I’ve missed quite a few Sunday rides recently, for a number of different reasons. Family commitments for one thing, so-so weather at times another. One of my main problems is having three mountain bikes, none of which are completely serviceable which tends to get irritating at times.
So I took out my Orange. It’s got a few creaks appearing and some shifting issues which is one of those things which tends to wear on my nerves more as the ride goes on. The creaks and a slight looseness to the back end is most likely from the rear shock bushing which I’ll order in. It’s possible the pivot bearings need attention too but I think most of the creaking is coming from the RaceFace chainset which never seems to do up tight. It just keeps working loose and it’s loose again now. Maybe it’s time for a change… 2×10 anyone?
All that aside, meeting at Bockett’s for a Leith Hill run were MarkyMark, Tony, Barrie, DaveW, DaveC, KevS and Lloyd [edit: and Ian!]. A few guys are attempting the South Downs Way in a day in a couple of weeks so a sense that they need to get the miles in was never far away.
We set out along the Admiral’s Track up to Polesden with plenty of dust getting thrown up. I think it may be time to switch my MudXs for something more appropriate and despite a hankering for Maxxis Aspens I may well go for a Schwalbe Nobby Nic and Racing Ralph since they are now available in tubeless ready form.
It felt like a reasonably not-hanging-around run up to the top of Ranmore and we soon pressed on toward the top of Landrover only to pause for a few minutes for DaveW to sort out a cut sidewall on his rear tyre, finally resorting to putting in an inner tube when it became clear the cut was too much for his tubeless set up. The delay gave PaulM the chance to catch us; he’d turned up late and had a guess at where we were heading and his perseverance paid off.
Down Landrover in perfect conditions was next, the Orange quietly happy with the terrain as I followed DaveC down at a brisk tempo. It wasn’t long before we’d crossed the railway line, had passed through the back of Westcott and were starting on the long Rookery climb.
It’s not much of a problem these days, with the smooth surface meaning your focus is purely on turning the pedals up the steep incline. My dislike of this climb is growing I think, especially since I had a grinding accompaniment of my creaking suspension and drivetrain following me!
Once we’d regrouped at the top it was onto Wolverns Lane, a trail I love. Having soon reached the front of the peloton following Tony and Barrie it was time to get into the flow, with tight singletrack, short punchy sections to clean and bursts of speed check with sharp dabs on the brakes. As we neared the end I could see Tony and Barrie in sight, they weren’t exactly pushing but I managed to catch them by the time we’d reached the clearing area.
On the way up I passed rider and warned him there was a whole bunch of us blocking the trail behind me. He didn’t acknowledge me – maybe didn’t get the chance – but didn’t slow either although it turned out he had in fact pulled up to make way. Thanks for that.
I find myself meeting riders occasionally that have me wondering about where the increasing popularity of mountain biking round here will lead us. With so many people using the hills for riding as well as other activities I worry about the impression we may leave (I’m not attacking this guy in particular by the way, as I said he may not have had a chance to acknowledge but I’m just pointing out the impression given).
Anyway, we pressed on toward the decimated bad lands of Summer Lightning (where thankfully the trail remains) and then on to the top of Deliverance and on towards the Tower.
I love the hoon down to the foot of the climb but again it’s quite a busy section of the hill. The climb itself was a lung buster but dispatched without drama which was more than could be said for the two ladies coming down who had just (it appeared) stacked it. I managed to ask if they were OK as I rode past and there were no problems.
After Eccles cakes and coffee Tony and Barrie departed back to Bookham as they needed an early return. I too needed to get back earlyish but decided to follow everyone down to Holmbury and head off from there. We took a quick and flowing route directly down to the car park, all keeping together as a pack and then started down the Mother.
It’s always a blast and I was flying on the Orange, great fun following DaveW and DaveC down the trail but leaving them plenty of room so I didn’t get blinded by the dust. It was one of those runs wher eit feels like th ebike is connected directly to your brain and you could place it wherever you want.
Once in the village I turned off while the others headed up toward the Cricket Pitch and Yoghurt Pots and Telegraph Road. I headed back home along the tarmac and then Sandy Lane toward Abinger Roughs. At this point, with no conversation to distract me all I could focus on was the noise of my bike and the ropey gear changes.
It was slowly driving me nuts!
Including the climb up White Down in soaring temperatures I managed to cover the whole return trip to Bookham in 45 minutes and was putting my bike away – and drinking the last of my water – at 11:30 which was a pretty good morning’s effort. 23 hot and dusty miles in total. Now I just need to sort out that creaking…