2021 LOCAL HILLY50 RISKS (and refreshment points)
Do not attempt the route in snowy or icy conditions; the country lanes can be dangerous at modest altitude even when the roads in the suburbs are safe.
After the winter, road surfaces are unreliable; beware potholes, especially on descents. If you are riding the route after heavy rain, also beware of mud, gravel and tree branch debris. Though they may not remain so, the suburban and main road descents have proved clear of debris, etc., through several recces in poor winter weather. This is not true of the more rural hills. There has been debris on the ascent of, for example, How Lane (11 miles), Hilltop Lane (26 miles) and Salmons Lane (30 miles), but at the speeds most normal people will be ascending, it is relatively easily avoided. The most dangerous descents are White Hill (20 miles), where a considerable amount of gravel can collect across the width of the road at the fastest point (near the bottom) and Markedge Lane (26 miles).
3.5 miles, Sutton Lane B2218. There are a couple of nasty potholes immediately after you turn left to join the road and before the first junction you pass.
6 miles, Holly Lane. Drain covers half way down, strategically placed to catch cyclists who are descending quickly; be aware of following traffic in case you need to swerve a metre out.
11.5 miles, Rickmans Hill Road is easy to pass and Garmin may want you to go down Portnalls Road at the main junction, ten yards on. Try not to because Rickmans is a safe and pleasant descent (but unfortunately carries a 10mph speed limit at the top and 20mph further down). If you end up on Portnalls turn left as soon as you can and rejoin the route by turning left on Chipstead Valley Road at the bottom.
Just before 15 miles. Turning right from Woodcote Grove Road onto Chipstead Valley Road, ensure you take the left fork up Portnalls Road (just after pedestrian lights, Catholic Church on the corner facing you). The ride comes through this way again at the end, when you need to carry on up Chipstead Valley Road.
16.5 miles, having turned off Marlpit Lane into Downs Road, do not go up Farthing Downs; ensure you bear right and keep to the right, by the row of houses.
19 miles, the route takes a small path left off the Netherne Drive descent. When you have rounded the tight right turn, three quarters down the straight, just after a building site below you on your left, and next to some white posts, take the unmarked tarmac path. Cyclist friendly other than seasonal leaf mulch and a couple of bumps at the bottom near the gate. If you miss the path, continue the descent, turn left on Brighton Road A23 at the bottom. Beware the traffic and you need either to get in the RH lane to turn right at the lights up Star Lane, or use the left hand lane/ pavement and await a gap in the traffic.
24.5 miles, at the end of Gatton Bottom, crossing London Road North A23 to reach Rockshaw Road, you have to cross the dual carriageway; use the central refuge but be aware of traffic from your left and turning up Gatton Bottom, from where you have just come.
The Coffee/snack situation may have eased when you ride, but the recces were in Lockdown
At the start, Sassi’s in The Grove, offers decent coffee, some fuel and a disabled loo. Find it by turning north off Carshalton High Street (A232) down the alley next to the Oxfam shop, then go through the doorway in the wall at the end of that alley. To get to the start 200 yards away, go back through the alley, straight up Carshalton Place across the High Street, turn right at the end (Talbot Road), ignore the first left but soon after it turn left up the pedestrian/cycle path, which ends in a cycle friendly zebra crossing which takes you into the park at your starting point.
Just before 15 miles. 20 yds off the route, DDs on Chipstead Valley Road is open most of the day for takeaway tea. Basic; £1 instant coffee/tea, £1 cake. Instead of turning right at the lights up Chipstead Valley Road, turn left and DDs is on your right opposite the school gates, open if there is a board on the pavement. Chain the bike to the school railings. DD has a toilet, if the restrictions allow. For the women especially, it is considerably more pleasant (I am told) than the Memorial Park ones just up the road (see below).
16.5 miles. Public toilets at Coulsdon Memorial Park, instead of turning R off Marlpit Lane onto Downs Road continue 20yds on your left. Railings to lock bike. These toilets are only open if the cafe in the park (which you cannot see from there) is open, and they are not the world’s most salubrious. If they are closed, there are opportunities for bushes at the top of the next major climb (just past the football ground as you approach Netherne) and there is countryside awaiting past Star Lane. When you resume your route from Memorial Park toilets take great care on what is now, for you, a left hand turn into Downs Road. It is tight and uphill into a very narrow road.
Just before 29 miles. Recommended Coffee & Creams at Caterham, on your left just as you have passed the green on your left and taken the right bend on Chaldon Road. Excellent coffee, a basic but OK public loo opposite, and benches in the park to have your coffee/sarnies/nice cakes from the cafe and contemplate that you have done 11 of 15 hills (or 7/10 if you are on Garmin).
The ride ends at the top of Chipstead Way. The Woodman was closed during the recces, but depending on which way you want to go home, refreshments can be found at Banstead to the west or Oaks Park to the north. For Banstead go west along Woodmansterne Street, turn right at the end and left at the roundabout and Luigi’s cafe is on your left. With Pistachio’s closed, toilets are available only at Waitrose, and there I had to ask because they were officially closed. At Oaks Park before 4pm there are both refreshments and toilets. From the top of Chipstead Way, go east past the village green 50 yds, left down the hill (Carshalton Road) left at the bottom and right at the pedestrian lights into Oaks Park, cross the bridleway through the gate and bear left and you will shortly arrive at the cafe. Beverages and cakes and basic hot meals to take away and they have bike racks and a big park in which to eat and drink what you buy. Not for those allergic to pet dogs, though!