The vitamin D deficiency post lunch Sunday spin.

An odd day. Wife wanted to go shopping for Christmas [which suspiciously sounded like lunch with her sister] which meant me alone with our two kids. I'm fine with this as I do the majority child care in our house, but it did mean no ride this morning, or even perhaps well into the afternoon. Sure I could have gone out am, and have taken the kids with me, but really, it's not the same is it? So I cancelled AD's spin out and re-arranged my life.

Wife then stated that she didn't want to go as the trains were all cancelled today. Hmm, she did this late in the morning and by then I'd decided that we'd be making stuff all day - and once you've set the kids on a path, that's it, you follow that path with no deviations.

So we went out, bought "making stuff" and set too. But our lad is a pain sometimes; gets too little sleep and he's really hard work. This proved to be the case today, so we sent him to bedidy his room meaning that the afternoon now became free again, especially as daugter seized the moment and offered to help walk next door's dog. AD had been texting me on and off, saying how he was bored and wanted out, that even with vitamin D supplements he needed a spin to raise his spirits. So, late in the day a ride was on, get the bike out after all. Now here in the UK it gets dark just after 4pm now, so it would be a daylight ride that may or may not terminate past sunset. I'm OKish as I have a motley collection of slightly ancient lights, but AD falls short in the lighting department, having one of those flashing light sets you get free with magazines - really, that's his set up. The ride would have to be a short one, which is almost what we did....

Short for us means a generally muddy ride at the foot of the North Downs over almost to Box Hill and back. Generally very, very muddy but such slippery fun. So off we set to, quite happy. AD fancied, however, what he called a little climb up the face of the North Downs to look at a possible new downhill route he'd found. Fair enough, so we took this new way up. Man it was a pain. Clearly not suitable for riding at all we climbed up a sixty degree slope, following what looked like a deer trail upwards. OK some steep slopes you can ride, but you'd be mad on this one as it went on for ages and terminated on a steep muddy bank [chalk] at a barbed wire fence. Perhaps following a dry spell we'll tackle it..... we both know how to get to accident and emergency after all.

At the top we weren't overly adventurous; quick spin to the golf course followed by a tour of Phil's Bush. AD normally avoids this as he's not a fan of the mud there, but I lied and said it was hardly muddy. Pretty easy in fact. Even once we got to the trail head AD was willing to follow, even though the trail was clearly a muddy mess with a lot of standing water. For over 400m. Deep, thick mud with even deeper puddles. We were sideways for quite a bit, with rear tyres spinning up, or the frame jamming with goo. It was horrid but I loved every bit of it. So long as you don't torque things up too much it's just about doable, as we proved, but it can't half burn your thighs. Naturally at the point of maximum slop AD got a puncture. Fixing it meant he'd looked as though he'd been in the pig pen making squealing noises with the pigs, again. He'd have been less muddy had he lain down in it all. You'd think he'd have guessed the plot by now; going out for a ride with a guy called Muddy.

Getting darker all the time, and the sun had gone by now. No need for lights yet though, thanks to the ultra clear skies so we decided to do my naughty wooded trail. This was fun, and tested the limits of tyre traction. I managed to get up one sloppy bank as I perhaps had 1% or 2% more grip than the following AD. Really in these conditions, a wet day followed by a frosty night, luck plays a major part in finding traction. Be 1cm away from the proper line, have a few psi too much in your tyres, or just at the wrong part of a pedal stroke, and you stuff it up big time. For the main we got away with it tonight - something I put down to riding late in the day / early evening when a frost is setting in. It must have been almost unrideable during the day. Our chalk based mud here almost has the slippy rating of oiled teflon on teflon. It wasn't dark when we got back, but it wasn't far off either and I was glad for having lights whilst riding on the A23.

Funny, but when he was fixing his puncture I felt quite in love with my bike, if that is the right phrase to use when AD was vigorously pumping away in the woods. It was out doing stuff and had not let me down or thrown a strop as bikes sometimes do. It was even comfy to ride. It's at times like these, muddy, cold and frankly slow rides, that I wonder why we bother changing bikes at all. Indeed we were both over biked in a way; tyres more than bike mattered more tonight. Neither of us got anywhere near full travel on our forks. Yet it'll soon be summer again, when thoughts return to that much needed 160mm enduro based, 34lb, £4k boing machine in orange that we all need.....

So, a lot of hike-a-bike uphill, quite a it of mud, a puncture and no beer. Crappy ride? Not in the least. Indeed I'd put it way up there with the best of the summer spins. Yes, I enjoyed it that much. Now sitting here looking at lights pondering on whether moving from 900 lumen power to the full 2,000 would improve my riding life. Not so sure it would though.

And how busy are the trails at night? Not too surprised to see nobody out whilst we were on the main ride, but coming over Colley Hill past the fort things got really busy. Never seen so many walkers out and about. Here the best course of action is to set AD off ahead as he just rides at and through people, meaning a nice clear trail for me.