Yesterday we had a three way split – early trail ride, a Leith Hill ‘gnarr’ ride and a roadie epic. Of these, only the Leith ride was up on the forum, given that the other two were hastily arranged efforts in the face of circumstance, but I guess it shows how useful it is building contacts on our forum.
So, with D’Andy off to the rugger in the afternoon, and me heading off on a bizarre bonsai hunt, we both met up early for a short Mickleham ride, while Keith and Tony got some major miles in with a 100 mile loop (if you can call it that) to Brighton to show off their lycra in the sun. Meanwhile, Al headed up the gnarrl-sters at Leith. I know very little of how they got on but a forum silence and a few Strava discussions suggests they had a great time with Karl being returned in one piece.
For Dandy and I, our meet up was at an unusually early 7:45 at the Anchor pub in Bookham. I was wearing a merino base with a cycle top AND softshell gilet which made me feel warm walking out to my garage but was soon to prove unhelpfully hot at we progressed through the ride.
My enthusiasm to get going was such that I left the house without my Camelbak which I didn’t realise until I’d reached the pub and decided I needed a bit of air in the rear tyre. Fortunately I had my soigneur with me in the shape of D’andy who helpfully loaned me his pump. In return, we both discovered that the head screws onto the valve head, so it was a win-win experience.
Now pumped, off we went. Up Crabtree Kane and into the Hazels near Roaring House farm, managing to dodge dog walkers but in my case managing to snag most of the small saplings on the way through. Things improved when we picked up the trail down to Bockett’s when wonder of wonders I realised for the first time this year that our Surrey clay was drying out nicely.
I really enjoy riding this time of year. As the trails dry out there’s minimal undergrowth which means much freer progress. Our progress on the other hand was one of onwards and upwards, to Alsation. First time for a while for me and to be honest, pretty hard work following a sprightly D’Andy up there on his singlespeed. He did offer to let me go ahead but I wasn’t havig any of that!
At the top we turned onto Staine Street and bombed down the rollercoaster, the benefits of a riding pair meaning little hanging around and a good flow developing. Down and up and down and up and round and along and we finally arrived up on Mickleham Gallops. With such a fine morning the day had the feel of long miles ahead, what a shame I couldn’t take advantage of it today. It also felt quite nice to be up and out so early with the trails feeling noticeably quieter, though we did see a large shoal of mountain bikers on the Gallops heading toward Box Hill.
Perhaps they weren’t fully aware that a much nice run if off the south eastern corner of the Gallops, which is where we headed for a bit of Lazy Batman (how many names are there for this now?!).
The long meandering trail is in fine condition, the flow helped further by the progress toward dryness I mentioned. Unfortunately, someone – in a misguided effort to make a point – has it in the head that they can place logs and sticks and branches across the trail which hampered our momentum a little. I understand the point but suspect the trails belong no more to that individual than they do to us.
After that, it was back up the hill to TNP, with the climb feeling quite manageable with the sun out. The Penguin was great fun as we threaded our way through, I think it’s my first time when I didn’t have to dab over a root or two.
After running back into Mickleham village we crossed the A24 and climbed up through Norbury Park, both D’Andy and I on a schedule to get back by 9:15, with the ride feeling it was winding down almost before it had started. We finished the morning’s activities with a nicely relaxed cruise down Infestation before heading back into Bookham. Our final stats showed around 11.5 miles or riding in about an hour and a quarter.
One of those ‘better-than-nothing’ rides that just leaves you wanting more. I’m hoping you can thank my purchase of a 29er specific rear mudguard for the upturn in the weather, I didn’t even need to clean the bike!