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Date: 5th December 2010
Riders: Richard, Davebus, Terry, Gary and Mark
Snow Day: Epsom Downs to Headley Heath, Stane Street and back
Weather: 2.5°C

Today was a day for mudguards and snow tyres, unfortunately I didn't have either of them but we still had a great ride.

After last night's curry and beers we had a late-ish 10 a.m. start at our old favourite meeting point of DMB as the roads are still full of slush and piled up snow and it didn't seem worthwhile travelling anywhere in the car on a day like today.

Huey and Sue had walked up to say hello, no doubt walking off last night's curry too and we waved them goodbye as we headed off across the Downs. Davebus and Terry had already ridden across here as they made their way up from Ashtead and recommended that we ride across the grassy line rather than on the bridleway which was full of impassable slush. Up to the top and across to cut over the racecourse and it was slow, tough going

Down the other side and into the woods and we were off and pushing as there was no grip whatsoever on the trail but we made it down to Crow Lane and after pushing up the first section of this we were back in the saddle and grinding our way to the top.

Crow Lane is named because of the crows (or are they ravens?) that are always noisily sitting in the tall trees (you know what they say; if you see a group of crows together they are ravens and if you see a raven on its own it's a crow) but it could just as easily be re-named Dog Shit Lane as the stuff it was all over the place; those dog owners really need to clean up their act and they could do with a few more of these dog poo fairy posters around that we spotted up at Headley Heath.

We reached the top and it had taken 40 minutes to ride a short section that we would normally cover in a little over ten minutes and a few of us were already thinking of turning back.

But we kept the faith and dropped down under the M25 where there was less slush and more untouched frozen snow and visible paths to follow. Up onto Headley Heath and through Secret Singletrack which was riding nicely with plenty of deep frozen snow which saved Terry as he had a tree-hugging moment as he and his bike parted company on an adverse camber.

Across the road and through Nower Wood and then onto Life on Mars which again was riding nicely although Terry again had a fall on one of the fallen logs that cross the trail at various points.

It was noticeably milder than last week's ride and quite pleasant to be out and about messing about on bikes as we shot off down Alsation to meet the A24 just north of the Givons Grove roundabout. A right turn here and back up the road and along by the Leatherhead dirt jumps and then over the M25 and up past the Exxon Mobil offices and we are on the home leg.

We say goodbye to Mark, Terry and Dave as they head back towards Ashtead and Gary and I push on back towards Epsom Downs although we resort to riding up the road to the Rubbing House given the state of the trails that we had seen on the back of the Downs.

From there it was a fairly simple descent into Ewell and home for me although there was still plenty of slush and ice to negotiate and I had to step off my bike a few times before making it back home. Circa 15 miles was enough for me in those conditions.

Date: 12th December 2010
Riders: Richard, Davebus, Terry, Wobbem and Mark
LOMAC to Ranmore Common and back
Weather: 3°C

The snow has finally melted and after a cold, dry week the trails are riding well, if a little slippery in places, especially Ranmore Common but more of that later.

A cold start of about 1 degree as I leave my house at 9 a.m. for the five mile ride to LOMAC for the normal 9-30 meet but I'm toasty warm in my new Altura Night Vision winter waterproof gloves newly arrived from Wiggle this week (and I'm only wearing the outer shell, I haven't even got the inner lining gloves on!).

LOMAC sees the normal crew turn up and although we haven't seen Wobbem for a few weeks he's an old hand now. We just have time to admire Terry's home-made front mudguard, made from an empty four-pinter of milk, and we are off and heading towards Stane Street. The trails are mixed quality, mainly firm but flicking up quite a lot of muck and Terry's mudguard is doing it's business. In other places like Tyrrell's Wood it's tough going but hey, it's thick mud through there nine months of the year anyway.

A fast run down 'Alsation' which is riding perfectly and across the swollen River Mole and up behind the leisure centre and towards Bocketts Farm. We see a lone rider in blue here and he takes a slightly different route to us as we fight for position with him, catching him up, turning off, seeing him on a parallel trail alongside Polesden Lacey before finally losing him somewhere near the Admiral Track.

