At one point yesterday I wasn’t quite sure who was going to be around for the night’s ride, with Dave, Colin, Lee and Mark all unavailable and Tony looking doubtful. As it turned out though, I shouldn’t have worried and come ride time Tony and myself were joined by DaveP, Matt, JohnR and JezW (who was joining us for the first time). Together we formed a compact and well matched half dozen riders heading up on to the Downs.
Wiggly Wood was first on the list which I zipped through, enjoying the dry-ish surface and twisty singletrack until I reached the end and realised I was far too over dressed for the evening’s ride. Almost unnoticed it’s become quite mild recently and by the time we’d headed down toward the old Dorking Road and picked up the climb past Tanners Hatch it was time for the sleeves to come off. Perhaps arm warmers, much to Colin’s dismay might be worth a second look?
By now, the combination of Tony and John up front meant the pace was speeding up, those two seem to enjoy climbing hill! I thought I did too but it was too much for me and I was panting up toward Ranmore with little breath for conversation.
Having reached Ranmore we ran past the church and down through Denbies, encountering some sudden and unexpected mud on the descent down the side. Where did that come from? All of a sudden the bikes were fishtailing and understeering all over the place which was quite disconcerting and it wasn’t the last mud we trod last night either. We’ve probably got a bit too accustomed to the terrific draining qualities of Leith Hill and surrounding area and forgotten about our local trails perhaps?
At Box Hill we parted with DaveP and Matt who were both keen on an early night. The rest of us took to Box Hill, plodding up the bridlepath there. It’s still a sod of a climb in case any of you are wondering and once again I was finding myself short of breath.
After that it was over to start China Pig in all it’s tricky, off-camber rooty glory. It’s a terrific trail but I dabbed several times as the bike and me took differing views of the best line through. At one point I smacked my head on a low hanging branch and knocked the Trustfire torch clean off my head in the process! Great fun though through all the clumpy moss and traction smearing turns.
All that remained (ha!) was a climb back up onto the Mickleham Gallops, slippy chalk all the way although this time there were no illicit 4x4s up there to blind us. We carried on to Stane Street with the intention of a finish on Alsation and of getting Jez out near Leatherhead for the train home. He was definitely going to be the muddiest passenger that night.
Just to spice things up though his Lumicycles packed up as we neared the start of Alsation so it was an improvished three man group that got him down safely, me at the front making full use of my Exposure light, Jez in the middle also making what use he could of it and Tony behind helping out.
Full credit to Jez as we went down at a reasonable lick, I kept thinking I’d slow down if I lost Jez’s shadow cast by Tony’s light behind but no problems. I’m not sure I’d have been quite so trusting of people I’ve only just met but then, I’m like that! I just tried not to make any sudden direction changes.
So we got back to Leatherhead in time for Jez to make his train and for Tony to head off toward Fetcham. John and I continued on to Bookham via Bockett’s Farm, once again returning home after a 16+ mile ride before ten o’clock which was good going. I was exhausted, my stomach literally rumbling as I rolled down the hill toward home and a welcome plate of pasta and white wine combo (does that sound a bit poncy?).
Good to see everyone last night and another highly enjoyable ride, in the workout sense of the word. We don’t always crack on so much but maybe that winter of regular riding is starting to reap some rewards for us. Given the changeable nature of the grip conditions I think a Leith Hill ride is on the cards for Sunday.