Wednesday night was a bit of a strange one. For various reasons – injury, illness and a fair amount of can’t-be-botheredness for various Moles, I rolled up to garage not quite knowing who was going to turn up. Having arranged to meet new rider Gordon, we were just getting ready for the off when PaulM, shortly followed by JohnR turned up.
So four it was!
Paul had been in touch with his mate who was also planning to ride from our neck of the woods with his brother-in-law. Riding up Crabtree Lane we met them and offered to show them round but they preferred to set their own pace so we pressed on. It wasn’t the last we saw of them!
We turned down Admiral’s Track for a change which was practically dusty after a long spell of dryness. The plan was a steady ride with a few bits thrown in for ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ moments. The first of these was turning toward the stone bridge descent at Polesdon which I haven’t done for a while.
After a long gentle uphill trend the trail suddenly turns downwards with a couple of 90° turns followed by a long run down to start the Tanners Hatch climb. Since adding my Stans Crest/Hope wheelset my Orange has felt like it’s come alive and with the benefit of being first down I really enjoyed myself, placing the bike exactly where I wanted it.
Throttling back for the climb (so nice to be well within myself for a change), it took a while for John and the others to catch me after John had been forced into emergency measures after a moment further up the hill. He was out on his singlespeed and soon disappeared up the hill from the Youth Hostel at speed, while I stuck to a regular speed behind.
As the trail flattened and I could snick into higher gears I was pretty confused to find he remained resolutely ahead of me. Eventually, two or three gears higher I started to haul him in but by then we were at Ranmore. Those singlespeeders mess with my head! But it does make me want to get to the bottom of the problems I currently have with my singlespeed set up.
It wasn’t just my singlespeed that having problems though. Last night it became clear that my Hope bottom bracket has terminal trouble with it’s bearings, with my tight cranks still creaking and moving from side to side. Time to press in some replacements I think. The noise was the sort that makes you go slower as you somehow find yourself thinking you’re wasting energy making that racket!
A gentle roll along Badger Run soon turned south for the LandRover descent after we’d briefed Gordon on what to expect. The run was in perfect condition really, with no sloppy mud and no wet roots but I remember the first time I went down here. Not helped by being advised to stay seated on my Rift Zone as the suspension would do all the work…
We were sooner riding up High Mediterranean, again John was cranking out the speed and I found myself hanging onto him – just – until he finally backed off thank God! Instead of climbing up onto the Ranmore Road we took the trackway run all the way back down to Dorking and from there onto the Denbies estate.
We would normally be turning right for the A24 but I had a plan to loop us round and back up to Ranmore via the unmade road through the gates. Just as we got to the bottom of the chalky descent we met up inadvertantly with Paul’s mates, Jason and Stuart and this time I persuaded them to join us with the promise of a cheeky trail we could take back down.
A leisurely amble up to the top gave us a chance to chat and take in the sights of Dorking’s lights before once more we were back up on the top. From there we span along the concrete road before pausing before ‘And Then There Were Three’ for another short briefing.
The Orange was in it’s element and I had a great time down through the trees, concentrating on staying accurate and trying not to hooligan things up with Paul close behind. I suspect he could have gone a bit quicker but I loved it and I think my MudXs (or maybe they should be called DustXs) did too.
With everyone down safely we finally headed down to the A24. At the Westhumble turn off Jason and Stuart said their goodbyes, heading for Mickleham, and Paul too headed home so then we really were down to three. Our destination was up another long Crabtree climb followed by the River Run back to Norbury Park. It was a chance to just settle into a nice rolling rhythmn as the Orange just loped along. And creaked. Did I mention the BB’s shot?
We had just enough time to get up to Norbury House and then cross over the road to do the Updown Wood loop which led naturally into a blast down Infestation. That bike of mine once again felt so deliciously balanced that I felt I was skiing a pair of carving skis rather than riding a bike. The top part of Infestation, often a touch loose, was so rewarding to just drift the bike through some sweeping turns before the trail eventually got rutted and rooted.
The final leg back to Roaring House Farm was through the trees parallel to the bridleway as the temperature started to drop. I think it was probably the result of my work rate dropping to a much lower level than usual followed by an extended chat on GPS units at the top of the climb but by the time I got back to my place after rolling all the way downhill I was frozen!
Overall, I’m guestimating about 17 miles in a little over two hours of actual riding time. A splendid evening for riding, it’s just a shame so many of us were busy.