Posts Tagged ‘northdowns’

King of the Downs

Unfortunately, this is not the triumphal write-up I was mentally preparing the week before the event: my first DNF in a sportive, thanks to a broken spoke on my Campag Neutron Ultra rear wheel at exactly 4 hours into the race. (more…)

Off-road social

Reliving the old times: me, Tom and Andy taking in the view from Holmbury Hill.

Reliving the old times: me, Tom and Andy taking in the view from Holmbury Hill.

On Saturday, on my last chilled weekend before the sportive season closes in, I did some laid-back off-roading with some old riding buddies from the University of York Cycle Club. It was the first time I’d turned a fat tyre in anger since my Kona Muni-Mula had a Captain Oates moment on a snowy ride in Edale in November 2007. 

Tom, Andy, Ross and I have ridden together many times since we first met at York in 1998-9, from the Yorkshire Dales and Moors to the Peaks and the Lake District, and abroad to France and Slovenia. When I joined UYCC Ross was club captain; I succeeded him the year after, and Tom took over the year after me. So the day was a nostalgic reunion one decade on, a muddy festival of banter on the trails of the North Downs. 


While Andy was christening his new Trek Fuel EX 8, I took a trip back in time to ride Ross’s old Marin full-suspension. Now 10 years old, the Marin is in good nick but feels dull to ride. These days there are stiffer, lighter, more ‘XC’ full-suspension bikes available but I remain to be convinced that the way forward is anything other than hardtail. But then I’m a climber / endurance rider – I don’t need to go any faster on the downhills…

We picked a favourite route from Dorking station up through the vineyard, over Ranmore Common, down into the valley and up and over Holmbury Hill and Leith Hill before a final descent down Summer Lightning. These trails are among the best I’ve ever ridden in the UK, especially when bone dry in the summer. Tom binned it pretty badly coming down the berms from Holmbury Hill, then I stacked it first into a holly bush then into barbed wire on the singletrack further down.


Me and my shredded back.

Me and my shredded back.


Tom's generally shredded body.

We followed up the ride in style with a curry at the Indian Moment on Northcote Road, which I am now convinced is the best Indian restaurant in London. And with that, it’s getting serious. The Prince’s Risborough sportive awaits.

Epsom 50-miler

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This is a really nice round route from Epsom. Not that long, but hilly. As well as going up and down Box Hill in both directions, it has all the best stuff around Shere, Peaslake and Coldharbour, but there’s loads of room to extend it – which I will be doing / posting in due course.