Just for a change we thought we’d start our riding from Peaslake this Sunday, prompted by Big Al who offered to lead us round.
It was touch and go whether I’d be there, mainly due to my Five continuing to have problems with it’s rear wheel. This time it wasn’t tubeless problems, since I was tubed-up from last week, but now I have collapsed wheel bearings which had the rear end flapping more than I’d like. In the end I just thought ‘sod it’ and rode anyway!
I’ve recently had the Hope bearings replaced, using a cheap eBay supplier for some non-branded bearings, which I think was a false economy. The result – after 150 miles – is bearing failure despite no rain or inclement weather. I thought I’d only done 80 miles since the swap but it turns out to be more after checking on Strava where I’d recorded my crankset change at the same time. I was surprised myself as I hadn’t thought I’d ridden that far but the facts don’t lie. Anyway, lesson learned I think.
The upshot of all that was general hesitancy all ride; although I knew the rear wheel wasn’t going to fall off it was still annoying to feel the back end of the bike moving around and whining and rattling when I didn’t want it to. That, and forgetting my knee pads ended up being the sort of niggle that just doesn’t allow relaxed riding.
Of course, that wasn’t all there was to worry about. For the first time in ages there was a certain dampness to the roots after rain the previous day, not helped by the tree cover keeping the sun off the trails. Boy was I in mince mode!
Unlike me, the rest of the ride group was fairing much better. We were joined from Tunnel Hill by David P whose dayglo Commencal managed to look bright even with my shades on! But in a good way. In addition we had Chrissy, DaveC, Elliott, Nick, Julian, Big Al and Andrew (still nursing his painful sternum earned at QECP last week).
Our route was up and over Pitch Hill, with stacks of climbing (I managed 2500 ft of climbing today) which after an epic day of riding on Thursday had my legs complaining that’s for sure. Our first trail was T0 and T1 which for me was pretty hesitant, but at least people will be glad to know I wasn’t held up at all today! Ah well, we’ve all spent time at the back.
T0 and T1 is usually a good sighter but it does have a lot of roots which set the tone for the rest of the ride. To be fair, the trails weren’t too bad but the more flowy ones definitely were preferred by me today. Things looked up on Curly Wurly after an epic-ly slow adventure on Rollercoaster as Curly Wurly had more of the flow I was looking for, after which there was another long climb up to the trig point on where we bumped into Lee from DoMTB who was out with a mate. After a longish chat, we split with some of us heading for Thick ‘n’ Creamy while I went with the rest onto Eric.
I can’t remember too clearly but I think I got stuck on this one as Andrew stalled in front of me at one point (I still wasn’t held up!). The outcome was me getting stuck on a steep corner with three shiny roots following my line down the trail! Cue a certain amount of mincing and faffage to get past them with damaging myself. Once rolling it was fine but it was one of those places where you don’t want to be parked!
Once the rest of the crew arrived – with their own tales to tell – we winched up on the tarmac and to Barhatch Road, crossed into Winterfold Wood and picked up more great trails, including Cochise, Evian and the Three Amigos. The delights of all this bermy goodness tends to merge into one for me as by now I was riding stuff I haven’t personally ridden for a long time – long enough for me not to have more than one previous time recorded on Strava. In most cases, it was all new to me.
I do remember at one point my progress was interrupted briefly when I rounded a particularly large berm and caught an edge which sent me sprawling – painlessly – into the loam on the inside of the turn from where I watched Chrissy and Julian shoot past. I got my own back on Chrissy by overtaking her later when she overshot on another turn but I lacked the grace I would have liked for these trails, some of which have huuuge roll-ins and are normally great fun. The others were monstering it I think.
Before I forget though I have to mention Chrissy also managed to face-plant the Pitch Hill dirt as we were on our way back to the village. She went down rather abruptly and rather hard so thank goodness she didn’t hurt herself! There was only Julian and I to pick up the pieces as we were at the back but thank goodness Chrissy is made of strong stuff!
So that was my Peaslake adventure today. Generally the worst riding I’ve produced for a long, long time. I won’t say I wasn’t enjoying it but I wasn’t really in the mood either and was more than happy to get back to the sanctuary of cheese straws and coffee. After that, David, Al and Chrissy had to leave us while what remained of our group headed up to Holmbury. After my morning so far I wasn’t really keen, but at least I know the trails a bit more. We ended up with a bit of a workout with a fair amount of climbing that you’d expect after taking in Yoghurt Pots (enjoying the latest bermage there), Telegraph Road (ho hum, think I’ve reached point where it score an OK but no more for me) and finally Barrie Knows best back to the car park (as I said with a lot of climbing thrown in).
Of all the trails I enjoyed Barrie’s the best as I knew where I was going (no pun intended) and by then I figured if my rear wheel/bike exploded I was at least close to home!
All in all, I think everyone had a blast today it’s just a shame I wasn’t ‘on it’ for most of our 16 miles. Onwards and upwards…