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2nd March 2014
Riders: Richard, Wob, Paul, Rich Lonegroover, Dave P, Dandy Warhol, Jonesy & Big Al
Leith Hill
Weather: 7°C

This wasn't my best week or week-end cycling.

It started on Monday as I rolled down the small hill in Nonsuch Park, less than 500 metres from my front door (the same as I have nearly 800 times over the last five years) and a small branch on the ground flicked up on my rear tyre and ripped my rear Crud Roadracer II mud guard in half. Cue much cursing, a swift removal of the broken bits and a wet arse for the rest of the 28km ride. It doesn't sound much but it's amazing how much more comfortable the mud-guards make a road ride in the rain.

Fast forward to Friday evening as I roll out of the office car-park and am heading home thinking I only need to add an extra 10km to my commute and I will hit 2,000 km for the year to date. But the traffic and weather has other ideas and firstly I'm sent on a diversion through the centre of Brixton and along Streatham High Road.

The wind is blowing from the North which means it's a tail wind but it's bitterly cold and the rain and another wet arse/back (I still hadn't got around to fixing the mudguard) led to me getting colder and colder as I edged past the traffic that was nose to tail all the way to Mitcham.

Even though my Altura gloves are usually more than capable of keeping me warm this evening my hands were burning with the cold and my feet were starting to freeze as well. So I made my way home via the most direct route where I soaked in a hot shower but I went to bed wearing a long-sleeved thermal riding top and a clean pair of merino riding socks and I didn't warm up properly until Saturday afternoon.

But onto Sunday and there's a choice of two rides. A technical ride with the possibility of muchos airtime or Adam's leg-burner 60km ride from Ashtead to Peaslake and back.

We meet in Starveall car-park which was overrun with keen young D of E'ers and their parents dropping them off and head into the hills. But I'm not feeling it and I slip, slide, slither and mince my way around the trails losing my mojo and my Fauxleys on the way. Oh well, I didn't really like that pair and will reorder myself another pair in another colour.

I also managed to fall off more times than any normal ride. Partly due to my inability to control the bike or read the trail ahead and also thanks to my right cleat refusing to unclip at several vital moments. And I didn't feel like or get a single mil. of airtime although I thought I was heading over the trees when I managed to shoulder barge a large tree at the bottom of the steep descent on the Darkside Enduro. I just about managed to hold on.

I was alternately hot and cold on the ride too. Lots of climbing to heat us up but plenty of hanging around for one reason or another including a long stop for Rich Lonegroover's mechanical where he bent his rear mech and mech hanger as well as snapping his chain. I'm afraid I was too cold to assist and we just swapped stories about our kids growing up instead.

We didn't seem to cover much ground either but that was if you look at the pictures most of the group spent the morning off the ground.

We finally returned to the Tower but I didn't bother getting a tea and just rolled back to the car park to get in the warm car.

But it wasnt all bad, I got some great pictures and I also passed 2,000km for the year to date. Bang on target. And when I got home I fixed the mudguard on my commuter bike after cleaning the MTB so all set for whatever challenges next week throws at me.

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


8th March 2014
Bike maintenance

So here's some more detail on my SX Trail that I dismantled on Saturday to understand just why it weighs 36.5 lbs (16.5 kilos) listed in weight order:

Item Grams Pounds
frame, rear shock, front mech 4,408 9.72
forks 2,366 5.22
rear wheel, cassette, disc & skewer 1,859 4.10
front wheel & disc 1,217 2.68
SLX crankset 926 2.04
front tyre 792 1.75
rear tyre 715 1.58
seat post & saddle 563 1.24
DMR V8 pedals x 2 537 1.18
stem & handlebars 488 1.08
rear brake & caliper 349 0.77
DH inner tube front 345 0.76
front brake & caliper 331 0.73
X7 rear mech 248 0.55
chain including power link 219 0.48
inner tube rear 193 0.43
rear shifter & cable 191 0.42
front shifter & cable 184 0.41
grips x 2 156 0.34
Hope headset 139 0.31
bottom bracket & spacer 103 0.23
Superstar chain guide 96 0.21
20mm axle front 88 0.19
seat post clamp 46 0.10
Total 16,559 g 36.51 lbs

It looks like the priorities are the frame (including coil-over shock), forks & wheels although the fact that I've still got a DH innner tube in there from Destination X is a quick and simple weight reduction.

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


9th March 2014
Riders: Richard, Adam, Terry, Leeroy Brown & Rob
LOMAC to Leith Hill
Weather: 17°C

Dry trails and warm weather is here!

After the poor week last week a rain-free week sees the trails transformed and me getting out on the bike Friday (day off work), Saturday & Sunday.

And what a day today is as the temp hits 22 degrees and we encounter dry and sandy trails on a leg-burning 64km ride with over 1,000 metres of vertical climbing but there's still time for some air as we take in the Summer Lightning extension on Leith Hill.

But first up was Friday and a slow spin (very slow) out with the lovely Mrs Ess that saw us cover 18 kilometres in over three and a half hours and contained tears, tantrums and threats of never wanting to ride again being issued. That was by her not me, I enjoyed the ride strangely enough, it certainly beats working.

Saturday saw me head over to Fudges Cycles in Epsom to buy replacement gear cables (inners and outers) for the Mark I Prince Albert. As the crow flies it's a mere 4km but I extended the journey to knock out a quick 25 km including some nice challenging climbs.

