Whilst most of the Moles headed off to Swinley for Sunday, I had too many commitments at home to get away. So I made some feeble excuse about feeling unfit from not getting out on the bike for a week, and posted an alternative ride option on the forum.
Arriving at Bocketts car park my traditional 5 minutes late I was greeted in the gentle mid morning sun by Erick_M and Paul901, who had no doubt been lured out by the thought of a civilised 9am start to the day. Especially for Erick, who had to get the train down from Wimbledon to ride with us. It makes me realise how lucky most of us are to have such beautiful biking countryside on our doorsteps.
Erick was resuming biking after several months break, Paul just converting from road biking and me a superannuated member of Port and Stilton, so with the fitter, more skilled contingent of the Moles in action elsewhere, we were the Surrey Hills Home Guard. As none of us were up for anything extreme we decided to head to Headley Heath, so after a warming nip up Alsatian and along Stane Street we stopped for a well earned breather on The Gallops. I explained to Paul and Erick not to worry about the step over the log half way down and set off down Chainbreaker. Stopping just after the log I expected a wait for them to arrive, but they were on my tail – in fact I was probably holding them up.
Finding the High Ashurst climb a bit crowded with DoE hikers, we took Happy Valley up to Box Hill village and along the road into the back of Headley Heath. Somehow I always manage to find my way across Headley to the car park, but never manage to follow the same route twice. By now it was after 10am and for the first time I can remember, Ali’s Tea Shop – the mobile snack van – was open. Paul particularly enjoyed the Cornish pasty, and having lost my water bottle the tea was my only drink for the morning. Whilst we finished our drinks Paul eulogised the benefits of his recent training day with Danielle of Astounding Adventures.
With the ferns really high on Secret Singletrack I was glad to make only one wrong turn, but it was still a blast. Then we were back up to the bomb holes for a bit of technical work before taking the road back to Box Hill for China Pig. I think this was the highlight of the morning, beautifully dry and no problem on the off camber sections. Almost enough to make me think of trying the log pile… or not.
Time was pressing on so we took Crabtree Lane back up the hill, where I caught up with an unusually chatty roadie on his way towards the sawmill – not really roadie territory, perhaps he is feeling ready to leave the dark side. As I pointed Erick and Paul back towards the car park, the Home Guard concluded operations in just under 4 hours, covering 23.7 miles door to door.