G!RO Belgie Ride, Esher, Surrey, UK
29.45 km / 298 m
Gravel, singletrack and sealed
Here at G!RO, we’re lucky to have some top-notch trails on the doorstep, hidden away between the suburban sprawl. Initially, it took some exploring to get a route together, and 2019 saw us really get stuck into doing just that, aboard trusty Kevin. This network of local trails was quickly stitched together into a fabulous 1.5 hour ride that we and the rest of the G!RO crew could blast around morning, noon and night. The UK Belgie Loop was born. Soon after we started hitting this loop on the regular from the shop. Then covid struck, lockdowns ensued, and this became an escape for those that needed to ride solo.
The ride is short and sharp and is by far our most downloaded route on the G!RO website (in addition to the whole host of cracking road and off-road routes). Starting with a brew at G!RO, you head out north, tucking into some lovely quiet residential streets, hopping and jumping over speedbumps, and making your way across to Claygate from Esher. Here you cut through the middle of the village green before hitting the woods of Arbrook Common for the first of many off-road sectors! Muddy in the Winter, dusty in the Summer, you weave your way carefully between trees and dog walkers before it opens up into farmland where you can put the hammer down! Here you’ll pass under the highway through a dark tunnel before negotiating the ‘Sheep Dip’, an often flooded underpass below the railway line into London. The ‘Sheep Dip’ is somewhat infamous both locally, and globally, with Curve’s very own Rhino, being the first person to pass through it on the bike when it was headset deep and about -2 degrees celsius back on a visit to the UK pre lockdown. Stupidly 8 of us followed, and being so early in the loop, it became a very chilly way to start the day.
After the ‘Sheep Dip’ you navigate your way through residential estates and local bridle paths before heading out to Chessington. There’s a long road sector before reaching Ashtead common for fast fire roads that undulate through some rather lovely woodland. Sometimes it gets smashy through here. Sometimes it’s a good place for the bunch to spread out and socialise! Reaching the end of this section, you cross back over the same busy road you crossed earlier, further down, before joining the driveway up to Prince’s Covert. Here you choose between going the long way around the gate, or a CX style dismount to get through the kissing gate before enjoying a super-fast, winding fire road descent! This is abruptly brought to an end by a gravelly 90 degree left hander that’s claimed the grip of many front wheels on quicker Belgie days. Negotiate that safely, and you’re faced with the longest climb on the route, a wide gravelly section of trail that climbs at a steady 5% grade. It will either ruin your ride or ruin everyone else’s, depending on how your legs are that day. Finally, the gradient lets up, and you have another gate to overcome before coming to another road crossing. Like the other road crossings, this often has a queue of cars that you can smugly weave through before dipping off down another secret path only bikes and hikers can get down.
Next a narrow bridleway takes you down through to the next village on the map now, Oxshott, and the beginning of the return leg of this loop! Here you fly down a narrow, often flooded section of path. Watch out for oncoming walkers and horses!! Or people ripping around the reverse Belgie!! Again, it pops you out onto the road, and another short section of meandering suburban streets before skirting off onto Oxshott common and perhaps our favourite sections of the Belgie route. The terrain becomes sandy, with stunning pine forest and heathland as the backdrop. The softer surface makes for more grip on the bigger tyres and more fun by throwing the bikes around. Now onto the ridge via the steepest climb on the route, ‘Climb 6,’ along the ridgeline past the Oxshott Common War Memorial, then down into the ‘Quarry’. This expansive cutout section of land is a sandy bowl of pure joy. Drop down the rooty, steep banks and into the sandy interior before trying to steamroll your way out the other side like you see Wout Van Aert doing on the Sunday CX racing. This little clearing provides the perfect place to practice your CX skills, and you certainly shouldn’t just pass through on the Belgie, do a few loops of the clearing, and enjoy exploring this playground before you head back into the woods and onto Esher Common.
We’re nearly home now, but not before more sandbox shredding. Crossing the highway once again, and G!RO is well in the crosshairs now. You drop down from the bridge and into another sandy, steep section to join the final ridgeline. Hit this with speed and pick your line between the sand and roots to ensure you make it. Then enjoy the flowing section of singletrack through some more woodland, keeping an eye out for dog walkers. Soak up the scenery and prepare yourself for one final climb, the ‘Pylonberg’! Here we see the Belgie fully unravel, with the finish line on the horizon and one final pitch up to the infamous Pylon of ‘Pylonberg’ - this tends to be the time to empty your legs of whatever they have left and secure bragging rights in the bunch. It takes more than a powerful punch to take Pylon shaped victory, and timing is key, as well as line choice as you wind up this steep, muddy, and grassy pitch in the shadows of its namesake Pylon. An actual test of off-road skills and pure leg power, this one is the sting in the tail of the Belgie! Finally, you drop down to West End Common and onto a once hotly contested old final climb. You join an abandoned golf course for one final gravel section before popping out at the top of Esher High Street, baffled at how you’ve slithered your way through the suburban sprawl with minimal bustle and maximal fun!
If you’re UK based or just passing through and love a multi-terrain blast and an alternative perspective of our local area here at G!RO - this is the route for you. You’ll be astounded at the contrast you can find out on the Belgie against the backdrop of local towns like Esher, and you’ll pick up plenty of CX practice along the way!
You can find the GPX file HERE