Today was not a ride to wimp out of. It was a ride to take hold of and throw around with vigour.
OK, OK, I’ve had more wine that I might usually have had by this time on a Sunday afternoon but it was still a great ride. Conditions might best be described as sticky, in an slidey sort of way. Snow and ice still lurked out there to catch you out (See DaveW later in this report).
And so it was that on a fairly warm — by recent standards — Sunday morning we met up at Bocketts Farm to wait for the brave riders to gather. Jem and I joined DaveW in the car park and soon Roo tuned up with Tony, Colin, JohnR and Mark close behind.
As the clock ticked over 8:40 it became obvious that the Magnificent Seven were about to ride again and after some umm’ing and ahh’ing it was decided the the route that was most likely to provide a reasonable pace would be Newlands again.
We headed up the Admiral’s Track and I lamented how the Council — not sure who actually owns it so take that as a generic term for whoever is responsible — have literally destroyed the surface of the track in the name of accessibility. Now 4WD vehicles can get up there they do, and taking the old surface off has left it a muddy mess. It’s almost enough to make me an angry old man.
It was at this point the we turned into eight as Paul pushed his luck further than usual and joined us just before the descent under the wooden bridges. We pushed on chatting away and pushed hard up Yew Tree Lane. Psychologically I find the climb up to Ranmore can be my downfall but today wasn’t bad and the mud wasn’t bad up there either. The next debate was whether we stuck on the main track to Newlands or cut through the woods.
We opted to use Badger Run and Collarbone as a bit of a test to see what conditions were like. Conditions we pretty much as we though but by no means the worst mud I’ve seen this Winter and progress was steady. Snow has still been on the ground leading up to the Scout camp but this was easy to ride though, just a bit of a surprise after all the rain.
After we finished Collarbone and headed into the cut-through the snow gave us the first challenge of the ride as it was still deep and very icy. That behind us we settled in to cross over to the Reservoir and head for the woods and probably the mud.
I took the opportunity to try out my new pocket Samsung camcorder on a rooty bit of trail and the results can be seen above, which is amazing for the £80 it cost me. I do recall the first JVC GRC1 camcorder hitting Dixons window in Leatherhead and thinking what a marvel that was. Technology is an amazing thing! Just so long as there is a genuine reason for it!
The woods were less muddy than they could have been but there was still some ice to negotiate and in places the gloop was thick and traction difficult. Finally onto the main track we pushed on and I found myself at the head of the pack trying hard to take the SS to 20mph with bursts of high speed pedalling. They caught me on the uphill though and DaveW and I kept a steady pace up, swapping the lead as we made steady progress to Newlands and the bacon rolls.
Popping into Newlands we saw some brave souls in Lotuses (Loti? cf. James Hunt!) including an Excel and various designs of Esprit. Personally I reckon there must have been a massive sigh or relief from them that the snow had gone.
Sufficiently refuelled and having lost JohnR already for domestic duties, Mark and Colin began muttering about heading back on the road. We made it back en-masse to the concrete bowl that doubles as a wall of death and made our goodbyes.
By this time the Sun was shining strongly and the way back seem a little more slick and less grippy. DaveW demonstrated this as he elegantly left his bike to my left and flew through the air ahead of me to land in some still frozen snow on my right. I gave him 4.5 for artistic interpretation but I do think that later riders probably found it harder going.
Paul was low on energy by this point and by the time we had passed down Collarbone and Badger Run in reverse he was looking to roll back into Dorking and home. The final four headed back down Yew Trees and up under the Wooden Bridges. By this time I was knackered and I have to apologies to the two female walkers I passed doing some very heavy breathing.
All in all though a great ride in some changeable conditions and another 24 miles to notch up plus some 3600 calories burnt. Lubricant only got a passing mention…