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Date: 2nd January 2010
Riders: Richard, Davebus, Rich Lonegroover, Neill, Gazza and Ronnie
Leith Hill
Weather: 1°C

Another cold start as we meet at Starveall car park. Davebus has wisely decided to stick to one hill as we don’t want to go too far in these conditions and we tackle some of the more technical singletrack on offer albeit more slowly and with a few more falls than usual.

This is probably a step up for Ronnie who is still relatively new to MTB’ing and has been riding the more XC orientated trails with us since he first appeared on 22nd November. He copes admirably with all the difficult stuff, riding some and deciding that discretion is the better part of valour on others.

It’s only when he hits a small puddle on some inoffensive looking bridleway that he comes a cropper as his front wheel digs in and flips him over the bars leaving him lying on the ground (I wasn’t gonna take the picture but the group wanted me to) for a disconcerting length of time and leaving us all wondering if another trip to casualty was on the cards.

Happily though he was okay although his helmet had prevented a heavy blow to the skull and had the dents to prove it. Ronnie stuck with us to the Tower but then wisely made his own way via road back to Dorking station and made it home safely.

Were joined by Dave and Ian at the Tower. We had ridden past them earlier and they had asked “Do you know any good trails around here?” Well err…. yes loads, but it’s really difficult to describe them. So after they waited patiently for us to have a tea and cake break we took them off down Windy Willow and Chocolate Jesus and then the steep Quarry descent to the road and then back to the car park for the end of our ride before pointing them back up the bridleway to the Tower.

Both trails were quite tough going in the conditions and I even managed to totally miss the steep roll-in on Windy Willow that I had been keen to show them but I think they enjoyed it and I pointed them to the video of us riding these trails in warm, dry conditions to give them a better idea of what they were usually like.

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Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Date: 10th January 2010
Riders: Richard, Davebus, Huey, Sue, Terry, Neill, Felix, Keith, Jenny and Cas
Epsom Downs and local trails
Weather: 1°C

Despite Cas texting me on Saturday asking whether I was going to pre-ride the trail to ensure the conditions had left the trail rideable (which I declined to do) a large group still turned up at Dead Man's Bench early on Sunday moring in bitter, snowy conditions.

Davebus was wearing a novel “buff" and was perversely proud of telling us all that he was wearing “an old pair of pants” (he was actually employing a pair of lycra shorts to cover his neck, chin and mouth; not that it makes it any better).

Neill had bought his dog Jenny from down the road, or was it Jenny from the block?

Cas had somehow ripped a foot long (or 30 cm for you metric kids) tear in his expensive 'rip-stop' fabric altura jacket on the way to the start point and offered Huey a chance to use the ubiquitous gaffa tape to patch it up before we set off

We rode across Epsom Downs and down the far side where the snow was six inches deep (15 cm) and had drifted to a foot (30 cm) on the downside of two small humps in the ground which led to the comedy falls captured on my latest video; My White Bicycle.

Up Crow Lane and then down under the M25 and a left turn to Headley Heath and the Secret Singletrack trail. The conditions were tough going along the whole route. In many places we were the first to ride through and when it came to the 'Life on Mars' trail we had no idea where it went and were following a single line of animal tracks (a deer trail accroding to the experts) through the snow.

The conditions were great fun to ride in although I was glad we were only out in Surrey and never too far from civilisation. I wouldn’t necessarily want to be putting myself or anyone else at risk by messing around in the middle of nowhere.

The riding style was hard work and required a mixture of balance and steady pedalling in a low gear whilst maintaining a forward momentum but avoiding putting too much weight over the front wheel in case it suddenly came to a full stop. (Terry, this means you)
.

In typical Cas fashion he not only convinced us to all stop off at the Derby Arms, first round courtesy of Terry, the birthday boy, but to stop for far too long. Three and a half pints of Guinness for me on an empty stomach and after 3 hours exercise left me slightly jaded for the roll down the hill back to my house (3 miles actually) never mind the rest of the afternoon but it was a good finish to the ride as we tackled Felix's endless pub philosopher's theories. Must have been the picture of him in the buff that did it...


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Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


I have already booked my trip to the Alps this year to become an 'international free-rider' and today I rode with an international road team comprising two German-speakers and an Italian with me as the representative Englishman to become a member of an international road team.

We lined up in two sub-teams too. Cas and Gehard (the German speakers) were both on their specialized road bikes with a blue altura wind jacket whilst Tony and I were on Bianchi's and were in figure hugging black (ooh-err missus).

Cas had organised the trip and had come up with a brutal road ride of 55 miles today with 1,035 metres (3,000 feet) of climbing including two long, steep climbs. The first was up Leith Hill Road from the A29 that took us past Starveall car-park and the second was the challenging 18%'er up towards Ranmore Common. This is the one that cuts through one of our mountain bike routes and is the road at the foot of Numbskull, just before Blind Terror II.

