Every once in a while it falls to a select few to maintain our riding honour in the face of general unavailability. With Dave recovering, Tony away, Colin’s bike in bits and the fact it’s the season of feasting and merriment there was always the likelihood of a low turnout last night. Added to which it was bloody cold and wet.
But that didn’t stop MattS, James and myself from venturing onto the hills, lured there by the prospect of a dusting of snow. The trouble was, despite it snowing during the day, by the time we started it had marginally warmed to the point where it felt we were being rained on by a large Slush Puppie, alas without the Blue Raspberry flavouring.
No matter, at least there was a dusting in places, ready for us to leave our tell-tale tyre tracks and mostly, the mud had started to freeze. By the weekend, with the projected drop in temperature I reckon it could be a nice firm riding surface for the first time in weeks. For us it was still quite hard work and rather than hare off into the distance we decided to settle into a steady pace to keep the waiting at the top of climbs to a minimum. Besides, we were so bundled up in our cold weather gear we’d have spontaneously combusted if we’d gone any faster.
So a light sleet-fall, draggy mud and warm clothes defined our ride. We kept it simple, especially since Dave’s recent accident had brought it home to us that we really didn’t want to be lying around in the freezing cold if we could help it. Through Wiggly Wood, down toward the farm, a swift right to Polesdon and then up past Tanners.
The Tanners climb passed at a steady cadence on my singlespeed, I find I can stand on the pedals now all day without hardship although the backs of my arms and forearms feel it the next day. Fortunately my problems with the tensioner now seem to be resolved. At the top of the climb though the recent logging activity, while giving the air a nice pine scent, has unfortunately turned the track to slurry – it’ll be a while before this is sorted out I think.
Once on Ranmore we decided to retrace our steps from last week and head down Mcpherson’s to the trackway. I quite enjoy this bit, it’s sufficiently a challenge in the current conditions without it being stupid and being in front this week allowed me to set my own pace. A bit of extra speed helped no end and we were soon heading down a snowy trackway toward Dorking. At the bottom the wiggle through the wood was a bit slippy—I must make a note not to look back when I’m riding wet roots—and we were soon on the (footpath?) to the Ranmore Road.
Here we passed three or four riders who we heading in the opposite direction, one of whom was female. So it could just have easily been a group of extreme doggers (you know what Surrey is like). But I doubt that.
Soon we were heading through the Denbies estate, it’s great to have ‘discovered’ an alternative route through here and I’ve made a mental note of it next time I’m returning exhausted from Leith as it’s a much easier ride over to the A24. Once there, we agreed to head up and over the Mickleham Gallops. Unlike last time, I was feeling quite comfortable up here and soon stretched out a reasonable lead before we regrouped and continued upward and over to Stane Street where James managed to avoid repeating his total wipeout from last time too.
All that remained was a controlled descent down Alsation which had patches of soft mud in the middle that had my bike floating about disconcertingly but we were soon past that and back into Leatherhead leaving us with the climb up past Thorncroft Vinyard and an easy run through Bockett’s Farm. Mercifully, given the cold, no punctures which was a great relief.