Six riders turned out on an unusually warm, sunny September day, Adam Domaingue, Mick Curtis, Dave Rapson, Tracy Caudle, Trevor Kite and Dave Clarke.
Their route took them out through the south west corner of Nonsuch Park and out to Horton Country Park, Epsom Common and Ashtead Park. A stop was briefly made here as Dave Clarke needed to adjust his chain by way of trying to persuade it to stay on the chainring!
It was soon after this that the climbing started up towards Stane Street, the old Roman Road. Out of the back of south east Ashtead the trail is rutted with large roots to be negotiated by hopping over or around. Soon they reached the crossroad with Stane Street and turned right heading south west towards Mickleham. The trail undulates with some short steep climbs and some technical descents with flint rocks and erosion gullies to contend with. At one point there is a descent and a sharp ascent requiring the ‘Granny ring’ (small very low gear climbing ring) for a short while just to get up and over it. Alas it was the group’s bad luck that today the descent had dog walkers blocking it and so it was dead slow past them. Just as they passed them and were about to climb the steepest part two MTB riders dropped down it towards them and block any chance of a run up to the steep little climb. A few of the group ground to a halt as a result and resorted to walking, also it’s possible Dave Clarke’s chain may have come off again! Soon they were on the top of the hill and were briefed on the hazardous descent to come. Loose chalk, flint and a foot deep ‘V shaped’ erosion channel zig zagging left to right was the warning and to take it easy. All made it to the bottom without incident and regrouped ready for the final mile or so to Denbies, the elevenses stop.
At Denbies they found a very small queue at the outdoor cafe as they locked the bikes up. Tea and Cornish Pasties seemed to be the choice as the pricing at Denbies can be a little steep and sometimes unfathomable, as in shrimp and salmon Panini £4.25, cheese and ham Panini £7.25. That’s some mighty special cheese and ham!
Soon it was time to leave and they discovered Dave Clarke’s padlock had fallen in love with the fence post whilst they were away and was not willing to leave/unlock! The group got it drunk by plying it with copious amounts of WD40 and after around fifteen minutes it let go reluctantly, much to the relief of Mick Curtis who’s bike was also locked to Dave’s. Dave threw the unfaithful padlock in the bin disgusted at its lack of fidelity!
The route back was a simple, flattish one along the A24 cycle path to the back of Leatherhead, where a minor detour took place as railway engineers had the one way system road blocked ‘shot blasting’ and painting the bridge. They cycled north through the residential back streets of Leatherhead, up and over the M25 with the usual Saturday lunchtime 50mph speed restrictions flashing up on the gantries and soon were on Ashtead Common heading back towards Horton Country Park and the finish back in Cheam.
Good ride Lady and Gentlemen, 30.7 miles.