This week has been notable for bouts of rain, some of it quite heavy. I just about managed to avoid a real deluge on Tuesday night on my road ride home and Wednesday was threatened with rain too. Except it didn’t really appear, so I thought I’d give the night ride a go on my singlespeed.
As I rode up to the garage I passed Graham with ‘Barnard and friend’ who had just set out from my road. They were headed over toward Mickleham while I waited to see who would turn up for our ride. With a busy day at work I hadn’t managed to post anything on the forum but there’s normally a few people who pop up. This time though it was just Canadian Rob and myself who made the pilgrimage.
The two of us set out with my plan being to ride at a steady pace without stopping. Through Wiggly Wood we soon realised the rain had made no impact on the trails other than to dampen the dust, so conditions were good. My singlespeed is about to receive some new cogs to replace the worn ones I’m running – these have become apparant thanks to me replacing the chain… honestly, you make one small change and everything else follows, it feels like a cartoon when someone hammers in a tiny nail and the whole wall suddenly turns into a spider-web of terminal cracks!
The run along the edge of the field and down toward the Polesden estate felt fantastic on the Inbred though, with the tubeless Mavic 819/fat Nobby Nic set-up transferred over from my Orange giving loads of grip. The tyres feel better suited to the hardtail than they did on my Orange which always seemed a bit vague on the front end, maybe the Inbred puts my weight a bit further forward?
As we turned for Polesden there was a big group of riders climbing up from the road, one of whom – at the back – may have been John’s mate DaveS who I haven’t seen for a while, not since the Christmas meal in fact when I was on less than sparkling form. I say ‘may’, I didn’t get a good look though.
Having not ridden singlespeed for so long, the climb up to Tanners and Ranmore (once we’d dispatched the Stone Bridge descent) reminded me just how hard it is to grind uphill with just the one gear. I don’t have the legs for stump pulling torque so have to stand up and use my weight as well to keep moving. This means my arms and shoulders get a work out too but by keeping to a steady pace we inched up the climb.
With just two riders it’s so much easier to keep the flow going so at Ranmore we carried on toward Badger Run and Collarbone, using the flats to recover. I could feel the effort but it was manageable and the trail felt good under all that squidgy rubber.
At White Down we again carried on without pause, onto Trouble in Paradise where Rob – fresh from a trip to British Columbia – rode the big log competently. On other trails I can imagine riding this without too much thought but unfortunately for me it’s just ‘THERE’ and I can’t bring myself to try it. The flow continued, through the singletrack and on toward the car park and from there to the Abba Zabba area.
Once again, there were no stops, just a lovely fluid run down the chicken run, through the trees, skirting Blind Terror 2, onto Blind Terror, then seemlessly across the road and down through the trees, casually taking in the small jump over the log at the bottom before the final few yards back out onto the road. I’ve wanted to ride this complex like this for ages and it really rewards smooth lines and produces a massive grin.
Still we didn’t pause, down the road, onto the trail round the field back toward Dorking and on and on, I was spinning out at times but Rob had quietly chosen to limit his gears to suit so we just motored on. Our climb back up to Ranmore was the flinty trackway which we call High Mediterranean although I think that name is reserved for the ‘alternative’ route slightly higher up and this one is called Low Mediterranean instead but regardless, it’s a familiar climb and scene of a famous attempted Mole savaging by a startled Badger – just ask Colin.
At the top, still we didn’t stop, up to Ranmore Church and then on toward And Then There Were Three (ATTWT). Our so far uninterupted flow was disrupted (but not broken) as I ducked into the trees here and found light levels had dropped far enough that the tinted lenses in my glasses were a liability and not a benefit, but I still led Rob down at a reasonable pace and on to the newer fourth section that includes a few small jumps and crests.
Emerging unscathed onto the A24, it was back toward Norbury Park. I was starting to feel tired after a lot of riding over the past week or so and the climb up to the House was a long singlespeed slog out of the saddle, like an extended step class all the way up. By the time we reached the top I could feel the insiduous whisper of a sugar bonk coming on, so we short cut across the grassland near the sawmill and plunged into the short loop that Dave has led us on in the past, popping out on the corner of the big field fronting Roaring House Farm.
The final mile brought me to 18 miles on the clock (door to door) and it was only 9:30, even though we’d left at 7:45 from the garage. I really liked putting the ride together without having to worry about stops and it shows yet another way to spice up familiar trails by trying something different.