After Dandy’s blistering fast KOM last week I knew it would be tough to match his pace, so it’s no surprise I haven’t managed to publish this ride report nearly as fast as him. On Sunday morning I was up early, ready for Big Al to arrive outside my house with the cherished Puffin fatbike which he had kindly agreed to let me borrow, convinced that “Once you’ve ridden Fat there’s no going back”. Unfortunately Al himself seemed a little subdued after an extended Christmas party finished just a few hours before.
We arrived at Bocketts to be greeted by Dave Dubb, James, Nick, DAndy, Elliot on his fully rigid Kona Unit, and Karl his new bike, a full sus Felt, which he’s already decided to sell because it’s too big for him. That’s a rate of bike turnover that puts even Dave C to shame.
Leith Hill was on the agenda and avoiding the Admiral’s lake we climbed Crab Tree Lane for the always enjoyable View to a Kill / Bat Run. The oodles of fat bike grip was confidence inspiring despite the wet off camber roots and I easily got a PR here, slotting satisfyingly between Dave C and Dave W. And the subsequent Youth Hostel climb was fine, as long as I resigned myself to Elliot disappearing into the distance ahead – something I am getting increasingly accustomed to these days.
Wire in the Blood was muddy fun on the fatbike, but claimed our first victim of the day, a refusal from Karl on one of the log rolls. I minced down Landrover, until Karl encouraged me to give it some more speed, which felt great. Dandy was keen to do the Westcott Heath sandy gully, where Elliot impressively dispatched the series of big steps down with no suspension at all. But by the Rookery climb I could feel the toll being exerted by the weight and soft tyres, as the momentum drained away and the rest of the climb was a painful slog that reminded me of my first rides to Leith.
With a quick stop by Coldharbour while Al fixed a broken chain, we headed for the Bow to the Wow steep roll in where DAndy parted company from his bike on an interesting alternative route. As the downhill loving Moles dropped over the edge, a another group of bikers appeared and explained to James and I that a small jump over the edge would make it easier, especially on a fat bike. Given heart by Elliot’s easy ride down on his fully rigid, I followed James. But sadly my hesitant mince was captured on video by Karl – hopefully that segment will hit the cutting room floor.
The excellent Leith Hill tower fridge cake was welcomed by several Moles as we cowered out of the wind in the lee of the tower, cradling our hot drinks. It was then back down Summer Lightening, with James taking the fat bike for much of the run. On the narrow holly track beside Wolvens Dandy managed to part company from his bike again when the front tyre unaccountable burped. Or so he claimed whilst looking for a suitable “big bastard” to re-inflate it.
James continued with the fatbike down the Rookery looking like a man possessed, and perhaps he was, possessed with the burning desire to own one himself. By the time we reached High Med Al and Karl were starting to fade, probably from the previous night’s celebrations. Both dropped back as Dandy led us down Flinty Badman – another great trail to go fat.
By the time we parted company I had clocked up over 26 miles and more than 3,000ft climbing in 4 hours of riding. And decided what type of bike to go for next.
All photos are in the 21 Dec Leith Hill Fat ride set on Flickr