Starting at Abinger Roughs car part and heading over to Peaslake was the suggestion. It was met with surprisingly numerous alternative suggestions, mainly arising from the multitude of gates leaving Abinger Roughs over to the A25. But as some folks were riding over, Abinger Roughs it was.
As Lloyd and I rolled into the car park in Lloyds van, Elliot appeared at the same time. Also signed up to join us were MarkC, David, JamesS and Richard. We soon had the bikes put together. Lloyd on a Santa Cruz, Elliot on an Orange Stage 6 and me rolling on the only 650B of the day (am I retro now?), my Orange 5 Evo.
MarkC (with a lovely Sonder Ti hardtail) and David (on his Mondraker summer bike no less, out of the shed no less), soon appeared.
David was sweating profusely, clearly having had to press on to make the meeting point on time since he had ridden over from Bookham. David challenges Lloyd for “sweatiest Mole” but even for him he was perspiring profusely. So much that he ditched his soaked knee pads and we were off.
No sign of the missing Richard and JamesS.
We snaked through the first gate and headed over towards Abinger Hammer. With Elliot leading and me following (a taste of what was to come for the rest of the day!) we dropped down to the next gate via a gulley which seemed to have washed out recently.
A simple puncture
David was following behind and as Elliot opened the gate for me David had a little stack. No injuries and we regrouped at the gate.
It was clear that David had a front wheel flat.
We never worked out whether this was the cause of the crash or a consequence of the crash but no problem, 5 moles and one puncture, it should be a quick fix.
How wrong I was!
First off it was time to get our pumps out. My pump didnt want to cooperate (note to self – check that before I need it next!) but soon David was vigorously pumping the tyre with a small Mole audience and the occasional interested passing dog walkers.
After a few minutes it was clear that the tyre wasn’t inflating, so I whipped out a CO2 cylinder and inflated the tyre.
Great, tyre ready to go!
NO. We could all hear the hiss of air leaking.
Remember when I said this was David’s summer bike? Well it hadn’t been out since last summer and so reasonable questioning of David “when did you last fill up the sealant” made it clear the sealant was probably dried up.
No problem. Wheel off and we could put a tube in. At this point the whole mechanical episode descended into farce…
A stuck Maxle
David unscrewed the Maxle and Elliot immediately noticed that the fork legs were spreading apart but the maxle wasn’t moving. It was clear that the maxle was stuck. Definitely a new form of mechanical for all of us.
After a bit of head scratching we undid the maxle as far as we could, put the end of the used CO2 cylinder on the maxle and found a branch to hit the cylinder with. It wasn’t budging and fingers were in danger of being whacked.
An even bigger log was then tried and after a few bruised fingers, no joy. The maxle was jammed and David was making the long walk back to Bookham.
He messaged me later in the day and said that it took a large hammer and a drift to shift the maxle. It seems that there was some aluminium corrosion going on so remember to grease your maxles!
David is definitely a new challenger to the previously undisputed title of “Least mechanically sympathetic Mole”, an award currently in the hands of JamesS. Although in his hands is exactly where it shouldn’t be!
30mins gone and half a mile down.
At least Richard had found us and we headed up through more gates (sorry Elliot), down to the M25, over to the Volunteer ex-pub and up to the Holmbury St Mary Youth hostel car park.
Finally on the trails
At last we were on the trails, passing Tony’s corner (yes the corner where I crashed twice in one ride) and dragging up towards Holmbury Hill.
However instead of going all the way up to the top we headed back down on the excellent Van Goghs Missing Ear, a lovely flowing twisty run. The trails were “summer spec”. Hardly a drop of mud, hard packed and distinctly quick. The only downside of VGME was the long gradient back up to the Reservoir.
Next up was BKB. The trail work on BKB probably divides opinion, but for me the profusion of small doubles (not table tops) spoils the flow.
Then off to Peaslake, through Walking Bottom Car Park which was absolutely packed, like a summer Sunday Wolfsburg-Van Owners convention.
We winched up to the T trails and after a little diversion to look for another trail we regouped (thank you WhatsApp location finder). With Elliot and I riding a bit quicker than MarkC / Lloyd and Richard on a sensible pace for unfamiliar trails, we decided to do all the T trails in one go rather than our usual regrouping.
That was an exhilarating 10mins, me chasing Elliot flat out all the way down T0/1/2 and even with us catching a few groups and waiting to pass, it was one of my fastest times ever. I was even enjoying my Five Evo which I had previously been slightly falling out of love with since it has been giving me an occasional bad back.
A busy morning on the trails
We regrouped and made our way up to No3 car park and The Nova’s.
Whilst I was waiting for the others Gordo called, he was having a coffee at Peaslake Stores. The next Moles meeting of the day. “I’ll be there in 10mins” and it was off chasing Elliot again down to SuperNova. The trails were busy today, especially parts with riders sessioning some of the techy parts (like the new North Shore) but we had a clean run down and it was off for cheese straws / sausage rolls.
A quick catch up with Gordo, no sign of JamesS (despite WhatsApp location finder’s best efforts) and we climbed up to Yoghurt Pots.
Just over a week ago they were full of water and without proper MTB boots/trousers you would be soaked. Today it was a different story and again the trails were super fast rolling. Then the usual Telegraph, a lovely run down Jackie Brown, Jerk Chicken, then back over to Abinger Roughs.
It was hard to believe it was 4th of Feb. 11-12°C, trails dry and 2800ft of climbing in 21 miles. Richard sensibly got a lift back in Lloyds van.
A great day out, although not so much for David.