Bontrager Mud-X and the Erasure celebratory ride.

What an horrid day! Wife out for a run, got back and instructed me to wear tights. Game on! thought I, but no, it wasn't early morning naughties but a warning that it was cold out. Huh, and outdoor ride instead of an indoor one for me then.

Got to the top of Reigate early and had a ten minute wait for AD. Now it was cold up there, mighty cold. A strong wind was blowing and it was carrying sleet with it. By this I mean I could see sleet falling down in the town and then being blown UP the hill right into my face at some speed. I don't mind rain on a ride, and I like snow. Riding in each is OK, especially here in Surrey where you are never far from civilisation. Sleet? That's just nasty, spiteful stuff. Wet enough to get everywhere, and cold enough to hurt. It's just thin ice isn't it? Tried to plan a route that kept in the trees as much as possible, so out of the wind, and was largely successful but at the duck pond we both cried enough and headed off for a cut through that avoided the Headley loop. Although we were both dressed for the weather, and being cold wasn't even an option, any and every exposed bit of skin just got hammered. My forehead just ached, and I felt sorry for AD; he's got no hair at all [The 'D' stands for Duncan.....] so the sleet that found its' way in through his helmet vents must have physically hurt.

Look, we're not wuss's OK? It sounds it, but for the main we coped well. But the sleet, added in with a strong wind, meant that the wind chill factor was really high. It was hard going running into this stuff, and we tried our best. Any exposed bit of skin was subject to minus lots of degrees centigrade. It did seem that a lot of the sleet was blowing in from the south, so any north facing bits were relatively calm, if not entirely dry. Hence we avoided the North Downs Way today as much as possible. You had to experience the wind and sleet to believe it. At the end of the ride, once we'd dropped back into town, things were hugely warmer out of the wind.

Did our normal default Headley loop, as I've a cold and AD's wife has one too, meaning he and I both wanted to be home early. Cold's going around here in Surrey, and lots of people on the forums cried off from their rides. Big girl's blouses the lot of them, and you know who you are, poor show. Anyway the default loop is always muddy, and so the bike I took today has tubeless Bonty Mud-X 2.0's fitted. Really narrow tyre that cuts through the mud and finds grip. Unintentionally I steamed away from AD who was most unimpressed as it looked as though I was show boating. Sorry, didn't mean to, honest. Really the difference in grip between the bikes was silly. On one 400m section I gained an easy 150m without really trying. This type of difference was common today. AD however, always looked as though he'd done ten rounds with Tyson whilst I was chillin. Incidentally he was on notionally the better bike, a full suspension rig whilst I was on my ancient PACE. Bonty Mud-X for me from now on then. Of course it could just be that I am a riding God and he is a numpty. Having said this he did catch a big, big slide as he tried to turn onto the golf course. Really sideways he was and initially I though it intentional, as if really carving a turn foot out sty-lee, or even sty-lin. Man if it had've been intentional it would have been cool. As it was he looked happy to have just caught it, and he was lucky not to have high sided that one. I was following and could see him completely perpendicular to the trail. Wonder if he'll be buying new tyres any time soon? Either that or new underpants.

AD didn't bring along his arm warmers that he'd recently purchased in a sale somewhere. For years he's been dissing them, saying that they are the most stupid things ever invented. Fair play, but now he's bought some he can see the point. Next he'll be telling me he always did like Erasure and how good I look in tights. Do worry about that lad sometimes.

The return leg was the hardest by far. We'd seen a big group out in fluorescent jackets and thought we'd catch them up. Our added speed over ground was both a bonus but also a cross to bear. It warmed us up but also meant that the sleet intensified. My windstopper gloves failed miserably and my hands began to get cold. Braking became an on and off affair, which was fun on the big drop down Reigate Hill. Took it fairly fast up until the first mud section, where I went a bit sideways but it was nay bother really, just go with the flow as there is more than enough room there. After that I couldn't be bothered with braking and just pedalled as fast as I could, which worked well. Got to the bottom way ahead of AD and thought I was the dog's. Turned out his general lack of front fenders meant he couldn't see where he was going at all, hence he slowed up. Turns out I'm not a riding God. Time for a Mucky Nutz for him I think?

