With the bad weather on Sunday we different Moles braved the elements at different times, one old man just went for a walk, and the rest sensibly stayed in the burrows. Here’s a a short report on couple of the rides:
Like most, I was waiting to see what the weather was going to do before making my decision. As it happens,a transatlantic Skype call delayed my departure until 9am, by which time the rain had eased.
I was planning a gently-paced, two stop ride, taking in Ali’s Tea Waggon on Headley Heath, before returning to Pilgrim Cycles in Mickleham. Heading up through Bookham High Street, my first off-road section was the heavily flooded Admirals Track. I was glad I was wearing my Shimano winter boots which managed to keep my feet dry. I was hoping the weather had also deterred the dog walkers, and I risked a detour through The Hazels before heading past Bocketts, over a very flooded River Mole, and towards Alsatian.
Traction was at a premium on the long climb, with a low gear and a smooth pedalling style essential to maintaining traction. I was glad not to be on the singlespeed today. I was riding ‘old school’ wheels, 26″ fitted on my steel-framed On One with the Alfine hub, my winter bike. I ignored Sram No Efil, and was amused by the groups of Santas playing golf at Tyrrells Wood. The bomb holes at the beginning of Headley Heath now have a large forestry track through the middle, but I still couldn’t resist a little play on a few remaining jumps.
Disappointment number 1 was an absent Ali. They’re clearly making changes to where her waggon is parked, and plans show a new parking spot for her, but the weather had obviously persuaded her to stay in bed, too. Secret Singletrack is still fun, and I investigated an alternative ending which I think I prefer. One to check out on a future ride.
Disappointment number 2 was my rear inner tube exploding as I started my return towards Mickleham. Bike in one piece again, next up was Life on Mars which was very sloppy, but fun, and I headed along Stane Street to pick up The Snail/TNP. This is a fun little trail, and a nice way to head back down to the A24. A climb towards Norbury followed by a loop around Druids Grove at last saw me reach Pilgrim Cycles and their coffee machine for my first shot of caffeine of the day.
Suitably refreshed, I decided it was time to head back via a shortish route, so it was Crabtree Lane, Norbury, down to Bocketts and the Admirals Track and home. Trails are muddy, but with the only rain being a light shower as I climbed Alsatian, riding conditions were pleasant enough. Even the sun made an appearance later in the morning, but hey, it’s winter, after all. Just make sure you’ve got decent mud tyres fitted.
After a few exchanges on the forum it looked like the bad weather forecast was keep the Moles in their burrows on Sunday. And a glance out the window confirmed that a relaxing cup of tea in bed looked the best option, especially as the forecast for later in the morning was sunshine and blue skies.
An hour or so later the blue skies were on the horizon, but Dave W had posted on the forum to say he HAD turned up at Bocketts, all alone. Definitely double kudos for that ride in the rain, Dave.
By the time I ventured out for a quick loop to Leith Hill the wind hand blown out and the sun was shining brightly. But it didn’t take long to feel the effects of the rainfall with the start of Pampolona so submerged in a treacly morass that the flinty climb up Hogden Lane was the only sensible option. Conditions were pretty much the same along the North Downs and down to Deerleap, where the hard track gave a decent run into Westcott.
Wolvens was particularly gloopy and it was nearly 90 mins before I finally emerged at Leith Hill tower. I was rewarded with brilliant visibility, the wind and rain having washed the air clean so that the South Downs looked close enough to ride to. Back home down summer Lightening, where strangely enough the mid section through the woods was in pristine condition – but returning two Wolvesn a few minutes later I was back in the swamp. No alligators here, but some 4WDs had made a real mess of the trail, driving all reversing over the area so there was no way around their deep water ruts and churned up mud. I know it’s a shared byway and motor vehicles have a right to go there, but this seemed almost like wanton destruction. Leaving the views of Dorking and the Pipbrook valley basking in the sun I headed down Yew Trees and home.
Uploading into Strava, my stats showed D’Andy had ridden the same distance as me, and fatser! So much for a quick loop to Leith Hill.