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1st March 2015
Riders: Richard, Wobbem & another Jonesy
Leith Hill
Weather: 8°C

It's the first of March, how did that happen? Seems like it's only just gone Christmas and now we are in March. In fact I'm bloody fifty years old; how the hell did that happen? As Basil Fawlty once said "Zoom! What was that ? That was your life, mate. That was quick, do I get another ? Sorry mate, that's your lot." So make sure you live your life to the full.

But back to the present and I'm meeting Wob and another Nick Jones (not the original Jonesy) at Starveall car park for some fun and games. The temperature is still in single digits but with the sun out it's the first day this year that I can ride without my Endura Stealth jacket.

Although I'm riding better today and getting fitter again Wob and Jonesy are like greased lighting and I'm nowhere near keeping up with them. But I soldier on as they wait for me at the end of the trails or wherever there's an unknown corner. However I do feel like a showjumper on some of the gnarlier lines where I come up to a fence/drop and refuse to jump, turn around, have another look and then refuse again.

Nick repays us by showing us a couple of new trails that are good fun and we tackle them much as the other with the two boys charging off ahead and me mincing down at half their pace. Some of the trails are unbelievably wet and sloppy and I'm not feeling confident as I take a couple of small tumbles including one on Deliverance Two (captured on the soon to be published Pleasant Valley Sunday video) that we haven't ridden in years. It's still just as much fun and I'm pretty sure I fell in the exact same spot as I last fell in 2009 . I didn't feel like I hurt anything at the time but my hip is very sore now I'm home and I'm limping but I'm sure I will recover soon.



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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


8th March 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Laurent
Pitch Hill & Holmbury Hill
Weather: 12°C

I had been planning on joining Wob's gnarlsters ride on Ranmore Common today but Terry has clearly spotted my self-doubt over the last few weeks and offered for me to ride his Stanton Switchback on a more down to earth ride with less airtime on Pitch Hill today.

So I rode the five road miles to Terry's early on Sunday morning using my Specialized Allez as the fastest mode of transport while breaking roughly a dozen of the Velominati's extensive rules relating to what thou shall do and wear whilst on a road bike. But do I care? Hell, no.

El Tel's wagon was fully loaded and after locking the Allez away we jumped in and headed for them thar hills, meeting Laurent, who was accompanied by a full beard, in the car park (no honestly, he's got a wife & kids & everything).

Laurent chats to Danny M his ipc media colleague in the car park before he mounts up on his Spesh and we set off for a tour of some of the many and varied trails on Pitch Hill and beyond. The trails are riding really well today. Dry weather and the onset of spring has turned the trails from unpleasant mush to firm, fast trails in just a week and the sun shining today makes it even better.

We ride back through Peaslake and head up the tough Return of the Jedi climb up Holmbury for a final blast of BKB.

So what did I think of the Stanton Switchback, including the dropper seatpost that I have derided for so long? I really enjoyed the ride, the Rockshox Pikes up front took everything in their stride although they could probably be fettled to suit my weight more but this was a quick ride of a mate's bike; I wasn't going to mess with his set up. There was one rough feeling descent where I realised I had wound down the travel on the previous climb and forgot to reset it. So I left it on 160mm travel after that for the rest of the ride.

The feedback through the pedals was harsh and I was left with hot spots on the balls of my feet. Was this a stiffer steel frame than my dialled bikes Prince Albert or was I just hitting things faster than usual? Difficult to tell.

And what about the dropper post? I had one moment where I had dropped the post and then went to sit on it expecting it to be in it's usual position and nearly fell off as my body weight was in the wrong position but aside from that it was useful to have. I fairly quickly got used to dropping it for technical sections and raising for climbs. On balance it was worth having I think.

The general ride with the much slacker position was great, the weight further back and the larger volume tyres up front plus the rock solid 15mm axle versus my normal 9mm QR led to much more confidence in riding.

I'm really going to have to get something more modern to ride now...

Finally it was great to see Shane and his group of riders and Tony B at the Peaslake bus stop and to catch up with them. Tony used to be a regular rider with us back in the day (actually, I just checked, that was 2006 Tone: when my boys were still teenagers and Sam and Grant used to ride with us).

Thanks once again to Terry for being a great mate and lending me his lovely looking bike and also for recognising that I needed to get back to my roots again; it's really appreciated.


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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

22nd March 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry, Rich Lonegroover, Dave & Gaz
Leith Hill
Weather: 8°C

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last rode the MTB but I’ve been keeping fit with the regular cycle-commute. I’m not quite up to my normal Summer speed and stamina but I’m a lot better than I was during my low point in February.

And I’ve bought a new bike! It’s on order at the moment but I’m keeping everyone guessing as to what it is. More to be revealed in future weeks.

More bike-related purchases turned up during the week too. Some new mounts for my GoPro; a helmet extension arm for more crazy reverse head cam action, a tripod mount adaptor so that I can use a proper tripod at last, a selfie stick and a case to retain all my GoPro kit in the same place which will be far more effective than the various boxes, shelves and drawers that it is currently scattered about in. All this for about eleven pounds in total: I love Ebay!

Sunday morning arrives after a long dry week and the trails on Leith Hill are superb. Tim has organised the ride but dropped out due to back-ache but it’s akin to this week’s solar-eclipse as we see a ride that draws Green Orange Dave and Rich Lonegroover out from wherever they have been hiding for the last six months or so.

Gaz is also there for his first ride since Christmas and with the dry trails he clearly dressed for Summer even though it’s still in single figures temperature-wise. Damn those pesky kids and their hot-blooded youth. Terry has come along with me to complete the group (I was going to write pentumvirate but wasn’t sure that was the right description).

