Saturday 31st December, off road West End Cricket Club, Esher

Seven riders out today on the last ride of 2022: Adam Domaingue, Dave Rapson, Tracy Caudle, Trevor Kite, Bill Martin, Trevor Hughes and myself leading.

Pic:Adam Domaingue

The weather was decidedly dodgy from the start with overcasts sky’s and a little drizzle to add to the very soggy trails. We headed out of a boggy Nonsuch Park and through Ewell, the Hogsmill River and Horton Country Park to Epsom Common. Most of the way was bereft of dog owners and walkers due to the weather. I knew we’d get most of the ride out reasonably dry, but wasn’t sure how far we’d get before it closed in.

We got across an unusually empty A24, south of Chessington-Malden Rushett and into Prince’s Coverts. The drizzle remained light all the time we were in the coverts. The weather closed in at Arbrook Common just before we entered Esher Common. The pace quickened slightly and the back wheels slid to and fro on the gloopy mud as we headed for the crossing point at the A3, Old Portsmouth Road to access the final obstacle, West End Common.

The boggy bit with the long wooden decking path was avoided due to past experience of the slippery timber and the final quarter of a mile to the tea stop was done on the road. Thankfully, although deserted, the cafe was open with two young ladies welcoming us with free mince pies. Hot beverages were consumed and when we looked out of the window at the now pouring rain that had caught up with us, another round of hot beverages was ordered.

Eventually we had to depart into the soggy gloominess of  the gasping last hours of 2022 and head for home. We splashed our way along flooded roads and back streets of Esher and Thames Ditton heading once again for Arbrook Common. We slipped and slid our way through the boggy mud and climbed up and into the southernmost burbs of Claygate. With the rain still steady we crossed over the A3 for the final time and dropped down to Chessington South on the notoriously potholed Barwell Farm Road avoiding the rain-filled craters along the way.

The final slog for the group before I left them was the path leading to Horton Country Park. The narrow path descends to a stream with a bridge. The other side of the bridge is farm fields on clay and a climb back out. The clay of course was boggy and with the heavy rain was now a small stream. Much fun was had by all riding over it with our lighter riders in the group rolling through it and a few of us less light, sinking and ploughing through it!

We parted company at the top of the fields on the boundary of Horton Park with Trevor H and I heading on towards the top of the park and the rest heading back towards Cheam and Sutton.

A good final ride of the year despite the weather.
Thank you, Lady and Gentlemen, 25.8 soggy miles for me.

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