5 Mar

On your bike

Cycling has become more popular than ever, not least in Surrey. So we asked local cycling expert, Rohan Dubash, for insider advice on safe riding on the county’s roads and for new routes for the more experienced rider.

Surrey has a lot going for it as any resident will tell you, and it certainly has some of the finest countryside in the UK. Tranquil spots and sweeping vistas can easily be found, many within a proverbial stone’s throw of our own doorsteps. No surprise then that, more and more of us are keen to take the opportunity to get out and explore what Surrey has to offer in the car, on foot, on horse-back or of course on a bike.

I have lived and cycled in Surrey since the late 80s and I’m well aware that in recent years sharing the road has become something of an issue for many in this beautiful county.

Surrey is recognised as one of the most densely populated county’s in the country and inevitably it gets a little crowded out on the roads, especially at the weekends. When I arrived here in 1989 the county was notably busier than in the Peak District where I used to ride a lot, but nothing like the congested highways we see today.

More and more of us are performing this low-impact activity which burns fat, tones muscles and and gets the cardiovascular system into proper gear.  We might not be able to do much about the problem of growing road congestion, but there are things we can do to make said roads safer and more pleasant for us all.

Time was when virtually everyone that rode a bicycle started at an early age and benefited from the mentoring element that the local cycling club or CTC offered, learning their road-craft as they gained experience.

I am deliberately avoiding the use of terminology such as ‘Cyclist’ and ‘Motorist’ as I pen this article. It very unlikely that you will ever meet a person that transports themselves from a) to b) using a singular mode of transport. Nearly everyone I know that rides a bike owns (and uses) a car and many people that I know that own a car regularly ride a bike. These very same people, catch buses and trains and also use the pavements to walk to places.

Where to ride?

Despite the recent obsession with cycling up one of the jewels in Surrey’s crown, Box Hill, there are harder climbs to test the more athletic amongst you and less congested roads to enjoy, particularly at weekends and on public holidays. Box Hill has its appeal, but there’s a whole county out there to explore and enjoy.

A good friend of mine passed away a few years ago. He was an ex-professional racing cyclist hailing from Surrey and in his memory we formed a trust fund that aimed to financially assist a couple of lucky riders each year to relocate to Northern France to follow their dreams of becoming professional racing cyclists. We ran the fund for 10 years and also made donations to CRY a charity for undetected heart disease in the young and as part of our fundraising activities put on an organised ride each year with several routes of differing severity, to test the participant as much as they liked, raise a few quid and work up an appetite for some serious cake eating at the end.

Below are links to the routes we used. Ride safely and considerately and most of all enjoy all that Surrey has to offer.

Easy(ish) mapmyride.com/gb/tadworth-eng/john-ibbotson-fund-jaffacake-ride-route-52229096

A bit harder mapmyride.com/gb/dorking-eng/john-ibbotson-fund-carrot-cake-ride-route-52229128

My legs hurt! mapmyride.com/so/ceeldheer-galguduud/john-ibbotson-fund-fruit-cake-ride-route-11125315

Rohan Dubash is passionate about bikes and cycling. He has written for specialist cycling magazines including: Cycling Weekly and Rouleur Magazine. His Doctor D (Intensive Care for Bikes) servicing centre is based in Sutton. For more info visit: doctord.co.uk