Summer time and the riding is easy. Well, sort of I guess unless you happen to be running my Orange Five with fork and shock pressures ‘not quite right’ and tyres at 20psi. It made for squirrelly progress that’s for sure.
Truth be told, I’m struggling to adapt back to running a full sus machine after many miles on the Inbred. It’s not helped by the details above but after feeling for a long time that the riding position couldn’t be bettered (I wondered at one stage why I had an Inbred it saw such little use) I now just can’t get in the zone.
It’s not the bike, it’s me. I’ve seen enough people riding enough Fives to know the bike is way better than I am so I’ll just have to give it time. Like I said, I rode it for 18 months with nothing but enjoyment so I’ll just have to be patient.
But where were we. Riding, that’s what. I turned up early at the rendezvous to find AndyLeeds fiddling with his lady parts but by the time we got going we had a healthy turnout of ten riders – AndyLeeds, DaveC, Mark, Colin, jazzy Lee, Matt, JohnR, Neill, Keith and myself.
To avoid the usual Wiggly Wood we headed along the Admiral’s track toward Polesden, turning off early to take the bridlepath under the stone bridge and up to Tanner’s Hatch. The stone bridge descent was pretty wayward for me, I could feel things weren’t right with the Five with a couple of bangs on the rims showing me the pressures were too low. Being shrouded in dust following the others down screwed my line choices too, but it seems silly to complain about things being too dry. That won’t last anyway!
Heading straight on at Tanners as we did last week it transpired John knows this as the impossible climb. Last week it was, this week it wasn’t as I cleaned it on the Orange although I had to deploy the emergency lung. After that we headed over to Badger Run and Collarbone via Ranmore. Collarbone was fine but I just felt tense on the bike, not at ease at all even though I was making decent progress.
Once up on White Down we headed toward Abba Zabba, my all-time boogie trail. Matt shamed me by cleaning it at his first attempt, hats off to him and his unique descending technique which saw him sitting on the rack on the back of his P7! Whatever, it worked a treat.
I headed for the ‘chicken run’ which offers it’s own challenges and then it was on to Blind Terror 2. After Matt had ridden part of that on his front wheel I decided to have a go. There was a certain amount of flappage on the way down but I got to the bottom only to snag my helmet light at low speed (thankfully); then it was on across the road to Numbskull.
A few of us took the direct route but I wasn’t one of them. A complete bottle failure on my part to be honest, then at the bottom I attempted ‘Andy’s jump’ and blew that too – you’d have seen more lift in a collapsing souffle! Err, time to change pace a bit I decided.
Turning onto the Abinger Roughs we upped the speed back toward Dorking. With the summer conditions I’m very tempted to try a fast evening run to Newlands via Abinger, I’m certain we could do it. In the past we’ve got to Newlands on the green lane in less than an hour so it must be do-able even if it means a late finish. With clear skies and long evenings, now’s the time to try it.
But we were headed Macpherson’s way. I cleaned it reasonably comfortably in the granny ring and then we tackled Macpherson’s folly which proved more of a challenge. Again though, a successful ascent with no dabs. That’s the singlespeeding benefit again I reckon.
Ranmore offered a few possibilities and for a change we decided the Vicarage descent was the one to go for. I headed off first, well away from potential dust clouds this time and had a long, quiet run down through woods, trying a few hops along the way. I felt OK, but my efforts were lame really even though I enjoyed myself.
At the bottom, Andy’s Lapierre tubeless set up gave up the ghost with his rear wheel clearly very soft. A quick stop for some pumping action saw the valve come clean off in the pump. Oh dear! Fortunately I was able to contribute an inner tube and after some messy latex action we were on our way again.
We’d already said goodbye to DaveC, Matt, Neill and Keith who didn’t fancy our proposed route back as time was pressing on. By the time we’d finished, we didn’t fancy it either, darkness falling with a sudden and almost audible clang! Given the time of year, we knew it was a late finish.
So we tracked back up the hill and finished off with a run through Wiggly Wood. It was a great evening for a ride (thanks John for the pictures – I remain impressed by the camera on your phone!). In a perfect world we’d have squeezed a few more miles in but I’ll settle for what we managed and the company was very good. Surprisingly, there’s no innuendo there for a change!!