Today I set fire to my disc brakes. Shrove Tuesday celebratory ride.

Setting disc brakes on fire.

So it's a Tuesday in March. Not at work? Drop the children off at school, quick coffee in town. Bit of decorating, do school run, take the kids for coffee in a café and top up the shopping afterwards. Make tea for the family, watch a bit of telly, go to bed.


Nah, ride out with PP instead. Much more fun. Lots of mud, lots of chat and some good miles covered. We did a big loop over to Box Hill - my suggestion but PP's doing as I'd originally planned on Headley Heath. We got there in good time, and PP was keen to do Box Hill. So PP, not my fault we did those extra miles, however pleasant they may have been.

Box Hill cafe mid-week is a different beast to a Sunday. Greater mix of people, but very quiet. Bet they take 90% of their income on those two days alone. It's actually quite a pleasant spot mid-week to stop and have a chat.

There were no dramas, which was lucky as I'd not packed a pump, twat that I am, and the only mechanical's happened to my PACE. As usual the gears refused to do the smooth change thing that they are supposed to do. Annoyingly they are fine at home, and indeed fine for the first ten miles. They then ghost shift mid cassette, which is a bore. Most likely a cable issue, although for the life of me I can't see why. Once my bike is clean at home, things are fine again and I can't replicate it all. Huh.

And my brakes worked but didn't half smoke at the bottom of the Reigate Hill rubble chute. My fault that, as I was slightly out of control and had to brake smartish at the bottom. They stank and both sets were well away with regards to smoke. May be the case that tanking it downhill and expecting a 160mm front and 140mm rear to not moan about it afterwards may well be a weight saving too far.

That chute is a bit of a pain though. You can either drag the brakes all the way down, which means slight loss of bike control as the bike is all unbalanced. Or you can hoon between the worse bits, only braking heavily when confronted with no trail, hence my burnt brakes. Or, I guess, adopt the third option and develop some proper downhill bike skills and not brake at all!

It was a great day to be out and about, and PP kept me honest all ride. As with my last spin out with him, I'm fairly convinced he'd smoke me had I not slightly cheated both times. He's a fit git with a twinkle of determination and a willingness to try new things. Best keep things slanted in my favour then, eh?

PP on his 26" Orange 5.

To me it was an interesting experience trying his Orange 5 mid ride. It felt ridiculously long after my PACE RC303; very barge like. Superbly comfortable and popping off rocks was fun. That 2.4" Maxxis tyre looked huge. When I gave it back, my bike felt, well, shite really. It felt short, skittish and the sensation was one of sitting on top of a bike right up in the air.

PP said he didn't like the PACE RC303 either, and this after raving about it the other week. Perhaps it's time to retire the frame and move on? Cotic BFe perhaps? If only I had some spare cash. However after a few moments riding along some singletrack the bike felt fine and didn't seem to give much away performance wise to the Orange.

I can certainly see why people would rave about the bigger 650B or 29'ers - indeed the Orange 5 effectively has a 650B front end given the massive tyre it sports. Say it quietly, but there may well be something in 650B after all.

So, three rides, four days, am I a Riding God? Nah, not a bit. Saturday evening was a pootle up into the hills; nothing more than a mooch about for a couple of hours, and never ventured beyond Zone 1 of any training regime.

Ride 2 was quite a long winter affair, at 32 miles, but again the majority of the ride was done at Zone 1, with the occasional foray into the higher zones. Ride 3? Still not pushing it, but PP didn't let the pace drop and so for three hours we were into training / effort Zones 2 and 3 and we worked a sweat up. In other words I'm a bit knackered and feel like I've had a ride. It's all good though, as these early efforts pay dividends in the summer, making those long, dusty rides all the easier. Where normally I'd back off during the colder months, this year I've done more riding in January than I'd do in a normal July. This, hopefully, means that come the summer my rides will be pushing on for 40 miles and I'll be seeing more. Fingers crossed.....