What do you do with your bike when you get back from a MTB ride? Do you throw it into the shed until the next ride, do you put it away until the next warm day or do you give it a good hose down and some TLC with the oil can? Yes mud is the down side of winter rides off road and the North Downs has its own brand of sticky mud which seems to get everywhere.
All last week I had been working on various permutations of bridleway and quiet roads so as to arrive at a route for Saturday's ride from Outwood which was reasonably mud free. There was a good turnout of seventeen rides amongst whom was Julian who was joining us for the first time as we set off from the car park and down Wilmots Lane (photo call) and over Smallfield Road into Chithurst Lane. At the end of Chithurst Lane we joined a muddy bridleway which took us up to West Park Road where we turned left towards New Chapel and left again into East Park Lane then right into Bones Lane and then bearing left into Brickhouse Lane (are you still with me?) where we turned right and onto a bridleway known as Clay Lane at the end of which we took the bridleway across a field. The combination of wet grass, soft ground and hoof marks made it hard going but we all made it to Hare Lane and then back into Brickhouse Lane to complete the first off road loop.
At the northern end of Brickhouse Lane we turned left into Whitewood Lane and into Tedham Lane opposite the Jolly Farmers and up the muddy trail, past the Tile Barn through the grounds of South Park Farm following the farm tracks up to the house and chapel at South Park. From there we continued on South Park Lane which is a bit of a climb to take the bridleway through the woods out onto Tilburstow Hill where we turned left and then right for a rapid descent of Enterden Road followed by Church Road which is well worth exploring as it has some very old buildings.
We were clocking up the miles and were now close to Godstone where we were to stop for a cuppa, but first there was another loop to complete and this one was a cracker as it took us up Flower Lane and onto the by-way up to East Lodge in Marden Park where we turned left on to NCR21 towards Quarry Road. Those who wanted an early cuppa took the quick way to Godstone at this point whilst the rest climbed Tupwood Lane to reach Gravelly Hill from which we could see for miles in the sunshine. Having made it to the top it was now all downhill to the tea stop at Knights Garden Centre.
From Knights there are several alternative ways back to Outwood. The choice on this occasion was along the A25 to Bletchingley, left at the crossroads into Outwood Lane and the second bridleway on the left leading to Lodge Farm. The bridleway continues around the fields to the car park at Gayhouse Lane and a right turn on to the road past the Windmill and back to the start point.
So had my planning been successful? I like to think so as though the ride was demanding it had all been rideable. No deep mud puddles to fall into, some muddy patches but nothing that clogged the works and only one puncture. A great view for those who climbed to view point, some bits of busy road, longer bits of quiet lanes and long stretches of firm bridleways and back by 12.30. Its probably taken you longer to read this report than to ride it.