If you like your cycling fast, flowing and technical you should be heading for Peaslake in the heart of the Surrey Hills. The North Downs is a mecca for mountain biking, but from my experience you really need to know where to look for the best kept secrets. The hills around Wescott and Peaslake are literally a warren of hidden singletrack gems. There are the famous routes like “ Barry Knows Best”, “Summer Lightening” and “Telegraph Road” but the skill is linking these together with equally brilliant and quieter less well known tracks.
This is where our guide for the day Matt stepped in. Taking on the roll of tour guide with an almost sergeant major type glee, Matt lead out a group of seven other riders. We were a mixture of locals from Beyond MTB and south coast visitors like myself. Matt is a seriously strong rider so a tough day was in store!
Congregating at the Peaslake carpark we set off on our first 90 minute loop towards Pitch Hill. After a steady opening climb we were quickly into singletrack heaven. Rooty, twisty tracks proliferate and we seemed to be forever diving left and right. It really is a full body workout, with sharp painful climbs interspersed by arm burning berms and turns.
Matt regimented his troops, only slowing slightly to allow the stragglers to regroup before setting off again into the trees. Some of the trails are natural while others have had a helping hand, but they all seem to have that elusive flow that it seems so hard for event organisers to replicate. With warnings when we were approaching tougher sections of trail, we were lead back to Peaslake to refuel before setting out west towards Holmbury.
If I lived nearer and rode these trails regularly I would be a much better rider. The area provides ideal race training, with repeated climbs to test the legs and lungs. Bike handling skills need to be quickly honed, especially in a fast flowing train of riders. The bank holiday sun had shone and seven weary but happy riders headed home after a Matt masterclass!