The Winter Sun is very low in the East and as we head due South the strobing effect as we pass the many hedgerows in this part of Surrey is making my left eye feel funny and is really disconcerting. I found myself having to curl my body and head towards the right just to avoid it. Let's hope my back doesn't disagree with this tomorrow. However, at least it's heating the world up and by mid-morning it's about 3 degrees.

Up onto Ranmore Common Road and the turn off towards the tricky stuff and it starts to get a bit more sticky and slippery along here but we push on and come to Abba Zabba. I've ridden it many times and head down it to demonstrate the line to Wobbem who hasn't seen it before but what's this? My front and rear wheel are all over the place and I just about control it to make it to the top of the trai before stalling at the tree and have no choice but to make an ignominious retreat back down on foot slipping and sliding as I go.

That's it for me, I don't even bother to try the other testing trails in this area, far too much to lose on some of these fast steep descents.

Oh well, we head off down White Down Road and turn off at Pilgrim's Way towards The Rookery before turning back on ourselves up Hole Hill and onto Landbarn Farm where we stop for a breather and to eat a few cereal bars, bananas or in Wobbem's case some disgusting looking thing that he found in the depths of his back pack that was well on it's way to evolving into an intelligent life form.

Then it's the long slog up Pilgrim's Way and up Ranmore Common Road to top before heading off down Hogden Lane and back home. Well, there was still a long way to go and despite suffering at the start Terry was pulling away from the rest of the group (except Dave). Meanwhile, my lack of cycle commuting for the last two weeks due to the inclement weather was showing and I was fading. I knew I would make it round but I struggled to keep up with the others.

But we ended up back at LOMAC for 1 p.m. having covered 25 miles or 40 km in three and a half hours. Just another five miles back home for me and I bumped into Keith (Rotorist) when I was almost home. He had decided to get in a sneaky solo ride as he has had a heavy week Christmas party drinking this week.


Date: 19th December 2010
Riders: Richard, Harvey and Ant
Leith Hill
Weather: minus 3°C

Just as the snow finally melted last week we had another massive load this Friday and Saturday with about seven or eight inches falling on the South of England.

So there's nothing for it but to wrap up warm and get out there on the trails. I ride with Rich 'Harvey' and Ant in what will be Rich's last ride before a month's holiday in Australia which is circa 40 degrees at the moment and he's making the most of the cold weather!

Meeting on the Green at Westcott we head up past the church and then via a short section of singletrack onto the Rookery and up the climb to the top before turning left and continuing to climb. Conditions are tough and we soon build up a sweat. Harvey sheds a layer and we continue up the bridleway which has been heavily compacted by passing 4x4's and is very slippery.

All the way up to Summer Lightning but we take a detour into the woods and at last there's some powdery stuff which is easier to ride in. Not so fast but not as slippery either and the sound of fresh snow crunching under tyre is fantastic.

Around and down the bombholes and a quick peek down Deliverance. Some brave fool has already been down there and although this normally doesn't phase me I don't fancy giving it a go in these conditions.

Around and up to Leith Hill Tower and a pause for something to eat and to admire the view of the South of England under a blanket of snow before heading in the general direction of Windy Willow. However I decide to follow some fresh tyre tracks and we find ourselves on some twisting singletrack with losts of steep roll-ins. It's a nice new trail and I hope I can find it in the dry but today I'm all over the place and have already been off my bike today more times than the whole of this year as I slip and slide down and along the trail.

Out onto the snow covered bridleway and an educated guess sees us take the right direction back up to Leith Hill Tower again before heading off towards Summer Lightning with just enough time for another fall as I ride the 'saddle' near the cattle gate.

Then it's Summer Lightning and down the Rookery again where we find Ant's camera case that he had dropped on the way up. Some kind soul had put it on the post in the middle of the trail so that we could see it. Not so much luck with the fiver that he dropped though. EDIT: We also later discover that Ant lost his car keys somewhere between The Rookery and the Tower. This necessitated a complex ferrying system requiring Harvey to drive into South London to collect a spare key and out again to Westcott to enable Ant to drive home!

A good ride in the snow which really tested out the balance and bike skills but roll on Spring!


