Redhill to Botley Hill near Westerham by mountain bike.

The Route.

This is a route that we normally do in a clockwise direction; up from Reigate onto the North Downs at Caterham, on to Botley Hill / Titsey Park above Westerham, then blast down the hill to Limpsfield. For good reason, as it seems to involve less climbing [naturally it doesn't]. Titsey Park is just nasty, nasty going up where going down you can have some real fun.

However, you can't always do the same ride over and over again. I'd promised PP a pint a local pub, but you have to earn these things. Needless to say he had a tea whilst I had a pint. At 36 degrees C the pint was well deserved.


The route shown looks very simple to do, yet on the ground it can be anything but. It's a ride you have to do a few times to get your bearings. As you can see, I missed a turn at Hurst Green, so did a few km extra. This after doing the route twenty or thirty times, admittedly varied. It's worth the effort. Really, it is. Beats doing endless loops of Barry Knows Best.


Strava.

Strava. Hmm, love hate relationship there. If I'm on a ride, just chasing down KOM's all the time, I find it no real fun. You're just blasting everywhere like a prat and miss out on so, so much. Use it as a mapping tool, take a chill pill, and the rides become much more interesting. Of course there are places where it doesn't half help. Take the climb through Titsey Park, or the M25 dash later on. On our own we'd mooch up, perhaps even stop half way. Drop a gear. With Strava you are never alone, so we pushed far harder than we would have otherwise. In that way it really is a great motivator. And do you know what? Chilling, just riding we were still in the top twenty percent. [That may, or may not be a reflection of our comparative fitness. It may also mean nobody itching to scratch the gnar desire comes over to these parts!]




Cross country at its' best.

This is old school cross country at its' best in many ways. You ride through old country estates, and can forage on the way depending on the season. Early on wild garlic, then moving through to cherries, blackberries, apples, pears or plums as you move through the seasons. This kind of stuff is easily found right on the trail. Some of the apples are from ancient orchards, so not common varieties. They taste like apples, although slightly different.

Indeed today I found several ripe cherries, which PP declined. In this day and age, where food comes pre-packed, it often looks strange to be eating food wild, straight off the trees. You must realise, though, that the country we rode through today was where Ray Mears cut his teeth as a lad. Didn't know that, did you?

Hopefully my foraging specific fat bike will be ready soon.


Smell.

Naturally going through farmland has some drawbacks as well. There's the cow piss puddle near Godstone. Literally a cow piss puddle. It really is. Always invitingly green. There's often a muck-spreading smell, and the flies. You want to know about flies? Do this route on a summers' day.


Why bother?

Benefits include country pubs, odd little cafes, the houses of the rich near Oxted, and the country views, not to mention foraging in old estates. There are no mountains or deep oceans, true, yet the rolling chalk downs hold an appeal all of their own. As I've said lots of times, look at the map and you'd dismiss this ride wholesale. Actually do the ride, realise what it involves, and you'll be back.

There were no KOM's set today, no personal bests either really. What we did achieve was a near 40 mile ride through some great countryside.

Go on, remove yourself from that comfort zone and give it a go.


PP at Botley Hill Farmhouse.

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