Poor James! Arriving at the Bocketts roundabout at my customary 0840 I glanced towards the car park and it seemed devoid of Moles. I thought I had cut things just a little bit too fine this time, and had missed the pack.
But as I drew nearer I realised there was a solitary James, the only Mole not put off by last week’s jaunt to Holmbury and Winterfold.
After a few minutes waiting for any Moles more last minute than me (unlikely I know), we agreed on doing the Newlands loop and set off – just late enough to spot a solitary Jez just appearing up the long climb from the farm. So we set off down the usual route as a paltry threesome.
This time we took the road beside Polesden under the two bridges and continued down it to Polesden Farm, before climbing the track up the hill towards the little cottage. It was here that James noticed his rear tyre was nearly out of air and we stopped for a well deserved breather and a new inner tube.
Then up Ranmore and down Whitedown for the standard Abinger Roughs route. Grip was generally poor, with the recent heavy rain and mist saturating the ground. But with just three of us we made decent time along the back of Shere, especially as we got to the better drained sandy areas. And before long the joys of Water Lane were beckoning us up the chalky path to Newlands, a climb that was all the more enjoyable for spotting a couple of riders ahead which was incentive enough to keep the pace up.
Newlands Corner itself was foggy, damp and getting increasingly gusty, so we took shelter near the counter and enjoyed the free mince pies the ladies at the tea counter were giving out to loyal or foolhardy customers. That didn’t stop Jez from also enjoying a bacon and egg bap – but he had cycled further than James and I.
Heading home along the NDW we were accosted by a man with a small fluorescent dog, who turned out to be trying vainly to pump up the tyre on his electrical assist mountain bike. Don’t you just love the links to other articles?!
Eventually we worked out that his pump wasn’t the problem, he’d got a pinch flat in the new inner tube and had ripped huge hole in his tyre – so having got a little air in he decided to slowly head back home to Gomshall.
I must admit to being a bit sniffy about the place of electric MTBs, but meeting somebody who has knee problems and can only get out on the hills at all because they have an electric bike makes me see they do have a part to play.
By the time we had finished the ride along the slimy Drovers Road we were all victims of the black pox – and James also had evidence of a particularly acute attack of Dehli belly down the back of his shorts. So in sodden condition we parted ways with Jez on Ranmore Road and took the Yew Trees route home for a total ride of 24 miles and a gentle 2000ft of climbing.
It was slippery, it was foggy, it was windy, but it was surprisingly fun. I don’t expect next Sunday will be much drier.