Starting with 7…
Given the weather forecast was for heavy and persistent rain from about 11:30, the plan was to head out and do as many trails as possible before the rain started and hopefully also get a coffee and cake at the coffee van on Staple lane before heading back in the rain.
Me, Elliot, JR (for some of the ride), David and his friend (new James) were confirmed, but James S and Stuart arrived unannounced, so 7 started out.
Given recent rains we were expecting reasonable trail conditions with maybe a bit of slippy stuff in the more wooded areas.
So we headed off via usual route to Albert Pennyworth. I led the way down, a little raggedly as David helpfully pointed out as he followed me down. However, on the third section I heard a shout from David and at the gate at the bottom he was straight off his bike lying on his back.
After a few minutes the back spasms subsided enough for David to gingerly get back to his feet. After much discussion David conceded his day was done and he would make his way home gently.
Down to 6…
And so 6 of us made our way up the road climb to Rumble in the Jungle, having to get onto the verge on the way up to let a tractor cutting the hedges trundle past (that made Elliot’s day). New James found the climbing pace a bit strong as he regretted not getting out more frequently.
Rumble was running well, soft but grippy and none of the slightly squirmy stuff we found on Friday night’s ride.
Then it was up the Dearly Beloved climb and across to Rip van Winkle. Again the trails were running perfectly and were dispatched with much joy and no incident.
At the bottom New James had a look up the track at the winch back up, considered the prospect of repeating this for the next 2 hours and decided his day was also done (hopefully he will be back for more Moles rides). Off he headed down the hill.
Now reduced to 5…
And so only 5 of us winched our way back up to Ranmore. The usual Wire in the Blood, Collarbone, Trouble in Paradise route was taken on our way to Sauvage. We were not hanging around and so rest stops were kept to a minimum.
Sauvage was a blast and soon rewarded with a stiff walk up the Impossible Climb to Wonderland. A fast run down saw James S leading way and JR (now running fast downhill as well as up) keeping in our wheels.
Another climb ensued up to North Downs Way and at the top JR peeled off for home for his lunch commitment.
Which left just 4…
So we were down to a core of 4, to head off along NDW to Big Dave. I am now starting to get familiar with the trail and had a nice clean run down. What goes down must come up, so we ground our way slowly back up to the NDW, again. By this time we were feeling a bit weary and the coffee van was calling loudly.
There was still no rain, so we enjoyed our (as usual) excellent coffee and cake at the West Hanger car park cafe/van. So much so, that Elliot declared the banana and chocolate loaf to be even better than his hot chocolate, high praise indeed.
A rider from another group asked me how I was finding the EXT Storia Lok coil shock on my bike. Despite only a half dozen rides on it so far I gave him my best gnarly dude feedback – which I think he then filed in his ‘sad old wannabe, ramblings to be forgotten’ folder.
With the wind picking up and clouds building we could feel the rain closing in, so we saddled up for the race home against the rain. We took the direct route riding hard along NDW and finally down Any Given Sunday, where Stuart took a moment to commune with a tree.
Safely extricated, Stuart then started to get a strange noise from the rear shock on his new bike that he had just bought from a (ahem!) mate.
After considering all possible causes, Elliot diagnosed that it was his water bottle catching on the shock. The on trail repair (putting the bottle in his pack) was swiftly completed and with no further ado we made it home.
Great trails, coffee, cake and beating the rain home, despite the loss of a few along the way, it was a grand morning out.