Adrian must have been tempted by his car park visit last week and he is back out to join us today along with a few other faces I haven't seen for a while.
The trails are superb today, dry but grippy everywhere with a hint of frost on some of the more rutted parts. Strangely enough, the wettest part of both hills is Christmas Pudding but this doesn't detract from the fun and I took plenty of pictures, below.
Adrian is lacking match fitness and he is cramped up, running on empty and begging for mercy by the time we get back to the car park. Whilst I was waiting for him to come down Telegraph Road, seven members of the British Cycling Talent team flew by. Those guys (and girls) were really flying and I tried to get some video but they were too quick - definitely in a different league to me.
A whole new set of riders this week but despite the rain during the week the trails are mainly dry and fast.
Setting off from the landslip car park at Coldharbour, we are joined by Lee who has come along to see what it's all about as well as "the other" Richard (I'm sure he hates being called that) back from a knee op and Jason who we havent seen for a few weeks.
Despite a mild forecast, it's pretty cold and we have a number of sleet showers throughout the ride. The first climb up the steep approach to Leith Hill tower is challenging for some of the group.
We descend via the singletrack to the quarry and stop to watch some guys building some kickers and jumping them on their Big Hits.
After discovering some of the hidden singletrack has been lost to tree felling we take the fast descent down Leith Hill with the sleet stinging our faces as we go. After heading across the road and climbing up Holmbury Hill there are a couple of stragglers.
We press on via the bombholes which aren't too wet and begin the long trawl back up Leith Hill which is a push for some of the group but that's okay as it gives thise at the front a bit longer to raid the tea shop at Leith Hill tower.
Down Leith Hill again, bumping into a couple of kid's who shout good-natured abuse at those riders not riding the steep descent near the tower and over to Regurgitator for the final descent before heading back to the car - another great ride.
Sam learnt the value of good suspension forks today too. I bought him some super smooth Fox Vanilla 125R's but because he usually jumps them he had the rebound wound right in so the forks were virtually rigid. Despite me winding it out at the start of the ride he had stiffened them up again and at the end of the ride he had wrist and forearm pump from taking so much feedback from hard terrain through his wrists - that'll teach him!
Date: 12th March 2006
A quick spin out to show Sam and Grant the route up to and back from Epsom Downs leads to the inevitable sessioning of various drops, roots and humps including making a small bar jump from discarded polystyrene cups and a lump of wood mysteriously left by the tea hut.
Another good ride this week as week bump into the chocolate foot riders at Pitch Hill car park and decide to join them for the day. Following others always gives a fresh perspective on the trails as they hook up trails in a different way to my normal route but we also attack a couple of trails that I have only ridden once before.
Despite the cold, the trails are perfect and some winter sun takes the chill off the day.
Rupert is riding a singlespeed DMR Rhythm and Flow with 24 inch wheels and kicks our respective butts as he rips up the trails in great style and wearing just a t-shirt on top as us old guys are covered in multiple layers. He follows this up by launching himself off Caution Steep Slope with great style.
Ant is on his newly built Specialized SX and I borrow it for a quick blast along some trails. It's very smooth and amazingly light at the front. This may have tipped my decision for a bike for the Alps towards the SX.
It's overcast but finally the temperature has reached double figures and it's the first time in months that I haven't had to wear my Altura Nevis jacket to protect me from the cold.
We park at Westcott and call into Nirvana Cycles where I pick up a Turner 5-Spot for a demo ride. Once collected it's a quick run along the road before turning left up Rookery Lane and following it up to the Greensand Way.
From here it's non-stop singletrack as we make our way from one great cycling spot to the next.
The Turner is riding really nicely. It is one of those bikes where you feel instantly at home as soon as you sit on the saddle and it takes everything in it's stride. The double-squidger is confidence inspiring and I launch myself off things that I normally avoid or merely roll-over on the hardtail.
We spend ages on the downhill section of Summer Lightning jumping the tree stump and then pushing back to the top for more. Next stop the Quarry where we play around on the jumps and I even go over the large kicker which I never even dreamt of doing when we saw it a few weeks ago.
Heading back at last, this is a great route as most of the return journey is gravity-assisted giving welcome assistance to tiring legs.
A great ride with yet more trails that I haven't ridden enough recently giving them a really 'new' feel which is always exciting.
photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015
all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015