Date: 27th December 2010
Riders: Richard and Terry
LOMAC to Ranmore Common
Weather: 3°C

A quick few miles post-Christmas to work off some of the beer and food consumed over the past 48 hours but also to push me a little bit closer to my annual mileage target.

Terry and I meet at the LOMAC and I'm a few minutes late as there is still plenty of compacted snow/ice around and the ride to LOMAC takes about ten minutes longer than planned.

The two of us set off and head towards Ranmore with plenty of slipping and sliding and balancing acts carried out we are moving pretty slowly.

We pass some other riders going in the opposite direction near Bocketts Farm but I don't recognise any of them and we make it up to Ranmore beofre deciding to return via Denbies and Juniper Hill.

It's strange as the closer to home we get the more the ice has melted throughout the morning and we are moving much faster and once I leave Terry at LOMAC all the ice on my ride home has melted and it's an easy return.

Just one more trip this week will see me make the target and with the weather getting warmer I'm probably going to jump on the road bike to cover a few quick miles.


Date: 30th/31st December 2010
Riders: Richard and Cas
Road Ride: Richmond Park and Surrey Lanes
Weather: 5°C

The last two days of the year and I really need to hit my target of 5,000 miles or 8,000 km for 2010. My ride earlier this week with Terry had pushed me close and on Thursday 30th I decided on a road ride. A quick text to Cas as he is always up for a spin on the road bikes but no answer and so I set off with little idea where to go.

I decided to head for Richmond Park as it was already the afternoon and I didn't have any water with me nor even a pump and spare tube.

I headed through New Malden nodding idly at a few other roadies heading in the opposite direction when I suddenly did a double take. Hang on a minute, that was Cas heading back home.

A quick discussion identified that he had already ridden five laps of the Park and was out when I texted hence the lack of response. But as already mentioned, he's always up for a ride and so turned back round to accompany me on a quick two laps before we headed home together.

And I say quick as we hooked up with two other riders and worked together. Well actually it was only me and one of the other blokes who were taking the lead but I did more than my fair share and kept the pace at a strong 20mph for both laps. Cas was just about hanging onto the back but given his previous exertions we'll excuse him.

Back home and tot up the mileage and I'm just 10k short of the total and so onto the Friday and this time after dropping into Cas's house we head up towards Banstead, Woodmansterne, How Lane, past Fanny's Farm Shop and round the back of Reigate before dropping down into Newdigate and back via Box Hill.

Again we work pretty well together although Cas does a lot of the leading this time as it's his route but also my legs feel heavy from the previous day.

Cas is disappointed with the average of 15mph but it's a longer, more difficult and varied ride today and I certainly can feel it in my on the home run.

But that's it, 65km today means that I smash through my target and hit the heady heights of 8,055km for the year. And with me losing most of October due to my back injury and all of December's commuting due to the snow I'm thinking of setting a more challenging target next year (tomorrow!).


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click to view click to view click to view Steve Neill Big Trev Orange Dave dialled bikes pewter headtube badge Dave and Dave outside LOMAC Dave on Summer Lightning A grinning Trevor Steve (again) Davebus and Neill on Stane Street Jason next to Denbie's vineyard Trevor struggles up the climb Dave followed by Jason on Stane Street Banstead Downs singletrack It was getting dark by the time I got back Richard (that's me!) Surrey Hills logo at the top of Coombe hill Gary dicing with the cars through New Malden Stag party Gary's Giant SCR 2008 model  A cheerful looking Gary part way round Richmond Park speed limits for cyclists! Kingston Gate, Richmond Park view off the side of Headley Heath Bianchi K-Vid carbon forks self-portrait whilst climbing between second and third hairpin on the Zig Zag Road, Box Hill Dave and Mat, the folly, Reigate Hill urban riding, Richard in Ashtead High Street a bit underexposed but a nice shot of the view from the North Downs Way Richard dropping in on Colley Hill No, not the Mediterranean, this is outside LOMAC, Ashtead High Street Richard showing off for the camera Mat and Richard, Stane Street Richard, Headley Heath Mat on Headley Heath Gary with our 'rabbit' in the distance Gary in the dusk Richard Gary chasing the yellow 'rabbit' in the distance Cas Cas Richard 'self-portrait'