A tale of two rides, both of which should have been rubbish.

Yesterday was boy child variants' birthday, so we had four hours of shouty, party chaos to deal with. AD's a my boy almost share birthdates, so we share parties. AD felt stressed afterwards, so sent me a text suggesting a ride. Not like him that, especially at dusk, but I'm a bit of a slag so was up for it. Lights on the bike, out for a spin.

AD wanted to run the ride, and he has no sense of direction. It was almost night. It was threatening rain. The trails ae in a poor state. All things that suggested a dire spin out, but also things suggestive of adventure, so the ride could have gone two ways; been pants or been excellent.

AD wanted to find some lost lime kilns over near Box Hill so this meant a choppy ride at the foot of the North Downs. This means chalk. Wet chalk anyone? Add in lots of tree roots and slippy, slippy was the order of the day. Now I've been waiting for this opportunity for ages, and I'm not one to let things pass..... AD spent a lot of his time sideways, so I thought of him as Sideways AD. SAD for short!

We did find the lime kilns and had a great time riding at dusk in the process. No height gained, no height lost. Just a ride parallel to the A25 almost to Dorking. On the way back SAD fancied a pint so we took a quick blast back along the A25 to Reigate. Well one of us did. I once did a 300 mile road ride over three days with some mates; soon learnt to follow the rear tyre of somebody for as far as possible so that's what I did for miles last night. SAD worked up a right old sweat trying to lose me, whilst I sat back admiring the view of the North Downs being pulled along at speed in his wake.

The pint was very nice, thanks for that SAD. Ah, now that he's bought me beer he's not SAD anymore! Oddly enough as we were drinking the night actually got lighter as the cloud cover cleared, but I was thankfull I'd fitted lights as I got home in the dark. Not sure my Nuke Proof Reactor cuts the mustard anymore, so time to splash some cash and get a new light.

The second weekend ride was solo this morning. My bike was really minging after last night, but some new chain oil and away she went, not entirely happy as she was covered in muck and the chain had dried chalk within the links. Should have taken a clean bike instead on reflection. Didn't go anywhere special; reverse clockwise loop to Headley. All the riders on my outward journey were especially muddy, so early on I knew it'd be bad once away from Colley Hill and it was, but at least it was warm and dry. Lots of chain suck by the end of the ride - teach me for not cleaning the chain at 10pm that. Oh yes, noticed a lot of fresh rear wheel skid marks on the trail, on that little downhill squared off section near the drugs place. That's a bit naughty. Either suggestive of selfish Strava times or slight incompetence. As there were lots on one slightly downhill corner me thinks Strava or some big group bigging it up between themselves. Not good. Just tears the trails up and spoils it for everyone else.

And really, how hard would it be for other riders to say "Hello!" now and then? Only good old Dave gave a polite greeting back to me on Colley Hill, but the rest of the time just silence from the twenty or so cyclists I saw out. One guy on the golf course I called out a cheery "Good morning!" with a smile, and he stopped dead in his tracks and gave me The Look. Kind of confused that I'd spoken to him at all, and he didn't know what to do then. He just stopped and looked at me, so eventually I rode on, slightly bemused by the encounter myself. I'll have to stop being so happy when out and about. Around here happy equates to nutter.

But skid marks, and silent cyclists aside it was a pleasant enough spin out, especially as the rain held off. Didn't stop anywhere for cake and coffee. To be honest there isn't anywhere really good around here anymore, so I generally don't bother these days unless with good company. Last time I was at Box Hill two drinks and a cake came to £7. Best places are Peaslake Village Stores, Fanny's Farm, and Nona's in Coulsdon. Everywhere else is average at best. Actually I lie; Newland's Corner by the National Trust shop is dire beyond belief. Avoid unless you like awful food. Have one of their burgers and you can taste it on burps for months on end.

I digress. I'm not trying to be negative about the ride or area, really I'm not, but it wouldn't be top on my list of places to ride again if I based my views on the friendlyness of other cyclists, and the quality and value of cafe food on offer. People riding here who are from more Northern areas, such as the Midlands upwards, must find people around here very rude or standoffish, and the cafes expensive and unsubstantial. Urban Kitchen on Reigate Hill can easily remove over £5 from you for drink and cake.

Not stopping does focus ones mind to the task in hand though, and I just rode onwards in a geat big loop. Lots and lots of sideways moments, with one especially big one where my front wheel went sideways through a puddle. Just pure fun and I loved every moment of it. Guess it didn't help having 15psi in my rear tyre, and 20psi in the front. But that's tubeless for you; you can get away with not noticing silly low pressures. I've also had this notion that going clockwise is the harder loop. It doesn't seem right that does it? Do the same route, but one direction seems to involve more climbing than the other. Anti-clockwise to Headley is pretty easy and real fast on a dry day - I've heard of sub one hour times. Clockwise involves some steepish, muddy climbs and can be an easy two hour slog.

Two really good rides out in less than 18 hours. Brilliant.