Three riders met at Cheam Station Southside at the allotted time. Dave Elliott, Mick Curtis and myself leading.
Our ride took us slithering and sliding in the mud out of the west side of Nonsuch Park to Ewell. This week’s heavy rain has turned Surrey into a flooded bog land. In fact the rain had only just stopped about twenty minutes before we met and miracle of miracles we actually glimpse blue sky and the sun on a few occasions today.
After leaving Ewell we followed the Hogsmill River to Kingston carefully avoiding some of the well known winter bog land sections that have silty mud that actually clings so badly it clogs the wheels until they stop rotating!
After crossing Kingston Bridge we headed into Hampton Court Park and admired a rainbow perfectly sharp and clear against a moody black background of cloud which was in the general direction of our travel to East Molesey. We splashed our way through the puddles and I extolled the virtues of Seal Skinz’s waterproof socks with a big smile.
Soon we were approaching Hampton Court Bridge next to a very fast flowing, high and angry River Thames. The lower towpath was completely submerged and the boat landing jetty where the picture of Dave and Mick was taken was under about five feet of water.
The East Molesey Cricket Club was unusually quiet, with none of the usual ‘Crufts mayhem’ we normally see and so elevenses was enjoyed whilst watching a brisk passing shower water their pitch for the umpteenth time this week!
The return journey decision was made, we would travel farther west along the Thames and then head back via bridleways to the River Ember and Esher Common. Heavy deep puddles were encountered all along the Thames and our usual bridleways were awash and very hard going. After crossing Esher Common we entered Arbrook Common which was like porridge and was the only point in the trip I was concerned about flooding. I’d visited MJA the day before and on my drive back had encountered foot deep flooding in the Fairoak Lane area heading for Oxshott. The geography of the area is a shallow valley and the Fairoak Lane area connects one end with the Arbrook and the bridge we were due to cross to climb to Claygate at the other. So the question in my mind was, ‘Is it flooded and how deep, deep ok for my bike is one thing, but would too deep damage Mick’s ‘leccy’ bike?’ We took a chance, it was flooded for a length of around thirty feet and as I half peddled ‘nine to three’ (to keep the feet above the water) through it was about two inches below my bottom bracket, and so I’m guessing about nine inches deep. We made it through unscathed; there were no big bangs or sparks and Mick’s bike continued to function.
We crossed Claygate Common, climbed around the back of Barwell Farm, and dropped down to a very busy A24 Chessington Road. At Horton Park Dave headed for home towards Epsom and Chipstead beyond and Mick and myself tapped back across Nonsuch Park for home. We did get caught in the rain on and off on the way back but luckily the rain was nowhere near as heavy as it had been in the earlier hours of the morning just before we started the ride. As things go I’ve never minded if it rains on the way back, just on the way out, and there’s nothing like rain on the way back to improve your peddling rate for home.
Time: 3h:19m (In that porridge, I’m not surprised!)