Five riders met at 09:00hrs at Nonsuch Mansion. Trevor Kite, Tracy Caudle, Adam Domaingue, Dave Rapson and myself leading. The weather was clearing, with some big ominous clouds moving away from our meeting point. Alas today there was a nagging wind from the south, which was mostly nudging us from the side outbound and returning.
Our fifteen minute earlier start allowed us to slot in neatly half a lap behind the park run participants and enabled us to use the hard paths, thereby avoiding the muddy porridge at the back end of the park. We avoided the Hogsmill River today and took a cycle path up through the residential area and came out on the Malden Rushett Road, which we crossed to access Ashtead Common. This was alas the last clean part of the ride!
The heavy rain the previous Thursday made the going soft and sluggish. We left the Common and crossed the, as usual, busy A24 entering Prince’s Coverts and splashed our way through the woods across to the Oxshott Road. Finding a nice break in the traffic we cycled along for a short distance on the road before turning into Bridle Lane, another off road link taking us to Stoke D’Abernon. After crossing the River Mole another bridleway took us out South-west of Cobham in Downside.
Soon we were less than a mile from the tea stop with only one obstacle in our way, Telegraph Hill. Now depending on how fit you are this short, but nasty little steep climb can be fun or hell! I would say today for me it was mostly bearable and almost fun, but not quite!
Once at the top and re-grouped we descended via Trevor’s technical back route to the cafe without incident. The usual ‘healthy athlete’ foods were consumed in the spring sunshine before we had to start back.
Our return journey had me give the platoon a little amphibious training by way of using the flooded Plough Lane, Downside to get us back to Cobham. This lane geographically is close by to the River Mole, is low lying land and frequently floods. All club cyclists are aware of this and use it in flood conditions at their peril!
Today’s ‘voyage’ along the lane had water just below my mountain bike bottom bracket, so around nine inches or twenty-two centimetres in new money. The whole platoon survived the training and our resident photographer took pictures once we’d ‘landed’ on the other side!
We passed through the back streets of Cobham and descended onto a very boggy Esher Common heading for Claygate. The common known as Claygate Common lived up to its name today and was gooey and claggy with clay, no surprise I suppose! The final off road climb took us up to the back of Barwell Farm then down to Chessington South.
After Chessington South I parted company with the group on the corner of Horton Country Park and headed back to the car for home whilst they continued towards Cheam and Sutton.
29.2 miles for me.