With heavy rain predicted for last night I had this sense of foreboding that it wasn’t going to be a great ride. But after a bit of rain on Tuesday night, Wednesday was mild and dry all day so I guess Sod’s law means I’ll be getting wet on my Friday morning commute instead!
The weather certainly had an effect on turnout though with just Matt, AndyC and me meeting at the garage. Other moles had other business to be fair but it meant we had quite a contrast to the 16 riders who turned up on Sunday.
We headed up onto the farmland at the end of Crabtree Lane and picked up Wiggly Wood. With just the three of us we could spin along at a reasonably fast pace, in fact I found a rythmn that suited me all night. Instead of turning to head over to Tanners Hatch we carried straight on down to Bagden Farm for the climb up to Ranmore.
The little dampness we’ve had is certainly starting to have effect too. Trail conditions are slowly but surely becoming greasy, especially on the chalk and clay trails this side of Ranmore, so watch out if you’re riding that way soon.
The Bagden climb certainly proved a bit of a lung stretcher and I was happy to be able to clear the tricky first section without a huge amount of trouble. It’s strange that my Orange seems to find more traction than it really should but I’m very glad it does, even with both the 150mm Revelations and Fox rear shock in the fully active position. To be honest I never use the fork lockout and it’s rare the ProPedal gets flicked on either. I just prefer to spin as smoothly as I can and let the bike do the rest.
With the difficult behind us it was then a case of a steady spin up to the Vicarage at Ranmore. I quite enjoyed this bit as the gradient is consistent all the way and it makes a nice change to the Tanners climb but Matt admitted he preferred the latter. Eventually though we reached the Vicarage.
I once came up here on a very foggy solo night ride and seeing the Vicarage appear out of the fog was pretty spooky in a Hammer Horror kind of way, even though I knew what it was. With Ranmore Church looming behind, it was an atmospheric moment that’s for sure!
Our next target from Ranmore was to head over to LandRover for the descent to the Westcott side. Heading along Badger Run was distinctly more slippery than it’s been for a while but still firm enough to set a decent pace. At the end we turned onto LandRover. I led the way down, trying to pick a nice line down rather than blunder through everything considering the number of steppy wet roots there are which gave the Five a chance to shine once more.
Safely at the bottom we headed back up the trackway. For a moment I thought Matt and AndyC were headed toward Mcphersons and my heart sank at the prospect of further effort, but it was just they were so deep in conversation over what colour pimpage should be going on AndyC’s new Pace RC405 that they missed the left turn! Put it this way, Andy’s bike will be ‘distinctive’!
More chatting made the trackway climb almost unnoticeable. Hub colours, seat pin/skewer choices, bolt through or QR, Revs or Vanillas, tubeless or tubes, Andy’s certainly in an enviable position. As he deserves, having been without a full sus bike since the Spring – he’s been very philisophical about the whole thing. Oh, and happy ’30th‘ for today Andy!
Back on Ranmore we descended to the A24 via the vinyard, heading down the direct, marbley route. I found things rather loose and sketchy all the way and screwed my line choice which had me just hanging on and hoping things would work out. Fortunately they did!
Back toward Leatherhead, we crossed to the Box Hill side and took on the climb up to the Mickleham Gallops from Juniper Hall. Again, I found it easier to just get into my own rythmn and was able to set my own sprightly but manageable pace up without the problem of traffic in front of me. I always find it harder to go at other people’s pace anyway. Stopping for a breather at the crossroads half way up, Andy managed to poke himself in the eye with a buddleia branch! If you want to avoid this problem, don’t park your bike in a buddleia in the first place people…
Riding along Staine Street toward the start of Alsation, Matt told us a tale about his missus seeing a ghost on the rollercoaster dips. Not one for flights of fancy, she was following him on her bike when she suddenly braked really hard, convinced there was someone in the middle of the track which had been empty for Matt. She went right over the person who she said looked ‘Roman-esque’, which then disappeared. Of course, Staine Street is an old Roman road… thankfully I wasn’t out on my own, otherwise I’d have been spooked by that knowledge!
The usual fast run down Alsation brought us back into Leatherhead and as usual, I was glad to reach the bottom without incident. The final few miles took us back to Bockett’s Farm and round the big field at Roaring House Farm to return down Crabtree Lane having covered around 18 miles.
Tomorrow I’m out on my rejuvenated Inbred singlespeed (of which more details soon), riding into work. If it’s raining, spare a thought for me. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for strange men in the woods but to be honest, I’m usually once of them!