Last night was a perfect night for a ride. Warm but not hot, no wind and no rain. Well, that was until we were about halfway round our loop, when it started to rain in earnest. By then, we didn’t care much anyway so despite getting a soaking we didn’t let it affect our enjoyment.
We started out with Colin, DaveC, James, AndyC, BiketechMark, Tony and myself, interrupting our Endless Chat™ to actually ride our bikes into the dark Surrey Hills. We weren’t quite sure what the trails were going to be like after a good few days of rain but by the time we got into Wiggly Wood we could tell that grip levels had dropped of considerably as the clay had once more turned greasy.
Well, it couldn’t be helped and besides, it wasn’t that bad so we rolled onward with the pace wound back to a comfortable 8 or 9/10ths. The biggest factor in the length of the rides is our constant stop/start which quickly turns a short chat into a lengthy conversation so I’ve noticed recently that different riders have tried to keep things rolling. Not fast, just moving and I’m all for it. We still chuck in plenty of rest stops anyway!
So down toward Polesden, again spinning along comfortably before startig on the Tanners Climb. Feeling a bit jaded with the normal route I suggested we took the cheeky footpath straight on which features the Impossible Climb. Well, it’s not but it was tonight as we all stumbled over roots or otherwise lost traction. With the clay it’s quite a problem trying to keep the bike moving without spinning away a quarter revolution of effort here and there.
By the time we’d come out onto the Yew Trees track we’d put in most of the effort required to scale Ranmore so it was just a nice and easy run up to the Ranmore Road. From here, DaveC and Colin turned back to get an early night as the rain—which had been slowly increasing—started to come down more steadily.
The remaining quintet turned toward Badger Run, greasy and slippy like Wiggly Wood and then segued our way onto LandRover. With me in the lead I decided that given the conditions I’d pick a nice smooth line down through the rooty steps and dropoffs. In many ways I quite enjoy riding LandRover like this rather than a straightforward blast.
Crossing the railway we continued on toward Westcott and round the back to the Rookery, just rolling along steadily. The Rookery climb was no problem at all as the maintenance work has turned it into nothing more than a steep incline with no technical aspect to it at all. Still riding comfortably within myself it was a relatively easy steady plod up onto Wolverns Lane.
By now the rain was coming down quite steadily but although I was forced to take off my glasses it remained warm. In fact I was riding with a Merino base layer and my Gore Phantom in gilet mode and felt exactly right temperature wise. What wasn’t right was a pungent aroma from my sweaty crash helmet which I guess could do with a clean! Yuck! I hate it when that happens as no matter how fast you go the whiff stays with you!
We meandered up Wolverns, meeting a group of riders coming the other way who said we must have been flushing a badger ahead of us which I certainly didn’t see. I’m assuming that wasn’t a euphemism of some kind obviously but we tipped them off about our website and continued on our way to the crossroads before turning left to head back toward Westcott.
It’s a bit sandy along here before the trail starts to get a bit interesting with some nice singletrack through the trees and the odd dropoff that then curves round into a deep gully just wide enough to get the bike down. I made a complete hash of it, having to release the IMB (Inner Bike Messenger) in me by unclipping and kicking myself off the sides of the gulley – not a great display of finesse I must say!
Eventually we came out near Logmore Lane and followed that briefly before picking up another track that brought us eventually onto the footpaths round the back end of Westcott, but not before I’d picked up a hefty whack from a small trees that Mark had moments before clouted himself! Coming into Westcott next to the old Nirvana shop premises we then had to wait for a bit while Mark set about repairing a puncture.
Once underway again we retraced our steps to the National Trust track up to Ranmore (I’ve heard it called High Mediterranean I think) and then when we finally returned up onto Ranmore we retraced our steps to take the long Yew Trees descent which by now was flooded with water for most of the way.
Braking for the final turn onto the stony descent toward the Polesden bridges my front disc pads finally gave up the ghost which means I’ll be trying to squeeze a set of Superstar pads in tonight. All in all a decent length night ride round some interesting trails despite the steady rain which had started up again by the time we reached Bookham. For any of us that weren’t properly wet already, the Admiral’s Track finished us off with some massive and unavoidable puddles!