Seventeen RCC mountain bikers had camped out overnight in Reigate Hill car park to be sure of a place on my debut ride as leader. Dark clouds, a dismal weather forecast and the onset of rain determined this would be no MTB ride for fair weather folk.
Having paid little attention to directions and landmarks on previous rides, it was clear that I would need help with navigation. So, armed with an OS Explorer map, a new Garmin GPS (I needed an excuse to buy one…) and Mat Swan, we set course for Bocketts Farm lured by the promise of tea, cake and shelter.
Heading out along Buckland Hills we made our way towards Headley where a few cheeky turns along the way tested my navigation skills. Across Headley car park we then steered a fast route down through Headley Heath to re-surface by High Ashurst. Soon the damp conditions and a steep climb up White Hill were testing out summer MTB tyres (and some winter ones too!) before an orderly dash across Mickleham and down Juniperhill.
That cup of tea was getting closer now, only Norbury Park Hill to deal with followed by a quick pedal through the forest to reach Bocketts Farm.
By now the rain was pouring down and I made an executive decision to take the quickest route home, mindful that no-one would entertain anything else! A familiar route, even to me, across Leatherhead Downs back towards Headley car park and eventually through the golf course to reach Mogador.
Dipped headlights were turned on for the last stretch as low cloud reduced visibility to almost nothing but my newly discovered navigation skills quickly led us to Reigate Hill car park without incident.
Thanks to Jack and Phil for back marking, Mat for keeping me "on route" and to everyone for turning out on such a wet day to make my debut ride as leader so enjoyable.
After 19.7 miles (GPS stats..) my job was done with all persons and bikes fully accounted for. Phew!