Anyone who managed to ride over the weekend in the South East will tell you how hot it was. The description ‘Bar-B-Q weather’ was never more apt, especially on the Saturday when Cathie and the girls went out. By Sunday things had cooled a bit (we even had – gasp! – a few drops of rain at the start) but it was still a hot and humid ride.
Setting out from Bockett’s were D’AndyC (who wasn’t really there), DaveC, Paul901, Tony, Emily, ErickM, JamesS and myself. All I knew was I wanted to avoid the Box Hill area since there they had a Village Day there, so it was off to Leith Hill instead.
We soon found that despite the brief spattering of rain the day was going to be only a little cooler than Saturday’s scorcher and those of us who had ridden either Friday or Saturday could really feel the hot weather taking it’s toll as we climbed up to Yew Trees.
The ride up to Ranmore stretched us out further as Tony and I chatted our way up the climb and by the time we reached the Ranmore Road, Emily had decided we were going too fast for her today! I hate to see riders have to abandon the ride but it was probably a good call by Emily as we had some long miles ahead of us. She wouldn’t be the only rider who suffered on the ride either!
We headed on toward the LandRover descent, approached with a bit of circumspection on account of the short shower but in fact it was fine all the way down. After the chance to catch our breath at the bottom we crossed over toward Westcott and the Rookery climb.
My bike is currently creaking badly on account of the various suspected issues. Pivot bearings are likely to be contributing something but I think the drivetrain needs a few replacement parts (middl ering, chain, cassette and jockey wheels for a start) as the creak is most pronounced under hard pedal loads. This was certainly the case as Tony found me on his tail all the way up the – now easy – Rookery climb. It really wasn’t my knees…
Along Wolverns we headed and then on past Summer Lightning to the bombhole area. If you say it quickly it doesn’t take long but it’s quite a distance, gently but steadily uphill. The bombholes were riding great and we were soon at Deliverance where we had a closer look at some of the less extreme lines down.
Not fancying the climb back up we carried on through the humps and dips near the cricket ground, Dave finding a nice line through which felt ideal. Then he took us further off-piste on a nice bit of singletrack that edged us ever nearer the Tower. At this point D’Andy peeled off as he needed to get home early.
It wasn’t long before we were starting the climb up, passing two attractive female horse riders on the way. Their mounts made easy work of the Tower climb while the rest of us stalled or span out apart from me who managed a very wide (but easier) line up and round. I had to resort to the granny ring though.
After tea and cake at the Tower we were just heading off to Personal Hygiene when a shout of ‘Muddymoles!’ came from Rich who was leading his DoMTB crew to the same spot and then on to Redlands.
After riding Personal Hygiene fine I stalled at the top for some reason for a tow-dab (must have been the audience!) before heading down and on to join the rest of the Moles. We settled on the climb up and back to the cricket ground before another rendezvous with Rich and co. at Deliverance.
Pressing on down the rooty track toward Waggledance it took a fair bit of concentration over the dips and bumps before picking up Waggledance proper. This was riding really nicely for me today and I soon picked up Dave’s wheel tracks. We then rolled straight into Summer Lightning in an effort to keep some flow going.
Again, things felt great, I’m trying to actually go slower and get more of a feel for the trail rather than pinging off turns, roots and rocks. Not easy but I’ll keep practising. Oddly I think you end up going faster, or at least more smoothly.
The second section of Summer Lightning saw us having to wait while three riders rode UP Summer Lightning. This was not cool, dangerous as hell for the riders coming up and for any heading down as you just don’t expect bicycle-shaped obstacles to be there.
In fairness, they really didn’t know it was one-way as there’s no signage at the bottom end but I’m very glad I hadn’t just tried to string the first and second sections together and decided to wait for the others instead. A nasty accident avoided as a flat-out bike down there would have met them head-on.
So I was a little wary as I led the others down (after parting from James) but the trail was riding beautifully and was a real hoot. I carried straight on to the final section and was panting good and hard at the end. It’s a very physical way to go riding.
By now Erick and Paul were starting to show the effects of the combination of hot weather and hard ride. We headed on toward Wolverns as high speed and I was really starting to enjoy myself.
Our plan was to take the rocky gully and brick alley back into the back of Westcott which turned into a fairly technical effort as the trail was heavily overgrown with bracken. Oh, and nettles. Some of us noticed there were nettles along there!
Despite that there was some nice, controlled, noodly riding through there to get down onto the farmland back to Westcott and we were soon back in the village. At this point it was a choice of MacPherson’s Mount or High Mediterranean but I don’t think anyone seriously fancied the MacPherson’s slog. So, just as we were heading off toward the trackway we met a couple of female riders on a Cyclepath 22 inspired ride from Woking to London via Dorking.
After we’d established they were a) confused by the signage, b) not planning to take the train from Dorking and c) map-less we offered to show them the trackway into Dorking so they accompanied us for the next couple of miles or so.
It’s not until you ride up the trackway of High Mediterranean with a couple of hybrid equiped riders that you realise how bumpy it would be for them! I hope they weren’t shaken around too much and that they found their way after we left them!
We were by now, a slowing group, with Paul and Erick quite tired. We had little left to do though as we rolled back down Yew Trees at a comfortable pace. The suffering of the Polesdon climb was soon dispatched and that was pretty much that for the day. I think everyone knew they’d had a ride that’s for sure.
All in all, 24-odd miles on one of my favourite routes.