I don’t know how to describe this ride after enthusing about last Wednesday’s night ride — I’m out of superlatives. Really it was a cracking ride. After hearing about the ‘new’ trails we rode in the Horsley area last week, Jem suggested I showed him and the others the same route tonight. Of those riding (Colin, Jem, DaveP, Matt, Lee and myself) I was the only rider who was on the original ride last week.
You can see where this is going can’t you?
So we headed out on familiar territory, through Wiggly Wood and up past Tanners Hatch to Ranmore. As it’s so dry at the moment and I’m feeling pretty good after making healthy payments to the mileage bank over the winter we put up a reasonably quick pace, enjoying the predictable riding surface for a change.
I’ve alluded to the singlespeed project on the horizon recently and to get me in the mindset I’ve tried ignoring the gears on the Inbred, just sticking to middle/middle gearing for the last few rides. That too seems to be paying dividends as I was able to shake off most of the group on the climb up to Ranmore. Jem of course was a reasonable distance ahead and Matt managed to stay in touch all the way but overall I was pretty pleased at my performance.
Up on Ranmore we turned toward Badger Run and Collarbone, skipping the bikes along smartly and kicking up dust behind us as we hopped the bikes over the exposed roots. Still the pace was quick but not punishing with all of us staying largely together even as the miles added up. A bit of noodling near White Down brought us out at the reservoir car park in Effingham Woods, inevitably startling a couple ‘enjoying’ the evening in their car. Lee was happy.
A short climb and sharp right brought us out onto the Drove Road green lane where we turned and picked up Sheepwalk Lane to take us toward Effingham. I was thinking at this point that most of the real climbing was over but of course I was thinking of the route we rode last week. This week was different.
Now I can’t explain it but for some reason my mind seemed to have gone blank as we popped out back on the road near the Hermitage. I know, in hindsight that we should have followed the road to the right but instead the trail straight ahead looked quite inviting. Within moments of starting out the warning light came on in my head telling me things weren’t quite right.
But the thing was, the trail was quite fun! It was a continuation of Sheepwalk Lane that eventually spat us out at the sawmill near Honeysuckle Bottom and Dick Focks Wood (seriously!). The whoops of delight behind me as we popped and hopped our bikes over all sorts of trail obstacles told me it was worth the gamble and the recent tree felling activity created even more hoonage options on a trail that wandered steadily downhill.
By the time we reached Honeysuckle Bottom we’d thrown our height advantage away and after a bit of debate enlightened by Colin’s excellent SatMap 10 (the OS maps on it are great), we decided we needed to climb back up the hill opposite into Upper Weston Wood. For a brief but extremely painful time, things got all Cyclocross as we were all forced to walk up the hill, hoping least that the height would be put to good use later.
And so it proved. The next trail was a gem, a loamy gulley with rideable sides and pretty big rooty drop offs that kept us all on our toes and asked for maximum concentration. It was pick-a-line time and go with it and we loved it. We popped out near the Sheapleas car park and crossed over to Sheapleas Wood itself from where we made our way over to East Horsley via some more great trails, with lots of twisty singletrack that kept a flow going without ever being easy. It was excellent stuff.
The unfamiliar trails meant a bit of umm-ing and ah-ing at times which used up valuable time but overall we were all delighted with our evenings exploration. Coming out onto the A246 near the Duke of Wellington pub we headed off to Effingham via Lynx Hill. Our hope was to head over toward Effingham Station and run round the back of Bookham Common but somehow we managed to pass the Plough pub at Orestan Lane instead and ended up on the Lower Road to Bookham.
It was time to start losing riders as they started to head home. Colin and Matt went one way, DaveP had already peeled off so it remained for Jem, Lee and myself to ride down past the Windsor pub (why were we passing pubs without stopping?) and cross over to Bookham Common, eventually popping out in The Glade in Fetcham where we said our goodbyes.
A superb ride. 16 miles in all with plenty of quick paced riding and a huge variety of new trails to keep everyone interested. Of the six of us, all locals, it came as a surprise to ride new stuff virtually on our doorstep which none of us had seen before. Even if you think you know your local patch, why not have a go yourself at mixing things up every now and then? It could pay dividends.