Another Sunday, another ride but this time with something different for us all. Despite having lived and ridden this area for many years it sometimes takes a real local with a bit of patience to tease out trails which have been under our noses all the time.
Or put it another way, riding with different people throws up different routes.
Sunday morning and the Mole diaspora threw up Ian for the first time in ages and Rob who I haven’t ridden with for many a month either. Plus we had DaveS, JohnR, Paul901, AndyTurnerGuy, DaveC, JamesH and myself making up a nine-strong group despite several regular riders being unavailable.
We headed off toward Alsation with DaveC fancying China Pig at some point, so that meant a brutal climb up Alsation to Headley. Phew! I wasn’t going to catch JohnR today although I kept him in 20-yard range. It was going to be another warm ride that was for sure…
Heading up toward Tyrells Wood, Rob’s assiduous trail finding turned up the first nugget as we headed off onto Life on Mars, enjoyable uphill but clearly with plenty of flow in reverse. A few logs are there to catch you out though. At Tyrells we crossed the road and headed to the Cock Inn and then onto another short section of bridlepath which brought us out onto the Headley road.
We then started into Headley, through the the bombhole play area where I stacked it in silly fashion trying to avoid what I remembered was a dug-out crest to a small jump. Probably if I’d just committed I’d have been fine, instead a slowish but unexpected tumble over the bars followed, leaving me with a few more bruises.
Having dusted myself down, we picked up Gear Selecta!, Rob’s alternative route across Headley which provides a bit of flinty fun and a bit more variety to our norm. The novelty continued as we started for the far side of Headley only to duck into a short but testing section of deer track that had small humps followed by sharp dips, plus a chainring-mangling log. You don’t expect techy stuff on Headley!
We carried on, picking up a more familiar route to come out on the road to High Ashurst. Having stopped to fix Ian’s less-than-expertly-adjusted Turner 5-Spot’s headset we then pressed on up to the Box Hill Road.
Now, normally we’d take the Brockham descent straight down but Rob’s knowledge again came to the fore as he directed us onto a cheeky footpath run, dubbed Bat out of Hell, down to the Lime Kilns.
What a blast! Chalky gulleys at the top opened out into a sweetly flowing trail that had everyone grinning by the time we reached the bottom. It’s probably most people’s idea of a great trail, all smooth rollers and sweeping bends over a variety of surfaces. It went down very well and brought us past the old Lime Kilns to the bottom of the Brockham descent.
Here we traipsed along the A25, past the kennels and cattery and on back up to Box Hill. I like this climb, it’s quite a wobble along the edge of the field before turning into gently climbing doubletrack all the way up, then ducking into the trees again for a final half mile of singletrack. As I managed last time I was up here, I rode the steep initial section past the roots and fence without any problems.
At the top we took to the road for a short distance for a spot of cake and coffee at the Box Hill Tea Rooms and the chance to talk about… whatever. Which, generally is bikes, but not always!
At this point myself, JohnR, Ian and DaveS headed off as we needed an early-ish return. I’m guessing our route back mirrored what the others managed a bit later but I’m not sure.
Our target first off was China Pig, the second time I’ve been down there in a couple of days. Familiarity certainly helps but a bit of caution and attention to the trail is even better to keep the flow going. Even so, I was tired toward the end of a trouble free run of fast singletrack but was enjoying myself hugely.
By now we were back near Mickleham and another short section of tarmac had us at the A24 in no time, as the sun started to make it’s presence felt. We span our way steadily up the Norbury Park climb with Dave and John opting enthusiastically for the Radio Mast climb while Ian and I tracked round on the easier route. We met at the top and were soon back at the sawmill which has featured in many rides of late.
A quick run down the hill and it wasn’t long before we were back at the car park. In total today I clocked 21 miles door-to-door, so maybe around 18 for the ride itself but it certainly felt like a fairly brisk pace. I’d happily have taken a more circuitous route home but time was against me and we weren’t going to improve on Rob’s trails anyway at that point. All in all a really excellent morning’s riding.
Thanks very much to Rob for his guiding and decent explanations of what was coming up, much appreciated as we were all unfamiliar today. I just love being able to add to our knowledge of local trails!