It seems Upcoming works then. Last night we had 12 (count them, 12!) riders turn up for our regular night ride, possibly on the basis of Upcoming although there was a fair bit of coincidence involved too.
A lot of riders who’ve threatened to come out for a while actually did for a change. For the record we had Dave, Colin, Nick, Graham, Jeremy, Jem, Tony, John, DaveP, Lee, Mark and myself.
Perhaps there was an element of being lulled into a false sense of security with the warmer weather, not helped by my optimistic hopes that ground conditions would still be favourable after the dry weather recently. My predictions are as optimistic as Colin’s ‘just another 100 yards’ claims in Wales last year so should be treated with caution. Some of our riders already do that, the rest are learning!
After last weeks enjoyable blast we headed off in the same direction through Wiggly Wood and then back to the radio mast in Norbury via Crabtree Lane and down to the A24 at Mickleham. It had become apparent by then that conditions were far from favourable as the ground has acquired a very draggy top surface since the weekend thaw. Not muddy really, but incredibly sapping and the effects were starting to show amongst our riders.
DaveP, recovering from a nasty flu and six or seven weeks off the bike was first to bail out as the rest headed over to the climb up to Mickleham Gallops. There was further sorting of men from boys as we hauled our asses back up onto the hills. Most of us were in the boys camp and I was at the back with Mark.
Over the past weeks the fast conditions seem to have sold me a dummy into thinking I was regaining my fitness. This was a wake up call as my legs were clearly still tired from Sundays ride so I just settled in to spin up the climb, even stopping at one point for a breather. Mark was starting to feel the effects of only occasional riding in the past couple of years and limited exercise elsewhere and was clearly hitting the ‘not fun’ stage.
Mark and DaveP have my sympathy. We’ve said many times how riding is the only way to get fit for riding and I know first hand what it’s like to get back in the saddle again after a layoff. Mine was only three months but I still don’t expect to be firing on all cylinders for a while yet although it’s coming. In the meantime, it’s sodding hard work. All I can say is keep riding guys and it’ll come.
At the top of the Gallops we dived down Chainbreaker which was a real test for everyone in the damp and dark conditions. Some were riding it for the first time, John was on his first ever night ride and I managed to have a tail flapping moment over the log dropoff. Hats off to everyone for their safe arrival at the bottom.
Here we said goodbye to Dave, Mark, John, Nick, Graham and Jeremy who for various reasons needed an early return to base. Which left just Lee, Colin, Tony, Jem and myself to conquer the High Ashurst climb which was managed largely on foot with the emergency lung deployed.
The reward was reaching Headley, numerous stops where we gossiped like old women and the Secret Singletrack from Headley car park followed by the golf course run and Alsation.
This time I actually managed to jump the track half way down completely, a wonderful feeling as the chatter from the trail momentarily ceased before I landed both wheels smoothly on the downslope. Just to be clear though, it’s by no means a proper jump, just a bit of rising ground either side of a narrow tarmac track. I probably got six inches off the ground but the feeling was immense!
By then we were on the last leg back to Bookam via Leatherhead and Thorncroft Manor, interspersed with further long stops for chats. We were starting to get really tired so any excuse was fully taken advantage of. In all, 16 hard miles which I just hope pays off in the next few weeks. Holmbury beckons this weekend in an effort to mix up the riding a bit, should be fun.