Saturday 10th October marked what is hoped to be the first of an annual Surrey Hills Epic off-road bike ride.  As the sun rose at 6.30am, 12 riders gathered at Newlands Corner to begin the 80 mile ride which included 8,300ft of climbing all in aid of Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.

Doug Clare, the man behind the ride, explains how it all came about.

“I’ve been talking about this route for 5 years now and thanks to lockdown I found the time and motivation to finalise it! The Surrey Hills Epic is an off-road bike route of 80 miles/126km with 8300ft/2500m of climbing.  The route includes ten peaks: St Martha’s Hill, Kettlebury Hill, Gibbet Hill (Devils Punch Bowl), Hydons Ball, Reynards Hill, Pitch Hill, Holmbury Hill, Leith Hill, Box Hill and Mickleham Down.

“We started at Newlands Corner to a truly stunning sunrise and headed out for what was to be a really tough but fantastic day. We began as two groups of six to ensure we were adhering to government guidelines but our two speedy riders were soon off out on their own finishing the ride in 10 hours. The rest of us started in the dark and finished some 13 hours later, again in the dark!

“We had fantastic support on route with my wife Helen and friend Mark Evans providing lunch and afternoon tea stops. Without them I don’t think we’d have made it to the finish so special thanks to them both.

“We wanted to really challenge ourselves by taking on the full route in one day but the aim is to create a Surrey Hills route to rival the South Downs Way which can be ridden in one, two or even three days.

“The aim is now to formalise the route and make this an annual event which we hope will start and finish at Denbies Vineyard in the summer so we don’t have to finish in the dark! We are talking to Rob Fairbanks the Director of Surrey Hills AONB to see if this is possible.

“We chose Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, our local children’s hospice charity as our very worthy charity and from a standing start one week beforehand we managed to raise in excess of £6,000 which is an incredible response.  Thank you to everyone who contributed.

“Finally a massive thank you to all riders Peter Hutson, Stephen Worley, Graham Mills, Erik Meyer, Nick Davies, Andrew King, Steve Lomax, Geoff McDonald, Dave Baker, Chris Engel and Wayne Preston for supporting the event!”

A huge thank you to Doug for the time and dedication taken to make this wonderful event happen. We really hope the Surrey Hills Epic becomes a firm favourite in the diary of all those who enjoy off road riding and maybe those who are new to it and looking for a new challenge.