Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole ValleyMuddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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Ride report: Wednesday 23 March – Five Shere Drops

Posted by Dandy | March 24, 2011 | 11 comments so far

At 6pm I was still on the M3 and had no idea who was planning to ride. I’d had a tough outing on the ‘dark side of the road’ the night before, and although I’d put my On-One and all the gear in the back of the car, and taken it down to Southampton and back, I still wasn’t bubbling with enthusiasm at the thought of a second night’s assault on the North Downs’ hills.

A quick check of the forum on the ‘mobile device’ at Fleet Services revealed it was JR’s birthday, and he was up for a celebratory ride. With only Lloyd acknowledging JR’s posting, I felt obliged to make the effort to get there in time.

Unfortunately, with problems on the Surrey stretch of the M25, it seemed that everyone else had hit upon the same cunning plan as myself, so I spent the best part of 30 minutes in the queue leading up to Hampton Court bridge. Apologies to anyone who spotted the naked chap lurking in the car park behind Hylands Garage as he removed the suit and tie and struggled into the lycra bib-shorts.

And so it was that five of us (JR, Lloyd, Paul M, James Pro & myself) set off on John’s chosen route (well it was his birthday), starting with a sneaky short cut through the car wash. JR was in an impish mood.

Our ultimate destination was the narrow and fast descent from Crocknorth Road through Effingham Woods to Honeysuckle Bottom. To get there we opted for the Admiral’s Track to Polesden Lacey, then down Hogden Lane and back up the flinty section to Ranmore Common Road. This was by popular request, with a few voicing their dislike of the Yew Trees climb after the Youth Hostel.

The descent down Hogden Lane was a real ‘hoot’, and I found myself treating the banked edges like a berm, and popping off from the small bumps that occasionally appeared on the sides of the banks. Unfortunately it was payback time for the fun, and I decided that I was definitely in the category that prefers the shorter, steeper climb past the Youth Hostel. The hardtail always seems to struggle for grip on these rougher climbs.

Despite his 37 years (cough) JR showed a sprightly pace up Hogden Lane that put all us younger riders to shame. Though it should be noted that it was the full-suss riders that climbed the quickest, so obviously it was the bikes that were letting us down, not our fitness. We headed straight over the road at the top, and as the bridleway headed down we put a right turn onto Collarbone (rather than straight on down Land Rover as last week).

Despite the previous night’s efforts, the legs weren’t feeling too bad, though all had to wait for me at the top of Whitedown as I managed to drop a chain due to some injudicious shifting. Not for me the attractions of a singlespeed, though I might be tempted when my legs have got more miles into them after their enforced winter lay off.

None were brave enough to tackle the log climb/feature tonight, before we blasted through the woods then over Critten Lane, then past the reservoir and right onto the Drovers Road. I was thinking we must have maintained a pretty good pace as there weren’t many stops, perhaps someone can supply some stats for the evening in a comment posting?

Turning left after the gate then along the track, Sheepwalk Lane to Crocknorth Road. Time for some more speedy fun, along this road for a mile or so then taking the left turn at the fingerpost to head down the long & fun descent under the “Lovelace Bridges” through Effingham Woods to Honeysuckle Bottom.

I managed to open up a bit of a gap as I led the group down, so no-one saw my ‘comedy moment’ as I attempted to leap the tree that had fallen across the path. I’m guessing that although my front wheel lofted over the obstacle without problems, the back wheel landed on or just before the tree. As the trunk was suspended a few inches over the ground, it acted like a pogo stick and the back end shot into the air as my weight was forward in my lame attempt to hop the obstacle. Over the bars I went, though fortunately no major damage was sustained.

I nearly got away with claiming that I’d merely stopped to highlight the obstacle for the following riders, but I wasn’t quite quick enough in pulling myself together. We completed the rest of the descent uneventfully, and headed left up to the sawmill. We all failed dismally on the ‘impossibly steep climb’ and enjoyed another hooligan descent to cross Green Dene (the road) before another climb up to Sheepleas.

Although most of us had ridden this route several times, this was the first time without Matt or Dave leading the way, so we were rather chuffed to find that our inspired guesses at each junction took us on the descent through the Sheepleas woods down to the A246 at Horsley.