Saw just the one big group of MTB'ers out, looked like some club outing as half of them were in reflective roadie tops. Funny, but the reflectors looked really hacked off, whilst the rest in usual cammo mountain biking gear looked happy and content. Must have been twelve of them in a single grouping. Lots of horses out though, and they were pleasant enough. Looked mighty tasty I must say - no qualms with eating horse here; I've been to Germany.

Right, back to bikes. I'm trying some eco lubes this week and one of them works very well indeed. I've had no transmission issues for ages, and my bike looks lovely and clean post ride. I'll do a little report this week. At least the sleety, wet ride meant cleaning my bike was a doddle. Andy McNab style I hosed it down, gave it a quick spray with a bike cleaner, and whilst this was doing its' job removed the chain. [Top tip: buy one of those link pin tools. Utterly brilliant things.] Chain went into some unbranded bulk degreaser in an old milk jug, then my bike got a brushing down. Chain removed from bath, put back onto bike, bike hosed down again with clean water. Ran over it with a cloth, dried the chain, lubed the chain. Bike put away all within fifteen minutes. No effort that is it? Gave myself a quick hose down outside to get shot of the worst of the mud. Then into the shower for me. My that stung! Horrid getting into a hot shower when bits of you are frozen. Actually we were possibly only frozen as I'd insisted on getting coffee at the Urban Kitchen. I like their coffee and didn't want to miss a brew. AD wasn't impressed with the cost. But standing around on top of an exposed Reigate Hill wasn't hugely clever, not with the sleet being blown right into our faces.

Interestingly do you know who the tidy people were and who were the slobs, dropping their rubbish to the floor? Young people! Actually no, not the cae at all. Dog walkers, cyclists, young people and white van man all put their stuff into the bins. It was the well dressed old, retired people who were the utter slobs, letting their rubbish blow away from them. Not as in "oops that just blew away, how silly of me" but as in I'll just "accidentally" let all my rubbish blow away 'cause I can't be arsed to walk to the bin.

Felt happy with life so have ordered in on-line my favoured Finish Line ceramic wet lube, followed by a couple of bits from Mucky Nutz. If there's a choice between getting mud in my eye, or fitting a 20g fender, well, no choice is it? What do I care if my bike looks gash now that it sports six fenders, we're the Erasure fanboys after all ;¬) Time to get that Boardman catalogue out.

On the subject of fenders on mountain bikes. On some bikes I have none, whilst the PACE sports six*. It just kind of attracts them that bike. Anyway, six fenders, I arrive home clean, yes? Well, no, not actually. I'm not splattered, but then again I'm still pretty muddy. Subjectively I'm no worse on the bikes that don't have them. What I tend to be, however, is drier. OK today was awfully wet, but on a ride where the ground is wet but with sunny skies I tend not to get wet arse syndrome on the PACE. For me that's kind of worth looking like Halfords' accessories man now and then. But generally fenders on mountain bikes are worth naf all. Only those that keep crap out of your eyes are worth the money, and I've yet to find one that does that fully. The Mucky Nutz coupled to something on the downtube works reasonably well for me. Well it does until I chase somebody down, and then it is back to square one.

*I'm playing of course. No bike needs six fenders, certainly not my PACE. I'm just trying to see what works and where, and to a degree how far you can go. This was brought on when myself and AD saw a mountain biker ride by on the road who was sporting the mother of all fenders. He'd attached about 75cm of opened up inner tube onto the downtube fender. It looked ridiculous but I'm guessing that there was method in his madness. And really, who is to say what is daft and what is sensible? No fenders at all or total fender immersion? The biking community regards fenders as being stupid and not macho, yet the non-biking community - by far and away the larger majority here - regards those who enjoy being splattered as the nutters. Surely there must be a middle, sensible ground?