2000 miles for Help for Heroes – Day 33 – 27 May

19th June 2010

Thursday 27 May

Odometer – 1980 miles. Ware – Woking (night at Reading) (60 miles).

The day dawned overcast with drizzling rain. I set off after breakfast 0830 hrs and it was quite cold, but by mid-morning it had dried out and by 1300 hrs the sun had broken through, with a light wind.

My route took me down the Roman road, round the inner ring road to the City of London, crossing Tower Bridge at noon, and onto the A24 towards Epsom. Compared to Edinburgh, the road surfaces were a doddle and the road signing excellent. Unlike Edinburgh, the density of traffic and the huge number of traffic lights made it necessary constantly to stop and start, but I made good progress and rewarded myself by stopping at an Italian restaurant in Balham or Clapham for lunch. I couldn’t face any more junk food, and ordered a hotpot of mushrooms and garlic and herbs in a small copper saucepan, with 2 glasses of good red wine. I deserved it, and the bill was very reasonable. While waiting for it I phoned daughters Annabel (who was in Greece) and Fiona, who told me I had been discussed by Ken Bruce and Chris Evans on Radio 2. Heaven knows how they got hold of my challenge, but I was most grateful for the money-generating publicity. I must remember to thank them when I get home.

I pressed on through London. Quite suddenly the towns, seamlessly linked that make up this great city, began to separate and thin into suburbs – Merton, Cheam, Ewell and so on. I followed signs to Epsom, caught sight of one to Headley and took it. This was a mistake: I should have stuck to the route I had mapped out. The countryside was now becoming increasingly horsey, with stables and paddocks and glimpses of the racecourse through the trees, and some very expensive houses protecting their owners from intruders with huge remotely-controlled gates. But hardly a soul in sight! Headley turned out to be a few scattered houses, bad roads and tall trees. I had spent a long time unsuccessfully looking for a sign to Headley Court when I spotted a workman. He directed me to it, and suddenly there it was. I clocked in at the guardroom at about 1515 hrs and explained my business. The guard commander was pleased to see me and asked if I would like to be shown round, but I explained I had a prearranged guided tour the next day and more miles to put in today; so he told me how to get back onto the main road and I cycled off.

I then cycled on as far as I could in the time left to me. When I reached the area of Woking at 1945 hrs, it was getting late so I called daughter Vicky and fiancé Andy who collected me in the van and took me to the house of Andy’s parents in Reading. We noted the pick-up point and said that that would be my start point for tomorrow’s cycling. I was introduced to Andy’s parents, Tom and Pauline, who were most kind and welcoming. After a meal and a bath, I slept like a log. It had been quite a hard day.

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