November 5, as everyone knows, is firework night (or Guy Fawkes’ Night to be more precise). We have our own methods though of burning through money and they provide far more excitement than the odd colourful explosion.
Night riding in winter. Hard work, expensive on components thanks to all that mud and grit about but great fun. Certainly the fact it’s dark, muddy and cold doesn’t seem to deter anyone. Witness last night when we had DaveC, Jem, DaveW, Barrie, AndyW, Matt and myself all keen to get out on the trails.
This was hampered somewhat by me getting a puncture outside the garage and spending a spectacular amount of time fixing it. What can I say, I’ve run tubeless for so long that the occassional puncture to my inner-tubed Inbred just throws me!
Eventually we got underway up Crabtree Lane and into Wiggly Wood. I had a plan in mind to try a slightly different route but it still meant we had to get up to Ranmore. I immediately could feel the effects of Sunday’s Bordon Enduro in my legs, especially since I was on the singlespeed so decided to sit happily mid-pack this week.
After threading through the Wood we headed down to Polesdon and up to Tanners Hatch as usual before the slog up to Ranmore. As anyone knows who has tried singlespeed, you really have just one pace. After standing on the cranks most of the way up I found myself edging to the front of the middle runners simply because I had no other alternative to stopping in my tracks. It was quite an effort, with DaveW and Barrie disappearing into the distance.
Re-grouping at the top, with DaveC clearly finding the climb a less than enjoyable experience we set off for Badger Run and Collarbone. All so far, so familiar but after working across to the Abba Zabba area via the North Downs Way which has quickly acquired a slippery (and thanks to the leaf-fall, well-hidden) surface we pressed on to the descent to Raikes Lane which we last climbed during the summer.
My thinking was that it was less chalky than the alternative, White Down, and hence less dangerous with the recent rain. Which proved to be true, even if there was still plenty of chalk and deep gulleys masked only partially by the heavy leaf-matter which had been washed down by recent floods. DaveC had a big incident half way down on his ScandAL, hitting a brick or baby-head-sized rock and momentarily stepping sideways. I thought he was about to swap ends but miraculously he recovered proving once again that 100mm travel hardtails can hold their own. Of course an extra 40mm might have gone down well, as he commented after!
We next picked up the Abinger Roughs, which offer a nice, undulating run along the valley, showing little evidence of the rain we’ve had thanks to their sandy and lightly trafficed nature. We continued on toward Westcott, where AndyW peeled off suffering from a sore back and not wanting to battle the climb up to Ranmore.
We continued and although I was settled into a steady spin I could still feel the tiredness in both my legs and upper body from the weekend’s efforts. Fortunately a pleasant chat with Jem helped pass the time as we motored up the trackway to Ranmore where DaveC suffered a painful attack of cramp.
We ran along the top of Ranmore before turning down toward Yew Trees. I’m finding the Inbred so much better with the Reba forks that the run down here passed very easily, with thanks to Crud’s Fast Fender which managed to keep all the crap off my face, even on this faster descent. It’s essentially invisible once on the bike and I strongly suggest you try one if you haven’t already. Barrie, DaveW, DaveC and myself are already convinced…
Anyway, the final climb proved far less painful than I expected, once again I just stood and cranked my legs round. All those singlespeed climbs up Alsation on a Friday morning clearly have helped in this regard.
A final canter back to Bookham soon had us all peeling off in various directions so that just DaveC, Jem, DaveW, Barrie and myself made it back to the garage, clocking 17 miles or so of fairly steady running. My singlespeed is likely to see a lot more use from here in an effort to keep the component upkeep programme under control.
As a final point, Tony and Jem are starting the Gorrick race in Crowthorne Wood on Sunday so good luck to them and kudos to Tony. Far to much for me…