Sunday, squeezed between Christmas and the New Year, was always going to mean a limited turnout for the faithful. Limited it turned out to be, with just Elliott, DDub and myself out while everyone else stayed in their burrow.
I was keen to get out, not least because looking back we have a history of absenteeism over the Christmas break. I also had a couple of new pieces of kit to try out, some Endura Singletrack 2 trousers and a pair of 2016 Specialized Defroster winter boots.
I can’t quite work out why I haven’t gone the boots route before. Most likely, the cost might have inhibited me, forcing me to make do with summer shoes and waterproof Seal Skinz socks for winter (and spring, and autumn and occasionally summer) riding. I can say that all that has now changed after some careful online bargain hunting and just one ride.
What a revelation! Regular summer socks but completely dry feet for the duration of the ride. So effective were the boots that I eventually came to care not one jot how wet and muddy the ride became as I just couldn’t feel any water ingress despite truly horrible conditions. The trousers too seem like an effective option but I’ll post up a review of these soon.
Knowing our ride this Wednesday is likely to be south to Leith Hill, I suggested we head for Newlands Corner which has the added bonus of BACON. With a strong breeze from the West we decided to stick to the tops and return via the reverse route that was tried a few weeks back. This meant that having climbed to Ranmore via Yew Trees (divesting myself of an unnecessary layer due to the warm conditions along the way) we took in Wire In The Blood (Part 1) before picking up Collarbone to the top of White Down. Wire In The Blood proved quite tricky, with Ddub failing to score points for his dismount as the front wheel got away from him at the end.
Collarbone was truly grim but rideable with effort, as was Trouble In Paradise and we soon splashing along the Drovers Road which we followed all the way to Newlands. The puddles by now no longer bothered me as I had realised my new kit was keeping me completely dry but I was rather warm in the mild conditions. It felt as though someone had left the central heating on!
We picked up an entertaining line parallel to the Drovers for a while (the section we normally do on the way back from Newlands), but it was really just a case of plodding along. There were few people out and it wasn’t too long before we reached Newlands where we huddled out of the rather cold wind while I tucked in to some revitalising BACON and a coffee. After that it was off down Water Lane toward Albury with a few pics along the way.
As soon as you drop south of the Ranmore ridge the ground conditions change dramatically. The sandy soils are quite a contrast to the Surrey clay to the north and make for pleasant riding when they are damped down by the recent weather. Our pace wasn’t particularly fast given the excesses of the recent winter feasting but progress was made and the route proved as easy to negotiate in this direction as it is when we ride it East to West rather than West to East. In a way the change helped with a sense of novelty although I still think I prefer the original direction. Call me a traditionalist.
In addition to a high protein diet these past few days I’ve also been in the process to recovering from a head cold which meant my enjoyment of the ride was hampered a little. StevenD reckons that turkey is rocket fuel but I wasn’t feeling that myself I have to say. Even so, the eventual climb up High Med wasn’t too bad and we finished off the day’s effort by dropping back to Polesden via Dearly Beloved. It may be a swamp at the top but I didn’t really mind with my Defrosters proving so good!
The final run back to the car park along the Bocketts tunnel was also a mass of mud but by the time we got back we’d clocked 24 miles. The burrow’s call was strong this week, and there was really quite a lot of mud around but riding in the darkest days of winter remains an enjoyable time to spend your time.
There are further pictures on Flickr.