This weekend saws us head back once more to the cracking trails up on Western Ranmore, after opting for a Holmbury classic last week. So if this feels like a very similar ride report to a recent one I apologise, but that’s just the way it is!
Our numbers this week were boosted with Matt and Jilly joining us from Reigate CC, they arrived at Bockett’s Farm just as I did, the only difference being I’d ridden about a mile from home whereas they had ridden over from Reigate! Also joining us once again was Bix, who is probably wondering if we actually ride anywhere other than Western Ranmore.
The rest of the group was rounded out with DaveC, Karl, DaveW, James, Elliott, eJem, D’Andy and a late arriving JohnR – so late in fact that he joined us up at Polesden. As with last week we headed down Hogden Lane before turning up Pamplona and back on to Yew Trees for the ride up to Ranmore.
Once on Ranmore we picked up the top section of Wire in the Blood (I’ve been told all sorts of dire things about the second half but am yet to try it) and from there made our way along Badger Run and Collarbone to the top of White Down. I’m running Black Chilli Mountain King tyres, but the newly dampened conditions didn’t really fill me with confidence as we hit the trails today. Fortunately it got drier as the ride went on.
Everything was pretty straightforward up to this point as we set off down Trouble in Paradise, but it soon showed us why I called it that when DaveC, closely followed by Karl both stacked it on the fallen tree. It was graceful enough and painless enough (as a bystander) for it to be quite funny, requiring John’s camera to record the tangled aftermath.
Once we’d stood them back up again it was on to the North Downs Way and then the Drovers Road as we targeted Bingo Bingo Dave.
On Wednesday night this was lovely and dry but this morning it had enough of a sheen of moisture to slow me up, not helped by having to stop to remove a branch from the rear mech.
Jem was lurking in the bushes to record us passing but all I could see were his legs sticking out, looking for all the world’s as if a murder had taken place. I minced a little and managed to clout one tree quite hard, taking a chunk out of it with my handlebars while those ahead steamed down. Further back Bix made an in-depth study of the Rhododendrons!
So things hadn’t quite gelled for my on BBD but Wonderland felt much nicer as, Ddub, DaveC and myself formed a three bike chain. I really enjoy Wonderland but that off-camber section in the middle is a bit off putting – again my tyres feeling a bit vague around the edges.
BBD – check!, Wonderland – check!… next! A long climb up to the Drovers Road again led us to our next trail, Sawmill. The climb was a nice steady effort to pick up Sawmill, quite an even gradient all the way up and it turned out Sawmill was way better than I expected today. It was running really nicely and this time I even managed to make all the turns instead of finding new off-piste lines, which was a bonus.
Back down to Honeysuckle Bottom after that, we bumped into a perfectly timed Lloyd on what was supposed to be an easy ride but was clearly not. I wonder if his wife thinks he’s still going out for ‘gentle’ rides?! We then dispatched the other, slightly easier climb back to the Ranmore ridge for the delights of No Name. This trail might lack a name but it is a decent aperitif for Petrol Pump. Andy got the full flavor however with a bruising tumble from his rigid singlespeed, mercifully with no harm done.
By the time we’d regained the ridge for the third time (we managed around 3000 feet of climbing today), we were ready for a tea stop. It’s almost serendipitous that the nicest venue we’ve found recently for food and drink is near the bottom of the lovely Petrol Pump.
I followed Elliott and Karl down to the road, both of whom were riding very well and gradually pulling away from me, leaving me in the lucky position of a clear run, with no-one close behind either. I realised at one point that I could catch Elliott and Karl but it needed too much over-riding for it to make sense and by then they were clear.
We all trundled along to Tillings cafe for our respective cake of choice and for good measure managed use our break to insult the long-suffering D’Andy in a variety of ways, none of them very flattering. He prefers to let his riding do the talking, as his bruises show!
The only downside with a large cake infusion is the start immediately afterward is painful and unavoidable. We set out on the return leg sedately, but it was a mile or two before we’d feel comfortable again. By then, the White Down climb was looming, even if this week we were spared the off-road Marathon runners. This lack of impediment didn’t seem to help me in anyway, but I made it to the top without having to deploy the emergency badger.
We just had time to squeeze in a couple of final trails, Little Endor showing that it’s slowly becoming more defined with each passing week even if it’s still a bit too close to being thrashed with birch sticks for me as we plunge through the undergrowth. Next it was Rip van Winkle, a cheeky little trail which is quite technical in places.
I was following DaveC but for some reason I decided not to get too close while he filmed Matt with his GoPro. This turned out to be A Good Choice, as they were doing well until we hit the last tricky section and Dave’s bike snapped suddenly sideways. How he managed to avoid a big and painful tree hugging exercise I don’t know but Lady Luck was shining on him I think.
By the time we got back to Bookham we had over 25 miles racked up and lots of hills behind us, which prompted Lloyd, Andy and JohnR to head of to Cafe Domestique for a post-ride coffee while we returned to the car park.
That was good riding everyone!!