Global #Fatbike Day 3rd December 2016; Billy no Mates ride out.

Global fat bike day, 3rd December 2016.

I did this last year, 2015, with the lovely Frensham crew. Managed to break my collarbone in the process. This year it was a tough sell to the wife, who did not buy into my going at all. You see the collarbone was my tenth breakage in my life, four of them attributed to mountain biking, along with a crushed shoulder..... Also I could not be arsed to dismantle the bike, put it in a car, and drive an hour only to ride around an area flatter than where I live.

Beach rides on a fat bike.

What to do on the day? Any ideas? Well I normally leave home, and cycle North, East or West. That's where the hills are. South is a motorway, Gatwick airport and industrial estates. Nobody ever rides South from here.

That's the answer then. Ride South from Redhill, Surrey on a fat bike.

Nothing planned, nothing ventured

You know what? It wasn't half bad at all. I'd not planned a route; just go South until I found a nice café, then head East until I got stumped by something, then back home via North and some hills. In the four hours I was out, I did not consult the map once, managing to cover 24 miles, totally unlost yet also riding 80% of the time on trails that not only had I never ridden on before, yet didn't even know existed.

How cool was that? I felt like an explorer out in the wild.


South from Redhill means Sustrans route 21 to Horley. A common enough trail, yet one I'd never ridden in 17 years of living here. It goes past my house. It turned out to be great, not at all like crappy routes along disused railway lines. Although parallel to the main railway line to Gatwick, it felt countrified, running through ancient farms and fields.

My terminal Southerly point on the route was a Portuguese café in Horley. English wan't even their second language. Superb place, and I lingered a long time. Afterwards I went and looked at Royal Enfield 500cc motorbikes. Lovely looking things. One negative though. 500cc and tyres narrower than the ones on my bicycle? That was bizarre.

Coffee so strong it strips enamel from your teeth

Fire and brimstone.

I'd spotted a bridleway sign on the way to the café, and it looked to head in an appropriately right direction. Followed it for a bit, and it only joined the Sustrans route again. This time heading North, back home. Bugger that, so I dived off along a footpath heading East. You can do things like that on a fat bike, as people don't seem to moan.

The path turned out to be horrid. It followed a little brook, crossing it and re-crossing every forty metres or so. This by means of little, narrow bridges made from scaffold poles. You try lifting a 40lb bike, head height and then clambering up, over and along bridges that are as wide as your shoulders, encumbered by overgrowth.

Oh and the path itself was very muddy. Lucky I was on low pressure tyres, eh?

In the end it was an interesting little diversion as it went past a number of World War 2 defences. Kind of thought if Hitler had gotten this far, he'd have kind of won. They seemed a bit desperate really.

The path terminated at a sewage processing plant, so my chances of selling this route to others died right here. It did, however, terminate at another bridleway.

The M23.

My new bridleway ran alongside this major motorway. And I don't mean that in the sense that the motorway was over there somewhere, a little in the distance. There was me, a little picket fence made of wood, and then the motorway. The cars ruffled my hair playfully as they went past at ten times my speed.

Ah yes, my speed. I'm guessing, and am happy to be proven wrong here, that a ride past a sewerage plant, and then adjacent to a motorway is perhaps not a hugely popular one. There were precisely no signs of anybody on a bike having ever ridden here. Horses yes, bikes no. Further, I came to a slight rise to a lonely bridge. On the rise was an apple tree that had deposited its' load onto the trail. Fat tyres or not, imagine riding on frozen apples the size of tennis balls. Low pressure tyres helped not a lot, and I was off.


December, the UK, riding in a frost hollow, what did I expect but Ice? Loved it.

Surrey ice - so much nicer than anybody else's

Dame Judy Dench

I popped out at her little village, Outwood. There's a butchers shop here, and I was mindful of bringing something back. Goat, lamb and venison sausages please! Job done.

An early death, yet a tasty one

Head North young man!

Further East would have been good. However, I'd not brought lights and from memory riding North from here has great views, which did indeed prove to be the case. My intention had been to stop at a pub, and quite frankly I have no idea why I did not do so. Suspect that shorts plus ice meant I was feeling somewhat cold. Indeed the day generally seemed to be getting colder as it went on. My thought here is that I was simply declining in altitude the deeper I went into the weald. This area is a notorious frost hollow, so I'd ridden down into the cold. Whilst shorts were fine at home, they were a liability here.

North proved to be gorgeous, and I had to stop in some random field for lunch.

Looking towards the North Downs, Godstone.

And that was that.

Again I followed trails I'd never ridden before, this time heading West, homeward. I didn't really take much notice of mileage, so it was a surprise to pop out less than three miles from home. Ride over then. It seemed pointless going back in search of a pub now, so I contented myself with a beer at home.

A grand day out.

Random as it was, this was the best 24 miles I've ridden in ages. Didn't see a sole about, rode 80% of trails I'd  never ridden before, all on my doorstep. Ate goat for the first time ever. Played in ice on a fat bike.

Deep, deep sigh of contentment.