Postby Jono on Sun 3/Mar/02 5:54am

First up - I got a call from Mike Faxholm saying "we're going to the devils punchbowl tomorrow - do you want to come along". Given viccles recent rapid departure for NZ, I was suddenly available, so I thought why not...

So there I was, getting up early on a saturday morning (around 8am eventually), and riding to waterloo station.

The train ride was pretty mellow - about an hour (there is a rule in there somewhere), and deposited me at Haslemere. About half way on the train trip I got a call from Mike, wondering if I had left yet. I mentioned that I was at most 25 mins from haslemere, and Nicky was incredulous. They hadn't left home yet (they were driving). Due to a small mixup with start times, it appeared that I would be there 30 mins early (what! me?). Oh well...enough time to get a nice warm up...

They said it would a short ride from haslemere to hindshead (where the ride would start), so I made my way. It was pretty short, but they didn't mention the damned hill in the way. It was a brooklyn rd steepness, so not too bad, but it seemed to go on for ever (for my london-conditioned legs anyway). Eventually I got to the carpark, and there were a couple of things that came to mind

a) it was sunny. As in really sunny - no clouds in the sky sunny. And warm (where it was sunny anyway). This isn't supposed to happen. As a symbol of my faith in the weather, I took off my reflex jacket and bungied it to my reservoir dog...

b) after a short call, it became apparent that everyone else was going to be way late. While affixing mike's bike to the car, they had realised that the disc brakes were about to fall off (that's hayes for you...). So they tried to find a new bolt at a local DYI shop, but couldn't get one that would work. So they then had to drive to horsham to get the bike fixed.

So I went riding by myself.

The devils punchbowl is basically a correct name - it's a big (huge) bowl, with typical rolling english trees and farmland in the middle. I would have sent a photo (it was pretty scenic), but the camera is with viccles flying somewhere over the pacific...

The tracks felt pretty similar to turangi - the soil is quite sandy, and the tracks themselves are smooth and undulating. There is a "rim track" (my name) that runs around the top of the bowl for a bit, with reasonably well-hidden singletrack dropping off it into the bowl.

I made my way around the rim track, and dropped down a path into the bowl. Nice smooth downhill, nice little bunny-hoppable waterbars. Excellent, steep and rooty singletrack uphill back to the top. If you've ridden the singeltrack up to the top of brooklyn road through central park, this is pretty similar - a bit thinner, and about the same gradient, but it goes on for about twice as long (or it felt like it anyway).

Back around the rim track, down another singletrack downhill (I'm not sure it was a track, but it was well-trampled bracken, and it (eventually - after a bit of winding through trees) joined up with the main track). Across to the far side of the bowl, and then along another sandy track called the greensand way (it looked more like normal sand to me. Maybe there is an annual painting the sand festival or something).

Up a track (large rut would have been a better term) for about half an hour (this was getting more exciting, as the track was almost overgrown, and required some skills. The top section of this would be quite nice to ride down - there are a lot of knee-high dropoffs over slate...

Eventually, I popped back onto the middle of the bowl track, and up the steep singletrack. From the top, I thought to myself that if I rode things like that more, I wouldn't be shown up by tama when I got back home, so I had to ride back down again for another attempt.

Bad idea. Legs hurt. Heart rate up. Gear cable takes this opportunity to stretch a bit, meaning that the chain skips a little too much.

Once at the top, a final blast through the singletrack back to the carpark, and then I decided that it was time to head home...and it was still sunny. The clouds only came in once I got back into London. And there was a huge anti-war demonstration happening down in trafalgar square, which meant that my usual sprint up charing cross road wouldn't be possible (roads closed, lots (and I mean lots) of police, way too many people.

Dodgy road riding ensued - my excuse is that if I follow the roads the way that they are supposed to go, I'll get lost, and never get home. This way, it's much better. At least the road blockages around trafalgar square meant that there was no traffic on the backstreets :)

All in all, a pretty good day. And being a saturday, it means that I can go out and do it again tomorrow (although probably in croyden this time). Yay!
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"High Grade Mental Defective"
Member for: 16 years 9 months

Postby Hoz on Mon 4/Mar/02 3:30pm

excellent Jono...sounds all very enjoyable :)
Member for: 16 years 9 months

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