Today was the first Sunday ride I’ve turned up to for probably six months. Multiple reasons really – first, we had a couple of new riders joining us for the first time who needed greeting, second, habits are easy to break and hard to acquire and third, I knew it would be hard work!
So at Bockett’s today we had JohnR, Elliot, James and myself along with a handful of excuses from others centered around man-flu, plus new boys Nic and Andrew. It turns out – after time spent riding with Freeborn – that Andrew also knew our emigres Darren and Amanda, so hmmm small world eh?
John had suggested a ride to Peaslake and we were all happy with that. Without going into huge detail, we skirted Roaring House Farm, up Crabtree Lane and tackled View to a Kill which at this time of the year is the typically rooty slip-fest that you’d expect.
Within moments of finishing that, James had his Cannondale upside down fiddling with the brakes. How many times I wonder have I seen this bike upside down?!
Back underway, it was a grim climb up Dearly Beloved. Already I was finding it heavy going as everyone else seemed quite able to scamper away from me at will. Sigh, pigeons and statues I guess.
Once on Ranmore, further brake faffage from James ensued but he did manage to sort the problem for the remainder of the ride. I’m not criticizing by the way, it just amuses me that this poor Cannondale has to suffer continued ignominy! Like I said earlier, some things don’t change much…
We decided that given the rampant mud the best thing to do was get down to the valley and ride along there where the surface is better, so we headed straight down Scouting for Boys and crossed the railway line. Then proceeded to skirt Westcott and the Dearleap Woods before climbing up past Paddington Farm.
Once on Holmbury we nipped up to the top, then did Yoghurt Pots and made our way to Barry’s. Riding the Kona in newly geared guise I found the trails quite hard on the arms, hands and shoulders. The combination of a short travel 29er hardtail and not being match fit took it’s toll.
Another constant that can be relied on is Peaslake Stores and we were quick to reward ourselves with cheese straws and coffee. With the wind chill sucking warmth out of us whenever we stopped (and in places it was a howling gale), we didn’t hang around too long. Even so it took a mile or two before I managed to get some heat into me again as we were forced to pedal downhill in the mud on Rad Lane – never a good sign).
After that, we started to retrace our steps to Ranmore, making a good call NOT to haul ourselves up White Down today and instead opting for High Med. By now my back was aching and my legs were starting to cramp up, I felt I just couldn’t push myself any faster. By the time we’d made it down Dearly Beloved and started up through the Polesden estate, even John was looking tired and Elliot complaining he’d eaten too many mince pies over Christmas! That’s a first.
In all, we managed a few moments of sunshine amid the Baltic gale and with 29 miles of hard work but good company, some things don’t change…