Although today lacked the clear blue skies and comparative warmth of Saturday, there were glimpses on today’s ride that Spring is in the air and not far from taking centre stage across these green and pleasant hills. Today saw bare legs from myself and Andy at least (other Moles have stoically battled through the Winter with shorts it should be noted!) and, by and large, the trails were mud free. Not completely dry, but dry enough to keep up a fairly zippy pace and put the bike straight back in the garage when I got home.
Today was the day for relative new boys to fly the flag for the ‘Moles as myself, Andy and Toby met up at Bocketts, where a veil of low cloud left us guessing as to what the weather was going to do. We were joined by newcomers Graham and Clive who had driven miles (well a few anyway) to see what we get up to on a weekly basis.
I had already thought about a trip to Newlands Corner and so when no-one offered any objection, the five of us set our course. The first route decision was a no-brainer. After more holes put in our tubes over the last few weeks than in a very welcoming inflatable ‘person’ we steered clear of the usual thorn-strewn track to Polesden, and instead opted to skirt round the field and Wiggly Wood before passing round the back of Polesden itself and heading up the bridleway past the youth hostel. From here it was the usual slog up to the road and where we were first able to establish whether we’d eaten too much for breakfast or got it just about right.
Passing the scout camp and onto Badger Run, gave us our first real taste of dryer trails, and the results of the recent mild weather were no more prevalent as we entered the surprisingly passable beginnings of Collarbone, on our way to the top of the White Down descent. With our backs to the chalky ‘super slide’ we veered left, through the snakey singletrack that threw us out onto what would ultimately steer us over to the White Downs car park.
With Andy keen to see Abba Zabba whilst we were passing we made a short detour for a quick peak over the edge, before tracing our efforts back to the reservoir and along the usual diversion for the North Downs Way which gets so chewed up by the green laners. Arriving back on the NDW to the sound of MXers, we picked up the pace on the concrete track and made a beeline for a well earned tea stop.
With a lesser requirement for concentration on stretches like these the conversation naturally picked up, although this one will take some beating. By all accounts Scotland has been importing Norwegian Beaver in a controlled experiment. Apparently this hasn’t gone down too well with the local salmon farmers, who I can only assume haven’t seen their husbands for days!
With gravity on our side we made swift progress to the cafe at Newlands, where the car park was seemingly being used as a temporary Harley Davidson and TVR showroom, so many of them that were parked up being admired from enthusiastic onlookers. New boy Clive paid his subs with a round of tea, and in Andy’s case a hot chocolate with cream on top, and we huddled, whilst Toby devoured the largest sandwich I have ever seen. (Thanks again Clive).
We traced our tracks back along the NDW, dodging numerous walkers, as far as the stables, where we veered right down the fairly technical descent into Shere. From here it was the usual route around to Abinger and onto the Roughs before mentally preparing ourselves for the final climb of any merit, back up White Down. Stopping at the gate at the bottom, there was a collective sense of pain and foreboding for what the next ‘three minutes’ (according to Toby’s trail names at least) would bring. The largest group of horse riders I have ever seen greeted us at the top by the gate, where an impasse between both sets of riders was played out. The riders controlling the four legs finally moved off, leaving those straddled over two wheels not much choice but to push their steeds through the gate and grind up to the top of Collarbone once more.
Pushing hard back to the scout camp, we popped out on the road where it was straight back on to the Yew Trees descent and the final pull up under the bridges of Polesden Lacey. With none of us wanting a last minute puncture ruining our day, we tracked tarmac back to Bookham with Toby leading the guys back to within sight of the farm, whilst I headed for home through the village.
I clocked 26 miles which would have been around 23 for those starting from Bocketts and again felt like a good workout. I’ll take two things from this ride – Spring is definitely waiting in the wings and before too long, I’m going to Scotland!