"Is this the right place for a Dirty Weekend?" I asked. "Er, ride that is".
Within twenty minutes the place was heaving with about forty riders. We split into three groups, each doing rides of slightly different lengths and speeds but meeting for coffee, then saddled up for the lanes and hills of Surrey.
In my previous post I mentioned I'd ridden Box Hill. On previous visits to family in Richmond - and we come twice a year - I've rarely ridden outside Richmond Park. The reason was simple. I didn't know where to go.
I suspect many cyclists visiting London feel this way, so let me point you towards this page on the Dirty Weekend website which lists routes in North, East, South-east and South-west London. They link to a page on Strava from which you can download the .gpx file and add it to your Garmin.
|Pre-ride faffing and chat|
|Dynamo - my kind of cafe|
One rider told me the 50% reduction on bike servicing paid for his membership, so the rides were effectively free. There's no "whose turn is it this week", it's all professionally run and members can join a session at the last minute with a few clicks on their smartphone.
Living in Scotland I clearly wasn't going to take an annual membership.
But a nice social ride can be a good day out, so I clicked a few buttons, paid £5 from my PayPal and I was signed up for the Surrey ride.
Afterwards, when we all crowded back into The Dynamo for utterly delicious sourdough pizza and craft beer, things got very social. A bunch of people I hadn't met until a few hours earlier became new friends, even though I was old enough to be most of their Dads.
When I said I'd be sure to join them on future rides, I really meant it. I shall.