Since taking up cycling relatively late on in his 40s, Graham Haysom has ridden his way into the stats ofRedhill CC legend. His achievements during these decades and his contribution has been extraordinary, so it was fitting that the transition to octogenarian was marked by an 80 mile ride in the company of friends.
In true Graham style, the celebrations involved a beautiful route, great tea/cake stops, stunning scenery and most of all sociable, rolling miles.
Around 25 people turned up at Graham's house in Dovers Green at 8.30am to be met by pre-ride buffet. Muffins, sausages, toast, mugs of tea and coffee were laid on by Bridget and Jacquie before the pelotons departed in the direction of the first tea stop at Manor tea rooms in Seale. The route was planned by Graham and Andy Ramsay to ensure it took in the best of the county's cycling. This included climbs that most 80 year olds in Britain today would struggle to walk up - let alone - ride up. Graham was clearly game for something special as he spent the whole day riding like a very fit 35 year old moving with ease from the back to the front of the group to check that everyone was ok. Even on the ascent of Ranmore in the first 15 miles he drifted up smoothly with his hallmark smooth pedalling style.
With over 35 miles on the clock, the group assembled at Seale to witness the cutting of two birthday cakes (which were devoured with thanks) and a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday before setting off again in the direction of teastop #2 at Notcutts in Cranleigh.
First off, there was the ascent of the Hog's Back on the road that runs alongside the A3 before we dropped down to Thursley and Chiddingfold in the direction of Dunsfold.
Those who have ridden with Graham know that in the last 10 years, it takes him a little time to get 'warmed up' but when he has warmed up, all that seasoned endurance muscle is still in very fine fettle. Several noted that the speed crept imperceptibly upwards from G2 to G3 and beyond. It was a warm day and there was a smile on everyone's faces. This was one of those rides we will all remember.
We were greeted by other friends - accompanying Frank on a shorter route - at Notcutts in Cranleigh in time for the second stop around 4pm. There was no second rendition of Happy Birthday although some were tempted.
Leaving Cranleigh we all followed the time-honoured route home after so many club runs via Forest Green and Ockley, Capel, Newdigate and finally - with Graham leading the way - back to Woodhatch where champagne glasses were raised.
Graham - you exemplify everything that is good about cycling and your fitness for a man of 80 years old is a lesson for everyone. Cycling is good for you. And cycling with Graham, particularly good!