A combination of Saturday’s rain and Sunday being Fathers Day resulted in me having a last minute change of plan to join three other single-speeding Moles (Dave, Kev, and Karl), while James flew the flag for the geared fraternity. All five of us were riding ‘waggon-wheeled’ 29ers. Peaslake Stores via Leith and Holmbury Hills was the plan, so at a precise 8.40am we set off from Bocketts along a flooded (again) Admirals Track.
Conditions were pretty slippery over Ranmore, and the Land Rover descent off the North Downs was accompanied by a strong whiff of burning brakes as we all treated it with considerable respect. Following the steep climb by the church in Westcott, we enjoyed the bridle path descent to the Rookeries before attacking (or not) the ascent to Wolverns Lane. Avoiding the worst of the Summer Lightning gloop, we took several sandy bridle paths to Leith Hill.
Given the lack of gears between us, it was an easy decision to avoid the steep climb to the tower, and as we weren’t stopping here we skirted below the tower and enjoyed a noodle around some steep and twisty stuff to reach the quarry and Chocolate Jesus. Karl and I couldn’t resist a few goes at the little jump by the quarry, and on Chocolate Jesus I narrowly avoided being covered in the brown and sticky stuff when my front wheel sunk into a particularly deep patch and sent me into the bushes.
To High Ashes Farm and then ‘The Mother’ descent which we all enjoyed, though again it was quite slippery when you strayed off the dry line, as I found out on a slightly dodgy passing manoeuvre. Then it was more climbing as we headed up past the Holmbury cricket pitch to Holmbury Hill. Dave was keen to tackle a Strava segment known as ‘Barry’s Pot’, a combination of .. you guessed it .. Yoghurt Pots and Barry Knows Best. Two very fast and swoopy trails, and great fun even on a rigid single-speed bike. Dave led myself and Kev down BKB, and with little pedalling as we were going too fast for our very similar range of gears, we just pumped and swooped our way down. Our reward awaited at the Peaslake Stores.
We expected mud on the Rad Lane descent from Peaslake to the A25 at Abinger Hammer, and we got it. At one point the deeper mud forced my front wheel sideways at some speed, spraying my leg and foot with a thick coating of the stuff. However, I got off lightly compared with Karl, whose pedal caught a half-submerged stump or stone that sent him slamming into the rooty wall of the lane. Although a little shaken, he’s pretty much used to these incidents so it wasn’t long before we were off again and facing the climb back up to the North Downs. We avoided Whitedown on account of the muddy track that we were sure would await us at the top, we certainly weren’t afraid of the steep climb !
So after the gentler ‘High Med’ ascent, we took in Golden Nugget as a route back off the ridge and towards Bookham. We parted ways with James at Westhumble, and the four of us single-speeded our, by now, weary way up through Polesden Lacey.
As Karl headed back along the Admirals Track to his car; Dave, Kev and myself headed down to see how the Domestique Cycle Café was faring in its first few days of trading.
We enjoyed excellent coffee and hot chocolate, and Dave was particularly impressed by the size of the flapjack slice on offer. Having described to Kev the Chocolate & Beetroot Brownie encountered on my Friday visit, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sample a piece. Good quality coffee and cake, and not expensive; well worth a visit.