The winter was definitely being to settle in as we met at Hylands Garage this wednesday. Huddling against the stif cold wind was a group consisting of Darren (not loving his 80mm winter bike!) Amanda, Kevin, BigAl (on the “Do you have to strap this down to stop it floating off?” Ibis Tranny SS), JohnR, JonH, Lloyd (beating the traffic to get there). Have I missed anyone else? Of course AWOL-mole wasn’t there. Someday we might see Matt again on fat tyres. He was certainly hitting the tarmac the previous evening with JohnR and I.
We started of promptly with a minimum of discussion since JohnR had a route in mind. We missed out the usual Wiggly wood start, skimmed the sides of the puddles along the Admirals trackway, ploughing through the rapidly forming mud and at Polesden swung down the start of Hogden lane.
Coming round the corner as the lane flattens, we were surprised to see the trail blocked by a large tree. As a couple of Moles tried to skirt round the tree, others of us broke off a few branches and clambered over, passing bikes across. Darren showed a more “direct” approach throwing his winter bike aka.The Bitch clean over the tree. Top marks for style, less so for bike care!
Instead of the mud of Pamplona we cut up the grassy (ahem…) track to join Yew trees. JohnR opened the gate for us all, then half way up the slope passed us at warp speed ready to open the next gate. Have Orange released an electric Five (e-5™?), he certainly seemed to be putting extra effort in on the climbs? Was there a reason?
We all spun up to Ranmore then as a change from the normal Badger Run – Landrover descent we headed down to MacPhersons mount. I led the way down with my 5inchskillcompensator for once meaning that I put some distance into Darren on his lessthan80mmHTbitch. The trail was surprisingly dry and very fast (lots of braking/hot brake small for the last left hander) but covered in leaves and hence quite tricky. As we regrouped at the bottom there was a short wait as JonH arrived showing some battle scars caused by getting into one of the ruts and having to bail. Fortunately he seemed to be able to continue, although I think he probably got some interesting bruises now.
JohnR’s route then took us along to Westcott, past the church and up Logmore lane. After about a mile we turned right and took the concrete drive (impressive for a private house) to Squires Farm. Turning left at the farmhouse we headed into the woods and skirting the large puddly pools on the track, trundling up until we took a sharp right turn that reared up again and eventually spat us out at the cross roads half way down Wolverns Lane at Simons Copse.
At this point Darren and Amanda left us to ride up to Coldharbour and then home. The rest of us cruised off down Wolverns Lane. I was behind Kevin and at the tricky – round the big tree – turn, as he got it wronng and turned tree hugger. Passing him I started pushing the gears to catch Al, who was spinning his single speed with impressive style. One of the joys of night riding this stretch of Wolverns is that you can see other lights coming up – like the 4×4 we passed coming up the Lane – and hence you don’t need to show the care that’s required in daylight to avoid head-on accidents. Al was definitely going for it and there was the minimum of a pause as we stopped at the top of the bridleway, I then led down to the Rookery. Pushing as fast as I could in the big ring, I had a heart stopping sideways moment but the 5inchskillcompensator got me through.
As we waited at the bottom of the Rookery drive, were surprised to see a Ferrari 458 come down the A25 past at about 20mph. Once past us, the driver floored it and it looked like the traction control had to immediately brake the car to stop it spinning on the damp roads. Only in Surrey!
Once again JohnR missed out MacPhersons and instead chose High Med to take us back to Ranmore. As we reached the bottom of the climb, I was chatting to Lloyd and seemingly in moments JohnR had engaged warp speed and disappeared off up the climb. Was the evenings super fast climbing related to JohnR signing up to http://www.strava.com a clever website that records your GPS times up specific climbs. Was JohnR setting PBs for his Strava records? I think so. Anyway some more of us Moles are signing up – there is no hiding now!
At Ranmore Lloyd took us down a surprisinly mud-free Dearly Beloved. Showing some fine pace as we all followed him. The final climb took as though FreeHold wood, I was following JohnR and Lloyd and as we reached the bomb hole, Lloyd went one way and JohnR another. What to do? – they both seemed to be postive on their route. I followed JohnR, although I should have know better as we found ourselves at Bagden Hill and had to retrace our steps and catch up the others. JohnR does have a slight reputation for “trail diversions”.
With a final spin along the Admirals trackway we arrived back at Hylands. My Garmin route tells me that our average moving speed was 10.2mph. Pretty impressive for the conditions and terrain, although I think that JohnR’s av. moving speed was probably somewhat higher!