Seven Moles had preceded me as I arrived at the Bocketts Farm car park on Sunday morning: Dave C, Dave Dub, Jez, Dandy, Ray, Karl and (I think) Robin. A trip to Reigate had been suggested on the forum, but in the course of the car park discussion the plan had evolved into a quick run to Colley Hill, leaving out the Gatton Park loop, then heading back to Headley for tea, with the prospect of time to tack on some other runs.
The arrival of Paul M indicated that no further latecomers would be expected, so a total of nine were ready to depart.
Dandy led off on a newly spotted bridleway that swooped down from the car park to the A246 – much more interesting than the usual freewheel down the tarmac to the farm. Soon we had crossed the railway but as we reached Thorncroft Manor my bike started marking a click and was wobbling with each revolution of the wheel. A large stone chip was embedded in the tyre tread, and when I removed it air and latex erupted from the resulting hole.
Taking Dave’s advice to rotate the hole to the bottom of the wheel to get more latex, quickly sealed the hole – I am now even more impressed with tubeless. There was by now plenty of white fluid strewn across the track, so it was with plenty of double entendres that Andy invited me to undo his zip and get out his big one for some pumping.
Tyre inflated, we were soon climbing past Michael Cain’s mansion and up Alsatian, along Life on Mars to Headley. After the spattering of recent rain the trails were in perfect condition, firmly packed, grippy, but with no hint of dust.
Before long we had passed the Buckland Hills and were admiring the clear view from Colley Hill, towards Gatwick, the Weald and the South Downs. But despite the lure of the chalky descent, we turned north and were soon crossing the Walton Heath golf course back towards Headley. With Matt absent today there was nobody to stop me getting one of the hot Eccles cakes when we stopped at Ali’s tea van.
Dandy displayed his backpack, now almost bisected by a low hanging tree on Walton Heath, and talk over the hot drinks and cakes turned to options for the rest of the run.
Secret Single track was early on the plan and was in fine form, although before long it will be getting too overgrown. After a brief climb to the bombholes for Dandy and Dave Dub to style it up on a few jumps, we took Gear Selecta across the heath and dropped down the High Ashurst climb to Headley Road. Unfortunately half way down we met a horse, and all had to pull well to the side to let the rider continue her climb up the narrowest section.
The next ascent was Happy Valley, where we had time for a quick chat to a young lady rider completing the same climb, also starting from Reigate. China Pig was another great trail in perfect condition, with the only impediment a small group of Japanese walkers who politely stood carefully to the side of the track to let us pass.
By now tiredness was beginning to show, so as Paul and Jez peeled off home, Dave suggested an unusual way to tackle the valley route from Crabtree Lane past Druids Grove – a competition to see who could go roll furthest, without peddling. Setting off every 15 seconds we each tucked in on the initial fast downhill but were soon desperately trying to pump or otherwise coax the bike forward on the following up hill. I think it was Dave C (previous experience) Dandy and Robin who got the furthest – but it’s an interesting challenge to try again.
After splitting for different options on the Norbury climb we paused at the top of Infestation, to notice that Ray and Dandy were no longer with us. I set off to retrace our route to Norbury, where we had last seen them, but to no avail, so I returned to enjoy Infestation and on to home.
In total I had clocked 26.4 miles from home, including checking back for the lost members, so it must have been around 25miles from Bocketts. Text messages soon revealed that Dandy had suffered gear trouble and Ray had accompanied him more directly back to Bocketts – so no Moles were left lost on the back hills of Norbury for the night. All in all it was an enjoyable mix of an express visit to Reigate and some peachy trails in top form.