I suppose “The Loop” isn’t quite as descriptive as the “Killer Loop” but I kind of like the low key approach sometimes.
Rarely has there been as much debate about riding as there was this weekend. The Bank Holiday didn’t help as it just provided an option which in the end didn’t dilute the numbers too many – joining us were Colin, Tony, Barrie, Jez, Lee, JamesS, Matt, AndyC, Mark, Paul, Andy661 and James. The weather was the main factor here and I can confirm now that there was weather, lots of it, and it was wet.
The final plan was an early start at Bockets Farm, 8am, with a small core of riders setting out to complete “The Loop” with the rest doing a more normal ride. With this plan in mind we headed off toward Leith Hill with Colin and myself synchronising GPS routes to provide the navigation. This didn’t always work and I’d already forgotten how the route went as I drew it up over 6 months ago. The route follows, or at least pays homage to, the Nirvana Killer loop. We were riding from Leatherhead though and hence the miles were somewhat higher.
The route to Leith Hill was conventional, taking in Land Rover and the Rookery before turning right on Wolverns Lane before the Summer Lightning area and taking the long drag up to the foot of the Tower Hill. Initially the plan had been to skip tea at the Tower but being towards the back the front riders hadn’t quite got the message and hence the was a short stop.
Rain was now lashing down and the tower provided a wind break of sorts. Here we parted from Andy661 and James who were making their own way back to Bookham, while we took the quick route down to Leith Hill to High Ashes Farm. After a blast down the Mother we turned left to pick up a bridleway up onto Holmbury that I’d never done, which proved quite a challenge (following the original Nirvana loop at this stage).
Eventually we popped out on Holmbury Hill close to the start of Telegraph Row and we split from the main group with Colin, Tony, AndyC and myself setting out to take in Barry’s down towards Peaslake. The rain hammered down steadily now and my Five having been de-mud guarded was proving a handful in the vision department. Hopefully Matt and the others will comment on their ride as they had headed off to take in Park Life.
Quick fuel stop and a lustful look at a Gary Fisher 29er parked outside Peaslake Stores before we headed to Car Park No2 and the path to the Windmill. At this point Colin interjected a few fun sections. My navigation isn’t great over there but I think we did Christmas Pudding and Ewoks. All of it great stuff and luckily not adding to our mileage.
From now on I was in uncharted territory and apart from one slight hiccup where Colin had forgotten to change his GPS route, sending us up a small detour, we made steady progress over towards our next goal of Newlands Corner. Eventually we popped out by the Cricket Pitch and hooked up with our normal route. The weather was begining to get to us all now and the final climb up to the top found me and the bike losing sense of humour.
With warm drinks and bacon rolls being dished out the mood improved a little and in the shelter of the cafe awning it all felt OK. When we pushed off for home things changed though as the wind bit into the cold, soaked clothing. Colin blagged a waterproof off of Tony as he was starting to shiver badly and then tried to keep the pace brisk and direct as we could sense the final dash home. I’d long given up hope of doing the full 40 mile loop I’d set myself and we opted to ignore the left turn towards Effingham.
Standard route back, taking in Ogden Lane saw a final mileage of around 34 miles, 36 door to door for me. Given the conditions we all seemed pleased with what we’d achieved and I look forward to repeating the Loop, with the final section, with the sun on my back and a spring in my pedal stroke. Actually I’d just settle for no pain in my back! HRM said 5001 calories burned so I ate most of the rest of the day.
Splinter group update (from Matt)
Near the top of Holmbury our ride group split in half with Paul, Lee, Jez, Mark, Barrie, JamesS and myself opting to head back toward Bookham. Some of us (as I was) were time-restricted while others could see that the weather was closing in pretty quickly. In fact, having started out dusty we now had proper mud and puddles to contend with.
Yoghurt Pots was a bit of a challenge as a result, especially with my now very worn Panaracers – ideal in the dry as they’re nearly semi-slick but not so good in wet conditions over recently hard parked trails. One guy we got chatting to said he’d come back to Yoghurt Pots to try it for a second time after a blast down in the dry morning and couldn’t believe the difference!
After that it was on to Telegraph Road which was reasonably unaffected and we strung together a longish run all the way non-stop to the car park, then on down the road toward Raikes Lane. With the chill becoming apparent (I was cursing not having put my merino or zip off sleeves in my back pack) we opted to keep moving as briskly as we could to keep temperatures up. Fortunately we were all reasonably well matched for pace.
So, down Raikes Lane and along the Abinger Roughs to White Down where JamesS, Paul and Mark headed off to Dorking leaving just the four of us (Barrie, Lee, Jez and myself) to drag ourselves up White Down. Barrie suffered an agonising few minutes of cramp at the bottom but climbed back on the saddle to make the climb on his singlespeed. Me? I was spinning my gears quite comfortably!
Our final miles were characterised by cold rain and a pretty stiff headwind which finally started to bring down our core temperatures as we neared Bookham. All in though I managed 28 miles door to door, so not significantly less than the longer group but then again 6 miles can make all the difference in this weather. I was certainly glad to be back and was outside my door at 11:30am, so bang on time too. It was a quickish run home.
Couldn’t stop shivering for a long time though, in fact was so cold I couldn’t tell if the water in the shower was hot or cold. Very weird!
As with Dave though, I fully intend to take on the long loop when conditions allow.