Far be it for me to suggest that any of us are fair weather riders – I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on for a start. Even so, after recent weeks of warm riding had been bringing out 10+ riders to each night ride, last night we were down to just four.
Could it just be a coincidence that the weather was looking cold and damp?
Well, maybe it was the weather, maybe it was a few of our riders ‘tapering’ for D2D this weekend. Colin in particular seems to have got this important training technique sorted (sorry Colin!) and Tony, to be fair, has just undergone knee surgery. I’m only joking, we’ve had night rides with between 0 and 15 riders so I know these things happen. It also makes me wonder if a ride with 0 riders is actually a ride at all, but that’s a different issue.
So, setting out from Hylands last night were Big Al, DaveC, myself and Del from Four4th Lights who was there to show us some of his latest kit. He sounds busy with loads of new stuff in the pipeline. Last night was the chance for him to show us the new Holy Moses 7-LED light which chucks out around 2400 lumens. Yes, that’s plenty, and I’ll do a separate write up soon once I’ve put a few more miles in with it.
So off we went, into Wiggly Wood, fighting the head wind a bit which soon became a cross-wind coming at us from the field which flanks the wood. It was pretty gusty but the trail was perfect, just dry and dusty which meant my schizoid tyre set up of MudX on the front and an Aspen on the rear had at least one end of the bike suited to the conditons. Don’t ask why I’ve got such a weird combo but I quite like it.
We pressed on, downhill and then round to the Polesden estate and the long Tanner climb. As we came down to pick up the climb I could feel the rear of the bike moving around much more than I’m used to, but it didn’t really bother me so long as it continued to follow the front.
Dave was also running Aspens, front and rear on his 29er and picked up another sidewall cut on Collarbone which needed a tube as the tyre wasn’t sealing. That’s a cut for one of my Aspens, acut for his and one on his Crossmark on Sunday. There’s a trend there isn’t there, probably to do with light weight tyres.
With my uprated lighting power I really enjoyed our run over to Abba Zabba and then rolling down through th ecomplex. Things were slowly getting more damp as there was light drizzle in the air but after avoiding Abba Zabba itself I felt sufficiently confident on the bike to take on Blind Terror 2 without worry.
As we crossed the White Down road Dave was unlucky enough to get caught out on the chalk ramp up the other side, a combination of too shallow an approach angle and fallen leaves hiding the line I think, although the tyres might have helped more. As I say, they definitely move around on the rear so the front could be a bit sketchy if the weight isn’t forward.
With no lasting harm done with worked our way down through the woods, only to find the log jump at the bottom appears to have been put beyond use. With so much attention on the unsanctioned trails thanks to cancelled races it’s no surprise to see land owners or whoever it is getting a bit more assertive over what people are up to on other people’s land. Rather disappointing to be honest.
We were soon heading back along the valley, with a strong wind behind us meaning we could canter along quite nicely, with my Holy Moses light providing plenty of illumination even on medium.
Once we got to Westcott it was up the Ranmore escarpment via Low Med, again helped hugely by the tailwind. By now there was much more dampness in the air although far from really raining but it gave the trails a potentially slippery surface.
At the top, just before we turne dout onto the Ranmore Road was a big sign from the NT Ranger saying people had been spotted in the woods with chainsaws causing criminal damage which had the police interested. It’s not a great situation is it that a large user-group of the Surrey Hills (MTBers) has had the spotlight negatively thrown on us due to the actions of people we don’t even know. Talk about crapping on your doorstep…
That’s not to say some trails are more obviously legit that others but when it comes to actually chopping down and building on someone’s property it’s a different matter. We doused ourselves somewhat in hypocrisy by heading off to ride And Then There Were Three but it’s a sad situation at the moment.
ATTW3 was great, Dave and Del sensibly decided the top section might be a bit much for there racy tyres but actually it was fine. The biggest problem all the way down was being able to read where the trail went with all the freshly fallen leaf matter which interrupted things a little – I prefer to string the whole complex together – but no real complaints.
At the A24 we decided to head straight along to Norbury Park as the time was getting on, where we dragged ourselves – as we so often do – up the hill and past the sawmill to the Bookham side. I felt I’d been working lightly all night, or rather I’d been able to go at a steady pace without pushing things too much.
By the time we got to the garage it was around 10:00 and we’d notched 18 miles from my house. A nice, warmish evening that was all the better for feeling just that little bit autumnal for a change.