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Date: 5th June 2011
Riders: Richard, Rich Lonegroover, Robbem, Nick & Laurent
Leith Hill
Weather: 15°C

A spin around the most interesting trails on Leith Hill starets with a meet at the Starveall car park on Leith Hill Road. A smallish group although it features two fine looking Lapierre Zesty bikes. First off is Laurent's Lapierre Zesty 314. He's back after suffering badly on his first ride with us a month ago, a badly advised decision to join us on a 3 hills classic. Not impossible but his legs and now we learn his asthma medicine weren't up to it.

The 314 is sporting a lovely set of DT Swiss forks, made in Taiwan, shipped to Switzerland and then to Canada before being ordered and imported back to England by Laurent. Great carbon footprint!

And second is Rich Lonegroover's superb looking Lapierre Zesty 514 which he has settled on after test riding virtually every bike known to man.

We tackle the normal trails and discover a few new trails as a couple of the group take a wrong turn and then we decide to go exploring a few of the trailheads that are all over the place.

Laurent comes a cropper on the steep Foot & Mouth descent and then has another over the bars moment later on but he's still smiling at the end of the ride which is a vast improvement on his first trip.

 

 

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


Date: 11th June 2011
Riders: Richard, Nick, Felix, Chris & Chris
Leith Hill
Weather: 14°C

A messy ride today as we start from Starveall car park but one of the Chris's is an hour late and the second Chris is two hours late meaning that we have to keep on circling back to the same trails to pick up the riders each time.

But we still manage to cover almost 20 miles and plenty of trails including this beauty.

 


Date: 12th June 2011
Riders: Richard, Wobbem, Niall, Adam, Dandy Andy & Andy
Leith Hill
Weather: 12°C

What's this; riding on Saturday AND Sunday? I must have a really understanding, caring, sharing wife (is that enough yet? No?) Okay, she's beautiful too...

But with Wimbledon on it's way and a Welshman visiting for the weekend its no surprise that its raining today to make it our first 'wet' ride for I don't know how long but it must be literally months.

Andy has contacted me via the forum. He's from South Wales near Afan Argoed and is visiting his in-laws and has chosen to bring the bike and sample the riding on the Surrey Hills (Holmbury and Pitch Hill to be precise).

We are also joined by another Andy a.k.a. Dandy Andy who normally rides with the Moles but didn't fancy joining in on the 70-miler they had planned for today.

So with all the rain and the strange feeling of wet trails it looks and feels like Winter but it's surprisingly mild and I'm in short sleeves with a non-waterproof gilet over the top which keeps me plenty dry enough as we head off up Holmbury Hill. Again I use my current favourite 'Return of the Jedi' trail to reach the trig point where we fleetingly meet Nick and Harry his 12-year old son on a lovely looking Scott full-susser with 24" wheels.

Andy is already proving to be a very competent and fast rider as he launches himself over the roots that the rest of us are just rolling. Down Yoghurt Pots and Dock of the Radar Station and then across to the far side of the hill to sample some more of the singletrack trails before heading down Barry Knows Best. Well, we couldn't let Andy go back to Wales without sampling one of the most well-known trails in the South could we?

Past Peaslake Stores and up onto Pitch Hill where we ride Sleepy Hollow, Christmas Pudding, Ewok Village and a number of other hidden delights. I'm really having to push hard to keep up with Andy on the flowing trails and I overcook it on one of the loose corners and end up in the shrubbery. Thanks to Dandy Andy for helping pull me out.

One last fast run down Super Nova and it's back to the car-park and all the riders have satisfied grins on their faces despite the weather. Mission accomplished...

 

 

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


Date: 16th June 2011

Halfords Tour Series

 

Ben and I hang around Canary Wharf on a cold June evening as it tries to rain to view the final round of the Halfords Tour Series.

 

We watch Ed Clancy, Magnus Backstedt a.k.a. Big Maggy and others race around a short, rectangular course of just 1km is raced round for about an hour in the company of Ned Boulting and with the accompaniment of the cheerleaders.

 

A good evening and a warm up for our trip to follow the mountain stages of Le Tour in just a few short weeks.

 

Date: 18th June 2011

Specialized and On One

 

I bought a new bike last weekend. Well, it wasn't quite new but it was new to me anyway and it sort of came in a bag of bits.

 

Almost a year ago this week one of my work colleagues got knocked off his bike on his way home. He got right hooked as a car turned across his path at a set of (green) lights. My mate went careering into the side of the car and came off slightly the worse for wear with a wrist broken in two places.

 

The bike fared less well and looked a total wreck in the photo he sent to me at the time. It's been sitting under canvas in his garden opposite Clapham Common ever since and when he told me that he had just bought a new bike I made him a reasonable offer for the old one which he accepted.

