After an enjoyable Friday evening in Tony’s man cave (not a euphemism), yesterday was on the low key side which meant I hadn’t checked the forum to see what was planned for Sunday’s ride. It turned out to bit a little different to what I expected.
You see I’m I recall conversations on Friday night centering around the idea of a bit of Norbury Gnarr, which suited me just fine. Whereas by the time we left the Bockett’s car park it was with Ranmore in mind and a much longer ride in mind. It happens like that sometimes!
We were a decent sized bunch – D’Andy (our tour leader – read into that what you will), Tony, DaveW (on one of his silver bikes), ‘Fat’ JohnR, Elliott (the giant of Horsham), DaveC, Essex Nick, new-guy Duncan, Cross Colin and Chrissie, making eleven in total.
Rather than our regular drag up past Yew Trees we were headed to View to a Kill via the back end of Polesden which worked quite well. First the bridleway toward the Stone Bridge descent, then a quick dog leg before that to cross the old Ranmore Road and pick up a trail that brought us to V2aK via an enjoyable flowy path, rather than the tricky skirt round the edge of the field.
It meant the back markers (me and Tony) could just carry straight into the trail without stopping which made for a quick run through the trees. The trail itself was dry and dusty but we needed a bit of care popping out onto the road as there were loads of roadies doing an event. The last thing we wanted to do was knock anyone off.
With Ranmore forming the backbone of the ride there was plenty of climbing to be done. Colin bailed as he was on a time limited pass while the rest of us headed to the Polesden estate and crossed the big field to pick up the Tanners Climb. My lack of recent miles meant a steady rather than quick winch up but that was OK.
At the top we turned right and tracked along to the start of Rip van Winkle. While some of the more adventurous tackled the jump, others – myself included – took the easier line, but in either case the trail was running nicely. It’s the first time I’ve got all the way through without dabbing thanks to the absence of wet roots and clay.
One of the features of Dandy’s winch and plunge rides is plenty of winching (in total I managed 3,200 ft of climbing today). So it was no surprise that we were required to winch ourselves back up to the top of Ranmore from whence we had so recently come. Onwards and er, upwards.
Once there, the next morsel off Dandy’s Ranmore smorgasbord was Wire In the Blood. Again, those with smaller fear glands did both parts while the rest of us tackled Landrover. It’s possible it’s my first Landrover descent this year but that just goes to illustrate my lack of trails riding. It was just perfect today, you could easily pick any line you wanted without worry.
We regrouped amid the stench of cooked brakes and headed west along the valley to the White Down climb. The climbers amongst us quickly disappeared, JR setting a most impressive time on his fat bike which by rights should be holding him back. Perhaps it is. I continued in my mid pack position, enjoying the heat coming off the chalk face and the fine view across the valley.
Arriving at the top we found Lloyd out on a quick few morning miles and he shared a half mile or so of trail with us before he had to turn off to head for home. By now we were headed for Abba Zabba. Dandy, DaveW, Tony and Nick all rolled in and cleared the tree but Chrissie had a last minute change of heart for some reason so she joined us for the ‘chicken run’ round the edge. I followed DaveC down the Blind Terror 2 drop and then down the big roll in, both of us rolling high up the other side before – you guessed it – we needed to do some more winching.
White Down winching again, this time on the roadie infested tarmac. Up and up we dragged ourselves until we reached the start of Reformation.
Now we’re all different. Some of us can ride this sort of trail without too much trouble – in fact all of us can ride most of this trail without difficulty. The difference is that there are one or two places where getting it wrong can hurt. For me, this kind of trail comes with a high reading on my gnarr-o-meter, making those odd one or two sections a bit of a challenge.
Unfortunately for DaveC, this time he ran out of chips to cash in Casino Gnarr. I was following Chrissie, who was following Dave right at the start which features a narrow off-camber line to a big step down when she bailed suddenly and found herself hugging a tree. The reason was that ahead of her, Dave had slipped off the edge of the trail and stacked it big time into the scenery.
He ended up a good 12 feet off the trail and a good six feet below it, upside down amongst lots of unforgiving dead branches and debris which was formed into a complex lattice of limb snapping opportunities. Luckily, Dave managed to get away with it – to a degree – although it was a mighty tumble.
Strangley, those behind Dave had lost their mojo and momentum for the step down so an alternative line was chosen which proved challenging in it’s own way. Once we had regrouped the rest of the trail was great, with jumps available as optional extras for those who fancied them.
Reformation feeds into the Blind Terror complex which is a big roll in/bowl in the woods that leads you down to the bottom of the White Down road. Dave was back on it and rolled it quite happily (it’s one of his favourites I think), with Chrissie close behind while I lead a few of us round the edge (I just prefer the flow of the alternative line). By the time we reached the final turn I could see Tony’s bike leaning against a tree and then the reason for his dismount.
Chrissie found that someone had played the tree-eating joker on her. Her bike had gouged a chunk out of a very stout tree while she had taken avoiding action which I imagine was quite painful, involving a big tumble over more of those unforgiving tree roots. The woods don’t lack for wood that’s for sure.
Like Dave, somehow Chrissie managed to avoid significant injury and thank goodness for that. Things could easily have involved a trip to A&E from either of their accidents. Duncan, on his first ride with us must have been wondering what the hell he’d got himself into but we kept telling him we’re normally much more sensible…
Since we were – as fate would have it – at about the farthest limit of our ride today it was time to head back to civilisation, or at least a caffeinated drink. We ran all the way back along the valley to pick up the High Med climb which gave us a chance to relax a bit in the sunshine. I managed to settle into a comfortable rhythm going up High Med and had a bit of spin up there chasing the John and Elliott breakaway.
Up on Ranmore there’s a mobile coffee shop, serving very nice coffee and cakes out of the back of an old Citroen van, called Cafe La Creme. I had a cappucino and a rock cake and it was perfect while we basked in the sun and licked our wounds (at least figuratively). I’m not going to lick Dave I can tell you.
Chrissie left us after coffee for a lunch appointment which I think means she was planning to heal her bruises through the power of alcohol (very sensible), while the rest of us turned for Flinty Badman. I even managed to do the log jump with Tony following and who very thoughtfully rung his bell to let people know we were coming. I think. An excellent trail.
By now time was getting on but we were off to Westhumble and then on to Mickleham. It was Dave’s turn to bail out as the effects of his fall kicked in, so a remaining few crawled up toward the Gallops before launching into a very overgrown TNP. Having despatched that, another winch brought us to the Bat Cave and finally Tankslapper before we headed for home. I even did the Tankslapper jump at the end which pleased me no end as it’s been waiting for me for months.
A final winch awaited in Norbury Park and the climb past the radio mast nearly broke the pack while I was the sole voice of reason that took the gentler leg burner curve. We finished the days’ ride on Infestation which was a blast from start to finish.
All in all about 26 miles, 3,200 ft of climbing, lots of jumps and gnarr and no injuries. Not bad!
More pictures, courtesy of JR, are on Flickr