After all laughing at Lee D’s shorts the unusual start point of Windy Gap car-park leads to some initial confusion but we soon find the trail head and follow the Summer Lightning 2 trail extension off towards the Darkside where we explore some, most or none of the gnarly trails on offer.

My 1x9 chainset has decided to give up on me as the chain drops within about 500 metres of the start of the ride and it continues to drop all through the ride; I think it was seven times at the last count. I don’t have a clutch mech but it’s been fine since it was fitted in October so presumably something has worn whether it’s the mech spring, the chain or the I/O chainring – very annoying.

There’s a bit more mincing than the recent rides with the gnarlstersTM (me included) but we all enjoy ourselves, even bumping into Wob and the gnarlsters™ and swapping insults.

Back over to the wall of death and down the original Summer Lightning. This is really broken up now and has become super gnarly in places with wheel size drops off the edge of various roots and loads of rubble on the trail which presumably formed the base of the original trail all along the second section. That’s not a complaint by the way, it’s great fun to ride.

After losing Leed D (even with those shorts) and Terry we hook up again for the testing climb up Caspers towards the top of Leith Hill and a break for tea and cake at the tower.

I’ve been feeling good and riding well up to this point but there must be something in the flapjack that sends me off the wall as I first of all lose my way when trying to navigate the Secret Garden trail (despite the fact that I have three attempts at it) and then lose my riding skills as I suffer not one or two but three falls at various points due to overbalancing, too narrow gap between trees for my 780mm bars and finally general idiocy. We bump into Wob and Jonesy et al for a second and then third time before heading off into the woods again.

I finally give up and decide to head down the Windy Willows trail but there’s some poor direction finding here too and I find us heading back down the Caspers trail that we had climbed up less than 30 minutes earlier. Hoping that no-one has noticed I turn left off the trail at the first opportunity and then I’m turning left-right-left-left-right in an effort to pick my way back to somewhere familiar. This leads Leed (pun intended) to comment on whether I am just making it up as I go along and quite frankly, yes; that’s exactly what I’m doing!

But it’s all good riding and we eventually climb back to the tower before dropping back down to the car park for the completion of another great ride.


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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

27th March 2015
Riders: Richard, & Terry,
Pitch Hill & Holmbury Hill
Weather: 12°C

Sell your wife! Sell your children, your house and all it's contents. Sell your mother-in-law, sell a kidney. You have to have ride the full carbon Santa Cruz Nomad.

Ever thought your riding had stagnated: or like mine was actually going backwards? Then try one of these bikes for a ride; they're the shizzle.

It's a Friday morning and rather than having my weekly reporting session/beating by my Programme Manager at work I'm on a 'use it or lose it' day's holiday. I've arranged with a test ride of the SC Nomad with Howard from Pedal and Spoke and El Tel in his role as chief slacker has come along to act as my wing man.

A quick ride over to Tel's and I'm already feeling good on this wonderful sunny day.

Howard runs me through the basics in terms of set-up and finishing kit and sets the front and rear shocks and tyres to the correct pressures and then I'm off. No driving licence, no deposit, no vague threats of what might happen if I break it; Howard's a top man.

Terry and I head up Pitch Hill and hit the normal trails which are in tip-top condition on this fine Spring morn. There's no lock out on the shocks (not that I ever use one anyway) and I can feel the front wheel rising slightly on the first steep climb but it's a cinch to move forward slightly onto the saddle nose and keep it down. The 32:42 set up makes light work of the climb and we turn left straight into what I know as Oink's Trail 2 but seems to be called Graveyard Rollercoaster on Strava.

I've only been on the bike five minutes and this section is quite testing if you hit it hard enough but I'm instantly at home. 650B wheels supposedly don't handle the tight singletrack as well as a 26" and that may be true but if you look at the rest of the package in terms of forks, full suss etc. this bike aces it. There's never any time that I wish I was on 26" instead of this. In fact being 6 foot 2 and a half inches tall I've always felt I looked slightly ridiculous on a 26" wheeled bike.

This frame is extra large with a 150mm dropper post but it feels just right for me and I even enjoy using the dropper post to get that saddle out of the way not just for the steep descents but even on flattish singletrack to allow me to chuck the bike about.

We climb again to the trail central cross-roads on Pitch Hill and throw ourselves down the various trails that make up a superb network around there of tight, twisting singletrack with jumps, drops, roots, berms, frim, sandy trails and the odd muddy section hidden away in the trees.

And I was on it today: my riding mojo was back with a vengeance as I leant lower than ever into the corners and boosted off the various jumps and kickers that abound on these trails without a second thought as to whether I or the bike could handle it. Terry normally drops me like a stone but we were riding at the same pace and I was even dropping him once his legs tired having had a big session the previous day.

I haven't enjoyed my off-road riding this much and felt so confident in at least two years.

Back to Peaslake where we bump into one of Terry's riding mates and after a quick chat drop by to see Howard for a slight adjustment of the bars. He and I talk bikes and trails with a be-suited local before heading off out again. It's Friday, the sun is out and no-one else has turned up for a test ride so we head off to Holmbury Hill and repeat the exercise. Testing climb up the Return of the Jedi trail before hooning about on the top of Holmbury Hill, down Telegraph Road and then across to BKB. It's slated for being too santitised but on a day like today and a bike like this it's a really good blast.

As Howard says, this bike is dangerous, try this and you might have to end up selling one of those kids to pay for one.

Pictures below (as long as you aren't on an Apple product) plus a video of today's highlights (providing I can manage to insert the embed code correctly).


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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015



Ride Archive

December 2015
November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015
March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


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'