Blimey two Moles rides in a week – it’s been a while! After the blast of last Sundays mudfest I thought that a follow up Wednesday night ride would be a good alternative so I dusted off the MTB lights, charged the batteries, dragged the newly returned from loan Pronghorn HT from the garage and posted up a ride on the forum.
After a stream of forum maybes and refusals when I rode up to Hylands garage (overtaking a grumpy roadie on lower road) I wasn’t sure who I’d find but there were three moles awaiting. GrandMole on his very fetching (but soo heavy) Cotic Solaris, ChrisH on his beautifully understated Santa Cruz (don’t worry only D’Andys is the really Surrey Mondeo) and Beanarillo (or is it HasBean?) on his Whyte disc braked cross bike. Beanarillo didn’t have time to join us but I felt that it really would have been his sort of ride. Next time! After much ooh-ing and arrh-ing following people picking up the Pronghorn, it was time to head off and I had a gravity challenged route in mind.
First up it was past Wiggly Wood and then onto the bridleway to Crabtree Lane with a beautiful sunset view. A quick scoot round to A View to a Kill and we regrouped to drop posts and switch on lights. I’m not sure whether this is a depressing moment of the year or not. The first need to light up for 3 months on a ride. However one thing became immediately apparent, I was out of practice with riding with the MTB lights on. The lights seemed dim and I had forgotten how much you really needed to look ahead on the trail to focus on what was coming up, compared to riding in the light. A View to a Kill was excellent though. Where on Sunday it had been mix of some loam and zero grip roots, the ground had hardened enough for the tyres to bite as you leaned into the corners and the roots were full of traction. Comparing notes at the end GrandMole and I both felt that we had stay on the brakes to keep the speed under control such was the condition of the trail.
Next it was along to the Chapel climb up to Ranmore. I think that GrandMole was expecting to head up the road, skirt the house and head up through Denbies. Instead we took the bridleway on the right that runs up next to the fence. This is a tricky climb, not too steep but full of rooty step ups, overgrown with bushes and very narrow. The sort of climb that the Pronghorn is made for since it just seemed to roll up everything with super efficiency. I waited at the crossroads half way up as Grandmole then ChrisH rolled up. Now that we were in the trees there was no breeze, you realised how warm it was and it became very close, so that excess layers were quickly removed, but we were all sweating. Also I became more and more aware, as we waited, of a terrible smell. I checked my clothes and shoes but couldn’t find the source until GrandMole pointed out the enormous pile dog crap stuck to my wheel. I most have just run it over the middle of it before I stopped but god it stank! Careful prizing it off the tyre was required.
Next Grandmole eased up to the top of the climb and we turned off to Golden Nugget. GM and I hooned down, laughing as we only just made half the corners. We were both buzzing at the bottom. However in winch and plummet mode it was the right turn at the bottom and back up to Ranmore, through the overgrown vegetation at the bottom of the climb, then the right turn and grind to the top. Maybe we should have warned Chris of all this winch?
Straight away (plummet mode) we were at Then there were three / Red White Rose. At this point I remembered how my lights worked doh! I’d had them on low power up until this point. Talk about out of practice. With the full 2400 lumens activated TTWT was taken much quicker. The little gulleys at the top were rock hard, I seemed to glide over the roots and steps but I found myself going into the rest of the trail damn quick. The recent rain seemed to have washed quite a bit of trail out and it certainly seemed lumpier than I remembered. Grandmole and I were both bucked around on the HT’s but it was damn quick.
Across the A24 it was back to winch as we scooted up Staine Street to Mickleham Gallops then via group decision making we found Bat out of hell. Grandmole and I blasted off as quick as we could with the trail in perfect conditions. We stopped just before Staine Street where we had one of those, “is Chris just behind us”….. wait…. “should we ride back up”…. wait… “damn he’s lost”…. situations. Finally a phone number was found and Chris was located back at the bottom of Staine Street. Re-grouping Chris had tales of a super steep switchback trail, taken with steamed up glasses and utmost care. He had found Tankslapper. Slightly more plummet than we planned!
Winch? Yep you get the theme. It was winch back to Tactical Nuclear Penguin. After losing Chris twice in one evening (a new record?) Grandmole took the rear station and I rode down but not at max attack. Actually “max attack” was impossible. TNP was seriously overgrown, such that you were riding in a complete tunnel of brushes with plenty of opportunity for head clonks and little idea of what was coming up.
It was now a beautiful warm calm evening as we rode up to Norbury Park. However with Mrs Grandmole needing picking up at the station at 10pm, GM was under a strict time limit and we had to miss out on a few plummet opportunities around Norbury. There was one last opportunity available as we blasted down the bridleway to the hazels. 12 miles, 2000ft climbing.
Two fabulous rides in one week. Excellent!