Sometimes it’s little things that can make a big difference to your enjoyment of a ride. Having recently dusted off my Orange Five for the summer I’ve got a few niggling bits and pieces that need sorting to get it just so.
Last night for example, just before the ride, I adjusted my left hand X0 shifter lever by approximately 10 degrees.
Now I know what you’re thinking, Matt really has run out of things to say. But seriously! Instead of avoiding the big ring because it was just too much hassle to engage I found the different lever position meant I could get a good, solid press down, resulting in the front mech shifting up smoothly and very quickly. What bliss!
And with my singlespeed legs I found I could get a lot more out of the big ring than you’d think.
Anyway, we had a good turnout last night with Adam, Darren, Amanda, JamesH, DaveW, MarkBiketech, JohnR, Keith, MarkJ and myself. Which was a good thing since no-one (including me) turned up last Wednesday! Ooops.
So my idea for the evening was a bit of climbing, some singletrack and some long descents but I fancied getting away from the Ranmore area this time. Instead we headed off through Wiggly Wood having first negotiated the abundantly strewn dog-eggs at the top of Crabtree Lane.
This sort of thing really niggles me, not only can so many dog owners barely be bothered to walk their dogs further than the nearest 20 yard stetch of dirt but they leave the mess right in the middle of the track. Feeble and not appreciated.
Back to the ride. MarkJ was struggling a bit with a painful knee that ‘popped’ as he was riding to the garage but he kept going gamely. We shot through Wiggly Wood and past the big field at the top before turning to pick up the footpath to the Dorking end of Crabtree Lane. The trails were in great nick and were riding nice and fast.
Having singlespeeded all winter the novelty of the Orange is greatly appreciated. It’s got this lovely floated, loping ride to it after my hardtail which brings back memories of last year’s D2D as you feel you’re covering ground so effortlessly. And I couldn’t resist engaging the big ring whenever I got the chance! Where I’d normally be topping out on the singlespeed I could spin up some more speed without ever feeling I was working too hard.
This became apparent as we picked up the river run along to Norbury Park (following some heavy late-braking on the tarmac!). With the gradient onside it felt the bike could really stretch it’s legs although the weight balance is a bit different to what I’m used to. I screwed many a hop off various lips and bumps last night!
Once in Norbury Park we turned down for a fast descent to the road before heading over toward Box Hill for the flinty climb.
Here we lost Mark (or Mark lost us) but I thought he was just bailing early due to his dodgy knee. Oh me of little faith! The rest headed uphill and I delighted myself with a personal best of 7 minutes 10 seconds to the top! Which puts me in second place to Barrie on the DoMTB Box Hill thread!
This stunning achievement would have been something to celebrate (and believe me I’m celebrating) except that Adam and Darren both passed me on the climb, unaware of the significance of it and having started behind me. They then stopped where the trail forks just past the Yew Tree tunnel and accompanied me the rest of the way. So, er, they are a LOT quicker!
Anyway, having stopped at the top to get out the emergency lung we headed off toward the start of the Brockham descent near High Ashes. Briefly I toyed with the idea of China Pig which I guess must be just about perfect at the moment but decided to save that for another ride.
Instead, having said goodbye to Keith who was still recovering from his Monday marathon with DaveW we headed off downhill again. Oh. My. God! It’s fast down to Brockham at the moment and decidedly dangerous as my eyes were being bounced around over the steps, roots and bumps so much I could hardly see where I was headed.
I’ve decided going left at the tree is the better way but those stutter bumps after it are something that needs a bit of respect. I know it’s tempting but there’s a big accident waiting on that descent to my mind. But, we all made it down in one piece although John gave us a few moments of worry as he didn’t immediately arrive. It turned out he was delayed adjusting his lights.
Our next direction was more sedate, riding along to the Arkle Manor pub and then picking up the bridleway round the back of Brockham village. We also, unbelievably managed to pick up Mark who had headed off up High Ashurst thinking that was where we were going when we went to Box Hill. Having seen Keith coming down he was able to high-tail it down the Brockham descent and catch us up! Must be the benefit of all that unlocked travel on his forks!
After crossing the golf course we took the ‘singletrack’ past the club house and through the woods before coming out onto Punchbowl Lane for a quick run down to the A25 and on down Pixham Lane to the Denbies vineyard.
Here Mark finally decided to call it a night as his knee was still an issue while we cracked on up through the vinyard, headed up to Ranmore. It’s a nice spin along here, through the gates and round the back with a clear view of Dorking at night.
Our reward for the climb was the long descent to Chapel Farm which starts near Ranmore Church and gives a nice long blast all the way down. I was chased by Darren all the way until he fell back near the end and I was surprised to find DaveW sitting on my tail as I slowed down, having taken the final section at high speed. It turned out Darren had put a large cut into his front tyre which had deflated pretty quickly at speed. Not something I’d want to happen to me along there!
All that remained from Chapel Farm was a tortured climb back up to Wiggly Wood, made all the easier by having gears on my Five. Each time we’ve been up here on my Inbred I’ve ended up walking but tonight was fine. The final blast through Wiggly Wood was a bit lairy in places as I’ve really not found a rhythm yet on the Orange so I was braking and leaning in the wrong places quite often.
But, by the time I’d returned home I’d notched 19 miles for the evening, making the actual ride a bit over 17. Not bad for an evening’s effort and I’m still pleased with my Box Hill climb. Having made that slight adjustment to the front mech shifter the enjoyment of the Orange is even greater. Even though I didn’t use the big ring on the climb be in no doubt though, the bike is doing a lot of the work for me!