The right kind of mud, wrong kind of age.

First it was wet.

Just before Christmas, here in Surrey we had lots of rain. The trails gradually turned to mush, and my fat bike got used a lot (as did my waterproofs!). It was kind of fun. For the past few weeks the days have been dry, and tending towards cold. The trails have not dried out - instead they've gone to that lovely, damp spongy state. Not hard, not soft, just semi-hard. They're a bit like having an extra 10mm of suspension, and are probably in their fastest state of the year right now. Indeed I've been breaking some of my older Strava records without too much effort. In particular the rooty drop off Reigate Hill, where I'm now in the top five.

Then again in some places I'm way down, as in 995 out of 1,100! Must remember to take Strava with a pinch of salt.

Of course it could be my bike is just fast in some places, and I'm slow in others. My 26" Orange 5 was always slightly rubbish, and it would be my third choice of ride when I went out. I'd use a 45lb fat bike instead. One day I decided to look at it, and figure out why. The forks I sent off to TFTuned, as they seemed a little slow. Whilst playing with the forks, I noticed that the front wheel hardly spun around.... So for five years I've been riding a bike with the front brake on and badly tuned forks. No wonder it was rubbish.

Forks back, front brake I removed some fluid, and I re-greased the headset. New, wider 35mm handlebars and short-short stem. New tubeless tyres, and a 1x10 groupset. It now actually works. Instead of it holding me back, I'm clearly holding it back. First couple of rides out, I've knocked time off some fast sections. Happy now.

Well happy is relative. On eBay I've seen these Black edition five's sell for £500 to £750. I spent £100 on the forks, £80 on the gears, and £50 on tyres (26" tyres are stupid cheap). Half the value of the bike. Any real sense in that??

Of course now my Orange is fast, I'm pondering why I need a new bike, especially as I have invested money in it. Clearly I'm still rubbish and a different bike will not sort that. More time out, a few lessons, then we'll see. (This weeks' object of desire being a Cotic Rocket.)

London Defence.

All those times you've blasted past the shattered concrete on Buckland Hill, or stopped to pick the mushrooms for medicinal purposes, have you ever wondered what all that broken concrete was for? Well it's the same as Box Hill Fort or Reigate Fort; part of the outer London Defence ring. Not sure why it is all smashed up - possibly the hill gave way.

Buckland Hill defences


I bumped into my daughter's self defence tutor on this ride. Had a chat, he mentioned he was heading to the Sportsman pub with his mate. Enjoy that, I said thinking no more. Later in the ride I was going to stop in Headley Heath for a shite coffee at either the caravan or the bizarre cafe (both serve truly awful coffee). It struck me that a bad coffee costs £2.50. A good beer at the Sportsman would be £4. Luck would have it that near the pub some chap on a full suspension bike zipped across my path - had to give chase and catch him up. Caught him up by the pub. Zen that.

"Pint and crisps please."

Love life, live life

And yes, my ride until now had been characterised by a certain slow meandering. After the pint, a downhill with teenage observers on jump bikes..... Certain reckless abandonment came over me.