Muddy, muddy, muddy!
Last night it was an apt night to be a Muddymole.
With Matt not riding last night I was uncertain as to how many people were going to turn up and the weather didn’t look great either. However a good number of hardy soles turned up AndyC (the new Whiteboi with super sparkly white shoes), DaveW, Barry, Paul (fashionably late), James, MattP7 and myself.
Normally I’m not the earliest of arrivees on a Wednesday evening, but yesterday I got everything ready well in advance (“working from home”). However riding up to the garage I knew that something was wrong with the bike. Definitely a strange noise from the front wheel. By the time I got to the garage I figured it, no pads left on the front brakes (I then vaguely remembered something about needing to fix the bike when I last put it away).
I was pleased to only find Barrie at the garage knowing I had some time to change pads for the spares that I fortunately had in my Camelbak. I then demonstrated an amazing lack of mechanical dexterity but eventually got the pads in. Even Paul had arrived by that point!
We set off up towards Wiggly Wood with a group discussion of a route to miss the worst of the mud. However as soon as we got onto the Bridleway it became apparent that it was going to be seriously claggy. The days early rain had soaked into the surface and partially dried forming a grip free paste on the trails. Blocked tyres and sideways mud surfing was the order of the evening. My front brake bedding in stops had to be done with great care.
We headed instead down past Roaring House Farm (what a great name BTW) to miss the quagmire of the Admirals trackway. With MattP7 leading the way we slipped and slide along Infestation, past Bocketts Farm and across to the back of the water works. Going down this hill was a good indication of the nights ride. You went down and crabbed round the corners in two wheel slides. Not an evening for sharp braking or quick steering adjustments.
It was then the flog up Alastian with the single gear bike boys (Barrie and DaveW) shaming us all with their pace. We regrouped and rode up to the Nower car park, with James almost losing his bike to the deep mud and AndyC taking a great last minute line to avoid ramming him. We pressed onto Headley with my Orange Clockwork lapsing into it’s worst chainsuck habits. New chain and chainring for me today I think.
It wasn’t a time to hang around too long at the Headley viewpoint with a strong wind and light but driving rain blowing in. So we quickly moved across the common and slowly up the muddy valleys to the Outdoors Training centre, then up to the Box Hill road. It was back into the misty woods, for some eerie cycling over to the Box Hill cafe.
After numerous slogs up Box Hill it was time for a ride down the face of the climb. Normally this is either a superfast blast down the face (avoiding the bunny holes) or the flinty trackway. For some of us it was their first descent of this particular hill. We headed off together and swung left up to the face route, however here was the worst mud of the night.
Thousands of feet had turned the chalk into a thick paste that required good pedal strokes to keep you going – downhill. We decided to angle off to the trackway with Barrie in the lead. He got to some steep steps and informed us that it was definitely ride-able, then promptly went over the bars. The rest of us walked down. Back on the trackway it was a test of the various mud blocking appendages that Moles employ as the chalk paste flew off in all directions.
We regrouped at the bottom of Box Hill and headed over to Norbury Park. At this point James impressed us all by pulling a long and super smooth wheelie. Astounding Adventures, I’m impressed. However I’ve missed out and the new talk of “just push the shopping trolley to pull a manual” left me slightly bemused. But it seems to be working for the trainees.
Barrie and I split at the bottom of Norbury Park to head back to Leatherhead. It was the end of a slippy but very enjoyable evening.