First decide on the cake stop, then plan a route; that’s definitely my type of ride. Having established that both JR and myself were under pressure to get back early, and once we’d decided that, “Ye Olde Sandwich Shoppe” in Shere was destined to receive our custom for the morning, the only remaining question was working out the most mud-free route to get us there.
Between us (Big Al, Kev the Grand Mole, JR & myself), we decided that the Yew Trees climb, Scouting for Boys, back of Westcott, Abinger Roughs, then our Newlands route to Shere were the most likely to get us there without too much of the brown and sticky stuff. Whatever happened, we we’re determined to avoid Badger Run, Collarbone and the North Downs Way.
Admirals Track had plenty of standing water, and I was glad that despite being out of the country all week, I’d heard enough comments from the UK to persuade me to put my waterproof socks on. All descents had to be treated with a little caution, so no downhill Strava PRs today, but despite the odd squirm we all made it safely down to the railway line and Westcott.
Fortunately there was no black ice on our tarmac sections today, and we hope that the post-op recovery is proceeding as expected, Lloyd (see last week’s ride report).
Along the back lanes of Westcott, Big Al regaled me with his explosive attempts to seat the ‘fat boy’ tyres on his 82mm rims, involving flammable substances and naked flames. I’ve seen a YouTube clip of something similar for a tractor tyre, and it certainly beats packing the well of the rim with plastic padding.
This week I didn’t suffer from chain suck when in the granny ring, principally because my shifter refused to shift the chain off the bigger 36t ring. Oh well, good job I got used to single speeding over the summer; and at least I still had 10 gears to play with unlike Al who was on his single speed again.
We made Shere in good time, and headed to the Sandwich Shop. It’s actually a nicely decorated cafe, with just 3 or 4 tables. Crucially, it had a decent looking coffee machine, a fine selection of £1 cakes, and an offer of a bacon or sausage roll and a coffee for just £4. Al was the only one to take up this offer, with the rest of us opting for the £2 coffee and £1 cake options. My white chocolate and cherry ‘Rocky Road’ was excellent. It’s certainly good value when compared with other options in the area, and they gamely put up with our muddy backsides on their nice chairs, though we did remove the cushions first. We might need to phone an order in shortly before arriving if there’s a large group of us, however.
Revived by the caffeine and cakes, and inspired by the roadie peloton heading through the village as we emerged from the cafe, we retraced our steps back to Westcott. On the way, we passed a chap on his electric bike that’s equipped with a custom dog seat for his little dog that was fetchingly encased in a fluorescent jacket.
Later, despite JR’s entreaties, we were unmoved at his suggestions for a challenging climb back up to Ranmore, so the smooth and gentle gradient of High Med it was. Not wanting to be dropped in such august company, I actually recorded a Strava PR on the climb.
JR opted for a swift blast down Dearly Beloved and a direct route home, while the three of us thought Golden Nugget and a return via Polesden Lacey was worth a look. The run in along the bridle path was perhaps the worst mud we’d encountered all day, though the trail itself was running well enough. The off-camber sections were decidedly ‘twitchy’, though both Al and myself found the final left turn where the Prospector’s Trail branches off to the right caused the biggest slide.
Naturally, Kev held us both up again on this trail, despite letting us both start well ahead of him 😉
After a great ride in potentially dire conditions, we laughed off the miserable lack of response from the roadies that passed us on Chapel Lane, though this might have been because they’d just spotted the ‘20% Gradient’ sign.
This, however, was a precursor to an encounter with a very angry walker on the edge of the Polesden Lacey estate who took great exception to our use of the track from Chapel Lane. I attempted to engage him in a sensible dialogue, pointing out, in response to one of his main complaints, that the estate vehicles that used the track were far more likely to cut up the lane’s surface than we were; and that despite his insistence to the contrary, we weren’t acting illegally even if we didn’t have a legal right of way.
Amusingly, his wife/companion walked away looking very embarrassed by his antics. I apologised for upsetting him with our presence and wished him a pleasant morning, he responded by telling me to, “Bugger off” not once, but twice !
We passed several more walkers on this track, all of whom responded happily to our cheery, “Good mornings”. One even kindly held the gate onto Connicut Lane open for us, though this turned out to be less of a favour than it looked with Kev failing to make the tight turn onto the dry section of trail and forcing me even deeper into the wheel-sucking mud.
We eventually hit the tarmac, and I parted company with Al and Kev leaving them to tackle the delights of the flooded Admirals Track a second time, while I headed down into Bookham.
A great morning’s ride, with a riding time of 2hrs 37mins for the slightly less than 40km for me (avg 15km/hr) and just less than 600m elevation recorded.