27/03/2011: Mr Miserable on the prowl.

My own fault. Brought work problems home with me and I've been in a grouch all weekend. It affected things. Didn't help that we forgot the clocks went forward an hour, so we got up late and had to rush things.

Sunny day today, and I fancied taking the Klein Mantra out for a spin. Actually it has to be sunny as it has the Continental Race King tyres fitted, and they don't grip much in the mud. Climbing Reigate Hill was hard work as I'd no energy and the Klein has a stretched out riding position. It's a very long bike compared to today's fashion. But gradually I got back into how to ride the thing - somehow my explanation for this is to imagine you have a handlebar moustache and are riding your mother's bike; you know the one, it has rod brakes. Essentially the bike likes to go in straight lines and will only tolerate sweeping, fast curves. Sure it can be hustled through singletrack, but things kind of happen after you want them to. If you plan ahead and take it by the scruff of the neck things are OK.

Actually I really, really like my Klein. The Pace is way better and is the bike for now, but the Klein I always go back to. It's a mate where the Pace is a tool for the job. I can take the piss out of the Klein but the Pace, well we're still developing our relationship and It'd nut me if I was mean to it and said nasty things. Also with the Klein I've changed every component bar the frame and rear shock; everything else has been upgraded over time, so it bears my personality - it shows what I want from my bike, not what some marketing bod in Chehalis wanted.

Where did I go? Colley Hill, Golf course, Headley where I picked up on Secret Singletrack from the Muddy Moles. Now this is the first time I've ridden it, and it was fun. Surprisingly fast and swoopy. Lovely. Not so nice once I had to turn around and ride it upwards. Clear now why it was so fast!

No incidents apart from the "I'm the best there is, even if I'm fat and rarely ride" biker brigade. You know the ones; park at the top of Reigate Hill, ride as far as Colley Hill then go home. I was following the North Downs Way and had ridden over Colley and got to "please close the gate quietly" which had two fat cyclists standing in front of it. I was in top gear hacking down, but would they move to allow access to the gate? They clearly were not going to move so in best fashion I refused to brake until it was clear that I was going to ram them if they didn't move. In the end they tilted their bikes slightly and I skidded through the middle, stopping with my front wheel touching the gate.

They got the message and the thinner one moved slightly. Only slightly. I hate those types. Drive 20 miles to the trail head, ride 2 then big themselves up to all and sundry. Bet they manage a Carphone Warehouse.

See I'm grumpy.

The walkists by the way were all good, as were the horsists. Friendly smiles from them all.

Actually the ride did the trick and by the time I'd gotten home all was well with the world. I've decided work sucks so why buy into it. I'll do what I do, be who I am, and if I don't fit in they can sack me. Their problem not mine. Not like they are going to kill me dead if I don't do as I am told now is it?

So now I'm happily cleaning the Klein. It did the job and did it well, even if the Race Kings were a bit sketchy on gravel. The Magura Menja front forks are good. I've said it for years, but 100mm up front is all you need around here. On the Klein I hit full travel two or three times in the ride. On the Pace, with the 140mm Pike's I never hit full travel, ever. The Pike's weigh 800g more, so that's mass being carried around for no reason. Oh and thanks for asking dear Reader; the Shimano SLX brakes on the front work really well, even in 160mm guise. Now I've no idea why, but even at 203mm on the Pace they never worked. On the Klein I can do stoppies at will.

On cleaning my bike: I like to clean it, OK? Why do you have such a problem with my latent OCD Dear Reader? A clean bike is a happy bike. I don't go mad, polishing spokes is too far for me, but I like to have a nice patina. A sign of polished use, not neglected abuse. My Klein has done way in excess of 20,000 miles now - possibly heading for an easy 30,000. I used to do 70 mile Sundays for 5 years, then knocked it back to 30 miles when the kids came along, plus it has been on bike holidays for a good few years. It was my main bike for 12 years, doing everything. It shows the signs of age, but in a cared for way. There are scratches and dings in the paint, the stickers are ripped and worn, and the transmission is polished from where my shoes and bracken rubs against it. To me there's something about polished, oily wear on machinery that is appealing.

As I said, latent OCD. I'll shut up now.

Happy Muddy Ground!