The North Downs are close to central London, just on the outskirts of the M25, and we have cycled through them quite a few times already, but always on our way to somewhere. So this time we decided to do a loop to take in some of the most famous bumps (including the infamous Box Hill!) that overall totalled over 2000 m climb in 120 km. Although this may look quite significant, it really is not, as the climbs are never longer that a few km followed by nice descents. Nothing compared to climbing 2000 m in the Pyrinees or the Sierra de Guadarrama in Madrid (yes, we do have mountains down there!). The route was originally used by a chain of cycle shops in one of their outings, and looked like this:
We got to Dorking just after 9 am, and headed straight into the first climb of the day, to the west of the town. The traffic was very light, something to be expected on a Sunday at 9 am, but surprisingly, it remained this way for the rest of the ride. The first 20 km were very scenic, passing through very narrow country lanes and farms. It really felt like the North of Spain, with the green fields, rural cottages and farmlands. Crossing the busy A24 via a cycle path underneath the highway, we entered the zig zag road that takes you to Box Hill. This road will be used by the machacas of the Olympic Road race in the summer, but unlike us, they will climb it 9 consecutive times. Truth be told, this hill is probably the easiest of the day, and we were atop it without much delay. I felt much better than last time I was here in January, when I struggled a bit to keep up the pace with the other riders (too much turrón after Christmas I reckon!). The view from the top is really quite nice, and was already busy at 10 am with other fellow cyclists.
|View from Box Hill, at 226 m over sea level|
|Roads out of Dorking, very quiet and scenic|
|Can we pass you Sir - I shouted|
|Lucy climbing out one of the many short steep hills, but still smiling|
|It really felt isolated near Peaslake|
|Approaching the end and she's still smiling after 2000 m of accumulated climb?|
The stats said: 6 h 15 min moving time, 55.7 km/h max speed, 20.5 km/h average, 1 h stopped, total of 127 km (plus another ~20 km door to door). 4 bottles of water were drunk, and only weed twice!