Today also proved to be a long ride; a very long ride. 29 miles from Bocketts Farm to Newlands Corner and back via Blackheath and Shere. At least 32 miles for most of us riding to and from the meet point.
New, and familiar faces
Today was also a day where people unfamiliar with us have no need to ask why we are called the Muddymoles. Mud was everywhere after a few days of rain had turned our reasonably free riding trails back to winter conditions. What a slog at times.
Talking of new riders, Ray joined us after making contact via the website and what a baptism of, er… mud! The other ten riders were myself, Lloyd, Elliot, MarkC, JR, Gordon, Lee, JamesW, Richard and eventually JamesS.
I felt bad for JamesS – he didn’t catch us until halfway down the Drovers Road having confirmed he was coming at the last minute. Absent mindedly, when JamesW turned up we all thought we had our James on board and set off! Ooops.
At least we stuck to a familiar route for James to eventually track us down. Our progress was steady, slipping and sliding in lots of places as we headed to Hogden Lane, up Pamplona (named after once finding an escaped bull on the bridlepath during a night ride! Yikes) and then the long climb to Ranmore.
An escaped pig
A pig – escaped we think rather than wild – was sighted by JR the day before near White Down Lane and improbably the group spotted it again today, although I will admit I missed it. It was keen to make itself scarce, obviously doesn’t trust cyclists.
Ray was somewhat hampered by both the mud and 9 enthusiastic riders who have been riding most of the winter. As I said, a baptism of mud! Still he kept the wheels turning and we managed to get an extended rest stop half way to Newlands when half the group decided to head down Sauvage and then ride back up from the sawmill.
This was JamesW, Elliot, MarkC and Richard but by the time the group arrived back at the top, they were missing Richard! So Lloyd and JR headed down to the sawmill, meanwhile Richard eventually arrived in the opposite direction and then JamesS finally found us!
So it all worked out for the best…
A no-drop policy
We pressed on, feeling a bit chilly but we soon warmed up. By the time we reached Newlands Ray was ready to call it a day so for once we waived our no-rider-left-behind policy as we still had plenty of riding to do. And… he wasn’t the only person this policy was waived for today…
A brief conference determined that we were mostly not under time pressure so we stuck to our original route. From Newlands, off the back toward St. Marthas and then Blackheath.
The mud was basically classic Surrey clay. Slick and greasy and requiring constant attention although as we climbed St. Marthas (ouch!) and then got onto Blackheath the surface is much more sandy. Hard work though. Thankfuly Elliot has a clear idea of where to go so we could follow him without too much head scratching about direction.
We eventually rode into Shere for a coffee stop, just short of a mutiny with 20 miles already showing on the clock, having ridden via Farly Green and Little London and then down to Dark Lane and the water ford. Gordon declined to test the capabilities of his gaiters, a disappointment for us all.
A non-keto, keto diet
Once at the Dabbling Duck we found a preference for bacon and egg butties rather than cake so we loaded up on bacon all round. No wonder that pig was so keen to avoid us! There’s keto diets and there’s keto diets…
During our stop, JamesS discovered that time pressure WAS something that applied to him, so he headed off. From 11, down to 9.
Getting going again, we had a range of options which involved variations on up. Here, or there, or there. We plumped for the White Down climb so that Elliot could enjoy the Abinger gates again and set off. The 9 riders were abroad.
What’s the collective noun for tired riders? Perhaps a slump of riders.
We were a weary 9 riders. A weary nine who were increasingly starting to calibrate exactly how much energy they had and how many miles they had left to cover.
Crossing Abinger, our no drop policy was tested again and found wanting. This time, JamesW texted to tell us not to wait on him – whether a mechanical issue or a leg power issue I’m not sure!
So the 9 became 8. Eight tired riders to climb White Down, reduced to our individual circles of pain. It must be good for us right?
We tracked back to Ranmore and found several trees down along Collarbone, requiring a clamber over I could have down without, then headed down Big Babba Yagga, slippy and slidey as always. At the bottom, MarkC announced he was heading back up to Ranmore to shortcut the Bocketts loop as ultimately he needed to be back in Dorking. Down to 7.
The last mile or two around Polesden was populated by hoards of walkers, I’m not sure if it was simply because we were past the lunch period or if there was some kind of event on. My legs were hurting, having covered over 100 miles this week for the first time in a months.
We finally rolled into the Bocketts car park with only Lloyd, Richard, Elliot and myself, having waved off JR, Gordon and Lee at Polseden. It was close to 2:00pm, an unusually long ride for us, both distance and time. I don’t remember the last time we got back that late.
All that said, I thoroughly enjoyed my days efforts. It was great to have such a large group and every one was in very good spirits despite 32 miles and about 2,750 feet of climbing.