Actually, the only hiatus has been in writing up our exploits; we’ve been riding just as much as we’ve always been, as a perusal of the Rides Forum will show. It’s just, well, it takes time to write up reports and personally I’ve been pretty busy.
So this is by no means going to be an exhaustive account of today’s activities, hampered as I am by an incident this afternoon with the secateurs, but here goes.
Convening at Bocketts Farm as usual were Elliott, MarkP, DDub, D’Andy, JamesS and myself. The initial suggestion was for a winch and plummet ride but after a couple of damp days (including some moisture overnight) I was in the mood for Newlands. As luck would have it, so were the others although D’Andy pressed for a climb up St. Marthas.
The long way round it was then.
So off we went. Along Admirals, then up to Polesden and a run down to Pamploma, followed by the long climb to Ranmore. The trails have held up well so despite softening they are still pretty good.
Wire in the Blood however was dispatched somewhat cautiously with my rigid Plus bike (the Marin Pine Mountain) but actual grip was good if you showed some respect to the roots. From there it was along the Ranmore ridge to tackle Abba Zabba, with progress being nicely paced.
The Abba Zabba complex was fun, again caution kicked in and I decided against Blind Terror, while crossing the White Down road to the other side also needed care over the chalky step but the whole run down to the bottom was controlled and enjoyable. Somehow we managed to pick up the lower slopes of (I’m guessing) Reformation which made a pleasant change.
White Down road itself was littered with rain run-off and debris so things were a bit cyclocross for the many roadies riding up and down it but we were soon on the Abinger Roughs and heading toward Shere.
By the this the sun made a welcome autumnal appearance which was a bonus based on various weather reports. Negotiating many runners on a charity event meant a bit of consideration was needed but everyone was in good spirits as we headed toward Farley Green and then on to Black Heath.
The sandy surface here belied the overnight rain and thanks to Elliott’s confident navigation we made good progress; having travelled the same route with DaveC a few weeks back I think we’d have managed to find our way anyway but with much more umm’ing and ahh’ing in the process.
All this served to deliver us to the bottom of St. Martha’s Hill and the opportunity to drag ourselves up the tricky climb which is quite rough in places and unrelentingly steep. Oh for an Alpine uplift.
I made the right choice letting James past me as he and Elliott pulled away from me easily despite James being on his Canyon fat bike. My Marin weighs a ton but I managed a dab-free effort and was grateful of the chance to rest while waiting for the others, before we continued up to St. Martha’s church itself (I’ve never been right to the top!). Then it was back down a cheeky downhill, dodging an excitable dog before the final drag on the road up to Newlands Corner.
Just for a change I settled on a Big Al special at Newlands, an egg and bacon roll to help fuel me for the second part of the ride. Unusually, no sign of Nick and Graham at Newlands, which is very surprising!
Our return was back along the North Downs Way, thankfully at a sensible, sociable pace after my cafe consumption. Along the way, we sampled the pleasure of No-name and the painful grind back up as a reward of sorts, before the Sawmill trail. I was following Mark who was on a lovely new Yeti 575 and was happy to be keeping him in sight when he took a nasty tumble on the final rooty section, bashing his knee and wrist quite badly and painfully.
After assessing the damage Mark was able to continue, which meant a long drag back up to the Drovers Road via some interesting detours where various trees and vegetation have collapsed over the summer. We even saw (but didn’t document) some bright orange bracket fungus.
Back on the Drovers Road, it was a steady spin back to Ranmore, then a final bit of fun of Ricin Beans which we were happy to show to a lone guy out scouting the area. I had great fun staying with D’Andy all the way down who was taking a decided ‘speedway’ approach to the turns as he clearing wasn’t feeling the love from his tyres.
Final mileage was just over 30 miles for me on a ride that suited the Marin reasonably well. The Kenda Havocs feel like they will be a liability if (and when) the trails soften further but I’m sticking to my hope things will stay in good shape until at least November! Thanks for the company everyone as always.
Oh and that secateur incident this afternoon? There I was lovingly tending my rampant bush when a moments inattention lead me to put a 5mm slice into the pad of my middle finger. How it bled…