What started as ‘The Magnificent Seven Ride Again’ eventually ended up as ‘The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly’. Talking of ugly, here’s a photo at the cake stop in Shere.
Today’s ride had it all; mechanicals, accidents, gnarr, climbs, road, mud, sunshine and cake. With Ride London taking some Moles off the trail, and family commitments and holidays accounting for a few more absences, seven assembled at Bocketts for the 0830 start. Big Al and Jonesy had cycled over from Dorking to avoid the road closures, joining Yvette & Albert, Kev, Karl and myself.
With a general acceptance that we were effectively sandwiched by the Ride London route, sticking to the Ranmore ridge and descending either side was the suggested plan. We got the waggon (29er) wheels rolling (Kev, Al, myself and half of Karl) and headed off to the Wild West (ok, maybe I’m stretching the ‘western’ analogy a little too far now). Within the first mile, the effect of the recent heavy rain became obviously apparent, the winter option of taking to the Admirals Track bank to avoid the track-wide puddle was required.
Once on the road to Polesden Lacey, we realised we’d lost Al and Karl. Retracing our route to the Admirals Track, we found them reassembling Karl’s rear cassette on his Ragley mmbop 69er. With his chain missing sufficient links to rule out any big front/big rear combination, and a knackered middle ring, Karl was going to have ‘one of those days’. Somewhere along here Karl had the first stack of the day; due, it seems, to not being used to that rare phenomenon known as ‘mud’.
A Hogden Lane descent followed by a Pamplona & Yew Trees ascent saw us onto the ridge, before taking the Badger Run & Collarbone approach to Trouble in Paradise. I tackled the log pile with more style than I managed on Friday night, with Jonesy following me; not sure who else gave it a go, so apologies for the lack of a name check.
Short and Sweet took us to Whitedown and then we headed to the reservoir and Abba Zabba, with Al tackling the tree with great style on his rigid On-One Lurcher, me following on my Superlight 29er, Jonesy on his Mondraker and Karl on his mmbop. Various route choices were taken to get us down to, and across the road, before tackling part two of the complex.
Part way down I waited for Yvette and Albert, Yvette arrived, but no Albert. As we started to walk back up, Albert appeared walking his carbon Stumpjumper and holding his shoulder. Seems he’d had trouble clipping in on one of the rooty sections, and distracted, fell heavily onto his left shoulder.
After handing out Ibuprofen and using my spare buff as a sling, we walked/cycled as injuries allowed back up the Whitedown road to the car park at the top. Luckily they had a medically trained friend who lived close by, so that’s where they headed. Bad news is that it seems Albert has cracked a rib and a collarbone. Hope it’s not too painful, and recovers quickly.
With the Magnificent Seven now reduced to the Famous Five, we headed along the North Downs Way before picking up the end of the Ranmore Common Road/top of Crocknorth and heading down Lovely Linda. Recent forestry work has widened most of it to a double-track, but there were a few piles of earth which gave additional ‘air options’ for those so inclined. The good news is that it’s still a mad and fast descent, just not so narrow and therefore not quite as much fun as previously.
We took the route back up to the North Downs ridge via the saw mill, before heading along and larking about in the concrete bowl. With three of us wimping out early on, Karl and Al competed to see who could complete the most laps. Not sure who cracked first, to be honest, but I was getting queasy just watching them.
Now it was off along the ridge again to the singletrack descent near Drum ‘n Bass. Al led the way down this cracking trail, which offers not too serious doubles and drops, all of which are rollable. I managed to stack big time on the very last double, landing on top of rather than on the downslope of the second hump. This sent me off line and I clipped the bush at the side and ended up on my back. Luckily, no harm done this time.
Heading down to the A25, we cheekily joined the Ride London roadies before sneaking off to the right and into Shere for some coffee and cake. We selected the Dabbling Duck café/restaurant, which was full of cyclists and walkers when we arrived, but somehow our presence triggered a mass departure 🙁
The quality of cake and coffee was excellent. Toasted tea cakes were enjoyed by Al and Jonesy, my Rocky Road was excellent, tasting to me like it had been made with a good quality, high cocoa content chocolate. Kev’s carrot cake also had his seal of approval. Not cheap, with very little change from a fiver, but the coffee was also very good. Sitting in the garden on a summer’s day it was a very pleasant pit stop.
Resisting the urge to linger for a beer*, we headed back to Abinger Hammer in a reverse of our normal route to Newlands Corner. We rejoined the roadies in Abinger Hammer, before exiting the A25 to the left to take in the Abinger Roughs, Deerleap and onto the High Med climb. Here we said goodbye to Al and Jonesy, who mingled yet again with the roadies for a roll in to Dorking.
With now only Karl, Kev and myself remaining, it had to be ‘Then there were three’ (aka Red, White & Rose) as our route to get us down from Ranmore. Strava later showed a PR for me on this trail, mainly due to some close attention from Karl right behind me. Swinging off the A24, we passed the newly opened Pilgrims Cycles and Café at Westhumble station, making a mental note to investigate this some time soon, before heading up the lane to Jem’s Favourite. From here it was up and around to Infestation, then the final climb to Bocketts.
Although obviously marred by Albert’s unfortunate accident, the route proved very enjoyable, showing what fun trails there are on the Ranmore ridge as long as you’re prepared for the climbs back up! The tea rooms in Shere (not much visitied by the Moles) can also provide a useful alternative to Newlands Corner, especially if you can’t face the climb back up to the North Downs ridge from the bottom of Coombe Lane. Just don’t go for the bacon sandwich here as it’s restaurant, not café prices.
Final stats for Karl (who started from Bocketts) were 46km travelled with 828m climbed in just over 3 hours of riding time (14.2 km/hr moving average).
Get well soon, Albert.
* My only alcohol reference this week, Marky 😉