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1st & 2nd February 2014
Riders: Richard, Adam, Stevo, Paul, Rich Lonegroover, Laurent, Jonesy & Big Al
Holmbury Hill & Pitch Hill
Weather: 9°C

It's exactly a month since I bust my ribs but I was feeling well enough this weekend to take a chance on getting out on the MTB again. A quick spin with the missus around the gentle but waterlooged paths of Nonsuch & Cheam Park on Saturday in the bitingly cold wind and a ride badged as 'gnarly' on the Sunday.

I normally would have shied away from this in my condition but the weather has finally been dry for almost two whole days (ignoring the power shower yesterday afternoon) and it's a mild and sunny day in southern England that persuades me to get back in the chair. And talking of being dry this is apparently the first Sunday morning that Jonesy, one of the newer members of the forum, has woken up without a hangover. He's primed and pumped ready to tackle that drop on Rob Nav.

Funnily enough it was me with the hangover after multiple beers and curry on a school re-union in The Claret Wine Bar and The Star curry house in Cheam Village last night (weird but I can't remember going to school with so many fat, bald or grey haired old men!). I really struggled to get out of bed this morning.

Meanwhile Stevo has been taking over Adam's previous role of the lover of bling and is sporting a multi-coloured, lairy riding top and a bling-bling gold flecked helmet. Good job his riding is good enough to get away with it although he still takes the opportunity to shark the local talent on the pretence of a shared interest in dalmation dogs.

But first I pick up a hen-pecked Laurent from Tattenham Corner railway station (his wife's claimed the car) and we battle to get the two bikes in the rear of the Volvo; it wasn't easy and a delayed train meant that I kept the others waiting a good 25 minutes at the start point.

Sorry chaps, I hate doing that but thanks for waiting. I was also riding the SX trail which meant it was much tougher on the climbs but a lot easier on the ribs on the downs and twisty, rooty trails that we often ride.

The trails were a mixed bag today. Some were totally blown out by all the rain but others were eminently rideable and had drained well. I tackled them all while avoiding the jumps and drops and loved the smooth ride that the SX Trail gives me as opposed to the battering I normally receive on a shorter travel hardtail. Although Big Al, another recent addition, was pinning everything on his singlespeed 29'er and seemed to have a great time.

Down Two-Headed dog and the fellas are too quick for me as I miss Stevo and Jonesy tackle the harder drop on the right. I have almost fired up the GoPro when Paul steams in, hits a greasy patch at the bottom and is off balance as he launches the drop coming to a messy end in the bushes. I'm sure that was payback for another rider who has had to work overtime on his wife to get out on the bike just four weeks after his second son was born and required all the skill of Kofi Annan to negotiate. I caught some of his crash on video but will probably have to work hard on the edit to get it to make sense.

But we were still all filthy by the time we paused for tea, pork n leek pie and/or some cake at Peaslake Stores.

A long drag on the SX trail back up over Holmbury, down Yoghurt Pots and then Telegraph Road an we are back at the car.

A much better ride than I expected with some real laugh out loud moments, great weather and some good mates. The ribs weren't too bad at all. In fact I think I hurt them more pushing Jonesy's campervan out of the mud than during the ride.

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

 


5th February 2014
Riders: Richard
Daily Commute - Noddergeddon
Weather: 9°C

Just another normal commute but worthy of note for the fantastic 20mph tailwind (not looking forward to this evening's return journey) and that I've passed 1,000km for the year. Five days behind schedule but way, way ahead of where I was this time last year.

Oh and it's the first day of the tube strike. Many hundreds of additional riders on the road, many of them nodders but hey, that's all good with me.

And with a few extra klicks on the way home (yes, I'm even extending my rides in this weather) I'm currently at 1,049km at close of play today.

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

 


9th February 2014
Riders: Richard, Wob, Paul, Big Al & Dave
Leith Hill
Weather: 7°C

It's a bitterly cold but blessedly dry morning as we hit the more gnarly trails of Leith Hill with me dragging around the SX trail again. A small but elite group this week sees me formally meet Dave (50% of mountain bikers are called Dave: it's the law) one of the two riders who joined our group briefly last week.

My legs take ages to warm up in the cold and all I see of the group for the first hour is them rapidly disappearing into the distance. But either I warmed up or they slowed down and we eventually all rode together as a group.

