‘Chart’ is an Old English word for rough ground, though I’d like to think there was nothing ‘rough’ about the calibre of riders who pitched up for the return visit to a route we Moles first rode back in January.
Our local guide was, as before, Mat from Redhill CC; ably assisted by Gilly who made sure any stragglers didn’t stray too far from the planned route. From the Moles we had Elliot, SSJ, D-Dub, Duncan (who returned for his second Moles ride despite the carnage on his debut ride last week) and myself; with Laurent (or Fishybob to give him his ‘nom de forum’) also joining us from DOAMB.
We were expecting the trails to have quickened considerably since our mid-winter visit, and we weren’t disappointed. Knowing that they were fast and flowy, with little in the way of steep ups or downs, I gave the rigid-forked ‘dale single-speed another outing, relying on the 3” Maxxis Chronicle inflated to a mighty 7.5psi for any front end bounce. I also knew that Mat was likely to be riding his rigid-forked single-speed, a Planet-X Dirty Harry, so I didn’t think my choice of bike would see me too much out of my depth. Of course there were hills to negotiate, but only two of them saw me having to get off and push up for 30-40m or so. Kudos to Mat for riding all the way up both of them!
With a route almost identical to January’s, we started off with a fast run through some bomb holes, which did expose Duncan’s relative inexperience to off-road riding as he failed to negotiate some of the step ups that followed the downs. His antics did keep the rest of us amused though, so thanks for the entertainment. N.B. I feel that having provided much ‘entertainment’ myself over the years, I’m entitled to a little schadenfreude; sorry Duncan.
Camberwell Green is a trail who’s features are succinctly captured in its name, there’s plenty of off camber; and it’s, well, green … or at least bordered by a lot of greenery. This was a great trail, so good we rode it again on the return leg. Other familiar trails were also negotiated, with Handbag also being ridden twice. I had great fun in keeping up with the fully-sprung and geared riders in front of me as we swooped (in my mind’s eye) down the trail.
Somewhere along the way I noticed the sign informing us we had reached the Greensand Way’s half-way point, with Haslemere being 55 miles back to the West, and Hamstreet 55 miles to the East. The trails had a familiar Surrey Hills feel to them, but with mellower gradients than we’re used to. Having negotiated Handbag for a second time, the siren call of the Tudor Tea Rooms in Westerham could be clearly heard by all of us, and we eagerly set off down the fast road descent to the village.
On my last visit, I suffered from ‘cake envy’ with those who had chosen the carrot cake, so I knew exactly what I wanted. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, as it tasted great, but I couldn’t help thinking that SSJ’s and Elliot’s Chocolate Truffle cake looked even better. I know what I’ll be ordering the next time then.
As the Churchill statue on the green was in the middle of a restoration, surrounded by plastic and scaffolding, General James Wolfe (born: Westerham, 1727 – died: Quebec, 1759) at the edge of the green had to deputise. This gave us a perfect opportunity to bait Laurent with the French armies defeat at Quebec, though he could argue that they had the last laugh as Wolfe was killed in the battle.
It was time for the long road climb back up to the Greensand ridge, with an unsuspecting roadie providing the perfect target for Mat, Elliot and a fat-tyred SSJ to catch and pass on the ascent. We more or less retraced our steps along the same flowy singletrack, until we reached the cars to give us an excellent 25km, 500+m ride. We will be back for more, with maybe an evening ride giving us a chance to sample the ale at Westerham Brewery’s Carpenters Arms.