Now for number three in the short series of Dirty Kanzelled blogs and this was our only solo mission of the four, with Nat Creswick heading into the Surrey countryside in search of new gravel trails. It turned out to be quite the day out!
There is some amazing gravel in Surrey. It’s a shame I chose not to ride any of it for Dirty Kanzalled.
Keen to find some new paths and one hundred miles to play with, I plotted a route which went off to the west of where I usually head. The first 40km were glorious. Along the Thames, then perfect wide gravel across commons and fields until I bumped into five friends at the coffee van at the top of Staple Lane near Shere. We hadn’t planned to meet, but the lure of the only open café around is obviously too great. I couldn’t resist a socially distanced reunion after months apart so took the opportunity to top up on water and a can of something made with rhubarb.
The next 40km took me four hours. Four hours of sand and mud baked so dry and hard that it sent shock waves through my body with every pedal stroke. The bridleways looked so appealing on the map, but I think I could have run them quicker. I pulled out the pork pies I had cunningly packed. Or I thought so anyway. By this point they were so warm it was like they were straight out the oven. I decided to try my luck with e-coli. If I was sick, at least I’d have an excuse not to ride through sand anymore.
After 85km and 6 and a half hours of slog, I finally found civilization and tried not to get upset when the proprietor of the only open café gave me sparkling water when I asked for a fizzy drink. I collapsed in the shade in the village square and contemplated the second half, sending a few messages to reassure people I was still ok and congratulatory ones to the friends who had declined the offer to ride with me.
As I pedalled off to follow the peaks of the North Downs on the way home, my bike computer decided it couldn’t handle the heat and completely crashed out. It lost both the data from the ride so far and the ability to display any maps. My Dirty Kanzalled had been kanzalled.
I was frustrated but all things considered, it most definitely wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. Thankfully, I was in very familiar territory so struck off towards Pitch Hill. It wasn’t the route I’d plotted and it would lose me a fair few kilometres but I figured it was better to be somewhere I knew and there is always a nice view and a bench to sit on at the top.
When I got there, and found a family happily perched on my bench, I considered my options. I didn’t know my route particularly well, but I did know exactly how to get home. With the evening approaching and my stomach rumbling I decided to take the easier way out and ride back home on the trails I knew. I think in total my route was about 20km shy of the full 100 miles but after eating my final snickers about 45 mins out, I was grateful.
If this had been the real Dirty Kanzas I’d have been humiliatingly brought home in the broom wagon, but as it was, I was out for over 10 hours and I’d spent the day riding my bike in the sunshine and avoided a spate of food poisoning. Not a bad day after all.
Another big day day out and somewhat a character building one for Nat! Coming up next is the final blog in the series, with Stu and Scotty’s Ridgeway epic…