The lead photo shows a group of dead bikes, shortly after their riders perished in the heat. It was hell out there, bring back the rain!
…yeah…OK, I’m joking!
Probably not the best day to chose to put in a big loop but hey, why the hell not. Mountain Mayhem beckons and it’s good to know that we can do close to the distance of four laps (if not the altitude gain) back to back.
12 Moles assembled at the earlier time of 8:00am, myself, Matt, Tony, JohnR, BigAl, Karl, MarkyMark, Steve, Ray, JonH, Jez, PaulM. Paul was on his first ride on a Niner Jet 9 and a very fine bike it looked. The plan I had was to head towards Newlands Corner, turn left at some point and take in Peaslake and head back to Newlands from there. A brief discussion with BigAl uncovered a desire to head to Holmbury and try to crack JonH’s Strava time on one of the sections of Telegraph. So, the plan was hatched.
We headed off to Polesden, headed down towards Hogdens Lane, maybe with some protest from Matt but it was quite quiet and he need not have worried, we climbed back up using Pampalona and on to Ranmore. We had a slight confusion as we lost JonH, BigAl and JR so Tony headed up Hogdens while the rest of us used Yew Trees.
From Ranmore we took in Badger Run, Collarbone and headed for the AZ complex where JonH lost half a point for hesitation and had to come back for another go. The rest of us took in the option and Matt headed down BT2 followed by a few others. The easier line of Numbskull lead to BT where Matt and I headed to the right and then diverged over the roots before meeting back at the road where Ray was waiting.
We made our way across Abinger Roughs before heading to Raikes Lane on the bridelway from Paddington Farm. There Al lead us into the car park and climbed up towards the start of Yoghurt Pots. Here MarkyMark, known for his weather features, agreed with me when I fed him his own line about it being drier then Ghandi’s sandal. (this was later confirmed when I took my helmet off at home and saw the dust line). Before taking in Yoghurt Pots we headed to the trig point where many riders died followed by their bikes (see opening photo). Actually it was a cracking day, beautiful views and summer like conditions.
I rattled off a personal best down Yoghurt Pots although I, allegedly, held Matt up! Pretty much straight into Telegraph Row where I quite like the new, higher line, that appears to be forming after the tree stump dip. As I commented later, the line directly in front always works for me! So we headed towards BKB but I had another side wall cut on a Maxxis Crossmark which although I love the tyre dearly I think has put a nail in the coffin for me.
Tube in, we took in BKB which was running well although, and I haven’t actually checked, I suspect JohnR blew my time away again! Refueling commenced at the store and ended with the group splitting as Matt, Tony, Jez and JR headed back up under strict curfew.
A little more route planning with BigAl’s help and a desire from me to take in Eric as we headed to meet up with Pond Lane. Climbing up past the church we headed directly to the trig point and while MarkyMark dealt with his excitement in the bushes we commented again on the heat. Excitement dealt with, Eric was dusty and slidey but in good shape if getting a trifle worn in places, one of my better times as well. Up towards the windmill on the road we darted left and climbed past the corpse drop before hanging right and taking in the singletrack leading towards Clawhammer. Clawhanger hung in the balance as we forked left to take in Secret Santa before riding the river towards Pond Lane.
Pond Lane only has one dandy section in now so progress was swift and we were soon back on well ridden trails towards the back of Albury. Here the sand has started to dry out but I’ve ridden it in much worse conditions so it was still riding well. Stingers were starting to show their teeth though!
The climb up to Newlands was bound to be hot but having complete the steep section and turning left the sun started to reflect off the chalk surface with a vengeance. The stop at the cafe was short but useful as we took on more fluids and I stretched! Heat was high and it wasn’t long before we decided to head for the trees and relative cool of the track back. We kept it simple, just two revolutions of the concrete bowl, and a steady pace along the B.O.A.T.. Reaching Ranmore again JonH chirped up that he fancied trying Dearly Beloved and so he and Al took off to do that while the rest of us, now starting to wilt, headed back down Yew Trees. I was now on my water bottle as I’d drained my 3l bladder and really starting to tire.
Not as tired as Karl apparently as he missed the left turn towards the two bridges and came back up to have another go. Back at the car park we said our thanks and goodbyes and headed home.
I could have called this post “three words” as by the time I put the bike way, got inside and three words was all I could coherently string together until I’d had a little rest and some scrambled egg. Cracking ride!