At some point, we got to discussing how a Moles evening ride was ‘alcohol-free’ compared with some other local riders who shall be nameless (but you know who you are ! ). So after turning right and along a few hundred yards to the Duke of Wellington at East Horsley, naturally we had to stop and celebrate JR’s 37th birthday.

A notice board promised ‘cask ales’, but only a solitary Greene King IPA clip adorned one of the three hand pumps. However, the Surrey Hills Shere Drop barrel had just been tapped, so JR was able to enjoy a celebratory drink.

Only the one pint was supped, before we leapt back on the bikes (and immediately fell off again, in Lloyd’s case) and headed up the Ockham Road ( past the Pink Garlic curry house, very tempting) and along the side of Horsley Towers, through to join Orestan Lane and into Effingham.

By this time, our enthusiasm for off-road riding had been considerably dampened, and we continued on Lower Road into Bookham, with Lloyd then JR splitting to head home before Paul, James and myself got to the Anchor pub. It seemed only fitting to take on more refreshment at this point, so it was nealy 11pm when we finally cycled back up Eastwick Road to Hylands garage. It had been a great ride, with some great descents, and we’d all enjoyed the beer (or beers in some cases) which allowed us to forget the pain of the climbs.

I thought I’d got away with it, but just as I was pulling onto the drive at home, the phone rang and La Dandina demanded to know where the hell I’d got to. Darn. Luckily she was asleep by the time I’d finished faffing about downstairs, so I was spared the tongue lashing until the morning!

Filed under Rides in March 2011

Dandy

About the author

Having been mountain biking since 1996, you might have expected Dandy to have learnt to ride a bike by now. Several broken bones in the last few years prove the maxim that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

In between hospital visits, Dandy rides a brace of much-blinged Pace RCs, the 'green themed' 405 and the silver & gold 506. His winter hack is the Moles' favourite, an On-One 456 hardtail, now converted to an Alfine hub He also dabbles in 'the dark arts', keeping 2 road bikes in one of his seven sheds.

There are 11 comments on ‘Ride report: Wednesday 23 March – Five Shere Drops’

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  1. paul901 says:

    Nice write up Andy and a belated Happy Birthday to ‘Young John’ as I believe he should now be known.

  2. Toby says:

    Nice, sounds like a fun ride and glad to hear you’ve discovered the joys of a beer or two on a night ride.

    Surely you’re not referring to us ‘Cocks’ in your write up ! with the clocks changing at the weekend perhaps a few Tuesday rides over the summer could be arranged from Coldharbour if anyone is interested.

  3. Young John says:

    “The Boy Dandy” generously left 15 years off my age, over the pint in the Wellington and we realised I am actually older than him – without revealing how close to 37 he is. That probably makes me the most ancient Mole – although it could be possible that Keith is even older, just extremely well preserved.

    It was generous of the others to follow my suggestion of repeating Matt’s brilliant route from a few weeks ago and thanks to The Boy Dandy, and the others, for buying the pints.

    I was behind young Dandy on the route through past the bridges and although I thought I was doing a decent speed he had soon disapperaed off ahead. By the time I caught up again he was kindly illuminating the obstacle for the rest of us with his head torch and we were so far behind him we never would have known he had taken a tumble.

  4. Dandy says:

    Well, I did say, “You know who you are”. If the cap fits, as they say 😉

    You’re on, Toby. I would love to join you again on a Tuesday night, especially with the lure of the Coldharbour Ales, scientifically prepared to replenish the lost electrolytes and minerals :-).

    Another month or so should see some perfect evening conditions for the Surrey Hills.

  5. DaveW says:

    Count me in for a Tuesday drink – I mean ride – Toby.

    A belated happy birthday John!

    I was at a colleagues leaving do, so did also partake of some beer fuelled bicycling across London on the brompton.

  6. Boy Dandy says:

    “we realised I am actually older than him”

    Cheeky bugger. I, of course, naturally assumed that it was obvious to all that owing to my youthful good looks (my face is my fortune – hence the Met Parachute’s face protection), everyone was aware that you were old enough to be my Dad 😉

    Either that or it’s that Kingston Coolfella character.

  7. 901 junior says:

    More like languishing on the rivet…

  8. James prp says:

    It was a fine ride, Not been out for ages and with a fine drop of Shere drop to boot. See you all next week.

  9. Boy Dandy says:

    James PrP ? Is that the lasting effect of Shere Drop on the brain, or the noises he makes after a couple of pints of the stuff? 😉

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