After returning home I spent many hours in the garage replacing the broken cables & tuning the gears on the PA before dismantling my SX trail to weigh it piece by piece to try and understand just why it weighs over 38lbs fully built (using my patented weighing technique of weighing me on bathroom scales then me and bike). Clue, a set of forks weighing in at over 2.3 kilo's doesn't help matters and neither does the DH inner tube that has been on the front since Destination X in July. More on the SX build and weight to follow.

I also delved into an order box of parts that was sent to me by Chain Reaction at the end of November '13 but has lain untouched in the garage since then. I'd forgotten I'd ordered half the stuff but there's something for everyone in there with replacement chains and cassettes for two road bikes and an MTB.

Onto Sunday and an early start sees me leave home at 8-15 am for a gentle spin to Ashtead and the meeting point at the LOMAC. It's the first day this year that I haven't needed my Endura jacket. I used some roadie arm-warmers but they were rolled down well before we hit Ranmore Common.

The trails are firm and fast and the distance flies by with ease. I'm sweating from the heat but my legs feel good; it's just nice to roll freely on the trails rather than slipping and sliding every pedal revolution. The only mud we encounter is when we unwisely decide to ride Windy willows in reverse. It's boggy there in mid-Summer but it was only for 500 metres or so and we were back on solid ground.

30 km and two hours riding clocks up as Leith Hill Tower hoves into view and we take a shortish break as I chomp down on some old school peanut butter & jam butties which I have been carrying with me as we chat amongst the other riders and walkers.

There's loads of other riders out there, large bunches of roadies and loads of mountain bikers scattered all over the trails and there's even some Zulu Dawn re-enactment going on as we head back towards the Pilgrims Way climb.

Despite the distance I'm feeling strong all day especially when Lee and I power up Pilgrims Way leaving the others in our wake.

Another great ride with more new trails discovered & ridden. Roll on the Summer.

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


16th March 2014
Riders: Richard, Adam, Terry, & Tim
LOMAC to Ranmore Common
Weather: 18°C

The warm and dry weather continues and it's another weekend where I don't have to clean my bike after riding 60 km and 1,000 metres vertical of dry, fast, Surrey trails.

Another early start and it felt a bit cool as I left home at 8-30 a.m. to ride to the meeting place at Bike Beanz Cafe so I had a gilet and arm warmers on but by the time I reached Ashtead I stripped these off and was ready to roll in short-sleeved shirt order.

100 metres gone and Adam has a close shave with a squirrel (dont worry, it's a puppet as Brian Conley used to say) and the trails are full today as we encounter more miserable walkers on Headley Heath and lots of other families, dogs and horses out and about as well as what looked like numerous fair-weather riders looking like it was the first time since Christmas that they were out on their bikes.

We hit the trails of both Box Hill with China Pig in perfect condition and then up the North Downs Way and onto Ranmore Common for an ice cream, but what's this? For the second week in a row he misses his chance of making some dough; where is he on a superb day like today?

I ended off the afternoon sitting shirtless in my back garden tending to the first barbeque of the year and catching the sun on my neck and it's still March folks; that's ridiculous! Last year we were shivering in zero degrees and snow. I know which weather i prefer...

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


23rd March 2014
Riders: Richard & Mark
LOMAC to Reigate Hill
Weather: 12°C

It's an elite group of two riders this morning. Well, that's one way of putting it. The other way is that everyone else has gone off to ride the newly opened trails at Afan and Bike Park Wales and Mark and I are the last men standing.

But we still manage to enjoy ourselves with another old-school XC ride that takes us on some trails that I haven't ridden for years.

We set off from LOMAc bang on 9-30 a.m. and head up towards Stane Street with no real destination or route in mind. I don't fancy repeating the same route that we have ridden for the last few weeks and on a whim take a left turn as we cross the M25 for the first time.

This leads us onto a circuitous route that sees me following some barely remembered trails from my distant MTB-memory map as we cross and recross the M25 four times and I pull together a loop that contains part of our standard route out to Box Hill with the classic 'Big 8' route and eventually joining 'Rob's Rabbit Route' that with a few wrong turns here and there eventually brings us back to Track 40, the site of my first MTB experiences aged thirteen in the 1970's.

A short ride back home leaves me happy that I've put a good shift in today.

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


30th March 2014
Riders: Richard, Terry & Tim
LOMAC to Westhumble
Weather: 14°C

What promises to be a good ride on a warm, dry day with firm trails and good mates comes to a premature end when my rear wheel starts playing up.

It's finally British Summer Time and despite losing an hour's sleep last night and waking up with a hangover for the second day running (after Friday's binge at the preview of Won't Back Down in Dorking) I drag myself down to the LOMAC to meet Terry and last-minute dot Tim.

Terry sets a fast pace and I'm hanging on okay whilst Tim is trailing but after a while I seem to be losing power. My rear wheel isn't spinning properly, in fact it's not even turning a quarter way around freely. At first sight it appears to be the pads rubbing on the disc rotor but Terry diagnoses that the axle isn't rotating and one of the cones is lose.

We head downhill to try to fix it at Pilgrim Cycles in Westhumble. But on the way I decide to just jump on the next train through. But of course it's Sunday and the next train doesn't arrive for almost half an hour so I change my mind again and just take the road route back home.

More maintenance for me to tackle during the next week.

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


 

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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'