Yes you read that title correctly. We actually managed a Newlands Corner run on a night ride, albeit a long dry summer evening. I’ve been thinking for a while it was do-able and so it proved even if we finished a bit later than usual.
Our riding group was just the right size to let us move along at the right kind of pace, with Dave, AndyC, AndyLeeds, JohnR, Tony and myself; only diesel Dave had the fuel economy settings dialled in but he kept on rolling.
Our route choice was to cut out some of the meandering up to Ranmore, taking the Admirals Track over to Polesden and then heading straight on to pick up Yew Trees. It was good chatting to Tony and catching up with his recent Paris road trip which I must say really whetted my appetite for some proper road miles. In a further sign of us weakening AndyC and myself starting musing on next year’s Etape du Tour. Oh dear!
Up on Ranmore we headed to White Down via Badger Run and Collarbone with Tony flatting spectacularly as his rear slime tube (I feed you all the best ones Lee!) let go abruptly, ensuring a ten minute stop and chat session.
But we had plenty of miles to cover so it was soon on to White Down via some sketchy sections of Collarbone. The recent heavy rain has washed huge amounts of debris down some of the steeper sections of trail and the chalk and clay surface was certainly something to keep us on our toes.
White Down was treated with some respect and a fair amount of braking material was used up on the way down. I was in the minority in thinking it was a bit lairy, everyone else feeling it wasn’t too bad but then, I am a wuss!
After that, we picked up the Abinger Roughs trail along the valley, enjoying the calm and relatively warm evening. Plenty of steady rolling punctuated by insane moments of uphill ‘races’ by some of us. I lost out each time to either John or Tony and seemed to spend far longer catching my breath than either of them but I console myself that it must be doing me some good. And it gets the hills out of the way quicker.
With Abinger behind us it wasn’t long before we’d dispatched Shere too and reached Albury thanks to more short sprints followed by some ‘recovery rolls’ It really was a fine evening and this route provides just the right mix of physical challenge through some very pretty countryside.
But Albury, whilst signifying we were nearing Newlands also heralds the start of the long climb up to the top of the ridge. After a long tarmac approach it turns into a chalky climb which in days past offered a technical as well as physical challenge. Now it’s just physical thanks to a bit of trail work over the past year or so. Thankfully it didn’t impinge on the senses half as much as the time we rode through it still wet from a slurry session by the local farmer. Thomas’s van may still smell to this day…
AndyC played his joker at this point, or rather his latest loan bike did, throwing off it’s chain which managed to wedge itself between the dérailleur plate and inner ring. After much struggling we ended up loosening the inner chainring bolts which allowed us to free the chain. I even remembered to tighten them up again but it was a near thing. It’s not easy doing trail repairs when the adrenaline is still pumping from the ride; it tends to cloud your analytical skills!
So we’d reached Newlands, with the only downside of an evening visit being a lack of bacon rolls. We turned instead for home via the North Downs Way which provided some easy rolling. The expected mud hadn’t really materialised but the green lane as usual had deep pools of water. This didn’t handicap us too much as we minced round them, in fact I found quite a rhythm along this stretch as the pools are surrounded by nice firm bowl-like edges that you could lean on quite happily.
By now the sun had taken it’s leave but we were back on Ranmore so it was only a few miles left. We retraced our steps down to Polesden, again keeping the pace up. With the gradient on our side it was easy enough to go with the flow and we made good time back to Polesdon which left us with the Yew Trees climb.
Once again Tony stretched his legs up here, I was hanging on well enough having started the climb near the back of the group until John breezed past me! And then he and Tony were gone. By the time we reached to top they had about 15-20 yards on me but I had nothing left; they were able to comment on the view!
A return to home at 10:40 perhaps isn’t the shortest evening ride but for a once in a while effort it was worth it. 25 miles up, no dramas, good company and a great evening.