I should have watched the Royal wedding - ride report 29/4/2011

Family off to watch the wedding and then have a street party. I didn't fancy the wedding bit; nothing against the Royal family, just thought a ride would be more fun. I'm out with AD tomorrow, when I'll use the Pace, so took the Tassajara today. Boy was it a git of a bike today, a right pain. For starters the saddle would not stop in position, and I had to stop every few miles to put it back. Very annoying. Secondly I have a Maxxis High Roller as a front tyre. I've got it as it is a fast rolling thing, but by heck is it a nightmare to ride. Why I hear you ask. Well, seeing as how you've expressed an interest Dear Reader....

It is fast rolling as it is designed around a central ridge of 1cm wide rubber blocks that form one continuous line when up to speed. Between this central line and the edge knobblies is 1cm of nothing. No tread whatsoever. Zip. Nadda. Nothing. Just air. So in a straight line on hard packed dirt the tyre is a flyer. But mountain biking consists of corners. Go to turn on the High Roller and you go through a transition of rubber - air -rubber. Most times this just feels as though the front is falling, and you get used to it and move with the tyre. However, on a lose surface, such as gravel and dust, once on the edge of the central knobblies and not quite on the edge of the outer ones, the tyre slides. Again this is OK under certain conditions, such as when the ground is wet as the tyre digs in a bit on the transition zone. But in the dry, on dust, the High Roller is an absolute nightmare.

Coming off Colley Hill and going past the golf course the trail wiggles downhill between trees. It's a 20mph [30km/h] blast. But not on the High Roller it isn't. I got up to speed, hit the first corner as normal and the front washed out. Luckily the trail is wide so it just slipped a foot off line then caught up and I was off. A drama but not a disaster, and I thought to take it easy and straight line the corners. This I did but on a drop to Epsom Downs the trail narrows to about 20cm width and is deep gravel. I hit it, accelerated up to speed and the front central knobblies started to move about and I got a bit of a tank slapper on. Now as the outer knobblies are a distance away, and distinct from the central ones, the tyre accelerated as it rotated instead of slowing down - there simply wasn't any tyre to grab the dirt. But as the wheel turned, the outer knobblies caught the edge of the trail and I was down instantly.

Bike scratched and I landed in a bed of Bee bushes [nettles if you're older than my 5 year old!]. Now I didn't realise this as my theory of life is if you stop and think, then you'll ride crap afterwards. So I jumped on the bike and rode off thinking the stinging was in fact road rash. I was a but grumpy over this, and the ride suffered slightly, but oddly enough I enjoyed it all the same. It's just nice being on a bike, even one that bites.

The saddle kept slipping, and so did the tyre. I had a headache and my am hurt from the Bee Bush, but the riding itself was good although it did take me a good 8 miles to get back into the groove of it all.

Where did I go? Colley Hill, then cut through to the duck pond where I fell off. Down to Epsom Downs [naturally], Stane Street to Headley then back. I elected to miss Reigate Hill due to being worried about the front tyre, so took the deadly chalk path option instead. Here things got silly. Normally the chalk path is to be feared, and one rides it with trepedation as any mistake means a big off or uncontrollable slide into the trees or down the bank. Today it was grip, grip, grip. Now I've never done this before on this path, but going down I gradually moved through the gears, and was amazed to find that I'd slotted it into the big ring, small cog combo and was actually pedaling down at some speed. All concerns over the front tyre were lost and I went a bit mad. Well as mad as you can get on an extreme hardtail - boy did I wish I had suspension or the Pace down there today.

Anyway, here typing away I realise that the nettle stings are just annoying. What's a bit more alarming is my back. From my neck to waste is gravel rash a foot wide and a big, big bruise. It looks a right mess. Obviously the nettle [bee bush] stings have taken all feeling away from everywhere else. This must have happened during the fall, as there was a fence that I bounced off.

So I have a headache from being dehydrated all week [been sick], my bike played up all the time and I fell off big style. Didn't go anywhere special, and I was out Hans Solo. There were thousands of hover flies everywhere. It was thus a crap ride yes? No! I'm sitting here glad that I went out... just want to swap that tyre out PDQ is all.

[Actually in a perverse manner I'll leave it on. Why? Because if it is a wiggly, son-of-a-bitch to work with, my bike handling skills for the mud and snow will surely be enhanced? That's if I survive....]