10/12/2011 - First night ride of the year - a tribute to Cameron and Europe.

2.4 degrees C when I set off tonight. Didn't fancy watching the X-Factor so planned ahead and charged my lights during the afternoon. Got my cycling kit out, wife enquired as to what I thought I was doing. Didn't I know it was going to freeze tonight? Well, yes, that's kind of the point. Sit in watching some talentless whingers performing live karaoke on tv or do something positive with my life? But setting off I did wonder as to my sanity. By heck did it feel cold, but within 50 metres I was fine and dandy, and after 1km was toasty warm.

On the roads my Nuke Proof Reactor seemed wimpish and underpowered. Each time a car passed they got blotted out by the headlamps. Yet off road it was OK, especially on the high setting allied to a helmet mounted Maplin special. Together they both put out the same power as a modern unit costing £70, and wouldn't trouble any light at £100 and over, yet for a solo night ride around the double track of Reigate they are fine. If I rode with somebody, or did more technical stuff than I did tonight, I'd bin the whole lot and start with something around the £200 mark. But as I a) come from the Midlands so am inherantly cheap and b) don't see the point of splashing out for so few rides, then I'll stick with these thanks. Also at the end of the ride there were a few more cars out and about, and one of them tooted it's horn at me in annoyance - so the lights can't be that bad ;¬)

By heck aren't the trails splashy? I came back splattered with crud and my bike looks a right mess. It's also interesting this night riding mallarcky. Coming off Colley Hill onto Reigate Hill the trail is quite wide. During the day it looks flat and featureless, and so boring. Yet at night it reveals itself to be quite hummocky. There are little dips and rises all over the place perpendicular to the trail. I've no idea how big they are, but they cast a shadow. Now anything that casts a shadow suggests jumpability, and this I happily did, getting gradually faster until one little jump set me off into the trees. I stopped but it did make me realise that I was out there all alone, and the nearest people were the motorway Wombles sitting in the National Trust car park with their engine idling. All they'd do in the event of a rider/tree interface would be to cone me off. So I kind of stopped with the jumps until temptation and/or trees got the better of me.

The bike of choice was the Pace RC303. Only because it had the light bracket on already. Speeds aint that high at night on your own, so I didn't need to take the monster - could have taken the Tassajaa instead. Now there's a bike I feel bad about. I've not used it since September when I commuted into London on it. That's no way to treat a bike is it? Makes me feel bad. It's a lovely bike but not one I can use in the company of AD and his full suspension rig. Actually I probably could with a bit of effort as it's a better bike than I am rider, but I'm fundamentally lazy.

Yes in the end going for a cold spin out was better than the X-Factor. And the temperatue when I got back was a balmy 1.5 degrees C.

And I promise from now on never to be even slightly critical of another rider. In the summer a neighbour came out with me a few times. It was interesting going out with a noob. It makes for a slow ride but one where you have to plan ahead well in advance to cater for their skill set. What you can do they find daunting, and I'm not that good a rider myself - definitely a mid-pack Johnnie. Folks if you're out with a noob, keep it simple until they find their feet. Otherwise you'll have a grumpy sulk on your hands who ends up with no realisation of what real mountain biking is, and it'll be your fault.

Don't worry Mr Cameron; being thrown out of Europe may hurt initially but we'll survive. I got thrown out of a Bookham based cycling forum this year, and look at me now! I survived and so shall the UK. Indeed whilst there is still that frission out on the trails, I'm in a better position in that any writing I do feeds into my blog or web page and doesn't act as free linkage to somebody else.

12/12/2011 update: Boy was I glad to have gone out Saturday night instead of Sunday at all. The rain was at time almost biblical in intensity, especially later on towards the evening. Woke up and took my bike outside to clean it first thing in the morning; lots of ice on my patio, yet it was raining. Not my favourite conditions that; rain over ice. I've been out loads of times in such weather and it's never that much fun. You never know when your bike is going to slip away under you.

On a brighter note my sister has invited us over to Spain. She lives near Barcelona, up in the mountains. Both my wife and I have said no in the past, for various reasons. My particular one being I've never taken to Spain and have had some bad times there. My wife's being that quite frankly if we're going to spend decent money on going somewhere, then go somewhere decent. We're probably not being fair to the country, so we may well go this year.

And last night was panto in Redhill. It was a brilliant laugh but best not to have a pint before sitting down, eh? Both first and second halves I ended up dying for a wee but you cannot get out.