After a last minute forum update to confirm that, despite the weather, a ride was definitely on, three of us met up at the garage for the regular Wednesday slip ‘n slide. Lee, Big Al and myself, and all following the true and virtuous path that is one gear. As recent Wed night rides have been heading over to Headley Heath and Mickleham, tonight would be Effingham via Ranmore and ‘Lovely Linda’.
Given the temperature, we didn’t hang around long at the garage, but stayed just long enough to take in the glorious sight that is my new, ‘semi-fat’, 3 inch wide, Surly Knard tyre.
Tonight was its second outing after Monday’s initial test ride. I have to say it has transformed my bike, as you’d expect, and luckily for me it’s a real improvement. (I will write a review soon, I promise, Matt). No pics yet, but here’s some additional weight loss from that front end in the shape of the trimmings from the inner tube edges following my ‘ghetto tubeless’ conversion. Total weight of tyre and vandalised inner tube rim strip is just under 1100g. So 250g heavier than a Hans Dampf, but this is a much, much bigger tyre !
Back to the route, and it was Wiggly Wood to Polesden Lacey and then the Youth Hostel, before tackling the Tanners Hatch climb. Fortunately for us, there was no sign of the angry dog walkers or horse riders that gave the Diary Boys such a hard time on their Sunday ride this week.
A very gloopy Badger Run and Collar Bone were next up, followed by the traditional route along the North Downs via Trouble in Paradise (no log roll attempted), Short and Sweet, the Reservoir, then the North Downs Way itself. The gloop was ready and waiting to suck in any rider straying just a few inches off the dry lines, as we all found out at one time or another.
The wet and slimy roots that litter these particular sections of the trail were a real-test for my rigid fork and Knard tyre combo, a test which it duly passed. This was more than could be said of my new lights. Following good reviews on this sight, I bought the C and B Seen, 2 x 1200 lumen light option.
Although it has a reasonably sized battery, after about an hour and a quarter, at the start of Lovely Linda, the red ‘low battery’ indicator lights came on. To conserve battery, I descended with my lights in flashing mode. Amazing, I think I’ve invented a new craze, though not one for the epileptics or those affected by flashing images.
It was like riding through a seventies disco set. The lights gave enough visibility to identify most of the hazards that jerkily swam towards me in the strobing light. Drop a few mind-altering substances and you’d be well away; as it was, I just enjoyed my own ‘silent disco’. I think a second battery will be required to comfortably support that level of output.
We predictably didn’t get very far up the Impossible Climb, before tackling the fun but tricky descent back to Greendene. Lee made a fantastic effort to clean the next climb away from the road, and despite a few wrong turns we enjoyed the twisty route back down into East Horsley.
From here we headed back up past the tennis club, before making a direct route along to Orestan Lane, where we then simply rolled along the road towards Fetcham. I was able to get some ‘low power’ lighting by toggling through the functions, before reverting to the ‘Disco Strobe’ to see me to the end of the ride.
I split off from the group at Little Bookham Street, leaving Lee and Al to head back to the start. Overall, I showed a distance ridden of 26km, with 435m climbed. Average speed was 14.9 kph, and we were rolling for around 1 hr 45 mins with thirty minutes taken for the start and various stops. Now I can taper for Sunday’s Merida Brass Monkeys Round 1.
Having been mountain biking since 1996, you might have expected Dandy to have learnt to ride a bike by now. Several broken bones in the last few years prove the maxim that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
In between hospital visits, Dandy rides a brace of much-blinged Pace RCs, the 'green themed' 405 and the silver & gold 506. His winter hack is the Moles' favourite, an On-One 456 hardtail, now converted to an Alfine hub He also dabbles in 'the dark arts', keeping 2 road bikes in one of his seven sheds.