Another day, another hard frost overnight—although not as hard as the previous day which saw hoar frost riming the trees all day—meant another fast ride in near summer conditions of grip.
I was in my element. Nine of us set out from Bocketts Farm (if you will then, Dave, Jem, Jez, Lee, Tony, Andy, Toby, Chris and myself) for an early meeting with Alsation, this time as a gruelling climb rather than Wednesday’s quick decent. Not much fun and I didn’t see many of us smiling as we slogged up. But the weather was cold and the ground frozen which was something at least.
Tony’s wife saw deer on the same bit of track the day before as you can see in the photo, we were far to busy keeping our breakfasts down! But after Alsation things improved as we headed past the golf course and over to Epsom Downs, via the fast and rocky doubletrack from the pub at Headley. I should know its name but my mind is blank I’m afraid.
After that we took the super fast singletrack all the way to the back end of Epsom racecourse where we split with Jez. His house is not far away and he had ridden over to Bookham after all so we’ll let him have that one! As if he needs the exercise.
The singletrack may prove to be the first place for me to rediscover my mojo after my accident in the summer, although with leading up nine riders I may have just been scared into going quick to avoid holding people up! All the same, I was quick all the way down what must be a mile of fast, flinty, rocky gulleys, even managing to jink quickly through an S-bend that brought my dodgy shoulder scarily close to an outcropping tree.
I wasn’t exactly in control all the way down the trail but I was quick all the same, even having time to notice the sweat on my face at the bottom of the trail while I waited for the others to catch up. Not bad when the weather is so cold.
From there we worked our way back to Stane Street and onward with the intention of making Box Hill. And work it certainly was with lots of short sharp climbs which I will gladly forego when the thaw sets in. Holmbury is on my list of preferences for next week with Newlands Corner the week after!
On the way we picked up another cracking piece of singletrack which starts halfway down the decent off Mickleham and spits you out at the bottom of Chainbreaker. A dodgy off camber trail all the way, it really is a test of nerve not to ‘Look to your right, Sam’* as your bike wants to follow the incessant urgings of gravity. At the end of it is a technical steppy S-bend round a stout fallen beech tree that managed to catch one of us out today (thankfully not me!).
After that we slogged our way up Juniper Top, still snow covered despite the quickly warming temperatures and with lots of runners and walkers (and a few sledgers). I think at this point sheer bloody-mindedness was setting in as we had our sights set firmly on the tea room at Box Hill.
Fueled by date slice and tea it was a straight-forward (but tired) tramp home via Norbury Park to register another great ride. Thanks for everyone’s good humour and company as some of us made it up as we went along but I reckon it turned out fine in the end!
* A quote from Frasier Crane to Sam in Cheers. Always amuses me and my brother…