The Aerodrome Ride
Every now and then a route comes along that reminds you how lucky you are to be a cyclist and living this wonderfully odd routine we are now so accustomed to. The London to Redhill Aerodrome ride is exactly that – a route that promises hills, helicopters and a hell of a good time.
We met at Four Boroughs Cafe in Crystal Palace. Smashed a cortado, gave excuses why our legs may not work and compared clothing decisions before rolling out and into our convoy.
The hills of Kent began. If the gradients didn't wake us up, the beeping of inpatient cars did. In 40km you cover many of the terrains and sights that make a ride worthwhile – quiet lanes, steep leg burners, descents, open landscapes and random animals to point at.
We arrived at the Redhill Aerodrome to a novel café that has unintentionally created a haven for cyclists. We pedalled in and placed our bikes on the fence, only to be greeted by two helicopters landing. We ordered our second breakfast of the day, a meal that is treated with so much care and respect. One bacon and egg sandwich, one sausage and egg sandwich, one egg sandwich and one avocado and egg on toast. We talk, debate and exchange stories (anything to enjoy the effort we had already put in before having to face up to the effort still to come). I’m so grateful to be spending quality time with three strong women, making a seemingly normally Wednesday anything but. Toilet stop. Bidons filled. Auto-pause off. We’re rolling.
The ever inevitable but always burning ‘café legs’ began as we approached the first of three climbs. A few moments of ‘why do we do this?’ instantly followed by ‘I’m so happy we do this’ as we reached the top.
One descent and roundabout later, we were suddenly hit by the reality of London - traffic lights, busy roads and fearless pedestrians that back themselves over oncoming traffic. But there was also communal positivity powered by our cycling endorphins. It's that small window of time where you’re still moving and escaping but have a silent agreement that the ride is complete.
We said our goodbyes, awkward bike hugs or fist pumps, and rode onwards to work. We’ve experienced this narrative many times, but some stories are timeless.