National "let your dog bite a cyclist" day here in the UK

So, few hours to spare of a foggy Sunday morning, go out for a pootle on the old mountain bike. It's cold; 2 degrees C here in the UK passes for proper cold. There's loads of mud, thanks to loads of rain recently. Indeed it is really slippy out there. Going up Reigate Hill the walkers coming down seemed to be making a right fist of things, slipping all over the place. Luckily I'm on a vehicle designed for this sort of stuff, and make it look easy.

Oh my, what's happened up here then? Normal status quo seems to have gone. No cyclists, no walkers, no families out for a constitutional. Instead we have endless dog walkers, many exhibiting that trait they have. The one where you ride up past a stinking, steaming dog egg, then the dog, then a strange person who is pretending that the animal does not belong to them. Between the Urban Kitchen and the Ingliss memorial, about 2km, I must have passed thirty dogs. Two of which, in separate incidents, saw fit to give chase, nipping at my right foot. What is it with dog owners? They must be the most irresponsible idiots going.

Anyway, the ride. Muddy, foggy and wet. Did about 20 miles all told, and my bike only played up three times. Those darned gears! My rear mech is all twisted, yet I've just lashed out £300 on the bike; a six year old PACE. Feel somehow that I've spent more than enough on the old dog, especially as the forks need a service. By the time I'm finished doing basic maintenance on it, I could have instead walked into a bike shop and bought a nice, new machine. One with modern geometry, bigger wheels, and better everything. Silly me.

I'm getting to be strangely ambivalent towards mountain biking, partially connected with on-going maintenance costs. There's always something that needs doing, something that needs replacing or repairing. It's a bit of a bore. I enjoy the riding as much as ever, just feel that spending the week ordering and fitting new parts isn't the best use of my time. I seem to have spent the last month replacing the transmission on two bikes, ordering bits for my Fat bike build, having wheel bearings replaced, or cleaning and greasing bits. Some of the bits, annoyingly, I had a bike shop do as I was time constrained. That's money down the drain for me.

Ah well, the ride was a good one and I enjoyed the slip, slop nature of it. There never seemed to be much grip out there, tyres all over the place. Oddly my bike didn't collect too much crap and both it and myself were relatively clean by ride end. Saying this I do have four mudguards fitted. Other rides out and about sans guards were covered in slop. One poor guy was covered head to foot, and looked as though he'd given up and had resorted to a road ride home. Needless to say by ride end the slippery nature of the ground was forgotten about, and Reigate Hill was dispatched with the usual speed. You just have to adopt a slightly different ride technique is all; let the bike go where it wants or predict a skid. Then use the planned skid to dictate line choice.

Really good fun! I'm still ambivalent though.