Four riders met at Cheam Station south side at 09:00hrs, well it was chronologically, but it seemed daylight had other ideas. It was still dark at 08:00hrs as I drove across to meet the club and an hour later at nine it was gloomy, overcast and as weather reports had already suggested, ‘thick cloud.’
The riders were: Mick Curtis, Dave Elliott, new rider Shean Slammon trying the club out for size and my good self leading. The ride was initially due to go to Leatherhead, but without knowing which cafes would be open this time of year we detoured to Ashtead as CoffeeActive had responded to my email asking for the opening times Christmas/New Year period.
The ride set off across Nonsuch Park following the usual joggers out getting rid of the Xmas pudding calories, just the same as we were!, and out to Horton Park where we skirted the top north east end of Epsom Common (I took us wrong turn into a dead end near Trevor’s, Bill. ;-)) and then onto the Thames Down Link and cross the railway line to get to the Dorking Road. After crossing the road we headed into Ashtead Park and onto the City of London Freeman’s School road through the back of Ashtead to elevenses.
The place was packed as we ordered our sustenance, but a table soon became free as we hovered close by to a fellow who had finished his nosh and he understood our problem. The morning turned colder as we left CoffeeActive, and it was still as dull and cloudy as when we’d started the ride. We plodded off in the general direction of Stane Street via Gray’s Lane and into Shepherd’s Walk. Gray’s Lane proved to be entertaining as we slipped and slithered all the way up it. The horses using it in this past few week’s heavy rain had really pounded it into goo in places. We dropped down into Langley Vale from Thirty Acre Barn and started the long slow climb up Walton Downs to Tattenham Corner on Epsom Downs. We stopped for a breather and took some photographs of the groups at the top.
At Tattenham Corner the group split with Dave and Shean heading towards Chipstead and Oaks Park respectively and Mick and I descended to Priest Hill, Ewell and then back into Cheam.