 

I collected the 2007 Specialized Allez Comp and closer inspection during the week showed that it only needed a new fork and crown race. The frame is in perfect condition, the right hand shifter had taken a bang but was fixable and the head tube hadn't been ovalised. The only damamge to the headset was the crown race.

 

The full carbon Specialized fork was wrenched in half and had somehow taken the whole impact as even the front wheel is perfectly true and spins freely in the broken fork and between the brake blocks

So I ordered a Columbus Tusk carbon fork with aloominum steerer mainly due to the fact that it was only fifty-three quid and that a replacement fork from Specialized would be £90 and would have to be black and anyway they don't have any in the country at the moment and the next shipment is due in four to six weeks etc. etc....

 

The fork arrived during the week and I sourced a split crown race from my spares box and I fitted the fork today as well as giving the bike a good clean and de-grease as it was filthy in the way that all bikes are that are ridden by 'non-cyclists' or mere mortals as I like to think of them.

 

So here's the Specialized Allez Comp re-assembled. Yes, I know the steerer is ridiculously long but I like to give new forks a chance to settle in and for me to get used to the bike set up before I start hacking away with the saw. I'll sort that out over the next few weeks.

 

Along the way I also fitted a new rear mech and gear cable to an On One that one of my neighbours has and had been complaining of shifting problems. All sorted now.

 

The only trouble was that a full day in the garage bending over a bike has given me a stiff back and I was unable to join the planned Swinley Forest ride on the Sunday.

 

 

 

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


Date: 21st June 2011

Specialized Allez Comp (Double) Gerolsteiner

 

So I spent many an hour on Saturday repairing and cleaning the Spesh Allez and even put myself out of action with a back injury; was it all worth while?

I bought this as a spare road bike for the trip to follow Le Tour in the Alps in July but as luck would have it the Bianchi Via Nirone suffered a mechanical during Friday’s commute home. The right hand (rear) shifter internal mechanism broke meaning that I was stuck in top gear.

So after a break on Monday for my back to recover following a session at the physio I stepped over the crossbar of the Allez on Tuesday morning at 6-45 a.m. and set out on the daily commute heading towards the mean streets of old London town.

Ignoring the more upright position for the moment (yes, I will reduce that ridiculous stack of spacers once I find the correct position) the first thing I noticed was how much quieter and smoother the Allez is. The Bianchi Via Nirone rattles along the appallingly maintained London streets. I also get a lot of feedback via the bars and saddle that bumps me around. Now I don’t mind this and having ridden close on 20,000 km on it I'm well used to this sensation.

So it was a surprise to find that the Allez gave me none of this feedback and was buttery smooth from the off. Is it the tyres which despite being branded as 700 x 23c look much fatter than those I have on the Bianchi. Or was it the thinner 27.2 mm carbon seatpost with zertz insert (versus the 31.6 mm RC SP-928-G Carbon post on the Bianchi)?

 

Or was it the carbon seat stays with zertz insert versus the stiff aluminium seat stays on the Bianchi? Or could it be the much fuller saddle with gel inserts versus the knife edged San Marco Ponza saddle on the Bianchi?.

 

I don’t know yet and I’m not sure I want to spend time finding out. Suffice to say it feels much smoother which is great!

Next up was the gearing; Shimano 105 groupset versus Campagnolo Mirage. For the record, no pun intended, the respective groupsets hierarchies are:

Shimano

* Dura-Ace 7900 (10sp)
* Ultegra 6700 (10sp)
* 105 (10sp)
* Tiagra (9sp)
* Sora (9sp)
* 2300 (8sp)

Campagnolo

* Super Record (11sp)
* Record (11sp)
* Chorus (11sp)
* Athena (11sp)
* Centaur (10sp)
* Veloce (10sp)

Older Campagnolo groupsets that were discontinued from 2009 are the lower-end:

* Mirage (10)
* Xenon (10)

So the Mirage is probably a lower hierarchy groupset than the 105. But the shifting was noticeably slicker for 105. Again, this may be a by-product of the distance covered on the Bianchi but I have replaced everything in the gruppo at least once and am on my third chainset.

The only place where the Bianchi scored higher was on the steering/handling. The Bianchi keeps a straight line beautifully. It’s easy to ride one handed and the bars just keep on tracking straight ahead all the time with a firmness that is reassuring. And no, it’s not because the headset is worn or notched or running dry. It’s still as smooth as on day 1. It also lets me change direction easily.

Whereas I found the Specialized Allez handling to be very twitchy. This could be as a result of the length of the uncut steerer and I will continue to monitor this. But taking my hands off the bar even to just swap from riding on the hoods to the drops felt unnerving and the merest brush of a hand on the bars as I moved around would threaten to flick the handlebars to the side.

So what impact did this have on my speed? The Allez certainly felt smoother and faster but I didn’t have a speedo to monitor any real difference. I was also carrying my back injury so unable to give it the full beans. All I could judge was my speed in relation to other commuters and I appeared to be at the top end of the tree.

