After yesterday’s questioning of everyone’s wet weather preferences it was perhaps unfortunate that only four of us turned up last night for our weekly ride. Could it be that I’d put people off as James pointed out to me? Probably yes, but the monsoon that fell around six o’colck probably didn’t provide much encouragement either. There’s only so much people can take…
So our group consisted of JohnR, James and myself, joined by Ray who we’d met on Sunday’s equally wet ride at Abinger Roughs. As we gathered it was actually not too bad, damp obviously but not raining and quite mild. I’d managed to hunt down my errant SealSkinz sock which meant—reunited with the other one—I could keep my feet dry and I’d even donned my tights for the occasion. After Sunday’s ride I was taking no chances.
As it turned out, the others had equally warm clothing on which meant for much of the ride we were pretty hot. We headed up Crabtree Lane and then over to Roaring House Farm and up to the Norbury sawmill. It was warm and the full moon was out, giving everything a nice silver wash of colour.
At the sawmill we turned into Updown Wood and skirted along the top of Bockett’s, looking down toward Givons Grove roundabout. I always get a kick doing that knowing that all those drivers are missing out on the fun we were having. Although they might not agree!
It was nice to be back on the singlespeed after a few rides where I’d had to press the Orange Five into service. In contrast to the horrendous grinding noise from my Hope M4 brakes on the Orange—which has cost me three sets of pads in gritty rides recently—the Inbred, or more specifically the Elixir Fives were silent, with no grating and graunching to distract from the ride. Occassionally a squeak from wet braking but really pretty good. And I have to say, superb stopping power!
Popping out back near the sawmill we headed up to the radio mast before a short descent to the bridlepath to Crabtree Lane, a bit nerve wracking with lots of exposed and very wet chalk around. The bridlepath made itself felt too with a short downhill and then a steady and seemingly never ending uphill slog in greasy, slippery clay. I was glad I had my Specialized Storm tyres, they drag a bit in the dry but seem pretty good in the mud given their low-ish cost.
Once we’d re-grouped and got our breath back there was more climbing, up to the cottage at Crabtree Lane and then on to the path over toward Polesdon. After the hard climbing it was great to be able to zip through the singletrack, albeit with a fair degree of caution with all that mud around.
So in a roundabout way we were back at the bottom of the Tanner’s climb which we know so well. It’s not as bad a some climbs as it gets the worst over early and then tends to level off while still providing enough of a workout for everyone. On the singlespeed, that means standing on the pedals and working the bike with your upper body too. Half way up we found a still flashing rear light from someone which John picked up and left on the gate post at the top so if the owner is reading this, hope it’s still there. It was still flashing when we left it!
Onwards toward Denbies and for a change we settled for the easy roll down through the gates giving us a wide view of Dorking under the full moon. Which ominously was being obscured by the gathering clouds. Oh well, we can live with a bit of rain now we’re out… and fortunately for us it didn’t really settle in too heavily.
The chat was flowing nicely as we rolled along, with three riders on Inbreds it was interesting (and slightly confusing) to see such a wide variation in each rider’s set-up preferences. For me I feel completely happy with my Inbred but John and James(on larger frames) still seem to have a way to go to get things to their taste. It’s a journey…
Once down on the A24 we decided to return via the Mickleham climb and on to Alsation. For the first time during the ride I was left on the climb by John and Ray as my chain tensioner started to play up. Del has fitted it with a longer threaded bolt but it still started to unwind so I’ll put some threadlock on before the next outing. Apart from that, it looks lovely! It seems to balance the pink detailing across the whole bike without shouting too loudly.
As we rode along Staine Street there was a far amount of clag on the dips. I was lucky as I was leading and could choose my line but James was less so, taking a heavy tumble as his bike went away from under him at a reasonably quick pace. Ouch! But fortunately no real harm done which was a relief.
All that remained was Alsation just as the rain tap was given another turn which meant a fast but ‘controlled’ descent. Well, controlled until I felt the front and then the back sliding on the final leaf-slick corner before the houses. I got a bit of a fright but stayed off the brakes long enough to sort it out.
so that was that after we’d slogged up the bridlepath from Bocketts Farm to get back to the garage at a decent time. It was hard work but I hadn’t felt cold or particularly wet all night. I guess wearing the right clothing really does make all the difference.