Most of the year so far has been off-road and it's been great! We have even narrowed down a commute to work to around 90% trails/gravel on a 10mile route, quite impressive if you know the sort of area West London is. Thanks to Chris Detsicas who did some research and found another GIRO cafe inspired route, we set out to see what the trails were like in some of the Surrey hills. There were a few mishaps and missed turns so I amended the route with sections I personally would of added in. Enjoy!
NITP Ride Breakdown:
0-5miles: Begin at Sandown Race Course or from the actual GIRO cafe next door, your first bit of the dirty stuff is into Littlebrook and Arbrook Common, popular with walkers and dogs so just be wary. The major hazard of this road is crossing the very busy Copsen Lane to get into Esher Common. It can really do with a crossing there especially as it's used by horse riders too. You could spend a good amount of time exploring the common, we took the wrong path straight away and ended up in a bit of sticky mud. There is a small climb in the common not far from the War Memorial. On this side of the common lies a big sand bowl so if you have your bucket and spade on you, fill your boots!
Segment Challenge #1: Esher Common A3 Climb, 0.5km.
5-10miles: Next few miles brings the peace, back lanes you may recognise from road rides. You touch into Chatley Heath with Wisley Common on the other side of the A3. If you have the time, I do believe there is a bridge that takes you into there, definitely somewhere else to tick off on the trails. If you're feeling a bit risky, there is a path that takes you into the old runway which sits behind Ockham but it looks like houses are being built so it might be too late to grab an unique Insta pic!
Segment Challenge #2: River Mole Dash, 1.2km
10-15miles: After snaking through Ockham and Ripley, you'll find yourself on an old farm track. Just be wary, it seems to be laid with broken bricks (maybe due to Winter weather) which may result in a puncture like we experienced. But it will blend you into a very quiet wooded area which connects itself to the climb up to Staple. Don't worry or maybe you should because it's not Staple you'll be climbing, it's the neighbour. Fullers Farm Rd is a very technical climb thanks to the tree roots laying all over the lane for most of the climb. You'll constantly be looking for the flattest line up but the views at the top are quite worth the struggle.
Polka Dot Challenge #1: Fullers Farm Rd, 1.5km, 11% max
15-20miles: The climbing does not stop there! After a 3/4 descent off Green Dene, look for a trial near the bottom before you hit Crocknorth although that's where you will eventually end up. A climb up the bridge will reward you with an iconic view of this part of Surrey. All those times you slog up that very steep road climb, you can now look down and gloat as you watch others sweat and swear! Well, you've climbed. It's now time to downhill. Or you could explore more of the North Downs but there are so many paths and trails. it would be very easy to lose your bearings and veer off course.
Segment Challenge #3: Effingham Descent, 3.2km
20-25miles: The original route from GIRO takes you into a bit of rough terrain which was very boggy when we did some recon. It also takes you across a horse training centre where you are made (no, not ride them!) to make your way through an endless amount of gates. So I have opted in returning back to Downside then shoot back up the side of the team we shall not speak of! Be warned, you have a short but sharp off road climb of Wren Hill in front of you.
Polka Dot Challenge #2: Wren Hill, 0.7km, 12% max
25-30miles: The terrain now mostly flat for the majority of the route as it takes you through Prince's Coverts and Ashtead Common - another 2 areas of woodland which you could easily veer off and explore the trails. Like other commons before, it can get a little busy with walkers and dogs so just be alert but the gravel routes in there are in good condition and you're not far from home!
Segment Challenge #4: Prince's Coverts, 2.5km
30-37miles: You're spat out into a bit of a gem in this area - Horton Country Park. Many roadies might notice the area because of the Horton roundabouts, a favourite segment after some of the Surrey Hills for many. Another park though which can get busy. Next section is a bit urban as you snake through Chessington but once you cross over Leatherhead Road, you're on the home run. Touching into a bit of Claygate Common and kriss-krossing over the A3, you can head back into Esher or carry on through to the common for some more trails. No need to suggest where to get your reward is there... GIRO.
Segment Challenge #5: A3 Kriss Kross, 4km