A cold but dry Sunday morning saw 8 Moles drag their sorry carcases out of bed and make the effort to get up to Bocketts car park for what was to be one of our longer expeditions into the Surrey Hills.
Lurking in the car park in no particular order were Big Al, MarkyMark .. who was reminding himself how to ride an MTB, Jez, RayK, Muddy John, Lloyd and Andrew, who was sporting a new long, low, sleek silver Banshee Spitfire magic carpet machine!
Being the well organised bunch of riders that we are, a plan was formed on the spot to ride over Holmbury way and take in some of the trails round Pitch Hill with tea stop in Peaslake.
No grunts of disapproval were heard so we headed South West at a brisk pace with Big Al on the front going full gas on his singlespeed!
Early trail conditions were looking good as even the usual big puddles along Admirals track had more or less receded with no avoiding action really necessary to get round them.
On up to Polesden and down to the bottom of Pamplona before grinding up to the Ranmore road warmed us up as the pace was still high, causing Al and myself to question the effort we were putting in so early on in the ride?
Charging along Badger run and Collarbone with trails still in pretty good nick with none of the squirming about that is usually the case at this time of year before ducking into a nice little bit of singletrack at the top of Whitedown saw us making good progress.
Unfortunately it was in this bit of singletrack that MarkyMark decided to halt his progress in an abrupt fashion by dumping his bike and bailing out, landing on all fours in front of me!
Less polite riders would have just run over him or parked their front tyre where the sun dont shine but I managed to slew to a stop and offer him condolences, as you do. Welcome back to MTB’ing Marky!
The Abba Zabba rooty complex was dispatched with only Al taking on the plunge down and up round the tree as the rest clucked and scratched about for corn before taking the side route round to Blind Terror and on along to Abinger Roughs.
On up the Paddington Farm climb and up again to Holmbury St Mary before Big Al took us on another of his mystery tours across Holmbury with some noodly singletrack that finally got us to the top of BKB. Barry’s was busy with quite a few riders hanging about at the top so it was every man for himself as we headed in and gave it full beans on what were pretty good conditions. Lloyd seemed to float down Barrys with his big yellow Santacruz not even breaking sweat.
No Moles were harmed in this descent (unlike in the splinter group up on Leith .. heal quickly Karlos and hope your head gets better Tony) so we moved on and up what was to be a killer climb up the side of Death Star. I think only the usual suspects cleaned this crazy ascent with Muddy John and MarkyMark riding all the way up. I might have missed someone else cleaning it as well but as my HR had gone ballistic even focusing was difficult!
Having made it to the top of Pitch Hill after what seemed like interminable climbing all the way from Bocketts, Al dropped the dreaded name of Eric on us.
Now me and Eric had some unfinished business so it was time to man up and head in to what is a steep, twisty, rooty, technical trail that spits you out down on the Ride Way road, if you survive Eric first! Conditions on Eric were actually dry and this certainly helped me to clean it and notch up a PR for once, so all good this time.
Waiting down on the road at the bottom eventually saw various Moles emerge from the trees, some more traumatised than others!
A steep road grind took us up to the top before hooning down the lovely long singletrack to Peaslake for refreshments. This is where Moles can be seen in full effect as various high calorie foods were consumed and I gotta say the sausage and leek slice was too die for! Could easily have eaten 2 of them. Others, who I will not name, managed a slice and a cheese straw!
Time was pushing on a bit by now and as MarkyMark had to get home by 1pm or face the dreaded Polish rolling pin again, we moved off and hammered back down to Abinger and on across the Roughs again before the ascent up High Med, but not before Andrew had blown a gasket going for another Strava segment along Deepleap. Doh, these young uns, when will they ever learn?
Top of High Med and Jez split for home while the rest of us climbed up to the Ranmore road and went looking for gold in the shape of the nugget.
The nugget was a hoot as usual and running quite nicely with only a couple of dodgy wet bits to catch you out, hugely enjoyable again.
All that remained now was for a tired bunch of riders to drag themselves up through Polesden and head back to Bocketts, although Ray still had to ride home having ridden over earlier. A practically mud free ride with no mechanicals or punctures, didnt even have to clean the bike when I got home. Crikey!
Great mornings ride in good company, 28.8 miles and over 3000ft of ascent, luverly!