Mixing motorcycle specific clothing with cycling gear. Don't do it folks.

OK I'm not normally out on the bike on a Friday but I've annual leave to blow, so, well why not? Seems rude not to. I was going to put the bike in the car and head off to Leith Hill but it's full of t-shirts for a sale at Kingston-upon-Thames tomorrow so that's a no no then. Local it is.

Now local can get a bit boring. Same trails, same routes. Fair enough if we have constant weather, but the extended winter that the UK is having means that the trails are always a challenge. Today was no exception and it was a real struggle to get around. We've had rain for almost a year now, so the land has had no chance to dry out. Get a smidgeon of wetness and the trails go to rat shit instantly. This isn't helped through the trails being multi-user; ramblers, cyclists and horse riders all churn it up. As you can see below some sections are dire.

And yes, that is a shot of my very own bike and not some blagged full suspension unit from a friend. Makes a pleasant change really, this riding something I actually own. I did notice the rather harsh ride initially, but after a few miles all was well. Indeed it was like meeting an old friend; right at the start things are a bit stilted, but then you start to take the piss out of each other and all is well. Indeed it was better - one less handlebar switch too faff with as my PACE just has a normal, boring seatpost. No uppy-downy thing. It is also a surprisingly light bike in comparison, which was a pleasant surprise. Nope, didn't feel short changed riding this at all. It's a lovely bike. Mind, the forks could do with a service and the Bonty Mud-X's are getting low on tread. But at 2.0" width they certainly cut through the mud and find traction everywhere.

Foot deep mud here just a bit further up the trail. Glad I'm back to riding my own hardtail bike to be honest - a full susser in this would just be dead weight. Some sections of trail are really churned up. Here I tried to get my bike to stand up in this stuff, but it lacked substance. The trails were mainly like this today. My three hour ride felt like double that, and I was seriously shattered at the end. Wonder why I saw absolutely nobody else out?

My ride also hinted at not getting complacent, even on one's own doorstep. As I left home I dressed for the weather and layered up. Being before 9am I expected the day to get warmer so I didn't take any spare clothing. Usually in winter I pack a lightweight down body warmer, but it looked sunny out and was almost ten degrees C at home. I also only took one energy bar and 500ml of water, thinking I'd stop for food en route.

However, it got colder. I couldn't layer up any more so my energy consumption went up. My route didn't take me near shops or cafes, and all I had to eat was the small cereal bar. At the two hour point I got cold and hungry. At three hours I got slightly delusional, and my legs went all wibbly. Luckily I'd recognised that things were bad at the two hour point so had headed for home. By the third hour I was pretty much on auto pilot home but the last downhill was a nightmare. Naturally there were a few choices, ranging from easy to hardish. So the hard one it was. By the bottom I was a right old mess, having slithered all the way down ever so slightly out of control. For some reason the last section, even though I'd fudged it all up so far, I thought could be taken flat out. Burnt brakes at the bottom was my penalty. By that stage I was well past any rational or sensible thought.

So; no food, long and slightly unexpectedly tiring ride, falling temperatures equals badness. I got in a mess. The temperature never actually fell that far either - 6 degrees C minimum and on a dry day. Quite surprising really*.

I'm glad that today highlighted the need to be reasonably cautious, even on home turf. I got away with it, luckily, so a warning for the future. Perhaps this fella below wasn't so lucky?

On a lighter note AD has finally taken the plunge and has bought some off-road lights; Gemini LED 850 in the Evan's sale. No idea why the change of heart as he could never see the point of night riding - perhaps the notion that I end up in pubs from time-to-time may have swayed him? Or that I avoid X-Factor. Of course with him buying bling I had to as well. My lighting set-up works OK solo, but from experience riding with others shows up failings pretty quickly. So I've matched him and bought exactly the same unit. Well, almost. Went for the four cell option so that I can split the supply and run two bar mounted lights. Should give me 1,400 true lumens for two hours. Add in another 900 from my helmet, and I'm turning night into day..... well in parts at least. Bring it on.

As for the market in Kingston, well, have you seen the weather? May as well try and sell tissue paper shoes.

*On reflection this may well have been brought on by my trying a £14 motorcycle base layer I'd bought recently from Lidl. It was designed for motorcycle use but read as a good wicking top. Obviously the wicking needs of a motorcyclist are different to that of a cyclist; no way would I ever normally get cold at 6 degrees Celsius - I've worn the same type of clothing on rides for years nay bother [getting smelly now though....]. Long sleeved wicking base layer, over that a short sleeved wicking but thicker t-shirt and then a pertex top. Has been good for rides below zero in the past, even those where we stand around chatting or fixing mechanicals. I'm guessing from now on I'll be back to fully wicking cycle specific tops, not those that just do armpits and a central channel down ones back. Pity as £14 is right in my territory spend wise.