With the sight of snow falling as I peered through the blinds this morning I knew it heralded a testing ride; for body as well as soul. Although to some degree, I took comfort that the night’s harsh frost would have left crunchy and crisp trails for us to plunder. However as I left the house, with snow now making way for hard sleety rain, I did stop and wonder whether I might be better off back in bed.
As I inched along Kennel Lane with the freezing rain giving me the sort of wake up call only the SAS can surely enjoy, I followed tyre tracks in the freshly laid snow giving me hope that another Mole was up for some punishment. As Bocketts Farm came into view, with only a couple of minutes to spare, the shape of a lone Dave silhouetted against the threatening sky suggested I wasn’t the only one to harbour desires for a weather-induced lie in. Soon though we were joined by Tony, Jez and Jem, but Mr I’ll-be-out-whatever-the-weather Colin, was conspicuously absent.
After a few weeks of avoiding the worst of the Ranmore mud, we decided that a change is as good as a (skiing) holiday and headed over to Polesden Lacey, down the Yew Trees descent and up the track to Ranmore Road. It didn’t take too long to realise that any hope for hard, crunchy trails was just a pipe dream as mud, standing water and some snow patches was very much the order of the day. That section of the ride passed without incident and gave us all a chance to warm up after a chilly start. Dave seemed to make short work of the climb despite the switch down to a 19-tooth ring out back on his singlespeed.
From the road, we passed the Scout site and squelched along the North Downs Way, veering off down Land Rover for a white knuckle descent where speed was your friend and foe in equal measure. A brief stop to wipe the tears from our eyes, we saw a familiar figure emerge on the horizon. It was Colin who, as it turned out, must of miscalculated his arrival time at Bocketts and left without us. A few jibes later, we set off up the trackway back towards Ranmore Church and Denbies House where we descended back to the A24, but not before a combination of wet roots, leaves and frozen fingers saw a few of us struggle with the tight right-hander above the vineyard.
We said farewell to Jem at the underpass and the rest of us dug deep into our souls and found some resolve for the climb up the flint track to Boxhill cafe where the promise of hot drinks and flapjacks gravitated us to the top. With the cafe shrowded in a blanket of fog (I half expected Steve McQueen to appear) and the rain beating down it wasn’t a surprise to see we’d be dining alone. With body temperatures falling outside of a thermal imaging camera’s range, we saddled up and headed for the descent down Little Switzerland, which left facial features brittle to the touch. With the homing beacon ringing loud in our ears and rain running down our necks, we cut through Mickelham and back along the A24 towards hot showers and sugary goodness.
Roughly 17 miles under tyre was a pretty good effort in testing conditions and being home well before midday will have no doubt earned a few brownie points too.