Frosty mud. Sugru hack.

Minus one degree centigrade when I set off this morning. Lovely frosty fresh air. The trails had that condition where there was a frost over frozen ground; where your tyres not only provided mechanical grip but a thermal one too where cold tyre froze into cold ground. Corners were not corners but Scalextric track. This didn't last for long as the day was clear with a full sun. As soon as the sun hits the frost the trail in these conditions changes into some skitzoid mess, the most slippery substance known to man. You have neither mechanical or any other kind of grip. All you have is 5mm of Teflon over silicon coated Teflon. Here on chalky land what you often have is frost down to a good few cm. The ground takes on the texture of an Aero bar. Below freezing easy to ride or walk on; above freezing it seems to retain some frothyness and substance yet is nothing but chalky mud. On a slope you can fall over standing still on this stuff. I once parked a four wheel drive car on frost melt - stationary, out of gear, brakes on. It gradually began to slide away from me. Once defrosted this stuff is the ultimate tyre clagger, sticking like glue. The Pilgrim's path down to Merstham can be particularly claggy. So claggy that forward progress is halted as your tyres become a 30lb mess. I once got to the half way point going up and had to carry my bike the rest of the way.

So today the trails in parts were grippy beyond belief yet at the same time could be as crazy as a kitten on a polished floor. Forget riding on snow and ice to increase trail skills; kindergarten stuff that. Any fool can ride in snow, and indeed I do. Try riding on freshly melted frosty mud over frozen chalky ground. It'll make a man of you.

What will also make you humble as a rider is do as I did today; chase somebody down. We've all done it; a roadie passes you, all lycra'd up and you know, you just know, you can beat him. So you do, often convincingly, sometimes embarrassingly well. Today there was a woman in front of me, perhaps 300m ahead on the way back, off-road. Easy picking I figured and I gave chase to pass. 2km later I'd closed the gap to 200m, and it wasn't shortening. Started to have a bit of respect for this woman. Anyway, trails skills or attitude she did not have so I eventually caught her up after a few corners and some runners made her stop for no reason. Not a young woman, not an athletic one either. Not even wearing riding gear. Bike had slicks on and was a heavy shopper style mountain bike, probably from Argos. She'd had no idea that I was behind her; she was just off to town.

But by heck did she have a pair of legs on her. Respect where it's due.

On a different note during the week I'd bought some Sugru to fix up some broken toys. Kids seem to like the broken ones better. This Sugru stuff fixed them up, but I had a bit left over. Now my bike has a Magura front brake. The Magura has this really annoying cover over one end of the hydraulic hose - it is always lose. So I wrapped it in Sugru. All fine so I am happy. May well use it to adjust the shape of the brake levers. Although there's a danger here that needs to be avoided. I don't want to turn into the kind of accessorized rider you see in town centres. You know the type; brackets, brackets and more brackets holding on a variety of bags, mudguards, lights and mirrors. Although I may already be there seeing as I sport three mudguards.