Challenge: A day of mountain biking in Surrey
Details: A quick train out of London for a day of off-road biking in Surrey. The Surrey Hills are an amazing hub for both road and mountain bikers. The beautiful countryside is a mere hour’s train from central London and well worth a visit to sample the delights of the trails. Open to all levels, there are wide forest tracks beginners can follow, as well as amazing routes for improvers (and brave beginners) to try their wheels on.
Where? Peaslake, Surrey area – meeting at Gomshall train station.
The routes in the area are well known for being pretty awesome– check out surreyhillsmtber.co.uk for information on the trails, you can download the GPX if suits. In general, just have fun exploring and if you get lost, there are walkers and bikers around who should be able to help. Telegraph Row, Yoghurt Pots, Barry Knows Best and Summer Lightning are the trails we tried out and all come highly recommended.
Transport? Train, car or cycle. 1h10 min (indirect) train to Gomshall from London Bridge, Waterloo and Victoria. Driving is easy as well if that’s more convenient. B1ke can bring the bikes to Gomshall train station so you can cycle up to the Hurtwood Estate from there, alternatively you can meet at their shop in Peaslake village.
When? Anytime – this can be completed in a day. Aim to get a train before 09.30 to make the most of the day. By 4.30 you’ll be pretty tired and ready to get the train back.
Bring? Clothes to get muddy. Trainers/ shimano cleats if you have requested clipless pedals. Water, energy snacks, some dry clothes for afterwards, a backpack, cash for food, card for train etc. There is a loo and café next to Gomshall station in the caravan retailers.
Food & drink? Take snacks on the bike with you as pretty sure you’ll want them on the trails! Stop off in Peaslake Village – the village shop has amazing sausage rolls, cheese straws and hot drinks. The Hurtwood Inn is great for a more leisurely stop. At the end of the day, while you wait for your train in Gomshall, you have The Gomshall Mill pub and Tillings Café.
Cost? Total: £50. Breakdown: £30 for bike rental, £12.60 for adult return train (you can get a return even if you’re coming back into London on a different train), £4 for food
eXerK 52in52 story: Having chopped and changed our bike rental order with the extremely helpful and patient Richard from B1ke.com, all went to plan. A 21-strong Team eXerK met in Gomshall station car park, fitted the bikes, had a safety briefing and were off at 11.15am. We quickly realised that cycling in such a big group was not going to work. The grand majority of us were beginners but luckily the competent riders in our midst were happy guiding several groups around the trails.
We cycled up the road to YHA Holmbury, where the trails began and we split into 3 groups. The group I was in headed straight up the wide trails to the top of Holmbury Hill, choosing to go down the Yoghurt Pots trail first. A brave call – it was amazing fun but pretty hair raising stuff. I learnt pretty quickly there is a happy medium between going so slow you slip down the drops, and going so fast you fly over the drops!
Yoghurt Pots complete, we were confident we could take on any of the routes. Telegraph Row was next, taking us half an hour to find the start of the trail. Then we cycled along several paths, navigating our way towards Peaslake village for some food. By this time it was 2.15pm.
After some snacks (during which we were apparently in the midsts of one of the top international MTBers…not that we’d have known what with our limited knowledge of the sport) we headed up to the beginning of Barry Knows Best, another great trail. Other groups managed to fit in cycling the Greensands Way along and up to the top of Leith Hill, taking on the 4km Summer Lightning trail. We all met back Gomshall at 4pm, caked in mud, handing the bikes back to B1ke before a quick drink at the Mill pub.
This was a great day, full of everything eXerK is about – namely opening people’s eyes to how easy it is to get outdoors and active and try new things. Everyone came back raving about the fun they had had, exhausted by the day-long adrenaline rush. There was a bleeding nose, a torn shoulder ligament and a punctured tire but all live to tell the tale. This is definitely a sport I will go back to in the future.