You know, those trails are pretty dry out there at the moment. Which means it’s pretty easy to keep up a good pace and enjoy yourself at the same time, one of the reasons autumn is my favourite season of the year.
Just four of us were out tonight, Colin, DaveC, AndyC and myself which meant swift progress. With three of us in Dusk til Dawn mode plus Andy, we set off through Wiggly Wood at a fair old rate. I had my Trustfire helmet light charged for the first time in ages and made full use of it and the traction my Orange Five provides to push my speed a bit along here.
At a fast pace it’s quite tricky in fact and I ran off the trail at one point following a completely fictitious path before turning back and re-joining. Fortunately my pursuers didn’t notice!
On to Polesdon and the Tanners climb and my energy levels were still pretty high, helped by a couple of slices of pizza earlier in the evening. With the extra miles I’ve been running I’ve decided to forget my weight and just keep eating on the basis that you can’t run a calorie deficit for long without suffering. It seems to be working but until I make it through the D2D weekend without a cold I won’t be happy. You just can’t count your chickens on that score.
Anyway, I ran nice and high on the bank where the Polesden diversion spits you out onto the Tanners track before settling into the climb. Andy was feeling the effects of his night out last night but in truth we were all reasonably well matched. We then headed straight on to the footpath (shhhhh!) that connects the Tanners climb with the Yew Trees climb.
This section of trail has a nice flow to it and despite it starting a light but steady rainfall it wasn’t really enough to worry us in terms of trail conditions. I found some extra momentum uphill and then some extra traction from my Five which I’ve started to fall in love with again after fitting the new 2010 Revelation forks, which allowed me to clean the climb. Then it was an amble up onto Ranmore.
Once here the rain started to come down a bit harder but it didn’t worry me too much. Arriving home later showed it was relatively localised although I was starting to worry it would affect the trails badly. If you were in the rain, there was quite a bit of it but it didn’t extend back to Bookham – my house was dry when I got home. Dave was feeling under the weather (pun not intended) and decided to head home which meant just three of us continued onward.
Our plan was to head to Effingham and now we were on Ranmore we could take advantage of the fact it was all pretty much downhill from there. We picked up Badger Run and then Collarbone, mincing round the Hornet’s Tree which blocked the path along there. Pressing on I lost the back of my bike near where I broke my collarbone last year but fortunately held it together over the slippery chalk and flint. At one point I thought I was headed over the edge.
Eventually we came out on the Drover’s Road (the NDW to Newlands) and quickly peeled off toward Effingham. The track along here had been ‘maintained’ with lots of brick and tile used to level the worst depressions that tend to chew up in the winter. I had the benefit of decent suspension to soak up the washboard bumps that have been created and was very glad of it.
Next we decended at a decent speed toward the sawmill but were hampered slightly by the damp atmosphere and mud (what?) that was evident in places. But the Five continued to be an asset, soaking up bumps and tracking faithfully through deep ruts and the odd puddle. To think that soon we’ll be seeing mud and puddles everywhere.
A stiff walk up the chalky climb followed. I tried to ride it but it claimed me and while I don’t really think it’s rideable I reckon I could get farther than I did; but I was pretty pleased with my effort anyway. The reward is a long, flowing bit of singletrack that combines high speed with deep gullies. I got into this and just rode whatever was in front of me, confident the fork would track properly which it most certainly did. At one point I was in deep leaf run-off from previous rain and riding down successive steps but it didn’t bother me at all.
Once more a short climb faced us at Sheepleas but was dispatched pretty easily. Then we headed downhill some more, making the most of the still dusty trails now the rain had stopped. It all felt wonderfully grippy as we followed our nose and did a bit of exploring. What a hoot!
In the end though we turned out onto the A246 and headed through Horsley to Conisbee’s butchers. Here we ducked round the back of all those massively fine houses, under the chalk and flint bridges until we came out at Effingham Heath. By now were we well on the way home and I was enjoying the non-stop conversations and flat-ish landscape.
Having spun the bike along all the way up though Bookham Common we parted at the corner of the Glade after another long chat. These bike rides get in the way of a decent conversation! By the time I got home I estimate I had 18 miles on the clockd which isn’t bad at all. To be home by around 10:00 on a night ride is terrific really and shows we may be getting fitter and faster after sustained riding.
Can’t be bad!