As mixed a bunch as you could ever wish for set sail for an easy thirty odd miles to the Lightbox Arts and Cultural centre alongside the Basingstoke Canal in the heart of Woking. We constituted the usual suspects and Nazir who had taken a first ride with Frank G. the day before. One to watch lads, he’ll soon be up with the greats!
We hit the standing water at Clayhall Lane after barely five miles. Slightly deeper than it appeared eight of the intrepid bunch of nine snorkelled through and realised by the junction with Slipshatch we were minus one. We returned to the pool to be informed by a lady jogger that he had turned back. After a suitable pause in case he appeared from the other direction we continued damper of foot but not spirits through Punchbowl to Westhumble and over the short kicker at Chapel Lane although not before the first propitious puncture (Calvin) was swiftly repaired. In quick succession Philip obliged again at Lower Road Bookham (thanks for the help guys, that tyre was a beast) and the remainder of the outward leg undulated uneventfully through Effingham Junction and Ripley to West Byfleet. Here a quick glance told us that the towpath was more than adequate for our road tyres. No traffic, still waters, the birdsong, the gentle rustle of falling leaves and the sweet autumnal aroma of gentle decay soon lulled us into happy thoughts of the coffee stop some three and a half miles along the Basingstoke Canal.
Our prescience in arranging two punctures on the outward leg boded well for this well-equipped but cycling unsavvy café in that its service hours for anything hot do not commence until midday. It being 11:45 by then they stretched a point and we were lavished with a selection of paninis, wraps, baguettes and all things sweet at modest prices. The Lightbox Woking – well worth a visit http://www.thelightbox.org.uk/ check out the Horses of War events coming up soon.
Slipping silently though the back streets and parks of Woking we soon found ourselves again in open countryside through Sutton Green, across the A3 and gently ascending through Merrow, the warm up for the drag up Trodds Lane to Newlands Corner. A few tired legs by then were relieved by the sight of Calvin doing laps and Mark waiting patiently as we paced ourselves to the top, our well-earned reward being the four mile drop to Abinger Hammer. From there we cruised pretty much as a pack over Holmbury St. Mary and ignoring the delightful temptation of Tanhurst Lane on wet leaves we rocked up to the drome at around 14:35. 64 miles, 15.4 mph average (backmarker), 2,600 ft. climbing.
It was a real joy to cycle amongst delightful company on lanes less travelled; thanks chaps.