15 riders gathered to head off together onto the Surrey Hills this morning. Quite where we were heading wasn’t immediately apparent.
When Jem and I arrived at the car park there was a bit of a weigh-in going on as Paul901 had his scales hanging off his bike rack. It’s a great way to upset people!!
As the chat was in full flow I started by checking to see if Matt had a route; nope. Then I asked Colin; nope. On that basis I suggested as we’d been East two weeks ago, West last week then it must be South today. Initially Leith Hill came up, could anyone remember the way round the back of Westcott? Several blank looks.
So how about we do the Leith, Holmbury, Abinger Roughs route in reverse? This seemed to meet with some approval and so we head of in that general direction with a plan to head down White Down. Present were Matt, Jem, Colin, JamesPro, Ray, D’Andini (The Great), OtherDave, MarkW, Ian, Jez, Keith, Erick, Paul901, Tony and myself.
Jem was nursing a non-working thumb after an off in the week so I was steering the route away from anything too hairy. Having said that it turned out to be a great route and I could see smiles from riders old and new as personal achievements were exceeded.
So I found myself with Jez at the front of a pack of 15 riders as we picked our way towards Polesden Lacey and under the two wooden bridges. With a bit of moisture under the tyres there was just a small question mark over the amount fo grip we might find. As I lofted the Spider over the drainage gully I was confident and nailed the downhill making sure it was clear for those behind.
Managing to carry speed up the other side, I stayed ahead of Jem for a fair way before he and the other whippets got the better of me. At the Ranmore Road we gathered up and it was pleasing to see the pack re-group without too much delay.
I pushed forward again with the lead pack as we turned toward Scouting for Boys before turned left in formation along Badger Run and then Collarbone. With a slight gradient I was able to roll past Jem as the 29er wheels proved their trail flattening, fast rolling qualities again.
Regrouping at the top of White Down was even quicker and we quickly headed down as I watched JamesPro dance his Inbred across the trail in front of me. More grins at the bottom of White Down and we crossed over the field with the big ruts catching a few of the more Senior Moles out, causing a bit of bunching at the back.
The route through Abinger Roughs then threw down an option that the Nocturnal Moles used on the Solstice ride. This sent as a bit further towards Newlands Corner before turning left and coming into Holmbury from the West. A trail first for me and one I found excellent before picking up the back of one of the Reservoir trails and heading towards Barry Knows Best.
A quick check to see who hadn’t done BKB showed a couple of hands. We quickly discussed the main things to look for and then I set off hot in pursuit of the Great D’Andini. BKB always fills me with a great sense of glee as I get reminding of the great first section before we hit the new berms at the end. Try as I might I could sometimes close on D’Andini but never fully hassle him and I contented myself with frantically trying to get my pedals right going round the berms.
As the team rolled up at the end a few of us headed back up for a second run while the rest headed to purchase delights from the Peaslake Village store. On the second run down it became apparant to me that my arms were getting tired and I failed to flow the trial as well the second time.
Hot chocolate and flapjack were duly passed to me by JamesPro and I found CliveB outside sitting astride a Santa Cruz Tall Boy. It seems as though the 29er thing might slowly be spreading to the racing crowd although rumours of this being prompted by a struggle to keep up with a Niner SIR 9 will probably be hotly denied!! ;oP
Lots of chatter gave way to the need to head back and hence we headed up the road to pick up the direct trail towards the trig point and then Yoghurt Pots. Yoghurt Pots proved to be in good nick and fast although a few of the pots produced some heavy compressions for me, forcing me to stay on my toes and keep my weight mobile. More smiles all round and Jem was sorely temped to take his SC Blur XC back over the route again. Possibly stopped by his sore thumb!
A quick debate produced a winning vote for my preferred exit off of Telegraph Road and so I headed off again. Telegraph Road has suffered muchly in the last year or so from over use and the track is getting wider and wider. Roots abound and I heard a dismayed cry from Colin behind me as he got one wrong and ended a bit wide of the mark.
After taking the exit I wanted there was some chatter about the little stump that lies at the bottom of one dip and how it caught someone out even though the knew it was there.
The group filled up again and I picked my way through some recently forested trails, trying not to head butt a tree that nearly caught me on the exit of a double dip. Form there it was just a blast towards “Girls in the tree” and then a noodly, rooty little entrance to a fast steep descent. Colin classed this as Pure Classic Dave trail and I don’t think I disagree with it. Big up to Paul901 for clearing this section as he confessed it would have beaten him a few weeks ago.
A short section of road work and then we ducked left behind the Volunteer pub onto what I believe is called Raikes Lane. This eventually spat us back to Abinger Roughs and we slogged it back up White Down.
Ian got a puncture towards the top and as that was being fixed 6 of us split off to get back to the car park, allowing JamesPro to get some brownie points as well as pick up some of bike carriers from me. It was at this point Keith engaged his second engine and prompty took off like a bat out of hell causing me to raise a quizzical eyebrow as I struggled and failed to make inroads into his lead down Yew Trees.
A tiring but extremely enjoyable ride which must have been around 25 miles or so. Not sure my speedo is accurate at the moment having changed tyres recently.