There was a smell of petroleum prevailing throughout.

Saturday, charged batteries, bike lubed up, gear all ready for the night ride.

Stormed all day, right into the evening, huh, not going out in that. Daft to really. We've been pretty lucky where we live in East Surrey to have only been stuck in town due to outlying floods or fallen trees on the perimeter roads. No power cuts, no property damage, just a bit of drama wind wise. I feel really sorry for people living near the River Mole, and can't imagine what it must be like to find your home under water or at threat from the sea. As for the unbelievable temperatures in America right now! Wow. So we've been lucky and all I've had to put up with has been disrupted sleep patterns. Not a biggie in the scheme of things really, so I should lay off the self pity and get on with things. And how lucky are we around here in East Surrey, really, that all we have to contend with have been a few fallen trees on the trails?

Sunday morning, tucked up in the duvet. Another poor night's sleep thanks to the almost nightly storm. Bound to be horrid out there, bound to be miserable weather so why bother getting up early? Stay cuddled. Wife exclaimed that there was frost on the roof! Wahey, jumped out of bed, on the bike at -1 deg C and out I was. Well, after breakfast and a pint of coffee, but you know what I mean. Didn't take me long to get out. We'd been shopping in Essex on Saturday, treated myself to a Whitby hand warmer so why not try it today? Toasty little thing it is, and all ride I could feel it's little heart burning away contentedly. Indeed now ten hours later it is still burning away and I smell of burnt gas. It's a nice thing to have, certainly way better than those chemical hand warmers you get, the ones that last about five minutes. Not sure I'd recommend one as it is a bit of a faff. Fill it with lighter fuel using the special measure I'm bound to lose, set fire to the wick, have it too hot to touch for between six and twelve hours. Your call.

Up on Colley Hill I caught up a small off-road contingent of the Redhill Cycling Club. In the past they've always been a harmless bunch to bump into, generally friendly, and on some rather expensive bikes. It's always pleasant to see them out and about. This lot were awful, a real pain in the ass. I rode behind them out of respect for a time, expecting a bit of a talk, exchange pleasantries, but didn't get any so waited until the trail opened up before politely asking if I could pass please? They were riding two abreast having a chat about the route, so had slowed right up by now. The leader just looked at me and carried on her chat. So I asked again in typical English fashion; may I pass please? Again she just looked at me and continued her chat without making any space. It wouldn't have taken much effort to let me through would it? Loads of space but they had to fill it. Why? She looked right miserable, the leader, and was clearly a rider of much experience - perhaps the group had pissed her off? Dunno, put it down to a one-off as normally they're a decent enough crowd and have an excellent reputation Nationally.

The views towards Leith Hill by the way, were stunning. The Sussex weald was a frosty, misty loveliness.

Anyway, conditions the same as they've been for ages now. Sloppy, gritty mud that grinds away at everything. Kind of used to it. My rear jockey wheel turned into a pain, partially seizing up all the time. This had the effect of throwing the chain off the middle ring each time I pedalled, so for ages I rode in the granny; a good ten miles. Quite frankly this spoilt the ride a bit. How can £4 worth of plastic be such a git? It's a new jockey wheel as well, on freshly cleaned and lubed transmission. I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, conditions. I lied. Things were not the same. You know all those trees that blew down and had blocked the trail? Well some good people had been out removing them, so all the blockages of the past few weeks were gone. Many thanks for that! The only problem being that the latest storm had brought down even more trees, all over at Headley. These were all contained within a very small area, so gawd knows what has been going on there. There's also been a fair bit of trail erosion, with new gullies forming, quite a few of which have sandy gravel as their base. Lose riding doesn't quite sum them up. My front wheel had a mind of its own.

No cafĂ© at Headley today, so no weak coffee stop. In compensation I added a loop over to Epsom, but this took ages to complete. Why? More downed trees that's why. This would have only added a few minutes to my ride, but it had backed up a group of walkers so I spent some time waiting for them to pass and they were politeness itself. I didn't mind waiting at all, and it was nice to be thanked. Odd to have a ride where the walkers are much happier than the cyclists. Even the guy on his cross bike, the one I see most weeks, seemed a little down. I always say "Hi!" to him as I've a thing for cross bikes, and he in particular makes very good progress. His mate on a mountain bike is always in his wake, looking slightly shagged out. Normally Mr Cross is a happy lad, but not today. Then again, by the end of my ride, over 25 miles done, I was fairly shagged out too. It was an hard day to be out.

An average ride made worse by a crappy jockey wheel and a miserable ride leader encounter early on. What a pity as the morning was a cracking day to be out. Post ride I decided to dismantle my rear mech, an event which prompted me to give the bike a really good clean. It took ages as what looked like mud to be easily washed off was actually bits of a million leaves that clung tenaciously to my bike. Each one had to be brushed off individually. So at least one good thing came out of the day, two if you count actually being out and about, and I'm content to have put the PACE away clean for once - and no flat tyre. Actually several good things came out of it all; I wanted to end the ride on a good note so I made a massive pan of carbonara for the family. Well, why not? Lovely it was. Dished it up just as another storm rolled in and over. Time to get the woodburner going then!