Before I get into yesterday’s ride just a short note of apology to anyone who’s commented in the last couple of days. We’ve just migrated to a slightly more butch server for the website and in the process found comments stalled for a while. Back on track now though so if you have something to say, go on and say it!
But back to the serious business of riding bikes. Last night saw DaveP, Nick(Easynow), Jem, Dave, Tony (Roadie-Dendron) and myself gathering to take on the North Downs Hills, not knowing quite what we would find. Our last ride on Sunday was wet and startlingly slippery so I was a bit unsure where to head for last night.
As usual we had to wend our way up onto Ranmore so we headed off through Wiggly Wood, always a good one for warming up cold legs and getting the lungs working. I led the way and quickly found conditions significantly better than Sunday with the trails proving to be surprisingly quick drying. Nice and grippy.
Not long after that we were crossing the old Dorking Road onto the Polesden estate where we took the chance offered by daylight to play on the big bombhole near the stone bridge. It always looks quite daunting but in fact is very easy to roll in and out although a half hour playing could probably lull you into trouble.
Refocussing on destination: Ranmore we passed Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel and then headed off up the lumpy trail we came down when we returned from Newlands Corner a couple of weeks back. I just couldn’t face climbing the normal route and although this way was less intense it still needed a certain amount of work.
Two thirds of the way up we dog-legged across to join the Yew Trees road which offers a much gentler ascent. Amazingly my faux-singlespeed efforts must be paying off as the steep dog-leg was dispatched quite easily – in fact I went from last to first after giving the leaders a good 70 yard head start (in fairness, I was the only one trying!).
With clearly drying trails and a lovely warm evening it was a good night to put together a long-ish run so once up on Ranmore we hooked up onto Badger Run and Collarbone to come out at the top of White Down. Despite a certain amount of circumspection, particularly at the top, we took the chalky White Down descent down toward the Abinger Roughs, all the time expecting the chalk to bite back but it never did – we just got faster and faster as we approached the bottom. It really was a good night to be out.
A quick left turn toward Westcott got us talking about MacPhearson’s Mount for the second time this week, Tony and Jem curious to know what the climb would be like as they’d missed Sunday. I think we all gave it a committed go but again none of us managed to clean it despite it obviously being do-able. It’s one of those climbs that needs a fine balance between keeping the wheels turning and keeping the front end from wandering about and it’s going to bother me until I manage it!
On reaching Ranmore again after a bit of hard work we split briefly to come down through Denbies, DaveP and Tony heading off round the more scenic side route that nearly bit back with large expanses of clay causing them to slip all over the place, while the rest of us amused ourselves hooning down the direct route. Much more fun!
A quick spin brought us along the A24 to Norbury, with Tony and Dave disappearing into the distance. That’s one downside of singlespeeding I guess as you top out at a frenzied 15mph or so but the payback seems to be considerable. I had to stamp the pedals a bit climbing up toward Norbury House and I found myself looking forward to getting the bike properly singlespeeded (and hence lightened) in the next week or so but after that I really surprised myself as we crossed the road over into Updown Wood.
I fairly flew up the climb there, a place I’ve laboured up before wondering why the front wheel kept flapping around. This time I was up on the pedals with my weight over the front wheel and really didn’t particularly notice it. Weird, especially as I then managed to keep a consistent pace all the up to Infestation.
I haven’t come down here for a few weeks and have to admit a hardtail can be a bit unforgiving. Things didn’t start well as I veered off track at the top, pulling up short before some brushy undergrowth but once back on line I let the bike have it’s head over the masses to exposed roots all the way down the descent. Toward the bottom I was just hanging on as I made full use of the 100mm travel on my Marathons but I stayed on the bike which is the main thing.
By the time we arrived back at Highlands Garage it was about 10-ish and I was thinking about a bit of pasta (and wine – DaveP, leave it!). All in, an 18 miler door to door with some great riding. People seem to be full of enthusiasm at the moment and I reckon it’s from putting in all those hard winter miles – it’s now payback time for us I hope. This Sunday sees us heading to Swinley at an unearthly hour for some more fun so expect some video and photo footage to accompany the next ride report.