My Reigate hill climb is no more ;¬(

Really disappointed this morning. Bit low as had a family party yesterday, so too much alcohol meant woke up a little depressed this morning. [Not helped by watching the dire remake of the A-Team until midnight.] Didn't really want to go out on the bike, but on a rainy Sunday in June what's a guy to do? Set off, bike fine, wet day but not too bad. Climbed towards Reigate Hill pondering how my Aspen's would do on the wet roots. But what's this? 10cm of hard core have been laid over the Reigate climb. It is no more. That really pissed me off. Why has this been carried out? True it was a rooty, muddy mess but there's a perfectly decent parallel pathway for those that didn't fancy the challenge.

RIP the Huff Puffer.

So after this I was naturally a bit hacked off. That trail was lovely, both up and down, and now it's been sanitized to hell and back. But here's the thing. I decided to actually look at the trail construction throughout my route. What I'd always assumed to have been natural, flowing singletrack is for the large part of crushed granite construct. My whole 35km today was on an artificial surface. In effect no different to any trail centre construction.

Here therefore I apologise to Coed y Brenin. They've managed to create at least a challenging trail through wholly artificial means. Whoever sanitized the trails around here has done it in the most crass way imaginable; 10cm of crushed granite. I wonder why we can't have areas similar to Coed trails around here? The Reigate path is more than wide enough to provide such an area. One suspects the granite is the cheapest means possible, requires the least amount of thought and allows for access to the area by disabled people. The last element nobody can argue against really, but the first two are just sad. I'm certain a bit of local funding could have come forward to construct 100m of sustainable mountain bike trail down there.

So the trails that I like around here are actually the ones that have not been maintained.

Moving on. My new Specialized Tahoe shoes were comfortable but I'm not happy with them at all. Today was only mildly wet yet my feet are disproportionately soaked. My old Cannondale shoes only ever let in water if I stood in deep puddles. The Tahoes let it in, then don't seem to let it out again. Means either using them for dry days only, which is silly, or buy some Sealskinz socks for £25, which is just as silly. Why make MTB shoes that are not waterproof?

Anyway, some of the trails I did were definitely not man made, ahem. But the recent warm weather, plus the rain of late have meant fauna encroachment. My lower legs are bloomin' cut to ribbons and now sting.

Oh and of late I've noticed a bruise on my right knee. A really dark one about the size of a small grapefruit. Bemused as to where it comes from. Today I noticed that I tend to knock that knee against the top tube when pushing through balancing sections. Well I never. Must be some throwback to a motorcycle accident when I bust that knee up - guess there's a slight twist there.

One other annoyance. In the granny ring the cable to the front mech keeps coming lose. So as I ride along I tighten it up a bit. The shifting to the middle ring the chain catches as the cage is too far over; so I unadjust the cable a bit.....

Didn't see many people out at all today. Where are you? Only group I did see were the kebab boys from opposite the Ford garage [Mr Monobrow and his chums]. But then I rode for 150 minutes without stopping at any choke point, so there may have been hundreds out but maintaining the same pace as I.

At least my comedy Maxxis Aspen's provided some light relief as they slipped in the mud. To be fair I've yet to find a tyre that doesn't slip in fresh mud - you know the stuff; a few mm of wetness over solid, hardpacked ground.

*Update 30/6/2011:

Just received this rather nice reply that explains why the road chippings were applied to Reigate Hill. Fair enough, but they should have consulted ME first!

Dear Mr Jenkins

I have received a call from Sarah Jenman from Reigate and Banstead council informing me that you have some concerns over the surfacing work that has been carried out in Gatton Park.

We are at present in the middle of woodland improvement works as part of our English woodland Grant Scheme. This grant comes from the Forestry commission and the work is approved by Natural England. The aim of this work is to both improve the condition of the woodland for nature conservation value and to improve it for the benefit of the public.

Part of the funding has been allocated to improve some of the badly worn and eroded tracks within the woodland. This is for two reasons. The first being to enable us and the forestry contractors to have better vehicular access to the various bits of woodland where some of the forestry work is being carried out. The second is to provide a better surface for the general public. At this time of the year many of the tracks are baked hard and seem in quite good condition but during the winter months they are extremely poached, muddy and slippery. Add to this the water erosion and exposure of tree roots and rocks they have become quite rutted and hazardous in places. Unfortunately the funding does not stretch to enable us to surface all the tracks within the woodland so we have patched the sections that are particularly bad. The top section of the track in Great Buck wood was many years ago filled with rubble hence the reason it is not particularly bad but lower down towards Tower Lodge cottages did not receive the same attention.

The type of material we have used for the surfacing are road plainnings. This is a recycled material that bonds together well making a good smooth surface and we regularly use it in many of our countryside car parks and tracks. There are other materials available for example limestone scalpings and hogging but these are quarried out of the ground in this country and are not sustainable.   

The surfacing has been rolled smooth using a road roller and run offs have been put in on the front edge of each patch to help prevent further erosion by water.

I am sorry if you feel that this has not been an improvement. If you wish to ask any further questions or discuss this matter any further you are more than welcome to call me on 07901 511336 or email me.

Marc Russell
Reigate Warden - North Downs East
Surrey Hills 
Tel: 01342 843225
Mobile: 07901 511336
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This is not nice to look at or ride.

Surrey is meant to be beautiful - not here it isn't.