Following Tony down ‘Secret Singletrack’ on Sunday, I took a bit of a whipping, but at least he took the brunt of it. Tonight, completely by accident rather than design (or so I like to think), it was my turn to force a path through the rampant vegetation.
At 6.20pm, I realised I had done enough preparation for the following day’s work that I had time to sneak out for an evening’s ride after all. Chucking gear on and a bike in the car, I found I was the second to arrive at the garage, after young Chris (though sadly almost everyone qualifies as ‘young’ to me).
We two were rapidly joined by young DaveW, young Jez, young Amanda (no Darren – stuck in traffic), young PaulM and old Keith (who unfortunately for me seems to possess a young pair of legs, though offset by a dodgy taste in retro road cycling shirts – think Lance or Max Sciandri from the late 90s).
We all watched Amanda sort out a tear in the sidewall of her tubeless tyre, offering helpful advice at several points which she diplomatically acknowledged as she reinflated the inner tube with a small trail pump. Everyone then all took a step back when it came to route planning except DaveW who wasn’t fast enough, so he volunteered we head over to Wolverns Lane and the narrow gulley descent back to Westcott. No-one had a better idea, so off we went with DaveW leading.
This was a mistake, because at the top of ‘Dog Egg Lane’ we had to convene again to decide the best route to Westcott, before heading off via the Admirals Track to Polesden and Ranmore via Yewtrees. We all had fun descending Landrover, with Amanda particularly enjoying the descent without her contact lenses in. Some of the rooty drops did take her by surprise, but she still kept up a fair old pace as I followed her down.
We kept stops to a minimum as this elite group of riders and me headed up the smoothly resurfaced Rookery climb to Wolverns Lane. As ever, we had a few comedy moments with the rooty climbs and tight turns around the trees before we found we had reached the turnaround point back to Westcott.
Despite the afternoon rain, we had yet more slipping and sliding around the dry and sandy trails, before it transpired that I was the only rider with enough memory to recognise the overgrown path back to Westcott. It made Sunday’s passage through ‘Secret Singletrack’ seem like a trip down the M1. Ferns and even some brambles clawed at my legs, and the challenging narrow gulley was even trickier as the overhanging bracken hid the track from view. All good fun though, and I secretly enjoyed the whipping!
After this we did get a bit lost, but Jez and his SatNav came to the rescue, and although we missed the cheeky footpath, we eventually found ourselves back in Westcott. The detour did take us through a field of sheep that were looking particularly attractive in their summer frocks, though to the untrained, unappreciative and non-Welsh eye it just looked like they had been sheared.
We headed back up to Ranmore via ‘Mediterranean’, where Paul departed to head back to Dorking. The rest of us carried on along the road before descending the way we came via Yewtree Farm. The pace downhill was now slowing as Amanda had no lights and Chris’ battery had run out after his Monday jaunt to Swinley with Adam and James.
Keith, who was showing his D2D ‘racing whippet’ form all evening, apparently shot up the final climb to Polesden Lacey to round off his evening ride, as he was parting from the group at this point. I, of course, am relaying this information second hand as by this time I was nearer 200m behind (where I’d been all evening on the climbs) and hadn’t a clue what was going on at the front of the group.
We were back at the garage by about 9.40pm. I guess we were out for a shade under 2 hours in total, and I’m expecting that someone with a bike computer or SatNav can post the distance we covered. I was just glad to get out and take advantage of this now dry evening, as sadly I can’t help feeling there won’t be too many left. Here’s hoping for an Indian Summer.