Trevor Hughes, Andrew Adams and I set out from the Swan and Sugar Loaf in Croydon at 09:00 for the hilly route out to Woldingham. I timed it well allowing an hour for this section of the ride which includes a few short lung-busting climbs as we arrived at Woldingham Station at 10:00 on the dot to meet up with Paul White, Mick Ayliffe, Dave Elliot and Paul Martin. After the usual exchange of insults we set about the ride proper. Mick Ayliffe, despite me showing him the route on his 1947 OS map, so that he could cut bits out not suitable for his electric bike, immediately missed the first turn and had to be called back.
Up past Marden Park cottages with the pigs trotting up in their enclosure to cheer us on our way as we made our way to the convent on a beautiful morning. Descending to “Tracy Island” Paul stopped for the first time of many on this ride to make sure that his bike was not falling apart.
Another short sharp climb took us to the bridge over the A22 for a nice little leg around Gravelly Hill before the long descent down the A25 where Andrew decided to change gears and fall off cutting his knee in the process. Well it is a mountain bike ride and someone had to come a cropper, but Andrew, in true Clarencourt spirit, just got on with the ride much to the annoyance of Paul Martin who wanted to strip Andrew’s bike of anything that he fancied.
Mick wisely decided to cut out the sandy climb up to Rabies Heath Road and took the road route instead, whilst the rest of us plugged up the trail, carefully walking around the fly infested slurry puddle before the short-sharp-shock climb to link up with Mick once again.
The nicest part of the ride is the loop around South Park and it was indeed a pleasure to ride on this day. Nothing too hard on it and some lovely views of the glorious Surrey countryside which is invisible from the road.
Sadly, the descent from Rabies Heath Road that took us to South Park had to be climbed again to get onto the bridleway which lead us over a rolling route to Tilburstow Hill. My shout of “watch out for the gate” as we reached the tarmac of Tilburstow Hill was ignored by Andrew who just managed to come to a halt before contact. Across the road onto a nice bit of trail leading to another short sharp ramp which caught some riders out before arriving at the Enterdent Road and descending to the old A22 which we crossed into Church Lane before going off road again as we made our way the Hurst Green for the lunch stop.
Sadly food was not on offer due to the landlord waiting for the licence to be taken up by a new landlord at any moment. So a pint of Harvey’s Sussex was downed before I lead the group to Old Oxted to eat at the Old Bell. This having been done, some of the wimps on the ride moaned about doing the planned ride across Limpsfield Common to the “killer” final climb of Pitchfont Lane and elected to ride through Oxted to Limpsfield and then onto Pitchfont Lane, which climbs up viciously around the back of the Titsey Plantation. Ten minutes later I was proud to witness the happy faces cresting the hill (all except Mick who rode up Tandridge Hill due to battery worries). From here is all downhill back to Woldingham where we parted to take a separate routes home.
My thanks to everyone who came out for a smashing ride.