As you might have seen from our forum homepage a 120km ride has been on the cards for the last few weeks.
Darren and Amanda (in training for some serious enduro events – more details to follow) had a route planned and all that was needed was some willing co-riders. So at 7am when I rolled in the Bocketts Farm car park it was good to see DaveW, Jez, Ray, Amanda and Darren.
With the minimum of fuss we saddled up and rode out on time. It felt like a standard ride as we headed along Admirals trackway, wiggly wood, down to Tanners hatch, up to Ranmore, along Badger run and Collarbone.
As we cruised along Badger Run I felt the first few drops of moisture on my face. As usual at first you are in denial, then after a few moments of more, you can’t deny it, it was raining. So much for the forecast! The rain had set in for the day.
So we headed on taking care for the now slippery roots (a theme for the day). Along the north downs and down to the sawmill at Honeysuckle bottom. Nobody made the “impossible” climb, or a performed a DaveW back-flip with tuck and we followed one of our usual routes across The Sheapleas woods to the A246. So far so much as usual for a Moles ride.
From here it was new (off-road territory) for me as ae headed across the A246, wiggled round the back of West Horsely on some flat bridleways and roads, to Ockam. Then across Ockham common, to Wisley airfield (built at the end of WWII and used mainly for test flights of Vickers aircraft built at Brooklands. It fell into disuse in 1972 – since we all wondered).
It also got me thinking that it’s a pity that the surface is so poor since it would be a good location for some evening road racing. Then it was over the A3. This was one of the strangest parts of the rides as we rode over the overpass footbridge which had widely spaced but low steps which were wierdly difficult to climb. They were just spaced enough apart that either pulling up the bars for each step (very tiring) or letting the suspension roll up felt uncomfortable. However the steps down were great as you could just let go.
Next it was across Wisely Common and over the M25, past what looked like some woods that could have contained some decent singletrack, to the Wey navigation canal.
Once on the Wey and the Navigation canal, it was a long spin into a headwind towards Guildford. By now the blowing rain had got to the point of being hard enough that rain jackets were put on and the temperature actually seemed to be falling. The reported temp of 14° seemed about accurate. So much for June!
Darren grinded the pace out as we headed to Guildford and those of us without the training miles in (Jez and I) started to feel it in our legs. Darren and Amanda seemed to be feeling no such effects and they had rode this route the previous day!
Eventually we made Guildford (it seemed to take ages) and we wiggled through the city to the south and picked up the Downs Link.
At this point my directions get a little hazy. However I think that South of Shamley Green we turned off the Downs Link and headed on road for a short while before heading past the Willinghurst estate onto bridleways of the Great Copse that took us back to the North Downs. By now the 3 hours of constant riding was taking it toll and the long drag up became a slo-mo granny grind. Not particularly helped by a steady stream of walkers (there must have been some sort of event on coming in the opposite direction) giving us “helpful” advice. They were very cheery though.
Another theme of the day emerged here as Ray (The Stick Magnet) seemed intent on wrecking his bike’s gears by picking up a string of various sticks in his drivetrain.
Once the paths took us up to Winterfold hill, I was back onto well cycled routes, which was a strange psycological benefit as we threaded through familar singletrack once more. The great singletrack on Winterfold and Pitch hills was a particularly welcome relief after the constant riding of the Wey/Downs Link. Although as usual plenty of care was need whenever the trail when off camber.
Topping out at Pitch Hill, next Yoghurt Pots and Telegraph Road were cleared and we rolled down into Peaslake for some welcome cake and tea. I think I may just have underdone it somewhat on the breakfast (one breakfast bar) front, I was starving.
After a fairly brief stop we headed up Radnor Road past BKB. Going up we met two mountain bikers, one pushing another, who had a prosthetic leg. The pusher was making a good job of it, but it was obviously hard work for him, so Amanda and Darren took over and the one legged biker had a “Dutch chairlift” (watch Alp D’Huez at the Tour de France) to the top. Seeing how well the guy was going with one leg was inspiring, all thoughts of sore legs faded away.
By now we’d been riding in the rain all morning, which was a bit grim and we were all looking to cut The Full Monty 120km short. So instead of heading to Leigh Hill and Brockham we headed down to Sutton Abinger, round the back of The Volunteer (god that Sunday lunch smelled good) and over the A25, up to Abinger Roughs.
Again it was back on very familar Mole territory as Jez and I crawled up White Down (thanks for opening the gate Darren – sort of – we normally stop there!), back along Collarbone and Bagder run, to Ranmore. Then finally down to Yew Trees (Jez and I desperately hoping for no walkers as we eeked out the last bit of momentum to get us up to Polesdon) and back along Admirals trackway to the car park.
The Part Monty was complete. 85km (extra couple for me getting to the carpark and home) in just over 6hrs.
As a final thought. That’s 53 miles in old money. Just over half way along the SDW or Kielder. Damn I need to get the miles in!