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11th November 2010

No ride reports from me for a few weeks. Because I hurt my back 3 weeks ago I have avoided mountain biking.

However, I have been undertaking physio sessions and Emma, my physio is pleased with the improvement in my back and so I have been back on the cyle commute.

Not that cycle commuting is much fun at the moment. It's cold, dark, wet and windy, the four key ingredients for a generally miserable commute. Nevertheless, I've covered 100 commuting miles this week on the Bianchi Via Nirone and a few pictures are in the gallery below.

 

Date: 12th November 2010
Riders: Richard
Road ride: Ewell to Nutley, East Sussex
Weather: 8°C

I was away this weekend celebrating a mate’s birthday. (He is 50 but luckily I’m the youngest in the group even though I’m not too far behind him). So I decided to cycle down to the cottage we were staying in which happened to be in Nutley, East Sussex.

A quick look at the map identified that the A22 went directly there once I got to Purley so I set out at about 3-45 pm on Friday evening (or 5 pm if you are my line manager as I was ‘working from home’). With the light fading quickly I rode the gentle climb from Ewell up to Banstead and it was properly dark by the time I got to Purley. Purley was it’s usual gridlocked self but with my filtering skills honed by the last two years commuting through the London traffic this was a doddle and I set out on the climb (again) out of Purley and up to Whyteleafe and beyond.

All quite straightforward so far and even though it was raining and traffic was heavy it wasn’t anything to worry about. It was only when I got to the Caterham by-pass which is yet another climb but this time a dual carriageway affair that things started to get hairy as the cars, trucks and HGV’s passed me in a spray of water at 50mph. thankfully none of them were too close but it was definitely un-nerving hearing them roaring up behind you and hoping they had seen my 2 lights on the rear and hi-viz jacket I was wearing.

The dual carriageway continued down and under the M25 before another long drag up again on the dual carriageway Godstone bypass before I finally reached the relative safety of a single lane road. From here it was a ten mile long haul along the Eastbourne Road passing though South Godstone, Blindley Heath, Newchapel and Felbridge before reaching the bright lights of East Grinstead. I was starting to feel a bit low on energy and paused for ten minutes at a petrol station for a Boost bar and some Snickers flapjack before another climb up out of East Grinstead and onto the Lewes Road.

Things got hairy again here. I only had my commuting lights and up until now with all the traffic constantly passing there had been no trouble seeingt he route. But as the cars thinned out, the streetlights disappeared and the trees met overhead I was suddenly blind as everything went black and all I could see was the cat’s eyes in the centre of the road reflecting the light from my err… Cateye light on the bars which was set to flash mode.

As the road turned sharply right I had to move into the centre of the road just to maintain the contact with the cats eyes reflectors and then swerve back to the left as the odd car came up behind me.

At last I finally came to a long downhill section but this coincided with a break from the trees and a vicious crosswind and I was having to break sharply on the descent to keep my speed manageable and a straight line to ensure I didn’t fly off into the verge. Of course this descent was rewarded with the mother of all climbs (in the south of England anyway) and I had the long climb up through Forest Row and into Ashdown forest before finally cresting and making my way into Nutley.

I reached the cottage at just after 6-30pm which meant a pretty disappointing 2hrs 45 minutes to cover 34 miles but in the circumstances I think it want bad for a solo effort.


My next step is to track this on www.bikely.com to confirm to myself that I did actually do much more climbing than descending. (Just checked this and yes, there's more climbing (661m) than descending (598m) though in reality there's not a lot in it).

Unfortunately due to the conditions I only managed to take a couple of photos without flash and these are of the almost life-size china giraffes that peer over a garden centre fence at you. I thought the early stages of the bonk were coming on!


Date: 28th November 2010
Riders: Richard, Dave, Suren, Nick, Lee and Steve
Road ride: Pitch Hill
Weather: minus 3.5°C

Five weeks after hurting my back (24th October) I'm finally out on the MTB again. Okay, so I've been cycle commuting to work and covering 100 miles a week but there's really no substitute for getting out on the trails and Nick has the perfect antidote in his promised Winter warmer ride with lots of new singletrack that he has sought out over the last few months.

However at least I have missed all those wet, muddy trails caused by the endless rain of the last month as the big freeze has started early and with the temp in the minus numbers this morning the trails are rock hard. It is immediately obvious that I haven't got back into the swing of it as I realise I have left my lid back at home in the garage. Luckily Nick only lives down the road and offers to get his wife to drop a spare one off. Everyone suddenly look's interested when he calls her and his first words to aforementioned wife are "have you got any clothes on?".

However, we have already lost Steve due to a frozen rear hub (that'll teach him not to leave his bike out in the garden overnight) although he has bought a spare wheel 'just in case' and we are all finally re-united, Steve with a new rear wheel and me looking like a right dork as I am wearing Nick's spare peakless Met parachute.

We are also joined once again by Andy who in typical wheeler dealer fashion divulges that he's on exactly the same bike as last time except for the forks and frame which are new!!??

But we are straight onto the new trails and from then on it's a festive feast of fun and new trails for all of us, even Nick as we meet up with a large group of riders coming the opposite way and somehow follow them into Craig's Garden, chortling as they slip and slide along the trails.

Well, we thought it was the name of a trail but no, Craig was their group leader and he had a fuck-off house cum farm with numerous acres of surrounding fields.

We took our leave and after a short bit of road work we found our way back onto the trails. There was plenty of climbing today but after a slow start I shook the lead out of my legs and was soon climbing well.

As we came back to the car-park I decided that today had been a good ride and being my first week back there was no need to prove anything and so I ducked out of the ride as the others headed for a final blast down Super Nova and into Peaslake for a cup of tea.

It was a wintry minus 1.5 degrees as I climbed back into the car after stripping off my numerous layers. Still at least my top lip had been warm all the way around.

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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'