Where eagles dare - hidden Caterham Valley

Caterham or bust.

Redhill from the Pilgrims' Way

My past three rides have all been over to Caterham; loops via Godstone and the North Downs. Anti clockwise is best, as then you have the gradual, woody climb up to Gravelly Hill and the fun blast down the Pilgrims' Way. Sometimes though you have to play fair, and do the initial big climb up. In the dry it is fine, 5 minutes out of your life. In the mud you'll be criticising your parents for your birth. Why me! Why me!

The whole ride is as anti trail centre as you can get - very old school cross country. Big views, old houses, country pubs, stunning views of London right over to Ally Pally. No berms, jumps or drops. It's like 1995 MTB land all over again. That said, I know of more than one descent on gravel that allows for a bit of drifting.

It's a great ride if you only have 90 minutes, or if you are hungover, or if you want to introduce somebody to mountain biking on trails that have a bit of interest. You can extend it to Westerham no bother, or go looking for off piste trails, of which there are a few. It also makes a great walk, as there is a decent pub. More busy than you expect as well.

Gravelly Hill.

Rusty Jaguar

Above Caterham it is a different time, very much hidden from the world post Year 2,000. Derelict cars, big skies and horses. Lots of horses. There are also lots of little trails. It's a bit up and down though, so an acquired taste.

The finger burner.

I've been stopping here, on Gravelly Hill, brewing my own coffee as there is no cafe. This is a bit miss and miss so far. My little coffee machine is stainless steel, as is the cup. Man, that handle vaporises skin. The coffee is also weak, as internal pressure must be low. Today, hot handle, I knocked it over. Flames.... Going to have to revise the system, as there are no cafes here and the one pub is really busy. I used to use the Green Rooms in Godstone, but service is awful if you just want coffee. Wait 15 minutes, politely ask when it is your turn: "When I'm ready!" The food is good, just the service is a bit Basil Fawlty.

Man makes fire

Of course below, along Route 21, things can also be odd:

Old train carriage with tiled roof.

Today there was one group of walkers 50 strong easily. Saw a few groups of Italian cyclists off to Paris. Lots of horse riders and dog walkers. Unlike Reigate Hill, over here people seem happy to not only share the trail, but will stop and chat. Indeed general chat with strangers is very much the order of the day.

Tubeless tyres.

I've been tubeless since Stan invented it, 4mm thick rim strips and all. I'm not convinced anybody understands the system, even 20 years later. Why? Here we have tubeless tyres on tubeless rims with tubeless fluid. Why does it leak through the sidewalls?? These are 2019 tubeless ready tyres for gawd's sake. This is not from washing the bike; this is fluid leaking out. Does my head in.