Five riders met at Cheam Station on a less than enthralling ‘weatherwise’ day: Mick Curtis, Bill Martin, Dave Rapson, Dave Elliott and myself leading. My enthusiasm for the ride still bubbling from yesterday’s lovely sunny MTB ride was soon dampened as I drove over that morning from Berkshire to find it pouring with rain almost immediately after I crossed the border into Surrey from the M3.
The waterproofs were on and we started off in a gentle drizzle with gloomy clouds as far as the eye could see. One of our usual paths almost straight away had most people’s feet wet as the water soddened long grass spattered our shins and immediately the water ran down into our boots. We headed up through Nork towards Tattenham Corner and on to Epsom Downs, where we took a chance and removed our waterproofs as the rain stopped. The skies were still threatening as we descended towards Langley Vale and then up the climb to Thirty Acre Barn and Stane Street.
With the weather being poor I made the decision not to climb towards Headley and investigate a new route I’d been studying on the map down to Mickleham Bottom. This would’ve been nice on a sunny day as the route would’ve crossed the A24 just before Box Hill and then climbed up and around Polesden Lacey. Alas I could see the heavy clouds and rain in the distance over those hills and thought ‘short and sweet route today!’
I was right, for not long after, descending alongside a field towards the Leatherhead Bypass, yours truly got himself a rear wheel puncture. This took a little longer than usual to sort out as despite checking the inner side of the tyre for thorns etc, the tyre promptly deflated itself the minute the wheel was back in the frame! Another inner tube was inserted after letting two independent witnesses check the inside of the tyre for themselves. I concluded that possibly I had forgotten to remove a previously punctured tube from my saddle pack. Soon we were descending into the south-side of Leatherhead and the climb up and around the side of the leisure centre. From there it’s around a mile to Bocketts Farm just as soon as you can get across the perilous Young Street, A246 dual carriageway.
We arrived at Bocketts in the drizzle and locked the bikes up in a handy marquee which was full of picnic tables, but totally devoid of human life due to the rotten weather. Elevenses were partaken of inside the lovely warm barn where Bill and I thought it would be amusing to take a picture with a large cockerel perched on my head. Alas, condensation on the phone lens slightly marred the effect.
We retraced our steps back to Leatherhead and I decided ‘straightest route possible’ due to the continued drizzle. We did catch a break in the weather just as we crossed the busy M25, (at a standstill as usual!) the rain actually stopped. We headed towards Ashtead Common ducking and diving to avoid rain soddened brambles trying their best to cut our faces as we passed. Dave Elliott parted company with us on the corner of Ashtead Common for a more sensible direction to his home, and then there were just the four of us. Ashtead Common was crossed at speed as there was hardly anyone about due to the rubbish weather and soon we were doing the same in Horton Country Park, again not a soul to be seen.
We split up in Nonsuch Park for home and I have to say not more than a mile from the end of the ride the sky cleared and the sun came out – five hours too darn late!! 🙁
26.5 miles 2h:57m