What a difference 4 days make. After the dust of Wedensday night, a couple of days of rain had changed the trails completely. Nevertheless there was a good turnout of Moles in the sunday morning sunshine – Keith (sufferring from servere dehydration), Barrie, DaveC, Andrew, MarkW, KevS (back from injury), Jez, PaulM (on time!!) and myself.
DaveC was the man with the plan so we all followed him along Admirals trackway to Polesden. The recent rain had certainly changed the trails. Whilst still essentially hardpacked the top inch of soil was now mud, turning it into a slippy gloopy mess with the occasional slightly larger pool of standing water.
Spinning up to Polesden, it was a beautiful, with a slight nip in the air. Although Keith seems to be a bit under the weather, maybe the hospitality at Twickenham yesterday was taken a little too freely?
Heading round Polesden I was very surprised to see DaveC take us down towards Pamplona but instead of turning up we continued up Hogden lane, certainly not his favourite route. This is a strange climb, not steep but with a rocky surface that saps your momentum such that you have to keep concentrating and pedalling hard the whole way up. DaveC and MarkW set a steady pace until about the midway point when Barry and I sneaked past and showed the advantage of all those recent road miles as we stretched out from the pack.
At the top of Hogden it was straight on, up to Ranmore and down to Collarbone, which was a test of balance and root avoidance. From Collarbone we headed across Whitedown to Abbas Abba where MarkW showed us he had the biggest cajone of the day by heading straight down and rounding the tree no problem. Although the off camber afterwards nearly got him. Jez went for it too, then had a “moment” but was OK.
The rest of us, lead by KevS and myself, were confirmed Gallus Gallus and took the easy option. With the rain and slippy roots even these options weren’t easy. Half way down a innocuous section took Barry out and he went down hard. Unlike his last spill on WhiteDown he was fine, but his mojo was now somewhere north of Middleborough, not in the surrey hills. Certainly his tyres, Conti Speed Kings, weren’t helping and another front wheel wash out in front of the standing audience did nothing for his confidence, but a lot for our entertainment. However we all made it down in one piece.
Next was a quick spin to Westhumble followed by High Med, which we climbed at a good but steady rate. At the top of Ranmore DaveC took us along to TheThereWereThree, via the muddy bridleway. ThenThereWereThree was certainly more tricky then Wednesday night, brakes just had to be covered and you had to ease the bike around the corners. It was still damn good fun though!
From TheThereWereThree it was across to BoxHill and the relentless face (The NorthWest Face?) climb. Barry was having middle ring chainsuck and impressively rode the whole way up out of the saddle. At the top we stopped for tea and cake, with our exertions leaving us steaming in the sunshine, although Barry was steaming about the cafe prices and he hadn’t even paid for his tea!
MarkW and PaulM headed off back to Dorking to get some Mothers Day brownie points, especially MarkW who was showing his NewMan cred by baking a Victoria Sponge. I hope it when well Mark!
Rather than chancing an arm or two down China Pig, we opted for the muddy Bridleway across the health to the top of secret singletrack. Barrie and Jez peeled off for Ashstead/Epsom. Feeling confident I headed off first down SS and encouraged by DaveC behind me, I hung it out, even getting some air near the bottom and at the finish I had a short wait for the others to arrive. Back across the bridleway to the Nower carpark, winter had returned and it was a muddy grind.
Finally we slid down Life on Mars, accasionally getting corners right, then freewheeled down Alsation. DaveC was in front of me and near the bottom, his bike looked to be slightly out of control. It turned out to be a puncture and as we looked to fix it I lept to action with a ready made worm. Although a fairly big split the worm held first time. Worms are great when they work first time, so easy and so quick. Great tech.
The final challenge of the day was getting across the A25. It was so busy that a car had to stop to give us a chance of getting over. The world and his wife were out for Mothers Day!
As we stopped at the bottom of Alastion to fix DaveC’s tyre the chat came around to the unspoken MTB omerta (to non biking other halves), the cost of running MTBs. Don’t do a car style – pence per mile calculation! With this in mind we met up with a rider on a Specialised Epic S-works waiting to cross the A25 too and he had us in shock with a tale of a recent £400 service on his bike!
I peeled off for Leatherhead as the remaining riders headed back up to Bocketts farm. It had been a great, although technical ride, with a real taste of spring in the air.