As it seems at the moment, when I arrive at Bocketts Farm car park on Sunday mornings I’m greeted by what should surely be described as a “crowd” of mountain bikers. 14 starters. You could understand why. It was a cool morning and conditions could be described as almost perfect.
It’s getting more like a Krypton Factor memory challenge these days remembering everyone who turns up for one of our rides – thanks to DaveC for filling in the gaps! So it was me, DaveC (the Sirus Pipedream is red, very red), DaveW, PaulM, MarkW (now on his bling urban camo Nicolai), Andrew (Turner guy), Paul901, Eric, Keith, JohnR, Jez, Ray. There were two others that I didn’t catch your name guys – sorry. One of whom was on a somewhat retro Santa Cruz and for someone who hadn’t been out riding for two years – showed very good bike fitness levels or very believable porkies!
We set of along the Admirals Trackway over to Polesden Lacey and up Yew Trees to Ranmore. Unfortunately the other unnamed member of our group bailed out here finding the pace a bit too quick. It’s not always like that, come and try it again.
As usual the group split up riding up to Ranmore. Unfortunately I was feeling the – rev limiter – effects of the big bowl of Crunchy Nut Clusters I’d had just before coming out and had to moderate my efforts. JohnR and DaveW showed us a clean pair of heels/wheels. DaveC was routemaster for this ride and the plan was Landrover and up to Leith hill.
I was riding my Clockwork Orange HT and enjoying every minute of it. As I rode down Landrover behind DaveC I made a point of watching his lines. He rode a particularly smooth line over the drop off just above the Landrover chassis. I copied and found out what I had been missing for years, super smooth. Surprisingly having to pick HT lines rather than letting the FS ride over stuff was proving lots of fun.
A group of us headed down from Landrover and crossed over the railway line to wait for the rest. It was one of those times when you wait and wait. After a few minutes you wonder if the people following have had a mechanical, then you wait and you start thinking about crashes. It’s a sort of a pit of the stomach feeling. Fortunately Andrews spill wasn’t too bad and we re-grouped.
Given that there were 13 of us the pace was quite consistent, aided by the fact that none of us had a single puncture. A testament to modern puncture prevention tech?
Crossing over to the Rookery and heading up Wolverns lane was a blast. Paul901 cleared the climb to Wolverns Lane for the first time – well done. Conditions up to this point had been – almost – perfect; dry grippy hardpack but not dusty. It was only as we headed up to Summer lightening that we encountered the first mud of the day but a sure sign that the mudfest rides are only around the corner.
At Deliverance DaveW made it look easy once again, although I’m still not tempted. Then we headed up to the Tower via the winding singletrack opposite the cricket pitch (coming back this way was much better). The tower climb was in the “if you are going to do it, today is the day” conditions. Needless to say I didn’t but plenty of us did. It was a moment of indecision rather than any lack of traction/fitness that caught me out. All the more frustrating.
At the Tower the breakfast overfill meant that I still wasn’t in the mood for cake though the rest of the Moles made up for me.
The ride back was a reverse route, Personal Hygiene, Waggledance, Summer Lightning, Wolverns, Rookery. Notable for the minimal amount of stopping of the group. Then up the Mediterranean track – where the breakfast was finally gone and I found my legs a bit. Paul and Mark bailed out here. Then up to the Ranmore with Keith showing us the way with the D2D bit firmly between teeth.
General opinion was the best way to go was Dearly Beloved, which was a little stop start due to walkers, dog walkers and horse riders. However it must be one of my favourites due to it’s long, fast and finally, technical nature, but boy do you pay for it on the other side of the valley. Especially if you don’t remember the second part of the climb (Keith). A procession of weary, walking and riding Moles appeared at the top of the climb and we headed back to the start point with various moles bearing off home.
A great morning out in almost perfect conditions. Enjoy them while you can.