I took a chance and posted up an alternative Hindhead Moles ride away from the more usual Bocketts Farm start, after reading that the forecast for Saturday 14th November was steady rain all day.
However, no rain was predicted for Sunday!
I really did not fancy a mudfest, slopathon, and have recently done two or three great exploratory rides around the much more sandy and faster draining ground around Hindhead and Frensham Ponds.
I love a bit of an explore and had worked out a very pleasant route that I hoped the Moles might like to join me on to dodge the local clag and to enjoy a welcome change of scenery.
Well 5 of them did. D’Dub. Elliot, JamesS and MarkP.
To be fair, with 40mph winds forecast by the silly old BBC weather centre and solid cloud cover I can’t blame people declining the opportunity to venture out. We were however most happily rewarded, with mild warm breezes and many breakthroughs of sun. There was a bit of light mud in a few places, but not much.
We set off from the near the National Trust cafe on Punchbowl and enjoyed the first of many lovely views from elevated outlooks.
Heading north on the west side and mostly following the ridge as it descends to Highcombe Bottom, we headed into the wood, and dropped into a stony tight track which can very easily be taken too fast, and is full of treacherous little traps for the unwary. The potential for mishap was verified during a chat afterwards over coffee back at the cafe with a friendly experienced local rider who had smashed himself on that very track.
Elliot casually mentioned later that he had found it slightly disconcerting on his singlespeed rigid bike, and it was quite a relief that it was not a particularly long section.
From there we crossed the Thursley Road, and headed along the south edge of Hyde Hillside till it opens out and on to our second rewarding view across to Kettle Hill. From there we enjoyed lightly sanded downhill trails across to Rushmoor anda few more lovely views after crossing the road and heading along behind some houses.
And on.. until we were halted at a junction on our planned trail route where the loggers had recently been enthusiastically furrowing huge trenches, which had of course filled with deep mud rendering our passage impossible.
Oh dear! I checked my Viewranger app and there seemed to be a way around. Little did I know, I would be happily leading the chaps into a horrible marshy bog. It looked okay, just reedy grass, but once in, it was ankle deep in most places, and an absolute bugger to cross.
DDub took the purposeful lead and forced a path through bog, and forded little streams, helping us and our bikes across. He’s a right tough trooper, closely followed by the stalwart and uncomplaining Elliot on his uncomfortable and unforgiving steed. Poor James was not succeeding any better on his lightweight fatbike often asked if going back would be a better solution! Mark’s expression said it all about his own progress.
Well we got through, and rejoined the planned trail, and a short time later it was a short and pleasant circumnavigation of Frensham Pond and a stop for food and drink and a use of the services at the closed cafe. Rather annoyingly, as we set to leave, they opened the cafe! Best make a note of that for next time…
The sun was in the sky… somewhere, and the air was practically warm, we felt very lucky to be out and about in these most pleasant conditions.
I get such a kick from open rides with views, and quite a workout. I practically, nearly, almost don’t miss the adrenaline filled gnar rides of my previous incarnation. It’s a different mindset, and these open country rides are literally brighter because with most of the gnar trails in the Surrey Hills you’re within the woods, or in my case, A+E.
To cut a long story short, we headed to Frensham Little pond and took the high trail around it where we were rewarded with… yes you guessed it, More fabulous views!
Across to the east side of north Punchbowl, and the the very long climb back to the top and eventually the gravel path which was by now frequented with many families and walkers, and couples. Just at the most populated bit, Mark P decided to amuse everyone with a display of his comedic timing skill, by falling off his bike and disappearing headlong into a bush. Apparently he was distracted by the stupendous sunkissed view. And luckily unharmed.
Our ride ended with coffee at the NT cafe.
30.5kms distance, 2hours 59mins moving time, and 511 metres of climbing. Nice.
I’ve recently put a Panaracer FatB Nimble 3inch 29er plus tyre in the back of my Chumba HX2, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. About 18psi of squish and no need for the thudbuster now so I’ve fitted my dropper, very handy.
We’ve all decided to do more biking around that neck of the woods over the winter months, and Matt, Jem, and Kev have also expressed their interest. I’ll do a few more exploratory solo rides so I can stitch together another happy route or two.