Considering it’s now November the weather was incredible, almost like summer. Unfortunately not in a glorious dry dusty trails way, but just in an incredibly warm way.
It must have been well into double figure temperature wise (16-17degrees?) and after almost freezing a couple of weeks ago on a Wednesday night ride, I was definitely overdressed. As most others soon found too. Although it was windy a gillet and a sleeveless top was plenty.
A “select” group of riders met at the Hylands garage. Danny (no shock trouble this time), a rare Wednesday off-road appearance for Paul901, PaulM, Matt and myself.
Matt’s Orange Five was definitely in need of some TLC. With the right shifter caput he was down to 3 gears using the big/middle/granny. Also his chain was seriously rusty and in need of a good lube – with Matt threatening to write an article on lubes – that usually brings out multiple opinions. Although not threatening to lube has chain??
We headed off up to Wiggly Wood and down via the back of Polesden. Everyone should note that as you head past the riding stables and bear off right into Chapel Hill woods the “unmarked path” has a large hole dug in the middle of the trail, it could really catch someone out.
The other issue last night was the amount of leaves on the ground, such that the paths we’ve been following all summer now are tricky to pick out – as I demonstrated with a little off piste route in Wiggly Woods.
For this part of the ride as least the trails weren’t too muddy, but you definitely knew that grip was at a premium especially if you hit a patch of chalk or deep leaves.
We headed down the banked descent to Badgen Farm and up to Tanners Hatch. Instead of taking the long drag to Ranmore Common we headed straight on to the steep climb where Matt, to mis-use the phrase “Matt had one gear and the idea”, shaming us 27gear equipped boys by clearing it with his one granny gear. Then is was onto Ranmore and across to Collarbone, which is getting back to it’s winter worst.
A breather at the end of Collarbone saw us regroup and again talk about how warm it was! Then it was a (not so for me) careful descent of White Down, which took plenty of attention. We continued over to Abinger Roughs and at the clearing after the Roughs we turned off up to the climb past New Barn Farm.
Strangely for the Moles we don’t have a name for this climb. “Relentless” seemed to be a good summary from Paul901 since there is nowhere to hide going up this one. It wasn’t helped by the chalk and leaf covered gullies which caught out the unwary (me!). Matt and Danny seemed to polish it off no problem though.
Waiting at the top we all commented how warm it was (I know again…). We headed off along the North Downs Way and round the back of Crocknorth Farm and along the long run down to Dirtham Lane/Effingham. The top of this run is turning quite muddy but it’s still rideable (Paul901 – wait until you see it in Feb), the rest of the way down is still a big ring blast. Super quick, hard to see in the leaves but oh so much fun.
Then it was a run down to Effingham Common, across the tiny singletrack path, which takes plenty of concentration but again is rewarded by plenty of speed. The usual Effingham Common swamp hasn’t yet made it’s appearence. Finally it was a drag through the horse churned mud of Banks Lane back into Bookham.
A great ride, with a ominous foretaste of winter mud.
Did I mention that it was warm?