Tuesday, 24 February 2009

If I had a hammer

Had an interesting couple of rides last week.

On the Friday night H and I did a night ride after work.

We circuitously went up to Wimbledon Common from Southwark and then rode across the common and into Richmond Park.

I got to try out my new fenix torches – and I had planned to run two in series. No chance – one was bright enough! In fact H had my set of BLT halogens – which with two 10w bulbs in series was maybe 50 – 60% less bright – or dimmer, which might be putting it more correctly.

The halogens throw a bright light with a yellow tinge – making the night warm up in front of you. The Fenix casts clear cold bright white light. No arc of light with a fuzzy edge – but a super strong beam of clarity. I was really impressed. Two torches would be for extreme conditions or technical difficulty – so I recon I will carry one as back up. The other thing I noticed was that the distance of trail you could light up and ride effectively was in the region of 15 meters. For anyone who has seriously ridden at night this is a revelation given the budget nature of the set up.

As for the ride – well once in Richmond Park we were asked to leave by Rangers in a 4x4. I was going to challenge the ranger as you can cycle at night after the main gates shut – when the Ranger kindly pointed out that the deer cull was on. Exit stage right.

Once out of the park via the Sheen Gate, we headed through Mortlake and onto the Thames Path by the Brewery. We then rode to the White Cross at Richmond where as the frost came down we had a pint in the deserted beer terrace.

I think H enjoyed his first night ride (I suspect a new torch is now on its way) – and I had to stop for chips on the way home.

On Sunday there was a bit of group ride on.

Hayden, EK, Kelly and I did a spot of time in the Surrey Hills. We met up at Guildford Station and after patching H’s camel back with a Park Tools Patch to stop him leaking across Surrey, we met EK on the SantSchmooze. This is the first time I have seen EK on a bike since his Pitch got stolen – and the Santa Cruz is nice. Very. And as H advised me in advanced it is very bling.

We went off to the Pilgrims way – then around St Martha’s hill and onto the path that grinds up to Farley. That got everyone warmed up. We then went to Peaslake via ‘Bull Corner’, ‘Tramps’, the bottom of Hurtwood Control and then the ‘Car Parks’ section.

Lots of water about – and a little mud, but a fun blast. I did have another puncture (almost none last year and now two in three rides) and we (well I) had a bit of a faff getting myself back together again.

At the tea stop we decided to ride Pitch Hill and then finish on Barry Knows Best, before turning for home. That was deemed a good plan and cracking on we climbed the lane– went past the reservoir and pushed onto the hill fort.

After customary stop to take in the view H and I got EK and Kelly to session a small drop off and roll out. The thinking here was for everyone to get their eyes in so we could push a few things later on……….

We then rode the new section of the Yoghurt Pots (nice) and Telegraph Road – okay. On the way back H, EK and I rode Lost Pickup. I love this steep off camber trail – and I felt I rode this really well given how slippy it was.

We then climbed back up to the fort and headed for BKB.

Kelly had already decided she wanted to session the steep roll off / drop near the start – a spot where she has been blocked before – so I agreed to go with her and spot it for her. I think Kelly nailed it on her second attempt (nice). EK had a couple of false starts and then got it together - and Hayden I think had one false start before dominating it. Modestly, if I say so myself, this obstacle has never been an issue for me – so I went back a bit on the trail so I could flow into it and then push on.

Whilst everyone else was having a go on the roll off, Kelly pushed on. EK followed me down – the idea being I would spot him through the last turn into the scree that leads to the road. However, Emile got a bit of a burn right before the end when he offed after a set off-camber roots meant he slipped off the trail on a high line and on to the low route via his backside (as told by Hayden). Sore in the morning I think.

We then had a second tea in Peaslake, and then pretty much re-traced our steps back to Guildford – arriving just as the rain started.

I had a great time – and working the Commencal in the woods, over roots and off the odd drop was what I needed for brain space.

I have also made a note to check the pressure in both shocks as I bottomed out a couple of times on Telegraph Road when I was pushing it. I don’t think any damage was done. However Kelly’s bike has also started the ‘bushing knock’ – which is a bit of a costly replacement part scenario. So this is perhaps more grist to her burley bike mill. I fear six inches of travel and full face protection are on the way.

I might push for a Swinley ride on Sunday - so I can cram more drops and steep stuff into a ride than usual. I feel that I want a bit more adversity to control next time I ride. Not sure why. I have just got that ‘nail it’ feeling developing in me this week.

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