Two seize the initiative; Dad's day mountain bike ride to Guildford, then cheeky night ride during Cubs evening.

It's Tuesday. What to do?

I only work part-time, so always have two days off mid week. Normally I do really boring but worthwhile stuff; bit of DiY, household chores, shopping etc..

PP works full-time. He works a shift pattern though, meaning he is also off mid-week sometimes. He sent me a text asking if we should explore Ranmore over to Guildford?

Now Ranmore was always my ride location back in the day, back when I lived in London. I'd cycle down Stane Street, nip up through the wine estate, and then play all day up and down the side of the common. Used to know the area really well, but it has been a good ten years since I've spent any time there.

So we met up at Bocketts and set off. No plan, no agenda other than lunch at Newlands' Corner.






Bocketts. Dog shit capital of the world.

This is a childrens' petting farm. It also seems to be a place where people walk their dogs. These are obviously scum bag people of little formal education. Why? Because the first 200m of any trail just consist of dog eggs. Everywhere. At least the feckless people of Reigate bag their poo. And we were on bikes, a bit away from it. The actual dog walkers must be slopping through their own excrement daily. Beggars belief it does, it really does. What an horrid bit of trail.

The cafe there, however, and indeed the farm itself, are great. Used to take my daughter to the farm every Tuesday when she was little. For four years; she loved it. Once we saw a calf being born. She now has no fear of any animal.

So at the cafe I just had to have....

Mars Bar cake! The greatest use of 1kC ever invented. Nobody should ever finish a whole one, but I did. The coffee is also great; way, way better than Headley. To be fair that's not hard. We sat there happily, myself and PP, chatting bikes. In isolation bikes are a bit boring sometimes. With a mate, after a ride, bikes are inspirational.



Where did we go? What trails did we ride?

Er, Fanny's Crumpet, Tale of two owls, the dog that ate it's bowl, tyre freckle, and four aces.

Sorry, I have actually no real idea as to where we rode. The local riders seem to name their trails, each group having different names. Madness lies that way I tell you.

Essentially I followed my nose as it is such a great area to navigate. Ranmore, for those that don't know, is a wooded area on the North Downs. No map? No worries. If you're on a steep slope, that's facing South. Shallow slope? North. Horizontal trail? Well either East or West - you'll be able to tell soon, as the slope either side of you will either be really "oh my God!" steep, or gradual pick up speed in a really fun way.

So all I did was ride up a shallow trail. If it flattened out, I'd drifted left or right. Keep it shallow, keep facing upwards. By such means we eventually reached the top. Found a steep bit, rode down it and over some lovely tree rooty, rooty drops to the railway.

Then navigation fans, I turned right. Kept to any bridleway that had the big hill on the right. Easy really. Ended up climbing a place called Water Lane, which was great. We rode up side by side chatting away like old men. The top came pretty quickly, and I should imagine local riders have timed segments.



Lunch at Newlands' Corner.

I've moaned about this place in the past. Yucky burgers, heart ache city. PP suggested I try the chicken burger. So I did.

It was, in a word, great!

I take back everything I said. If you want a burger, go to Newlands' Corner.



The way back.

I'd instructed PP on how to navigate the area, and wanted to see if my theory was true. No map, no advice, PP never ridden here before, no repeat of the inward journey allowed. Asked him to see if he could get us back to the car with no map.

Steep is South, Shallow is North.

PP did. He managed to get us from Newlands' to Brocketts, and our cars, without a map.

I'm telling you, Ranmore is a great area. So, so easy to navigate.

We would have looked for some of Nirvana Cycles naughty trails, yet we were slightly time constrained, having to be back to pick our children up at 3pm.



Dad's day off.

What a great way to spend the day?

PP now thinks that the Trek 9 is a better bike than his old Orange 5. Must say it looks a great machine, and as a used buy is the same price as the 5.




My bike wore out.

I built this Tassajara up out eBay bits four or five years ago now. It's been my go-to bike for ages really. Night rides, commuting, or longer distance tours, then the Gary Fisher gets dragged out. I've done thousands of miles on it. And have never serviced the forks, ever. Fox RL90, they were used when I got them and only cost £100. Over all these years they've been buttery smooth. Today, though, on Ranmore, they started to weep oil from the left hand leg.



Fair play, I've maltreated them. Off-road for perhaps 4,000 miles, no servicing? Badness. Got home, ripped them straight off and they're on their happy way to Plush for an £80 service. Could do a basic service myself, but these are likely to be shagged inside so I'll let them check.




By the way, today, PP on a 150mm travel enduro style machine, myself on a 90mm hardtail with semi-slick tyres, were we mismatched? Oddly no. Sometimes on the smoother trails I won, zippy acceleration. Rocky chutes? PP won. On these trails any bike will do. I don't mean that in a negative way, far from it. I'm trying to say the trails have a bit of everything for everybody. I'll never diss Ranmore, never. Whatever bike you have, whatever bike you take, you'll find fun.

My tyres, some Specialized ground control things I bought for £4 a pair, are proving great this dry weather. Fast, grippy and secure. Look at them and you'd think no way! Fit them, zip along, forget they're there. Love them. They've also contributed to this bike now weighing less than 25lb.



Down to one bike from three.

I've an Orange 5 with a duff bottom bracket and inner chain ring. The Tassajara is in bits. All I have left is my trusty PACE RC303.

Boy has to go to Cubs tonight. Normally I sit in the pub, all Billy No Mates style. Not looking forward to it. Ten minutes before I'm due to go, wife casually mentions it's at the top of the hill tonight; they're on a walk.

Tell you, I've never dismantled a bike and stuffed it into my car so fast. Sent a text to PP; his boy does Cubs also. Fancy a night ride?

Blow me down he does. We've been out all day, yet here he is up for an evening spin.



Bring it on baby.

Rather oddly I found this little Gothic vampire style doll on my last night ride. I'm in the habit now of attaching such crap to my bike; no idea why really. It doesn't look cool, indeed makes me look like a dick. Really I'm past caring what people think of me.



So Reigate Hill for a meet. Must say it a more pleasant spot than Bocketts. True there are dog walkers, and the little blue bags from the trees aren't great, but there was so much less sheer volume of dog poo.

Dropped the boys off uncharacteristically early - a full fifteen minutes - attached the lights, said sorry to the other cycling dads that we'd not told them, and off we went.

No horse riders, no dog walkers, no walkers. Heck that means a fast pace as there's a 95% chance that nothing will be coming the other way. The last 5% will be advertised by bright lights coming forwards quickly.

I'm not a fast rider, not by normal standards, but by my slow standards we rode fast. Indeed some corners were very sketchy, and past my limited skills. Bounced off a couple of trees, yet it was fun so why slow down?

The why slow down question was answered by some bright warm lights appearing from nowhere, accompanied by chatty happy people.

The Sportsman pub.



It would be rude not to.

Few beers, bit more riding. PP's first real introduction to night rides. Sharing my lights meant no singletrack, all wider trails. Perhaps that was for the best really, PP's first outing and all that.

Got back to Cubs at 8pm, big, big smiles on our faces. Uncharacteristic that. Normally just hang around for 90 minutes, slightly bored. Tonight? Out in the woods hacking.

What a stunning day. Up there at perhaps 50 miles covered, felt like nothing. Love days like that.



22/09/2014: Autocorrect hell! BOCKETTS you stupid computer, NOT Brocketts!!


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