Check out the route profile with the two steep climbs starting at 45km and 63km. For comparison the Box Hill zig-zags are at 81km

Cas had promised us a one of 'the best pork pies in the country' at the Stephan Langton pub on Friday Street which has made it into the Good Pub Guide but it appeared to be under new management, the pork pies were off and all was not well in the hood as people were rudely told they were on the wrong tables; what price it still being in the guide next year?

I'm still not sure that the pint of Guinness and half a roast beef sandwich minus the horseradish sauce which the chef had forgotten to include in a six-quid sandwich was a good idea either eaten as it was just before the Ranmore Common 18% climb. I'm still regretting it 24 hours later in the form of indigestion. I must stop being so easily led; well that's what my wife tells me anyway...

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external bearing replacement

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Buy some night lights
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Chainsuck
Buy some night lights
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Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Date: 24th January 2010
Riders: Richard, Davebus, Terry, Mark, Rob, Ryan and Jake
LOMAC to Newlands Corner and back
Weather: 4°C

Sometimes mountain biking is about fun, sometimes it's about skill and speed and sometimes it's just about sheer determination and that's what today required from me.

During the week I hadn't really been excited by any potential rides at the weekend and it was only a last minute posting by Dave offering a different ride to our normal routes that enticed me out onto the wet, muddy bridleways of Surrey.

I slept well on Saturday and was up bright and early and happy to ride the 5.5 miles to the start point at Ashtead to meet up with the Bus, Terry and Ryan and Jake two riders who had ridden with Dave last year when I was off somewhere else.

We set off at a reasonable pace along Stane Street and I even chose not to take the short cut to the meeting point with Rob so that the two new boys could enjoy the Alsatian descent. Down across the A24 and we meet Rob who is accompanied by Mark on the bridge across the Mole just outside Leatherhead.

Up Hawks Hill and then left across to Bockett's Farm and then alongside the farm towards Fetcham Downs and I suddenly start going backwards. Not sure what is going on as we haven't ridden more than four miles since leaving the start point. Up towards Polesden Lacey and as the boys pause for breath I pull out an energy bar. Well actually it was a Yoghurt coated Banana & Blueberry flavour protein recovery bar from the free pack I got earlier this week from Zipvit (yeah, I thought it was an energy bar rather than a recovery bar when I picked it out of the box this morning).

Off we set before the bar had even had time to kick in and up to Polesden Lacey. Mark could tell I was struggling and I was grateful of his company way off the back of the group as we climbed towards the ridge just having time to say hello to Neil and wife taking son and Jenny out for a walk (the rest of the group had raced past him ignoring his shouting) and another pause at the top where Mark offered me one of his Clif Bar Shot Blok's in delicious Mountain Berry flavour.

It tasted good but again had no time to take effect and we were off again climbing to the top of Ranmore Common thankfully via the 'motorway' rather than the gruelling climb past the YHA.

A pause again once we reached Ranmore Common Road and I was pouring sweat. That confirmed it, the dreaded cyclist's bonk was upon me. I should have guessed when I hopped off earlier to check that the wheels were spinning freely (don't you find you do that too when the bonk creeps up on you?).

We had still only covered 11.5 miles and Terry offered me an easy 'out' as he was turning round to take the quick way home. But I hate giving up on a ride and the rest of the group seemed happy to nurse me along and I dug in as we pushed on along Drove Road with it's huge puddles and careering trials bike riders.

From here we pushed on along the top of the ridge and the recovery bars had finally kicked in and although I wasn't challenging for the lead at least I was keeping up with the group.

A long ride along the ridge before turning left and down 'The Shute' as ridden back in the old days when I first rode with Mark and another Dave. Jake and Ryan flew off down the impossibly slippery surface (a chalky mixture churned up to the consistency of porridge).

A right turn at the freshly burned out Range Rover (front offside tyre still smoking) and along, over and through the gated, styled bridleway to the bottom of Newlands Corner.

I had hoped Dave was going to avoid this climb but as John Lennon once wrote I should have known better and I just stuck it in granny and slowly ground my way to the top of what was actually a fairly simple climb since they have resurfaced it to take out the ruts and rocks.

A pause for tea, or it would have been if the queue wasn't about half a mile long. Ryan had a spare flapjack and I finished off the rest of the Shot Blok's and we set off back along the bridleway on the opposite side of the A25 for a fairly uneventful return journey.

We rode four or five miles at about 14 mph, a really fast pace off road before my energy levels dipped again. More grit and determination and I struggled on again for the next few miles until the snacks taken at the break kicked in once more.

We even passed Gary and Steve standing in full view on a mound of earth along Drove Road and pissing gloriously into the wind without recognising them before we finally hauled ourselves back along past Bockett's Farm and down to the Mole before roading it from Leatherhead to the LOMAC.

