Tour of the Hills and Tour of the Greensand

The club’s most legendary event enjoyed fine, mild weather conditions – just! The rain started at around 7pm, by which time almost everyone – even those who cycled to and from the event – had reached home. Hard luck, Julie and Roland, but well done for riding to the start, taking some photos when on the ride, completing the ride almost within the time limit, and then riding home: true cycling heroes! And well done to all 103 finishers because it’s a tough ride by any standard, as was proved by the 25 who didn’t manage to finish. And as for the 24 who didn’t start, thanks for your entry anyway – we won’t waste your entry money on anything trivial.

This year the Tour of the Hills was one of Cycling UK’s chosen events in their ‘Challenge Ride’ series. As such, every rider received a medal, a musette and a bidon, which I think on the whole were well received. And was this raised profile the reason why the entries increased by almost 50%? We shall never know, but 150 entries is very respectable so thanks to Cycling UK for choosing us.

Home first was Steve Bauer of Woking based Team Velo Sportif (TVS) in 4 hours 11 minutes, which is an awesome time. Not that it’s a race of course but it just shows what’s possible if you’re fit and not too old and decrepit. It was good to know that Thames Water’s attempt to scupper the ride by closing White Down to traffic actually didn’t hold anyone up. And congratulations to Martin Vinson, Pat Daffarn, William Lowries and Robert Clarke, the only West Surrey Riders to ride the event. Finally mention must be made of Jack Hartrey, aged just 12, who rode the event with his father in a time of 5 hours 45 minutes: just amazing…

Heroic in a different way are all the West Surrey riders who gave up their ride to help on the day: in no particular order, Heidi Vinson, who masterminded the catering, and her assistants Bob McLeod, Susan Buff and John Child; at the start the help provided by Chris Jeggo, Angela Byrne, Laurie Mutch and John Finlay, not forgetting Martin Vinson who helped before he rode was much appreciated. Out on the road, marshalling the controls were Maggi Moss, Laurie Mutch, Julian Allen, Pete Hathaway, Ian Pickering, Penny Knight, David and Helen Pinkess, Arthur Twiggs, Dave King, Mark Heal, Clive Richardson and Chris Boggon. John Finlay performed the admirable task of ensuring that the marshals had everything they needed and went round checking everything was OK before returning to Shere to help with checking the riders back in. Finally thanks to John Murdoch for taking on the task of organising all the road marshals. Apologies to anyone I’ve left out. As has been mentioned countless times now, without the help of West Surrey CTC members, this event, not to mention the ‘surplus’ we make on the event, would either evaporate away or be taken over by another club. Please let’s never allow this to happen.

Run in tandem with the Tour of the Hills is the Tour of the Greensand, which was supported by nine members and two visitors from Notts CTC, namely John Wills, Angela Byrne, Sue and Paul Herber, Carol Moore, Anne and Derek Tanner, Peter Fennemore, Roger Philo, with Jude and Mark Beaven as our guests from Nottingham. Their 54km ride was not without its excitements: only yards from the start the riders were witness to an accident involving a runaway horse whose rider was thrown to the ground and needed urgent medical help. Thanks must go to Carol Moore who used her first aid skills to assist, and commiserations to her as well for losing her wallet and hearing aids in the process – what bad luck.

It would be great to know how many Tour of the Hills there have been; I shall be delving into the archives to try to bring this figure to light but if anyone can help, it would be much appreciated.

I hope to run the event next year, but I’m going to investigate the possibility of adjusting the route so that it doesn’t have to use the A25 after Box Hill, which doesn’t seem in keeping with the rest of the ride. Instead, I shall be attempting to route riders down ‘Little Switzerland’ and then back up to Ranmore Common and down through the back streets of Dorking: another climb and a couple more kilometres of torture? Sounds like fun to me!


The Bicycle Icycle 2017

West Surrey’s first event of the year took place on 19 March in mild, cloudy conditions. The roads were dry for a change and the turnout was excellent – 18 people, including two guests. The riders were:

Angela Byrne, Marion and Nick Davison, Julian Allen, Chris Boggon, Clive Richardson, Chris Jeggo, Peter Hackman, Martin and Heidi Vinson, Bob McLeod, Chris Juden, Matt Carolan, Dave King, Paul Taylor and Mark Waters. Chris Wright (Alton CTC) and Andrew Grundy (East Surrey CTC) were guest riders.

The Bicycle Icycle, which as mentioned above did not live up to its name thankfully, is a lumpy ride – 3,535ft of climbing in 42.5 miles. For those who rode the Phil Hampton Memorial Ride the previous day, it must have been especially challenging: hero of the day must surely be young Bobby McLeod who rode both in fine style; a couple of others found it all too much and did the sensible thing by retiring gracefully.

The route, for anyone wanting to ride it, just for the hell of it, may be found in GPX form on the Events page of our website – follow the instructions to download. You’ll not be disappointed by the quality of the ride – it really is fabulous from start to finish.

Here then are some photos taken on the ride, starting with several taken at the start.

The route starts by heading south out of Godalming to Thorncombe Street and then continues south to wind back past Gate Street Barn to cross the A281 just south of Bramley.

Turning quickly off the 281 on the Cranleigh road, the route makes straight for the Surrey Hills and climbs the nearest one it can find – Winterfold. And it’s no doddle!

Peaslake is reached after 14 miles, and there’s a shop here which sells the most delicious homemade cheese straws. Normally we stop but not this time – there were a few hundred mountain bikers around and some felt disinclined to queue, so on we continued up the appallingly steep Radnor Road and so past Holmbury Hill to cross the B2126 at Holmbury St Mary.

The next climb takes one towards Leith Hill and is surprisingly gentle – once the initial lumps are negotiated (and these aren’t gentle at all). The final section of this ascent takes one past the turning that we’ll be going down, once the Info Control answer is obtained at the Rhodedendron Woods car park; getting to it involves a steep descent followed by the re-ascent of the steep descent. Many lesser mortals have been tempted to wait at the turning for their pals and then bribe them for the answer. None of us had the temerity to do this today – not with the organiser keeping an eagle eye on proceedings!

Here are some of us at the Info Control point:

Once back at the turning, we make the turn and head for Friday Street and its pretty lake.

And then it’s just a question of heading back westwards without anything overly strenuous to contend with, other than perhaps Hoe Lane. Here are Clive and Pat climbing the lane:

We continue west along Pursers Lane and Hook Lane; in the old days, we then used to descend to Shere for refreshments, but this doesn’t seem to happen much these days, because it adds another climb. Instead we stay high and continue through Little London, Albury Heath, Brook and Farley Green to eventually reach the flatlands of Shamley Green at 31.5 miles – another village shop passed by – followed by Wonersh. Here are some photos of this section:

After Wonersh, we continue over the A281 at Bramley and up Snowdenham Lane to Thorncombe Street once again, this time traversing it east to west, to ride past David Shepherd’s (old?) house on the Hascombe Road. There are two more hills remaining, the first being the killer Mare Lane which reaches the near vertical right at the top. Below are a couple of shots of afforementioned lane.

The descent down the other side is well deserved, but then comes the final short but steep climb on Salt Lane before the fast descent towards Milford Station and the last short section along the A3001 and up Hawthorn Ridge to finish at Quarry Hill. Phew, all over for another year apart from making lots of tea for everyone.

Owing to the lack of refreshment stops, the fastest chaps got round in 3 hours 39 minutes. Well done, them, and all who rode the event, including those who rolled in well over an hour later having enjoyed lots of refreshment stops – sensible people!

Look out for an extended version of the ride in the autumn.