For the second MBUK/TINCUP ride-out, we picked the popular MTB venue of the Surrey Hills, on the southern outskirts of London. We weren’t surprised, then, to have a healthy turnout, despite the impending forecast of heavy rain. Our start point was The Royal Oak pub in Holmbury St Mary, where riders kitted up and fettled their bikes, while others socialised and kept warm by the spit-roast, which would be feeding us later.
There’s a huge amount of excellent riding in this area, but that doesn’t make it any easier to find your way around, so it was a big help having the excellent Jessica Weston, from Singletrack School, along for the ride. Jessica knows these trails like the back of her hand, so our Big Ride specialist Max Darkins, of Rough Ride Guide, was glad to have her at his side as we headed off into the hills.
Thankfully, we got away before the rain started to fall. Because the sandy terrain of the North Downs drains well, it was a nice easy, steady climb to the top of Holmbury Hill, which allowed us to continue our conversations and warm up. The trails here often have two or three names, depending on which bike shop you frequent, but whatever you call them, they’re great fun, consisting of tight singletrack slicing through the undergrowth and weaving through pine trees.
After riding the likes of ‘I should coco’, we left Holmbury Hill, descending on the classic ‘Barry knows best’ to Peaslake. Ignoring the drizzle, we kept the pace steady, sampling a number of trails around Pitch Hill, before finally finishing on ‘T1’ and the excellent – and recently refurbished – ‘John the Baptist’, with whoops and hollers around the berms and over the jumps as we descended back to Peaslake.
With the sun now sinking (having already been obscured by cloud) and the temperature dropping further, we almost enjoyed the warming climb back up Holmbury Hill. Well, ‘enjoyed’ might be a bit strong. The viewpoint only offered a 360-degree view of mist, so we pushed straight on to ‘Yoghurt pots’. This trail is always fun, offering a rollercoaster ride, albeit with some pretty deep and cold puddles, and we could almost smell the roast pig waiting for us at the end, so spirits were high.
The draw of the pork and some TINCUP whiskey proved too strong for a few riders, who cracked (crackled?) and took the quickest way down the hill to their prize. Those who remained headed down the superb ‘Telegraph Row’, before finishing with a (slippery) flurry on ‘Mutiny’ and ‘Logan’s run’. Back at The Royal Oak, TINCUP staff were ready to greet us, pushing a delicious pork roll into one hand and a tin cup of American whiskey into the other. What a great day of riding and a great bunch of people – we could definitely get used to rides like these…
Photos: Max Darkins/Rough Ride Guide & TINCUP Whiskey
The MBUK/TINCUP rides are brought to you in association with TINCUP whiskey. Inspired by, and made for, the mountains, this classic American whiskey is cut with water from the Rockies and named after the tin cups used by Colorado gold miners. Aged for a minimum of four years in American white oak barrels, it has a bourbon-style profile with a bold and spicy finish. You can buy it from Asda supermarkets.