It’s funny isn’t it? You’d think after all the time we’ve been riding that we would know every trail from Newlands, to Reigate and south to Leith Hill and Holmbury Hill. But that would serve to downplay quite how many trails there are in these parts.
Take Sunday for example.
So recently we’ve been riding a lot of trails up on Mickleham. I don’t know if they’re new – I think not – but somehow they’ve evolved to allow them to be linked up in new and satisfying ways. I doubt that they will be year-round favourites; a vegetation explosion will see to that. But for now these poachers trails, with a carefully placed mini-berm here and there are quite good fun, and that’s without us having to go near Life on Mars for what seems to have been a month or so at least.
Similarly, our navigation skills on Pitch last week went awry with a surfeit of enthusiasm over er, detailed trail knowledge! This week it was the turn of another new trail to take a bow during a ride over to Newlands, Bingo Bongo Dave.
Setting off from the car park in the morning we weren’t absolutely sure we would be going to Newlands. This was dictated mid-ride with a quick estimate over our proximity to a cake stop once a run down this new trail was factored in.
We set off simply enough, with DaveW, Kev, D’Andy, DaveC, Chris, JohnR and our latest newbie Steve heading off up to Polesdon. It was a bit chilly with the wind but we soon warmed up and our trip up to Ranmore was uneventful, with no ladies on hybrids challenging our efforts this week. By the time we’d reached Ranmore we’d managed to pick up a couple of extra riders (who’s names – despite me asking – now escape me!). The usual Moles welcome was made, so hopefully they will join us again soon. As it was, they followed us to White Down where we pointed them toward Leith.
Our progress to White Down was interrupted by a display of ham-fisted riding from me while chatting to Kev along Collarbone. The outcome was me dumped heavily on the deck after getting caught out on some roots, thankfully with no damage done except a bruised hip, knee and sore ribs today. It was, as most of these things are, a silly mistake but it did rob me of my mojo somewhat for the remainder of the ride.
We continued via Trouble in Paradise and some mud (of all things) to pick up the North Downs Way near the Reservoir. These woods look to be getting ready to unleash their bluebell magic in a few weeks time and the trail itself was in a good rideable condition, which made the steady slow-speed spinning nature of this heavily rutted track quite enjoyable. Soon we’d popped out on the Drovers’ Road and were heading to the Ranmore Road.
So Bingo Bongo Dave. Or rather, Pingo Pongo for me after my recent tumble. The fun starts after negotiating a few slippery roots and stumps and then settles down into a long, flowing bit of singletrack. After the rain the night before it was a touch damp and slippery (we’re still on Surrey clay here), and the odd root might catch you out but it’s pretty good. A bit of familiarity will help, although I’m not sure how durable it will prove to be and the downside is it chucks you out in a part of the world where you need to work a little to get back onto the Ranmore ridge; so working it into a seamless ride might be a challenge.
At this point we indulged in a social experiment to see how many people it might take to fix a puncture (answer: more than you might think) as Steve had flatted on the run down. In fact we were quite concerned when he didn’t immediately appear and quite relieved it had not been anything worse than a puncture.
Our reward for passing this test was that climb back up to the Ranmore ridge. D’Andy took us up past the Honeysuckle Bottom sawmill and up the ‘easy’ climb, with the experience enhanced by a sudden hail storm. I’m surprised no one thought to put glass in their shoes to really up the ante.
Having summited it was clear that our cake options were best realised by heading to Newlands. However, rather than head along the ridge we soon dropped down to Shere. This descent is one I haven’t ridden for years although the others tried it recently, and it’s another fun run down, punctuated with some interesting lite-gnarr which keeps you honest. I let Dave lead me as I remembered the essence if not the details from years ago.
Cutting through Shere we were soon back onto our classic Newlands route and it was just a case of the miles clicking by to the Newlands food stop. Steve decided to peel off, feeling he’d done his bit for the day but the rest of us were left to assault the Water Lane (why’s it called that?) climb up to the cafe.
As is usual in this part of the world, it wasn’t long before Graham and Nick turned up. We seem to see them at least once or twice a month which means either we are predictable or they are! After we’d all refueled they joined us for the rest of the ride, but not before we’d circled the cafe via the myriad of drops and jumps round the back. Then it was a case of heading for home via the North Downs Way.
This proved to be a leisurely affair and it was just a case of covering the miles. John and D’Andy left us to show Graham and Nick BBD, while the rest of us – with time getting on – pushed on.
Unfortunately the final run down to Polesdon from Yew Trees was interrupted by me picking up a flint cut to the front tyre that my sealant couldn’t cope with. This necessitated a stop long enough for the weather to turn dramatically. My Garmin shows that the temperature dropped rapidly from about 9° to just 4° just as we finished fixing the tyre, with the temperature drop accompanied by a vicious hail storm (our second of the day). We were freezing cold running down from Polesdon with what felt like shards of glass being chucked in our faces so I was pretty glad to end the ride.
28 and a bit miles, and about 4 and a bit hours. Another Great Escape on Sunday!