The talk as we fettled bikes at the garage yesterday evening was of the last day of summer. Although we seem to heading into a prolonged Indian Summer of dry trails and dust (25° yesterday!). Maybe the weather will break as forecast, with Sods Law saying probably at about 8pm in field, in Norfolk, in just over a week’s time.
I do seem to have strange things happen to me on my 10min ride up to Hylands garage. A few weeks ago was the car that rolled onto Lower Road in front of me without a driver in it. Lesson – check your handbrake if you live on a slope. Last night it was a lady who, in slo-mo completely, cut a right hand turn right in front of me as I was doing a left hand turn.
Somehow she didn’t see 2300 lumens coming at her in the dark?? Then even more strangely she came and apologised (very politely) but didn’t seem to be able to explain how she hadn’t seen me or what she had been doing.
Apart from the crashes and broken bones, it’s much safer on the dirt ;), since these injuries are self inficted.
Things didn’t start too well at the garage with Daniel deciding that “just a few more PSI” were required to the RP23 shock on his Orange. As soons as we removed the pump the shock lost pressure, dropping down to ~20psi. Unfortunately there was no fix possible and there was not going to be any riding for him that night.
So that left 5 of us (Paul, James(H)Pro, Trevor, myself and new rider, Lloyd, on a Trek Fuel Ex – nice choice of bike). So why were we 5 instead of the recent +10 we’ve been seeing? Well a mass defection to a Tuesday night of D2D training had thinned out our numbers, but that meant that there should be little stopping for our smaller group.
We headed out the usual way through Wiggly Wood and I had a “last night of summer” plan in mind. We headed past the stables and took the path along to the top of Crabtree Lane, then turned left into Jem’s Favourite through Norbury Park. This is now a dusty, fast, big ring blast. I can see why it’s not just Jem’s but the Femoles favourite in these conditions. We regrouped and headed down to the bridge at Mickleham, disturbing a couple in a car obviously out for a bit of nighttime “peace and quiet”. As we headed down we met Colin coming up the other way. Obviously caught out doing a bit of secret D2D training. “Just testing my old headlight for D2D” – yeah right!
We headed over the A25 and to the BoxHill climb. As James(H)Pro and I chatted whilst pleasantly riding up, Paul showed us how it do it and disappeared off. Apparently in serious training mode for the South Downs Way in a day.
Next we rode over to China Pig. Which we seem to have ridden many times recently with “the last day of summer” excuse. However no excuses are needed it’s a great trail and simply a blast in the dry. I lead the way and about half way down I noticed no lights behind me so I stopped. In these circumstances you and I probably first think – Riding God – I’ve dropped them, but then the mundane reality surfaces – puncture. I turned round and met Trevor and Lloyd riding down. Yep, puncture for Paul. On the postive side, I did get to ride most of China Pig twice.
As we waited at the first stile we thought that Paul and James(H)Pro were coming down but it was a friendly group of 12 bikers. Although given how warm it was yesterday I wasn’t sure why half of them had waterproofs on? I wonder how much they wear in the winter? Paul and James(H)Pro turned up, with James showing an impressive dent in his helmet. Be warned there are lots of low branches on China Pig. The trail also looks like it’s getting lots of use with quite a bit of brake jack marking the final descent before the style.
With our late start and a long puncture stop my plan to head to Headley via High Ashurst was abandoned. Instead we rode up the bottom of Staine Street (again in great summer condition) and turned right up to Mickleham Gallops. Even the Gallops weren’t their usual energy sapping sponge. Time was pressing and Lloyd was begining to feel the burn, but we persuaded him the best was to come as we headed up to Headley Common via the bombholes, to Secret Singletrack.
Turning into Secret Singletrack we started the super combo of SS, down to Life on Mars, then Alsation. With the log roll on the corner in the middle of Life on Mars again almost catching me out, but I made up for it with a smooth clearance of the second road crossing on Alsation.
As we regrouped and rolled into Leatherhead it smiles all around. Again it felt like we were cheating natures normal autumn weather and riding “high summer” trails. It was a blast – long may it continue – or I’ll settle for 10 days more, please.