Octopus Ride – March 2023

When Ray posted his Facebook post about doing 8 different routes up and down Leith Hill, I thought, ooo training for LEJOG, but didn’t comment.
About 2 seconds after that thought my phone pings with a message from roomie, aka Helen Arnold asking if I had seen Rays post and what good training for our LEJOG trip. I wasn’t feeling confident in my abilities, but I said yes, and the comment was added to Rays post… we were in.

Like all great plans and ideas I agree to we had a look at the post code for our meet point and did what any sensible person would do….google the drive and where to stay. As Rays post included about having a meal after the ride we googled the pub, The Plough Inn and they did B&B, room booked for three, we roped Wacky Jacqui along too.
A conscious effort was made to partake in many club rides and Zwift in preparation, so thanks to the club’s ride leaders for some lumpy routes, I dare not say hilly, Essex is flat in comparison, and Mr Diggens for his Tuesday night meet ups.

So, on Sunday 26th March at 08:30 am whilst having our breakfast and watching the rain fall, yes it was very wet, and contemplating the fact we should have ridden some of it the afternoon before when we turned up, hindsight is a wonderful thing, Helen Jacqui and myself greeted Maria and Ray who popped in to have a brew and ensure the booking for lunch/dinner was still in place.

At 10 am we all set off in our groups to tackle each route of the 8, for a wet Sunday there were a few fellow cyclists enjoying a local sportive, some school students hiking and your usual dog walkers enjoying the beautiful scenery of Leith Hill, and despite the rain it was beautiful and steep!!
Some Of the roads weren’t in the greatest condition, but we were cautious and looked out for each other, despite the rain and a few expletives, we were all smiling and never once said that we regretted it.

The first route we did, I had a moment of ohh my god there’s no way I can do this, and I also thought there’s no way I can give up either, my group were at the top waiting, and with a few words of encouragement and stop being a plonker, I regained some sense of purpose and kept in my mind that if I didn’t continue, I would regret it. We started route 2.
Our group managed routes 1 – 4, and my plan was to do 4, I won’t lie, I did a bit of walking BUT it doesn’t matter because I got to witness some of our lady members absolutely own each hill, and the other groups would pass us always with a shout of encouragement and what number route they were on. Plus, I also got to witness a stunt being performed for the new Marvel movie…. I would be gutted if it was Tom Hardy as Venom and I missed my good friend.

The plan is to go back and do the ones we didn’t complete or do the whole thing and start a little earlier, but it was a bucket list tick as I have never done Leith Hill.
I also got to enjoy possibly one of the best roast dinners I have had in a pub ever and shout out to Jacqui for wangling a free extra Yorkshire pudding, she did share her roasty potato with me though.

Special thanks to Ray, who not only arranged this ride, but who also had to deal with ensuring the service at the meal afters went as smoothly as possible, and to the lovely gents of Cranleigh CC for being so hospitable.

Always say YES as you never know what epic adventure/experience you might be missing.
Kelly P xx