With a few regulars away in Bedgebury on a bike test day and a couple of others being dutiful husbands, it was down and DaveC and I today to make up the regular contingent, joined by all-padded-up AndyR and new rider Nick, making a cycling comeback.
Dave and I played route tennis, throwing ideas back and fore until we reached a deal, with me once again managing to get Hogden Lane in the mix, this time as a climb. So off we tramped through the familiar clag on the Admirals Track and on towards Polesden, where we headed up to Ranmore via Hogden Lane.
I really have no idea why I like this trail so much – its a relentless climb but while it may lack outright gradient, it more than compensates for this in technicality. Maintaining traction and balance whilst riding the flints and gulleys is challenging, fooling Nick into thinking that he didn’t really remember mountain biking being this tricky!
Once at the top, we headed over the road and whizzed along Badger Run towards Collarbone. I think we need some seasonality in our trail names for this one, with Collarbone being the summer name and ‘Its a Knockout’ for the rest of the year, summing up how I must have looked when trying to fight the somme-like mud.
Then we headed down Whitedown, with words of caution for the new riders to take it easy. This being the case, the more leisurely pace meant I had the chance to survey the trailside as I rode, seeing plenty of opportunities down there to build in some fun wall ride trails on the right hand side of the banking, now there’s a summer evening job for me…
Then we decided to head long the road back to Balchin’s Lane and pick up the Pilgrims Way climb (the new name someone has given it escapes me but wtf’s wrong with Pilgrims Way?).
After running down the chalky descent to Denbies, our minds were turning to refreshments at the top of Box Hill. Mine was also thinking about who I would ask to shout me mine having left my wallet and mobile at home! The distraction of plotting how to get some calories must have helped as I dispatched the climb up to the top in fine fashion, arriving at the top in under 10 minutes for the first time ever.
It was busy up there with roadies who as usual, never look like they have worked particularly hard to get up there (compared to me anyway). They can’t all be superfit can they? I think a few were confused as I was tipping my hat to the darkside by wearing my PlanetX team jersey with baggy shorts, a truly heinous crime!
With a coffee and rock cake inside (thanks v much AndyR) we headed down Juniper Bottom. I reminded myself to take it easy as I was running my rigid carbon forks. However, I am a man of poor conviction and I was soon like a terrier after a rabbit, thanks to following a guy on a full suss and enjoying the challenge of staying with him. Great fun!
That was pretty much it for me, with just the climb back home to tackle while the others headed over Norbury. A really enjoyable ride, 20 miles and a case of less is more – rides have become very fast lately and I’ve struggled with my lack of relative pace, whereas today, with new riders on board, it was ace to tone it down a bit and enjoy an excellent route.
I also really enjoyed riding the TiNbred with the carbon forks and whilst I would’ve been bitching about them had we tackled Infestation, they didn’t affect me at all on the descents we did today but really helped otherwise, thanks to the weight saving and climbing benefits.
Thats the bike spec sorted for the Dusk til Dawn race in October, 1×9 gearing and rigid forks, now I just need to get me prepared!