Mole – small velvety-furred burrowing mammal having small eyes and fossorial forefeet. The actual definition of a mole isn’t as important was what it isn’t. You’ll notice the complete absence of any reference to “aquatic” in the above definition.
Yes, it was, or at least started as, another wet ride. I for one have started to get fed up with getting wet and skipped the Wednesday ride but today it was the turn of Matt to be ground down by the weather. However, I had good reason to want to make today’s ride as my good friend, Simon, had travelled up from Dartmoor to show off his new svelte figure and renewed fitness. Simon is probably one of the real founding Mole’s long before the web site got established. He’s ridden longer than any of us probably getting into the “new fad” at the same time as Tony and had a early Funk frame.
So I rode into the car park to find Simon chatting to DaveW, Tony and Lee. Lee and I had had similar thoughts about riding over to Langley Vale, so not wanting to stand in the rain any more we headed off towards Alsation. Soon after crossing the road we heard shouts from behind and Joe and Paul rode into view completing our band or merry men for today. Conditions we slippery to say the least and flying down the track behind the Leatherhead Leisure Centre I had my first small slide. Heading on to Alsation at a fair pace the levels of grip were minimal, much worse for DaveW and Lee on singlespeed mode as the extra torque struggled for traction. It’s amazing how a decent Summer and good riding makes what was once a long, laborious climb, seem to shrink but that is how it seems to me.
We pushed on to Headley, passing the Cock Inn before taking the next left and riding through what seemed to be a river bed. I think the rain had begun to ease by then and the laughing had begun. Riding through a river may not sound funny but it was fun and it also provided decent grip although the drag does increase somewhat! After clearing the climb we prepared for what is normally the swift and flowing decent down to Langley Vale. DaveW call it “Horse Piss Ally” and again I found myself ploughing though a river, although it looked fairly clear to me! There are a couple of low tree and with my head dipped low to let the helmet visor keep the worse fo the water off my glasses I came upon one rather too quickly and had to drop much lower than I might normal. At about the same time my bars came up fairly quickly and I gave myself a fat lip from my light mount and possibly chipped a tiny piece of enamel from a tooth. Ouch! But still a lot of fun!
The climb back up to the start of Stane Street was soon banished and few snacks were taken on board by some of the Moles. I’ve been taking a water bottle of Torq Energy out with me and have found the results to be very positive, taking the edge of my energy troughs. So hence we pushed on towards the top of Alsation again with the plan to ride on to Box Hill for tea and cake. This section of Stane Street can be muddy all the year round but this time of year after the rain we have had it wasn’t a case of finding the dry bit of trail it was finding the shallow part! I followed Tony who wasn’t so good at finding the shallow bits and behind the ride soundtrack was punctuated by Lee’s heart and cheering giggle as we tried various route offering different depths of muddy soup. Lovely! (Note to Andy, I think the giggle were more fear than enjoyment and any reference to enjoyment is purely for the benefit of the uninitiated reader – we were having a terrible time, honest guv’)
Ahead now lay the descent at the side of Tyrrells Wood Club House. Normally a trail that deserves a little respect, today I think only a thick layer of grease would have made it worse. The west chalk sections were the high friction surface here and the laughs at the bottom were full of nervous relief. A quick climb and we passed the top of Alsation heading towards Mickleham Gallops. Around this time I suggested Chainbreaker followed by the High Ashurst climb. Lee voiced his opinion on the choice but it was swiftly ignored and we pushed on. Chainbreaker also offer few breaking opportunities with as much sideways action as forward motion. I followed DaveW down only to find that he was busy avoiding Tony just over the log roll which I soon realised the reason why as I only just managed to avoid the tree that took Tony out. I think this also came close for a few riders behind.
This left the pebbly and rooty High AshHurst climb which I managed to clear the really difficult bits to reach Tony and Lee and have Tony say “He’s cleared it” followed by me promptly thumping into the ground. Ah well, I know I did the difficult bit!! Looks like the National Trust Wardens have been busy with Gate and Fences at the top near the High Ashurst entrance as they have round the rest fo Headley. Cake and Hot Chocolate were now calling strongly and we pushed on towards our goal. We passed Jess and Danielle walking their two Collies enroute and I stopped for a chat to discuss our upcoming Skills course they are running for us. Check out their site Astouding Adventures and we’ll not doubt publish our thoughts early in the new year.
By this time the sky was blue and the sun was warming us on a low winter heat. Cakes and Hot Chocolate were taken onboard although our Irish contingent had opted for sausage roll and bread pudding. Not a combination I’d have considered but they seemed happy enough. Must be “Ulster Fry” withdrawal symptoms.
With this we headed back down Happy Valley and headed back towards the car park. I noted that we encounted many very happy dog walkers, walkers and other people simply making the most of some sun during a wet and depressing time. At least Andy can take heart that his enforced lay off isn’t preventing him form any enjoyable rides!