So all in all a very worthwhile 2nd hand purchase. I’m not sure how I feel about having done all those miles on the Bianchi when I could have been having a smoother ride on the Allez. But perhaps that’s what the difference in purchase price gets you (Bianchi was £700 retail whilst the Allez was £1,000).

By the way, when I got home on Tuesday evening I swapped over some of the steering stack from below to above the stem thereby moving the stem downwards. I will keep moving the stem downwards until I find the ideal position and then cut the steerer to size.

 

 

Date: 26th June 2011
Riders: Richard & Adam
Bowl to Bognor
Weather: 30°C

It's the hottest day of the year and the day for our Summer Solstice ride as we attempt a reprise of the MBR Killer route first attempted (and failed) way back in the Winter of 2006.

I set out from home at 08:30 and ride the 5 miles to Adam's house where I am met by the whole family as his wife Bev has offered to be the 'support car' for the day and we are entertained by his son on the drive down to the Devil's Punchbowl car-park at Hindhead with his son's curious mind; "tell me the story about when I was a giant".

After a pause for a picture we head off and within 20 metres are already re-tracing our steps. Adam has realised we are heading North which doesn't sound right but was actually what we were supposed to do to pick up the correct trail.

But we ploughed on in complete ignorance and the printed instructions seemed to match the terrain and trails we were following.

It was only 30 minutes later when we hit a road junction with unfamiliar signs that we realised we were circa 3 miles North of where we started (the clue is that we were supposed to be heading for the South Coast).

Some road miles took us back to Hindhead where we eventually picked up the right trail but not for long as we hit the A286 and then spent at least 20 minutes going backwards and forwards up and down the road trying to locate the unmarked trail (turned out it was through a ‘private’ looking front drive...)

On track again but not for long as we discovered that many of the trails were poorly marked or had private looking entrances and also that Adam seemed to have a bit of an issue with his lefts and rights. Not good when he was the ride guide/leader.

I was generally happy just to follow wherever he went and didn’t get upset when he said we were off track (again). However I do have a pretty good sense of direction and there were a couple of times when he indicated a direction at junctions and I said "no, that takes us in the wrong direction".

We had been riding for hours when Adam advised, "we are now moving onto section number two of the instructions". How many sections are there I asked? Four was the reply. Now sometimes that's really too much information. I would have preferred to carry on riding in complete ignorance that we still had many hours to go.

The low point of the ride came somewhere around 14:00 when after riding up and down a few trails and ending up at a dead end in the woods Adam admitted “I’m lost”. But we retraced our steps and found the correct trail. Again, a trail that seemed to be someones private land.

And shortly after this we were lost again and climbing over a locked gate to get to the road we could clearly see on other side. As we rode past two parked cars the owner confronted us with the old "you do know this is private property" line. But we were apologetic and he relaxed and let us though and we were on our way again.

We spent many hours following the Serpent trail and far too long on a really sandy trail that had the consistency of a beach and required lots more pushing of the bikes.

We stopped for a late lunch circa 16:00 and I enjoyed eating my jam sandwiches in the sun as Adam went to try and find some water as he had long ago run out. And by the time we hit the next village I too was out of water but we came across the The W.I. Weeds & Wildflower Fayre and were able to fill up our empty camelbaks with lovely cold water fresh out of the tap.

We finally hit the tough climb up the South Downs at 16:15. I was doing okay until it suddenly ramped up at the same time as the chalk became extremely slippery in the shade of the trees and we ended up pushing most of the rest of the climb.


Along the top of the Downs and then a long, fast grassy descent followed by a bit of road work and then a lovely slightly descending trail that crossed the side of the Downs and went on for miles heading towards East Lavant before following the fencline of the Goodwood Race Course as we grabbed back some of our lost time.

Across a level crossing and we were onto the road for the entrance into Bognor. The only trouble was that we still had over five miles to go and were fighting our way into a very strong sea breeze.

From the outskirts of Bognor Regis until we finally hit the beach seemed to take forever but we finally rolled across the prom and onto the pebbled beach a few minutes past 18:00. A very long day in the saddle.

After an all too brief stop we headed back to the station to pick up the 18:52. We found the bike section of the train and took a turn in the toilet to freshen up and change our tops. I washed my face, neck and under my arms as after eight hours in the saddle in 30 degree heat I was begining to hum something chronic.

The train pulled into Redhill an hour and 15 minutes later and Bev was there to meet us with a cold bottle of beer for each of us.

A superb day. Just like last time we had navigational issues but this time we had no mechanicals and not even a single puncture and of course we completed the ride to the coast which gives a great sense of achievement.

Mountain biking with a map and written instructions is taking it back to basics even if we were cheating slightly with a GPS. Including detours we covered 45 miles plus the 5 mile trip to Adam's first thing for me made it a full day's ride. Thanks for organising this Adam.

 

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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'