One way or the other I was always going to be out on Wednesday night, despite a tiny amount of dampness during the day. That’s dampness – as in rain – from the sky, not dampness that has anything to do with my person you understand.
I’d agreed to let Lloyd have a go with my new Four4th Holy Moses light so I knew I had to be riding!
So Lloyd and I were joined by Kev, DannyP and DaveC for another ride across the hills. I’ve become so familiar with how we get over to Ranmore that I thought I’d try things a bit differently.
We set off up Crabtree Lane and followed it as it turns into doubletrack past the big field and on up the hill toward Dorking. There was no wind or hint of chill in the air as the first few miles gave us a chance to warm up with some gentle climbing.
At the cottage we turned right and headed along the singletrack and some noodly woody stuff on the trail where Keith winded himself badly on a ride last year, having caught his handlebars on a hanging loop of ivy. It’s still there incidentally but there were no problems tonight as we tried to move along with a steady flow.
Danny was out on his new Kinesis Maxlight hardtail, the result of a bargain with Danielle at Astounding Adventures. It’s a lovely looking frame (magnesium alloy with a carbon back end) and has a great spec, it’s just a shame I’m too small to fit it! It looks fast just standing still and will be awesome once Danny’s reprogrammed from riding his Five.
Joining our normal descent toward the Polesdon estate we shot down the hill with a cloud of chalky dust behind us (I know, I was at the back!).
Once on Polesdon land we crossed the Stone Bridge and then turned UPhill to follow the trail round the corner. Soon it was heading downhill and it made a nice change to ride this with some beans left in the tank. Normally it’s the final run on the way back to our cars but the ride was still young.
We cantered down Yew Trees with Kev having a big moment behind me apparently – he certainly looked like someone who’d got away with it when we next stopped – and then continued up to Ranmore. Danny too was finding his new hardtail handled differently to his slack angled Five!
From Ranmore Dave was keen to do And Then There Were Three (ATTW3) so we headed off toward the Denbies estate, picking up the bridlepath that run parallel to the concrete road. Dave reckoned it’s got a name (from the Femoles) of something suitably girly but I can’t remember! At the end of that we turned right up toward the house to pick up the ATTW3 trail.
I’m beginning to really enjoy this trail – if nothing else it keeps us well away from dog walkers and DoE youths on a Sunday which is no bad thing given the speed some people take the traditional Denbies descent at. This offers a bit more noodle-value and leads down to the NDW path up from the A24. That’s if I can manage to follow the leaf covered trail at this time of year which is nearly invisible! Yes my legendary trail leading skills were to the fore again!
By the time we reached the A24, Dave was ready to curtail his evening’s efforts as he was keen to get home to eat. The rest of us threw some ideas down to see what the cat licked up.
With no sign of anything feline, we decided to cobble together a route up the face of Box Hill and then round to come back down via China Pig. I had no plans to haul my excessively creaky Five up Box Hill at any speed and settled into a steady middle ring grind, trying to block out the sound of my suspected bottom bracket failure and Danny close behind.
My Garmin later showed Danny and I had made it up there in just over 8 minutes which is pretty reasonable I reckon. We stopped for a breather and then pressed on for China Pig. Somehow I found myself leading the way and was trailed by a large owl overhead for several metres as we made our way to the start, where I led the four of us off without much delay.
I hammered it down there, the top off-camber sections worked better for me than it has done for a while and then it was on to the long spinny singletrack. Danny was close behind me all the way and I really couldn’t go much faster with the visibility and skills that I had.
But I was on my Five after all. Danny on the other hand was on that racy hardtail. About two thirds of the way down things went quiet behind me. I guessed he’d pinch flatted on the roots and that Kev and Lloyd would sort him out when they reached him but it turned out he’d stacked it and ripped the back of his calf on his pedal spikes. Ouch!
By the time he reached the stile he was feeling it and Kev used the last of his antiseptic spray administering a bit of first aid to a raw would that was bleeding a bit freely. While we patched him up Danny and I got into a conversation on lawn scarification as Danny’s the owner of the Matt’s Mowers franchise for the local area and he knows a LOT about lawn care! I have to say his leg looked pretty scarified too.
So we limped back to Bookham by as direct a route as possible to save Danny further trouble. All in all the ride covered 16 and a bit round about miles of the North Downs. As sual, an excellent evening.