The wrong kind of mud, the wrong kind of walker, but what a cracking spring ride.

Here in the southern end of the UK we are officially in drought. There have been reports that London actually gets less rain than some parts of Somalia, and I'm not making that up. And indeed our trails are drying out as a result. Sunday they were probably good enough to use summer tyres. Naturally my bike is still fitted with Bontrager Mud X's. These I've had on for a year, rain or shine and they've been good, bordering on brilliant for day-to-day fit and forget use. Not draggy in the mud, and still retain grip in the dry. But yesterday they just seemed to clag up with a sticky goo. All of the space between the knobbles became packed out with clay like mud. In the end I was riding around on muddy slicks that weighted 10kg each. By the end of the ride my bike just didn't want to accelerate as a result, and was very sluggish in the turns. Oddly enough at the end of the ride there was no mud on my bike other than on the bloomin' tyres. At least I didn't have to clean the bike.

It was one of those funny days out, where you think "is it me?" Lovely, lovely day but very few people out on the trails. It was a bit like being out on a weekday ride. You know the type; slight guilt feelings as shouldn't you be at work? On my 18 mile loop I didn't see another mountain biker at all, where normally one would be saying "hello" every few yards. And today, for once, I'd kept to the main drag doing an entirely normal ride. No off piste routes at all. Over on Reigate Hill, however, it was a different story. All the walkers had come out of hibernation and were out en masse. Actually walkers is the wrong description; none were straying more than 500m from their cars. Now the trails are meant for everybody; I know and understand that. I also understand that people are not as hardy as us winter bikers can potentially be, so they will wait for the warmer weather before venturing out. But can somebody explain to me why these walker people, who have not been out since July 2006, feel as though they actually own the trails? I must have asked 20 if I could pass, and each and every one of them gave me a dirty look, moving over very reluctantly after the third or fourth request. I slow right down, call out a polite "hello, could I pass please?" yet still I get The Look. One couple muttered that I could have told them I wanted to pass. Yet I'd been calling out to them for a full minute prior. Tut tut. I wouldn't mind, but for the most part I was actually on a road and they were all ambling down the middle.

And what's with the dog's on 20m leads> You see a dog running free, wonder what it is going to do, then realise that it is physically connected to a human some 20m distant. Is that under control? I think not. Personally I'd rather the animal be free as at least it will have more wit to avoid me than the owners seem to possess. I may put people off, but I see a dog on one of those long leads I instantly am wary of the owner as being a bit of a moron. "My dog did not bite you! You provoked it by existing!" is the general mantra of these people. And yes, I have been bitten by such animals for no other reason than being within biting range. [These same people probably exclusively use the middle lane of the motorway.]

Yes I was The Lone Rider today, Billy No Mates, hence the rather introspective nature of my report. Funnily enough I did see both AD and KD today, both post ride. KD was actually out on his bike, but had attached several child carriers to it - he can now get four people on to that bike. Amazing device but it took him two hours to do 8km such was the weight, and KD is almost 2m of muscle. I must also nod to his bike, a £500 Kona from Wiggle. He doesn't look after it yet like an eager puppy it still wants to play. Really at one level that is all the bike anybody needs. But by heck after his two hour haul he looked knackered. Put my tyres into perspective ;¬) AD apparently is looking at getting a dog - he'd best not get one of those long leads then....

Oh and if you're off to Banstead Heath be aware that the miserable trail fairies have been pulling trees down so that many feature branches or trunks horizontal to the path at 1m height. Just be wary of your speed as around the next corner may be a trap. Why people do this I have no idea, but it is clearly the work of miserablists. They've been doing it on the main pathways, so hopefully the Banstead Conservationists will pull things back into order, but they shouldn't be put into such positions should they?

So an odd day in many ways; tyres eventually clagged up, slightly off walker people, and I didn't see another mountain biker at all. Another crappy ride then? Well no actually. The trails were mine for the morning - not even any horse people or dog walkers to negotiate, so I rode as I pleased on rapidly drying bridleways. At Headley there was no queue at the cafe, and the gobby assistant wasn't there either so for once service was quick and with a smile. The temperature was just right for what I was wearing, so I was neither cold nor hot. My tyres only filled up with clag at the newly covered downhill at Reigate - the rest of the time they were fine and dandy. At the end of the ride my bike looked the same as I'd taken it out - almost clean. The chain needed a slight lube is all - as did I ;¬) Actually I lie; the chain needs more than a quick lube job. It's knackered and needs replacing but as it's a £40 Yumeya I really do want to leave it where it is for a bit longer. Say, a year or so.

Nope, even solo the day was a joy and I really enjoyed my spin out. True it could have been made better through either having my normal riding bud along, or actually seeing another cyclist would have been nice. Also as Reigate Hill was my last port of call, and it was spoilt by rather ignorant walkers, this dampened things down a bit for me. It shouldn't as this was perhaps 8 minutes of a two hour spin, but it did ever so slightly.