Wow! Like, really wow! Sometimes a ride becomes greater, far greater than the sum of its parts. Tonight’s ride was exactly that. Technical singletrack? Nope. Monster miles? Nope. Testing conditions? No, none of that either, just a reasonably fast blast around Ranmore, down to East Horsley and back via Effingham and Bookham Common.
Tonight we were pared back almost to the bone with just Dave, Tony and myself venturing out for the evening. I said to Mark on Monday I needed a couple of days to acclimatise to the new colder weather we’ve had this week and to tell the truth I had to force myself to go out. Silly really, given I’ve ridden many a sub-zero mile this winter and it’s now about 8° out there, but there it is.
Heading up onto the Downs I had a half-plan sorted. It wasn’t really what I fancied doing but I was conscious that you need to mix it up sometimes. Fortunately, Tony stepped in with a query about doing Wiggly Wood, Dave and I nodded and off we went, the three of us keeping close company through the trees.
Naturally enough the flow kept going down the other side and round the back of Polesden where we each gave Colin’s ‘high line’ approach to the bottom of the Tanners climb a go. With such a compact group we needed to stay close just to be able to keep a conversation up so the climb itself was dispatched easily enough, with me stretching my lungs a bit on the final section.
Once up on Ranmore the temptation is usually to head toward Dorking via a number of possible routes, but once again Tony stepped in and suggested a completely new idea to us. How about heading back via Effingham and Bookham Common? Willing to try something different, Dave and I fell in behind him.
What followed was a quick blast along Badger Run followed by Collarbone, it rapidly becoming clear that the recent dampness had yet to impact the trails. They were dry and fast with just a light softening of the surface yielding decent grip for a change.
At the end of Collarbone we turned right and noodled our way through the woods toward Abba Zabba but turned onto the BOAT that takes you toward Newlands instead. After a short distance we then picked up a right turning back toward the Ranmore Road and then some long fast sweeping singletrack.
Heading toward East Horsley via the singletrack we found ourselves with the gradient on our side for what seemed ages and ages. Definitely it’s a summer run as there was the odd muddy patch and the ruts showed how boggy it could get during winter, but our own chatter was replaced with chatter from the wheels as we stretched out along the trail, making the most of what it offered.
At one point we swept past a field and found a Roe deer standing startled in our headlights just 30 feet or so off to the right of the trail; shortly after, Tony chased a very quick running badger down the track at speed for a good few metres. All entertaining stuff. By now we were warm, spinning comfortably along and enjoying the high speed progress through the trees.
Eventually we reached East Horsley and crossed over the road to pick up Dirtham Lane for a short while before veering off toward the railway and popping out at Effingham station. From there it was a quick blast across Bookham Common (including an uncommonly bumpy field crossing) to end up at Dave’s house.
By the time I arrived home I had 15 miles on the clock, a 9.3mph average and the knowledge of a decent ‘short circuit’ around the area for nippy blasts when time is tight. As Dave said, the flowing trails would lend themselves well to a singlespeed or 29er and because it’s not particularly technical it’s a good fitness run for beginners. And what a buzz from fast riding on new trails!