I spent last Sunday morning watching the professionals taking part in the pre-Olympic test event the London – Surrey Cycle Classic. This week I thought I would give it a try myself. I was in a mood for comfort and not for speed so I took my Touring Bike instead of my “racing” bike. I don’t race, I have never raced, but I call it my racing bike because it is lighter and faster than my touring bike. Bike choice made I headed out into the Surrey Hills.
The thought of replicating last weeks race did cross my mind (briefly) but 140km was a bit further than I felt like riding and I didn’t fancy riding into central London. I settled on a ride around the Surrey Hills with one lap of the core Box Hill loop to give me the flavour of course.
The circuit is just under 10 miles (16km) and the peleton took about twenty minutes, possibly a little less, to cover the circuit last Sunday. I took the best part of an hour (excluding my lunch stop of which more later) There are a few things on Box Hill that I saw that the professionals probably didn’t. this is the view half way up, looking back down.
I don’t think they had time to stop and appreciate the view from the top either
The other thing that the didn’t stop to appreciate is the thing of beauty that is ‘Ali’s Tea Shop’.
As you can see from the photo it is actually a trailer and not a tea shop, but when you are feeling hungry and thirsty, it is a thing of beauty.
As you are hauling yourself slowly up Box Hill, one thing that keeps you going is the prospect of a cup of tea and a pasty or a slice of home-made cake (or both) at Alison’s. I think that it would improve next year’s Olympic road races greatly if there was a compulsory café stop at Alison’s. Pictured below is my lunch.
Allison’s pasties, served with chips if you want or a salad if you are feeling health conscious, are, in my opinion, some of the best this side of Cornwall. She always makes the tea just the right strength, and the Coconut and Lemon Curd slice is exactly what a cyclist needs to give him or her a much-needed blood sugar boost after
slogging up climbing Box Hill.
Dining is alfresco, which is great from March through to October, provided it’s not raining, slightly less so during the winter months. Though during the winter months she adds hot mince pies and hot bread pudding to the menu, which as well as tasting fantastic, also help to restore the circulation to fingers numb with the cold. If you are passing Headley Heath on a bike you have to stop, it is the law.
There is another café, run by the National Trust, at the top of Box Hill, which some people stop at. Cyclists who understand their pasties, press on to Allison’s