22 October 2012

Autumn in the North Downs

Autumn is probably my favourite season to cycle. It's still not too cold, there's significantly less traffic on the roads, and the falling leaves make for some nice scenery if you choose your routes through forested areas.
This is exactly what we did on Saturday. A short-ish 95 km loop from Dorking and around the North Downs. Some 1500 m of climb added some hilly miles to an otherwise easy ride.

Freshly arrived in Dorking, we headed straight away to the infamous Box Hill, where the machaca cyclists of the Olympics 2012 looped around 9 times on their race. Despite its name, it's barely a noticeable hill, and certainly more than doable at an easy pace. It makes for a nice warm up, and I always find it amusing to see some folk on their £5000 bikes who try hard to look like pros, to only stop at the top of the hill for a coffee and cake after their first climb! The views are always rewarding though, especially when the fog is caught down at the valley.

Heavy traffic with cyclists on the smooth tarmac of Box Hill
Hairpin-like turn at Box Hill
Interesting fog formation at the bottom of Box Hill
Probably because of the fool weather, but this time we saw very few cyclists atop the hill. We pressed on through some thick fog and on to Ranmore Common.

The autumnal leaves made the scenery look pretty, yet the tarmac very slippery, and we had to take it very easy on more than one occasion, with some rear wheel skids.

Dense forests through the North Downs
Once we cleared the hills for the first time, with looped through Crangleigh, which had some traffic. Ewhurst was the next town up, just before our tea stop at mtb-dominated Peaslake. We love coming to this small town in the Downs, seeing all the cycling folk, while having some food and chat with other fellows, before carrying on.

This is what I call drinking in style

From Peaslake to Dorking we had another 30 km of rolling hills that took us through Shere and back to Ranmore Common for a final descent into Dorking. 

I really was not going that fast...
Amongst those forested areas of the Surrey Hills, we spotted a massive field full of pine trees ready to be cut for the upcoming Christmas season! What a waste of resources isn't it?

Christmas deforestation approaching soon!
The last hill was a bit of an struggle, yet we were glad to make it back to Dorking in time for our early return to the Smoke. It's certainly a loop that we highly recommend, especially if you avoid the Crangleigh bit, as it is very laney, scenic and with hills to keep you entertained. Nothing too steep though, so you should manage ok on a 12-25 at the back. Even taking it easy, we got a moving average of  ~20 km/h!

10% incline 
The stats for the day were as below

- Trip odometer: 95 km
- Max speed: 53.2 km/h
- Moving time: 4h 54 m
- Stopped time: 44 min
- Moving average speed: 19.4 km/h
- Overall average speed: 16.9 km/h

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