Once again an option to sack it in presented itself as Dave kindly offered to give me a lift home but we dropped into his house for a quick wash of the bikes and then Dave jet washed me as I was so muddy (yes, he avoided my bearings) whilst his mum made a great toasted cheese and bacon sandwich which went down well (cheers Anne!)

Back on the bike for the final leg home saw me cover 41 miles (or 68 klicks) on the mountain bike. I would struggle to say that I enjoyed it today but I endured, cos sometimes that's what it's all about.

Check out the latest videos we have uploaded

 

READ MORE:
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Tip of the week

MTB in Canada

external bearing replacement

Goodridge hose replacement

dialled bikes rough ride

7 Stanes riding in Scotland

Single speeding
Swinley

Buy some night lights
South Downs MBR killer loop
Buy an MTB DVD
Chainsuck
Buy some night lights
Buy an MTB DVD
kit reviews

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Date: 30th January 2010
Riders: Richard, Terry, Neil, Nick M, Nick W, Green Orange Dave, Huey, Sue, Gazza, Mike and Ronnie
Holmbury Hill
Weather: 1.5°C

The end of January already and our skills training session courtesy of Astounding Adventures has finally arrived.

This session was arranged at the back end of last year between me and Danielle from Astounding Adventures and to cut a long story short I (almost) lost my mind with the level of administration required to get ten of us to meet them bright and early at 9-30 on a Saturday morning just as the weather once again turns cold.

We meet at Holmbury YHA car park, a regular meeting place for our Sunday morning rides and after tea we introduce ourselves to Danielle and Jessica.

Most of us have been riding from six to 20 years with the average about 10 years experience. Crucially however none of us has ever had any formal training and everything we do is either gained through experience or picked up from books, magazines, the internet or from watching other riders when out on the trails.

After a pre-ride check of the bikes using the M-technique we start off with what Astounding Adventures call their 'Core Skills' session. This covers weight distribution and focuses on moving your weight to the back of the bike over the saddle to lighten the front and avoid over-rotation (unplanned endo-ing over the bars).

This was a useful session but there was a bit of standing around and with the temp at just 1.5 degrees we were getting cold until we moved onto the next session which focused on cornering. A series of cones were set up on a simple bridleway and provided a strangely challenging route where we focused on getting the outside pedal down and pedalling forward (not in reverse) to change the between corners whilst moving the bike around beneath us.

This session moved seamlessly into the manualling aspect as we practiced rolling over a simple, low level log. Once we had the technique dialled in we increased the log size and it was great to see the level of progression in the group.

Danielle and Jessica had their hands full with a large group of eleven (they normally just have six in a group) including one noisy Scotsman (you know who you are!) but they handles us well and kept the day good-humoured and I was surprised at how time flew.

It was getting towards lunchtime and we headed up to the top of Holmbury Hill before descending via the Yoghurt Pots and a very slippery "Secret Squirrel" trail to The Volunteer for lunch.

Service was slow but we were happy to wait in the warm pub and once the burgers arrived they were really good.

Out again for the afternoon session and we focused on dynamic weight distribution as we sessioned various small drop-off's on Telegraph Road. This is a trail that we have ridden hundreds of times and we all usually bunny hop the drop-off's which works for us but Danielle and Jessica showed us how with the right technique we would float over the drops rather than making hard work of it with a bunny hop. I also heard the strange term Gorilla hop and tree-suck for the first time; those are new ones to me.

It was interesting to see a number of other riders come barrelling down the trail and we analysed their technique as they passed. Yup, none of them were following the preferred technique.

From there the final session was on weight management as we learnt about " squeezing the O" or pumping the trail to gain momentum.

All too soon and it was almost five o'clock and time for another tea and for Astounding Adventures to hand out the goodie-bags which are always welcome and for us to say our good byes and head off home to think about what we had learned.

So the million-dollar question is would I recommend one of these course?

I felt that the day went well and that I learned a lot and was happy when I left the session and now having had time to review the pictures and edit the video those confirm that the answer has to be a resounding "yes".

We were all very experienced mountain bikers and yet it was clear that a number of us if not all of us had an appalling self-taught technique that we demonstrated at some stage during the day.

The feedback I garnered on the day was generally good although one rider felt that he wasn't getting much out of it but strangely enough his technique was probably the worst of all of us!

So if you are a beginner and want to know how to ride off-road or if you are an experienced MTB'er and yet are finding that you have reached a plateau in your riding you will definitely benefit from a coaching or skills training course which should translate into extra speed over those trails.

Check out the Astounding Adventures; an MTB movie video to get an idea of how the day went.

Check out the latest videos we have uploaded

 

READ MORE:
watch my mtb videos
Tip of the week

MTB in Canada

external bearing replacement

Goodridge hose replacement

dialled bikes rough ride

7 Stanes riding in Scotland

Single speeding
Swinley

Buy some night lights
South Downs MBR killer loop
Buy an MTB DVD
Chainsuck
Buy some night lights
Buy an MTB DVD
kit reviews

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


 

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Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

Top

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'