After a flurry of MTFU e-mails a small select group of Moles met up at Bocketts car park. MTFU? Well the headlines of storms caused by the tail end of Hurricane/Tropical storm/Atlantic depression/heavy clouds (take your pick depending on your media outlet) Bertha meant the lure of the duvet was strong for many moles. They missed a great ride.
Actually with the threat of rain and the road closures due to the Ride100, it was like riding through the Zombie apocalypse as I didn’t see a car heading up to Bocketts. Already present were Dave, Slack D’andy and Karl (sporting a fetching pair of hockey gaol keeper gloves / giant comedy hands). There was the usual mix of bikes too with D’Andy being on the Surrey Mondeo 29er, Dave an Orange Gyro and Karl on his semi-fat 69er semi-single speed (a new niche record?). I was old skool on my 26inch, triple chainset, Trek Fuel.
Just to also say – sorry no pictures with this ride report. It was too wet to take a camera out! However although the rain was biblical at times it was also warm. Very odd – almost tropical.
D’Andy was to be todays guide and in contravention to the usual policy we didn’t start off along Admirals Trackway but headed over to Norbury Park. Riding up to Norbury it was immediately obvious that Dave was struggling with his inflexible hip flexors.
At Norbury we scooted down via Druids Grove where the conditions of the day, damp loam and ultra slippy roots, made themselves very obvious. Today was definitely a day to be cautious with the front braking.
Then it was back up to Crabtree lane (I never doubted your route finding D’Andy honest) and over to A view to a kill. This was running well too, the loamy turns giving plenty of grip, plus with a new chicken run ending (not an unreasonable choice in the conditions) and a new high exit next to the gate. As Karl, D’Andy and I were waiting on the road, Dave attempted the new exit, stalled at the top and toppled over backwards onto the 5 bar gate. It was an almighty crash and fortunately his camelbak seemed to take most of the impact but his arm was also pretty badly bashed.
Dave gamely decided to continue. As we rode over to Tanners Hatch and up the road to Ranmore the rain really started to hammer down. It was like riding in a shower and we all wondered how the Ride100 Moles were getting on.
At Ranmore Dave wisely decided to call it a day and the three of us continued over towards Badger Run and then on via the top of White Down to the North downs Way. Over on the NDW D’Andy had a few ace trails in mind. Sawmill which was brillant (especially after I let a bit of air out of my front tyre), although Karl and I were sadly held up by D’Andy in front. Even a helpful little tinkle of my bell didn’t seem to help. Although D’Andy did seem to be thankful for the encouragement. Down to Honeysuckle Bottom the track had disappeared into two torrents and we hammered down through the water. Next it was up to the NDW and a little trail with no name which finished with a nasty little climb back to the NDW that had us walking up another stream. Then off to Petrol Pump, a fabulous long sweepy trail down to the A25. Although I think from D’Andy that it was easier in the mid-week dust!
As we emerged onto the A25 a Gomshall we entered another world. I world of very wet roadies riding the Ride100, many of whom seemed to be fixing punctures (punctures apparently made the Ride100 for a somewhat of an epic for the Moles riding). Covered head to toe in trail mud “we blended in seamlessly” as we rode along to the Café. The best comment was from a female rider “Why are you muddy?”.
Arriving at the café, it was shut! So a quick plan to head along and loop back to Shere was deemed the best option. Arriving in Shere it was amazingly quiet and there were signs of the deluges that had made rivers through the village. Fortunately the small sandwich shop was open and the owner was great. It was no problem for us to drip mud, blankets were brought out for us to park our muddy posteriors on and the coffee/bacon sandwiches were excellent. Karl was given a rather fetching (“It’s so me!”) Shaun the sheep blanket. The appearance of which cause D’Andy to break into a perfect rendition of the theme tune (“He’s Shaun the sheep ….” www.shaunthesheep.com) and profess an undying love of the plasticine Ovis aries. Bizarre.
Dragging ourselves out of the warmth we once again joined the Ride100 riders (now considerably more clearly the laughing groups) along to Gomshall and we peeled off to Abinger Roughs then up White Down, where on the chalk it was hard to keep traction riding up. My helpful opening of both gates for D’Andy so that he could continue up didn’t seem to be met with the good grace you might expect!
A slight detour along Little Endor (again in the chucking rain!) was atmospheric and then another part river down to Yew Trees. The newly surfaced track was fine. At a slight wait before the Bridge climb I spoke to the first walkers of the day!
D’Andy peeled off at Admirals Trackway and Karl and I splashed back to Bocketts. It was one of those days that you probably wouldn’t have ventured out unless your mates were coming out, but when you got out it was really fabulous riding.