The weather was surprisingly pleasant after overnight rain – clear, sunny and not overly windy (relative to last week’s ride). There was a good crowd and we split into two groups to attempt the ambitious ‘four bumps’ route. After breezing on quiet roads out through Surbiton, Esher and Cobham, we started to get to the smaller roads lined with hedges towards Hatchford and Ockham. The first of these, Plough Lane, is a popular run for cyclists which cuts between low-lying fields close to the River Mole.
We heard some mutterings from cyclists passing us the other way about a ‘large puddle’. Carefully we made progress, eventually meeting the puddle which was more akin to a new lake – complete with ducks. Some deliberation ensued and eventually the party plucked up courage to test the waters. While nobody actually drowned, there were very wet feet as the depth suddenly increased halfway across the duck pond.
Perhaps next time discretion will be the better part of valour and we can retreat bravely towards a different route!
Keen to warm up extremities we made good progress onto bump 1: Staple Lane. This had a few punchy steep sections after a misleadingly pleasant initial gradient and it was with some relief that we met at the top. Carefully descending through a steep bend we sped onto Shere and bump 2: the never ending hill.
This is just under two and half miles of incline which seems to helpfully get gradually steeper. Bizarrely most of the population of Surrey had decided to drive down this extremely narrow road at the same time as us, ensuring the occasional stoppage as some members of the group were held up as cars edged gingerly past each other (or sometimes roared past us over blind corners at high speed). A fun if slightly twisty descent later we regrouped at the Bull’s Head in Ewhurst and then set off east.
Some undulations later we arrived at the base of Leith Hill. This was bump 3: an absolute pig of a hill, with several false summits and tricksy steep sections. Managing to get up this after the first two bumps was a big achievement, with some swearing / groaning / grunting required to get to the top.
We took a sneaky shortcut down Sheephouse Lane, getting held up again by a car helpfully blocking the top of a short steep section. A quick run through Dorking led us to the final bump 4: Box Hill. The steady gradient of this popular route was enough to finish off already tired legs and the group stopped for coffee and cake at the top. Back through the countryside towards Epsom, and zig zagging through surburban streets we returned to New Malden exhausted but triumphant.