Along with our native guide, a Moles Magnificent Seven rode out over the hills and valleys of the Wild West … of Sevenoaks.
Having sampled a few Moles rides this year, Matt (from Redhill CC) was keen to repay the compliment and show us some of his local trails. Even though the invitation was extended late on Friday night, a posse of seven was rapidly rustled up to head over the pass (Goddam, I hate that cliché) to Limpsfield for a 9am start. From left to right in the photo above, we had Chris H, Jem, Mark P, Elliot, myself, JR and Karl (aka El Fandango Magnifico, as it says on the ‘Wanted – Dead or Alive’ posters).
Matt promised a relatively mud-free ride, with few hills and lots of singletrack. The consensus was that he was right about two of those promises, but with Strava suggesting about 600m of climbing in a 26k ride, we weren’t so sure about the ‘few hills’ bit !
Our native guide confessed to the first fall of the day, not off the bike, but slipping on the ice when de-icing his van before heading out to the start. Temperatures were above freezing by the time we headed out after minimal ‘faffage’, and we were immediately tackling some Bomb Holes and swoopy singletrack which lead us back to … where we’d parked our cars.
It was great to play on some new trails, and Matt certainly delivered on his promise of lots of singletrack. None of us had a clue where we’d been, and we didn’t think we’d be able to follow the route even with a GPS unit, it was that ‘noodly’. The various trails ridden included Purple Forest, Amazon, Camberwell Green, Kick Start, Handbag, and Dogging. As you can guess, this last trail ended at a remote car park.
We did encounter a few short muddy sections, but they were pretty rare. Almost all of the climbs were doable, though there were two steep pulls that required all of us to get off and push. Apparently these are just about doable in the summer, though maybe not for me on my single-speed.
Shortly before descending by road into Westerham, we rode a fast and flat trail called Handbag. Exiting onto a car park, we returned via a short road climb to tackle it once again. All was going well for me, until I exited onto the car park for the second time. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but I politely tried to head to the edge of a fire road away from a lady exercising some spaniels. I think I may have braked at the same time, and with the off-camber, greasy clay-like surface I found myself sliding gracefully (I think) on my side. The spaniels found it all highly entertaining.
The Tudor Tea Rooms in Westerham provided excellent and generously-sized portions of cake, with the chocolate and the carrot cake being the most popular amongst the Moles, though I think I saw a very large flap-jack and a tasty looking Danish pastry, as well. Why haven’t we got a picture of the cake?
After pausing for pics against the statue of Churchill on the green (this time Matt has replaced JR on the far right-hand side on the photo below), it was a slow and steady climb back up Hosey Hill.
As before, it was more singletrack, the odd patch of mud, one steep climb requiring a dismount, and yet more singletrack. We passed ‘Chartwell’ (Churchill’s country home) along the way back, hence the statue of Churchill down in the village.
The route back was shorter than the route out, with a few Moles tiring despite the recent injection of sugar. Matt assured us that having reached the top of a second long climb, the return was now ‘mainly downhill’. We decide that the definition of ‘mainly downhill’ was downhill where you needed to pedal like stink to keep moving!
It wasn’t too long before we found ourselves back in Purple Forest and the bomb holes back to the cars. With the sun shining, no rain, great singletrack and little mud, it really was a fantastic morning’s ride. Thanks once again, Matt.