Wob's been exploring since I last rode with him and there's plenty more new trails to ride, many of them extremely steep and challenging. With January being the wettest for 250 years and February continuing in the same vein many of the trails are looser under tyre than the pitch at Murrayfield yesterday and we don't even have nematodes to contend with.

The next hour is spent descending and then riding up the same lengthy climb about five times. It's an easy way to gain some height but it doesn't half get on your tits after the first few efforts. Still we managed a very healthy 3,000 feet of climbing (and descending); not bad on a 38lb machine which still has the DH tube sin from the alps trip in July.

I'm carrying the GoPro again and as well as trailside footage I manage to shoot some footage of the boys riding the various jumps that abound in ths area; it's a good excuse not to ride them myself. Paul and Wob tackle a step up style double on the edge of Leith Hill and Paul has a worrying moment when he ends up doing a one-footer but he lands it just about safely and then goes back to tackle it again successfully.

We also have a good laugh when Wob fails to ride 'Even Jonesy'; a sketchy, steep, slippery bombhole so named because even Jonesy managed to clean it first time he rode it!

A brief pause for tea at Leith Hill tower but the wind is really biting and with time pressing for some riders we soon head off back to the cars.

Another good ride given the general conditions.

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

 


16th February 2014
Riders: Richard, Wob, Terry, Adam, Jonesy & Lee
Hombury Hill & Pitch Hill
Weather: 8°C

Unbelieveably after the storm on Friday where I got soaked and blown all over the place on my cycle-commute the forecast today is for sun all day. But it's cold with a light frost as I leave my home in the 'burbs for another one of Wob's 9 a.m. starts at Holmbury (since when did we move these back from the usual 9-30?).

I'm relaxed and warm in the climate controlled snugness of 'TED' when I pass the Wotton Hatch on the A25 and the steering goes all light on me. Black ice has me touching cloth before I even arrive at the start point but I ease off the accelerator and steer into the skid as I get the Volvo back under control #drivinglicencefor34years.

But it's clear that Friday's storm has caused chaos with dozens of downed trees on the drive over and more all across Holmbury Hill (mainly on the Return of the Jedi trail) & Pitch Hill & beyond including a downed telephone/power line).

I've still got a huge wobble on my front wheel sustained on 2nd January when I cracked my ribs. I really must get that sorted although it got me round okay today whereas Lee suffers chain trouble on his recently rebuilt Orange featuring a brand new Superstar wheelset n' drivetrain with 42T on the rear; oh well another one who needs to learn about Shimano chains.

True to forecast the sun is low in the sky with little sign of clouds and it soon warms up. I would say this is the best weather and the best riding conditions this year to date although there's still plenty of slop, mud and puddles about we stuck to the steep trails as they drain better.

But this did mean that we racked up another 3,000 feet of climbing. At least I'm on the hardtail today as my ribs have almost fully healed. What doesn't help is that I have another 'over the bars' incident although thankfully in slow motion and painlessly right in front of Jonesy at the end of Surfer Rosa. I also have another exit off the side of the bike on the steep slopes of 'thick and creamy' but all is good and I avoid aggravating my ribs.

Rather annoyingly I still seemed to end up pushing my bike uphill more than usual. And because of all the crap blown onto the trails we all had more branches and twigs stuck in our rear wheel and mechs than I have had in the last five years riding.

Wob is riding his Frankenbike again but it doesn't stop him hucking off every drop and jump that he sees closely followed by Jonesy on his Mondraker (you still don't see too many of those around) with 2.5 inch tyres front and rear.

The weather has bought everyone out of hibernation on this sunny day. We spotted Markonthedowns out with a couple of his old crew, Nick Jones (no relation) and his brother Lawrence on Pitch Hill and Danny Milner and an electric bike at Peaslake. Don't worry, they were spotted separately; he wasn't riding it...

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


20th February 2014

After plenty of hard riding over the stormy rainy period of January & February today is the first time that I am actually ahead of my 2014 yearly target. In fact I am 16 km or 10 miles to the good.

When I reached home this evening I was at 1,693km (1,060 miles) versus 1,677 km (1,048 miles) YTD target.

But it won't stop there, it keeps racking up at the rate of 33km per day so I'm back in the saddle 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'