Sunday on the other hand dawned dry and sunny, if a little chilly. Which meant that rather than face the inevitable Ranmore mud, we once more started our ride from Abinger Roughs.
I don’t really like driving to rides as it always feels like it’s ruined the environmental credentials from bike riding before you even start. On the other hand, several people have to drive to see us anyway, and they may as well go to Abinger as Bookham when the need arises. In some cases, it’s quicker for them anyway.
So it was that Lloyd, Tony, Elliot, JamesW and myself met at the car park at Abinger for a repeat – broadly – of our ride two weeks ago. Not identical of course but similar in concept for sure. Unusually, either from bad timing, laziness or maybe he fancied a lie-in, JR was still under his duvet when we headed out.
The trails were damp and a little muddy in places but were generally in good shape despite the previous days’ downpour. This is still recalibration season as we learn to forget the dry and dusty trails of summer and resign ourselves to slippier conditions.
One unlucky rider was caught out though – we found him walking back to his car nursing a sore shoulder having hit a tree, looking in quite a bit of pain. Tony was able to hand out some painkillers and the bloke refused an offer to help him back to his car, but it certainly looked uncomfortable.
A good example of the changing conditions was Yoghurt Pots – large puddles everywhere which I for one spent most of my time mincing round, at least the first time down it today.
This was our first trail after climbing up to the top via Paddington Farm and the Youth Hostel. I was riding my Bird hardtail which felt a little firm for todays’ riding – it’s better suited to either flowing singletrack (which it rips) or jumps (which I don’t have the skills to do). Rough terrain is much more full-sus territory although James was making a good show of things on his Stanton 29er.
So, Yoghurt Pots, then a PR for me on Telegraph Road back to the bottom, followed by more flowy trails (Jerk Chicken) to the Reservoir. I didn’t feel I was quite in the zone all morning, struggling to find a line quite often, but grip was generally not bad.
My legs on the other hand were sore from taking the brunt of the hardtail kick back. It didn’t help that it was quite a climby morning too, although to be fair the Bird does climb extremely well.
After making our way down Barry Knows Best, we bypassed the coffee at the Village Stores in favour of Pitch Hill and climbed through a busy Walking Bottom Car Park to do Roller Coaster (no fun at all on the Bird), then Proper Bo followed by the Graveyard. These latter two started to open the Bird up nicely, the more flowy the trail the better it gets, but by now I was in need of a coffee.
It was back to the Stores, where we bumped into Clive and Brian – Clive on his Laufed up titanium gravel bike, a very rare beast.
After fueling on cheese straws and coffee, we all headed up to the top of Holmbury again, bumped into Lee (again – that’s twice in two rides over here!) and then tackled Yoghurt Pots and Telegraph Road once more before turning off for Au Naturel.
In theory, Au Naturel should have been reasonably challenging being all rooty and wet but I really enjoyed the drop into the car park.
Only one other thing remained to be mentioned and that’s the solid chunk of ivy that is sticking out on the climb/drop to/from Abinger Roughs from the A25.
JR said his ride buddy concussed himself on it a couple of weeks ago, Tony narrowly avoided it today heading down at the start of the ride and James took a chunk out of his crash helmet heading UP at the close of todays’ ride. Something to be aware of for anyone on this stretch of trail.
In all we managed 19.25 miles today, with the afternoon largely spent recuperating!