With an Orange Segment recently procured from Cycleworks, Dave’s request was for ‘more trail, less XC’ this week. Having exhausted my year’s allowance of XC riding at the Brighton Big Dog last week-end, this suited me, and between us all we put a route together that gave Dave an idea of the Segment’s capabilities and characteristics.
Despite an enthusiastic sampling of the ales available at the Woodies Beer Festival in New Malden on Saturday evening, I managed to make it to Bocketts to join 8 others to see how far we could ride before the promised rain arrived. With a preponderance of D’s, the nine riders were, Dandy, Dave C, David McL, D-Dub, Dom, Elliot, Grand Mole, Lloyd & Mark P.
Dave fancied a little Mickleham action, so we headed up to Norbury and Druids Grove. On the way we passed a spectacularly grumpy runner, who whinged about cyclists thinking they ‘own the road’ or something like that. Luckily, as I was at the front I didn’t hear any of his rantings as it took a few seconds for his Daily Mail-befuddled brain to click into gear and spew out his cliché-ridden invective. I’m pleased to report that the many walkers and runners we encountered after that all cheerily returned our greetings.
I can’t ride in the Surrey Hills without encountering a familiar face or two, and today we bumped into Jason, the mechanic with Moose Cycles in Colliers Wood (from whom I bought my ‘brace of Pace’ a few years back). With hindsight, ‘White Honky’ was hardly a gentle start, but as the rain had yet to arrive it was running beautifully. We all made it down in one piece, and headed up ‘High Alpine’ for ‘Wizard’s Sleeve’. This was in much better condition than when the GM and I last rode it, and ‘kudos’ to Dan & Jonesy for their work on the berms in mid-week.
We slogged up Stane Street a second time for a run down the ‘Bat Cave’ & ‘Tankslapper’. By now I was feeling the effects of the beer festival, so coffee & cake was next on my list. We arrived at Pilgrim Cycles just as they were opening, and having helped them put out their tables, chairs and plant pots, the GM and I relieved them of their last two slices of Chocolate Tiffin cake to accompany our double-shot cappuccinos. I could have stayed for a second cup, but apparently there was more riding to be done, so we headed up to Ranmore via Denbies.
‘Golden Nugget’ was the next trail to be tackled after the climb up to Ranmore, and here we said goodbye to Lloyd who had been unwell in the week and was now beginning to suffer. I was more fortunate, as the coffee & cake had revived me and despite my reluctance to leave the café I was now eager to continue the ride.
The rain arrived as we climbed to Ranmore a second time, so we hastily headed towards ‘Wire in the Blood’ before the rain got any heavier. The GM and I called forth our domestique, Elliot, to take the headwind as we took the road towards the Scout camp. Like all the trails, WitB was also running superbly and again we all made it down with varying degrees of style.
The only way back to Bookham required a third climb up to Ranmore, this time via Whitedown. From the top it was time for our last trail of the day, ‘Rip van Winkle’, which we reached via ‘Collarbone’ and ‘Little Endor’. By this time the trailside vegetation was very wet, but fortunately the trails were still fine.
A great morning’s ride to blow away the cobwebs, with a distance of 37km covered and a 800m climbed.