The ongoing ‘measures’ to deal with the Covid crisis continue and for those of us keeping our heads down there are precious few opportunities for entertainment. Why I choose to abstain from alcohol each year sometimes escapes me.
Well, that’s not quite true. I do feel better for not drinking and this year proved easier than normal; I ascribe that to much-reduced consumption – or at least no big binges – over the preceeding month or two as well. But none of that makes up for the fact that it’s still winter.
Winter. I hate the true depths winter more and more each year. I don’t particularly mind the mud (what sort of Mole would I be if I did?) but I do mind the dark. Every ride outside of work hours is shrouded in darkness, or dreich days at the weekends. Or both. There have been a few of those.
The alternative is not to ride at all and I’m not doing that if I can help it. Every ride now means better rides in the summer I hope, and it hasn’t all been gloom and doom. The days are getting longer – two or three weeks from now we will really notice that. And in the meantime, I did manage 400+ miles through January with lots of shortish rides, local rides, urban rides and generally lots of moving by bike.
We got short sharp days of sunshine and we even got snow. Here’s a few pictures to illustrate what I’ve been up to…
First off, Gordon and I met up at the start of the month and one of our rides was a big 30 mile loop of the hills. We followed a relatively XC route up to Ranmore via Denbies, down McPhersons, then easy riding to Abinger and back up onto the ridge with the Colekitchen climb.
After a coffee, from Combe Lane it was down to Sheepleas and then onward to the Wisley flats, across Chatley Heath and back into Bookham from Downside. Dry conditions and it’s all gravel-possible assuming decent volume to your tyres, but hardtails for us. Nice route…
Chatley Heath featured a few times this month – I am trying to explore the limited options as best I can as it’s relatively dry and sandy and eventually I think there’s enough trails to entertain for 20 minutes or so. A couple of bits I’ve found are pretty nice but short and you need to pick your time around dog walkers.
Another route cobbled together involves linking low-gnarr trails and quieter roads over to Ashtead, then across Ashtead Common to the Star Inn on the Malden Rushett road. Ashtead Common has a couple of well-maintained paths around the perimiter but do not on any account attempt to cross the middle! It is a swamp everywhere!
Once at the Star, it’s Crown Estate to the Oxshott area, then Wren’s Hill down to Stoke D’Abernon and round the back of Cobham via posh roads and under-the-radar alleyways. Another XC route, about 20 miles, getting muddy in places now. Can be gravel, but again more for the summer I think.
Then one strange morning we got snow. Lots of it. I was planning a ride with Mark anyhow and then we found ourselves in a white-out! Look at how much snow is on our forks in this picture, and that was while we were riding along! We had a great time and completely wore ourselves out, then my trail blazing efforts to explore new routes in January got us completely bogged down as we dragged ourselves home. A partial success but fun while it lasted.
Finally, my diet of alternative lockdown routes saw me mixing that up with lots of urban riding in our locale, there’s so much to do using my Trek singlespeed or the gravel bike. One of these takes me round Ashtead on very quiet side roads and over and across the railway.
All of this is far better than sitting indoors that’s for sure, but I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and enjoy a pint in the company of fellow Moles at the earliest chance. Maybe even go for a ride sometime!
Oh, I did buy a new bike. That’s another story that seems to be coming together nicely.