Jacket on, jacket off. Jacket on, jacket off. What a lovely beaver you have!

It was five degrees C when myself and PP set off on Wednesday, hint of rain in the air. The plan was Titsey Park some 20km away. Got to the end of my road, PP's Trek 9 was making the most awful cracking sound every now and then. Just a single loud crack. Stopped to look, his rear wheel bearings were shot certainly, yet as for the source of the noise? Dunno. So we headed off to our local bike shop to book it in for the bearings and to see if they could deduce the issue. They only wanted £70 to look at the bike. Sorry? £70 just to look? So we rode off into the cold with the issue unresolved and PP muttering on about the shop.

Followed Route 21 for some time, up to the top of Gravelly Hill and the A22. Out in the wind it was cold, below freezing with the wind chill factor. So whenever we were in the trees, climbing or thrashing around in the mud, we were down to base layers. Out in the open, gradually got colder until the jackets came out. This little scene repeated itself all day; warm amongst the trees, cold everywhere else.

What did we do? Well nothing more than a spin over to the Beaver Water World [really?!] at Tatsfield for the world's best bacon sandwhich - really slathered in butter. Two hot drinks and a bacon buttie, £5. Come on! More please at that price! Unfortunately they didn't have their wicked home made sponge cake. That was a pity; honestly the best sponge cake I've ever had. What they did have were Roadies. Now these fitted the stereotype of the ancient 70 year old boy. Bright yellow jackets that were bought new in 1972 and have spent 40 years subsequently fading in the sun. Love those types; they just quietly do mad stuff well into their dotage. Spotted them again two hours later sneaking into a pub in Oxted. Note to self; try the pub in Oxted. Old Roadies know cafes it must be said.

Did have a chat with PP about the route choice. He likes jumps and berms. He likes Pitch Hill. Kind of wondered what he thought of this route, out into Kent. He said he was more than happy; you can't just do jumps, you have to do different stuff. And in any case, there's the drop through Titsey coming up.

The Titsey Park drop. Look on the map, it looks boring. Get to the top of it, it looks boring. Talk about it, it's boring; road width straight drop down the ridge of the North Downs. Brakes off, let gravity do the work. Top to bottom, perhaps 1.5km, couple of corners. Ends in mud so deep that you could easily lose your bike.

Yet it isn't boring. It's mad fun. Here in Surrey there are very, very few downhill off-road stretches where you go at full pelt for so long. That in itself makes it fun. What brings it alive for me though, are the final two corners before it levels off. There's quite a sharp left hand bend. By now you are at maximum velocity. What do you do? Slow down or wing it? It's gravel but slightly bermed on the edge. I was behind PP and it looked as though he winged it, so naturally I decided to do the same.

It wasn't pretty. Slid over to the berm, only by now it wasn't there. Straightened up, braked then swung right for the next bend. Enjoyed it thouroughly.

From there to Limpsfield it was a massive mud fest. The farmer had really churned it up to axle deep porridge. And I'm not saying it was axle deep whilst really it just got our tyres a little bit dirty. It was axle deep.

Limpsfield/Oxted to Godstone is lovely. Hard route to find, it goes through some of the more expensive houses we have here in Surrey. Al Fayed lives there, as do any number of surgeons. Meanders up and down through sandstone in a lovely piece of singletrack. One corner in particular is memorable. You're running fast, fence one side, fence ahead. No room to play. Tight corner ahead, do you brake? PP hard on my ass, can't really slow can I. What's this? The corner isn't only bermed right at the edge. Again it wasn't pretty, it wasn't textbook. What it was, was unbraked.

Godstone? Has to be the Green Rooms then. Lovely and warm inside. Not really a cyclists cafe though. Lots of grandparents. Great food.

Not a bad ride out at all; 52km covered in thick mud. Both PP's and my bike had mechanicals. I'd put on new transmission the day before, untried today. The chain kept coming off and it looked horribly long, going slack over the chainstay. Took a few links out, it still kept going slack and coming off. Put it down to a stiff jockey wheel. At home it transpired that the freewheel wasn't freewheeling. Took it apart, only made it worse on assembly; tight as anything. Cleaned it all out, worse again. Got bored, took it apart, put it together. Worked fine. Go figure.

Not happy about all the Hawthorn sticking out of the tyre.

Almost forgot. CRC had a flash sale on, so I bought one of their Nukeproof OKLO dropper posts on Black Friday. Didn't expect much, not for £150. Got it out of the packet, looked very well made indeed. Fitted it to my bike. Again, class. Took less than five minutes to fit, and was so intuitive to do, I didn't bother with instructions. The operating lever is a diddy little affair and so, so easy to use. I have a Reverb on my Five, and never really got on with it. This CRC thing is lovely, and oddly more user friendly. Had the Reverb for over a year, don't really use it, never saw the point. CRC one for a day - a day - I'm hooked. May well sell the Reverb.

PP to his credit found Head for the Hills over in Dorking. Turn out to be Trek dealers, have the rear wheel bearings in stock, do it the same day, nice and friendly people. None of this "£70 just to look mate" nonesense. Has to be said, some shops do themselves no favours. It's my shop, first name terms, I introduced him. Now I look bad as well. Fair play, make an honest wage out of this game. We all know it costs money to do stuff, can't do it for free. But when a loyal customer introduces a spendy guy on an expensive bike, perhaps you may want to cut some slack in the hope of long term reward.

Anyway, Route 21 over to Caterham, then pop along to the Beaver Rescue centre and drop through Titsey Park. That's not Leith Hill! That's boring! Well my friend, you stick to Leith Hill and I'll scoff the bacon sarnies quietly and contentedly.

[PP by the way did this route again the following day on his own. He seems to like it.]

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