways than one.
I’ve had less time for running, and less still for writing. I’ve been unfit, distracted and slow.
And yet — there’s been real progress, too, hidden not far beneath the surface.
Our 95,000 visitors this year may have found only 22 new posts to read, but it’s been a momentous year of change, both in London and abroad.
The great crash formed the backdrop to the year, but it was in America that destiny was decided.
A changing political landscape marked the 2008 US election and the new opportunities that brings, for America and the whole world beyond.
Posted in 2009, Cuba, economics, geology, history, London, music, peak oil, politics, Shakespeare Country, Spain, Surrey and Sussex