25 June 2012

A 50 km mtb loop in the North Downs

We've been many times in and around the North Down on our roadies, but never on the mtbs. On an overcast Saturday morning I decided to train it down to Dorking for a bumpy  50 km loop.

I pulled the route out of one of the online-shop websites, as they are normally ok. I knew it would not take me on the very best bits of the North Down, but for that I will need to do a bit more research. Still, the route can be seen below:

I started the loop going anticlockwise. The first hill came very shortly after leaving the station, and crossed the biggest single-state vineyard in the UK. Not a very usual sight on these latitudes, but still quite impressive. I managed to capture a shot of it as I climbed up to Ranmore Common.

This could be La Rioja, but not, it is Surrey!
The weather was pretty benign, and soon after reaching the top of Ranmore Common I encountered the first cattle gate crossing. Fortunately, I would cross no more than 10 by the end of the day, which is pretty good. I then made my first descent of the day, which, full of wet roots and rocks, almost saw me on the floor. I think I need to refresh my mtb skills on the wet!

Leith Hill came almost half way on the course. Being the highest point of the North Downs, it affords some good vistas reaching to the South Downs on a clear day. I had my ration of cake and continued down the hill.

View from Leith Hill
The route was quite nice for being relatively close to London. Not massive hills, but some that will see me on my lowest gear towards the end of the day. The scenery changes quite a bit, from vineryards and open green fields, to Pine Forest in the Peaslake area. Not very singletracky either - it ran mostly on wide paths covered with vegetation, so plain easy in the dry. The only downside of the day was the mud, of which I seemed to have brought loads back home.

Pine forests

Wood industry
All in all, a very pleasant ride, with very few roads in sight and plenty of fast going paths. I managed finish it in under 4 hours, so really doable throughout the year and with limited time.

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