After days of miserable weather the forecast promised a break in the rain for the first Wednesday evening ride since the clocks went forward. And as the ride time approached the overcast grey gave way to cheery white clouds and even a hint of our first Wednesday sunset of the year.
Leaving the house a little later than usual I thought I’d better wait at the top of Crabtree Lane to make sure I didn’t miss everybody, but as there was no sign of any Moles I backtracked to the garage to find a solitary DaveW.
At the top of Crabtree we decided to head past Bocketts Farm and try the Alsatian climb as an alternative to the traditional Wiggly Wood. Any initial smugness at having a dry evening instead of the recent rain-drenched rides was quickly dispelled by the muddy condition of the tracks, with Dave caught out by the mud and ruts at the Waterworks corner before the railway.
The climb up Alsatian was a real challenge, and in many places although we were pedalling hard and the wheels were going round there was so little grip that we barely moved forward. But although progress up the track was slow in miles per hour, Dave had set a lung bursting pace which demanded an extended breather when we got to Cherkley Court.
Stane Street continued the slippery theme so it was a relief, for me at least, when we got to the bottom of Box Hill. Normally I don’t like the flinty climb when it’s wet, but in comparison to the mud it now felt solid and secure and I was pleased to get to the top in not too much over eight minutes.
From the back of Box Hill Dave tore down Happy Valley as I gingerly picked my way along the track, and we decided to head back via Ranmore. The climb up Denbies rewarded us with a great view across Dorking and the planes lining up to land at Gatwick, then the blast down Yew Trees ended with the yellow and red lights of Heathrow glistening in the clear air. Back down Dorking Road and home for a much needed hose down – for both the bike and me. Just 16.2 miles, but with all that mud I am sure the back wheel travelled more like 20.