After the recent absolutely freezing weather and snow. Tonight was extreme in another way, extremely warm! The snow was gone but the trails hadn’t completely turned to a mudbath (well according to Debbie – my Femole wife – who’d been out during the day). So when I arrived at the Highlands garage I wasn’t surprised to see a good turnout. Although I was shocked to see the seldom-seen-mole (excuses to Elbow) Lee. Also it was good to see Lloyd on the road back to fitness after his recent shoulder dislocation. Making up the remainder of the group were MarkyMark (on his nice new Carbon 456), Darren, BigAl and Matt (ss 29er), with oddly me being the only one on a full susser!
As usual there was a discussion as where to go. Lloyd pitched for a non technical route to minimise the risks of any further shoulder troubles. So Darren said that he had a route in mind and we headed off.
Riding up to the Admirals trackway and down throught the woody singletrack to Bocketts it was clear that the trails weren’t muddy in a gloopy way but that they were greasy on top. Hence scraping off your speed before corners and laying off the front brake as much as possible were the order of the day. Across Young Street and down to the Mole valley, we crossed over the river and started climbing up Downs Lane as if we were heading past Michel Caine’s house and on to Alastion climb.
However Darren had other ideas and we took the left turn along Downs Lane that sent us up a sharp little climb, eventually bringing us out onto the A24-Reigate Road roundabout. Part way up this route we went past Muddy Mole Colin’s house and he saw us (grumy, anti-social, barstewards I think his text message later that evening said) come past in an apparently impressive blaze of lumens. At this point the ride was turning into a burn up and a quick stop at Colin’s house would have been fine with me!
At the A24 we crossed over onto the Hedley side of the road and immediately turned left onto a track that threads through the trees and before long came across the “pump track” that runs along side the A24 just out of sight in the tress. Having seen and ridden a couple of pump tracks, the track here wasn’t anything like I was expecting. The jumps (mostly doubles) were huge, beautifully built and maintained. A real labour of love. However they were ginnormous and fairly intimidating in the dark. They was no way that we were trying any these and slightly sheepishly were skirted the jumps and crossed over the M25 just south of the A24 bridge.
Once again we headed up, past Exxon-Mobil, with Darren and Danny turning on the after burners. The group soon stretched out again and we stopped at Staine Street to re-group. Staine street can be a mud-pit at times, especially near the RAC club, but the trail was bearing up well. We continued along Staine Street and the fast pace meant that we had time to take a detour to Nower wood and up to Hedley. On the way up to Hedley Lloyd apparently coughed up a lung (please don’t look for it!) and the group rode around the common to the start of secret singletrack.
After riding SS just over a week ago in the frost where grip was fantastic, SS this time was a different beast, fast (too fast in many places!) but with treacherous grip that kept you fully alert. The route back took us to Life on Mars, which was also sketchy, with corners almost devoid of front wheel bite. However Matt on his 29er single speed seemed to be thriving, soon catching MarkyMark who’s lights were fading (well that’s what he told us to explain his spped). From LoM it was straight on to Alsation, which was a chalky greasy mess at the top but fast elsewhere. I overtook MarkyMark (probably put him into my headlight shadow) and caught Matt who was spinning out.
At the bottom of Alsation everyone had made it safely down and the group headed back to Highlands garage.
Riding round Matt was telling me about his super home computer that he’s been building. Apparently x100,000 more powerful than the Moon mission computer (or something). All the latest features except tt doesn’t have a net connection yet – doh – I guess why we haven’t seen some ride posts from Matt recently. Hopefully he’ll be on line soon!