Le tour du Headley.

Had planned on going to Box Hill via Stane Street but this was all dependant upon three things. The weather, AD being keen, and my being able to convince him that a Box Hill slog was a good choice. AD has the lingering none specific cold that a lot of us seem to have, although when I had it it was much worse. Up at out meeting point of Urban Kitchen on Reigate HIll he turned up on his hardtail Trek. I've learnt that when he gets that bike out* he may as well carry a flag that says "I fancy an easy ride today please" so Headley it was then.

Headley as you Dear Reader know full well is the default loop for a lot of Reigate based cyclists. It's not a boring there and back thing either as there are several loops, each of which may be mixed giving a whole host of options. And once at Headley the heath itself has a few little loops, some way harder than others. So it was golf course, duck pond, Headley today with an anti-clockwise loop around the full perimeter thrown in for good measure. AD it's fair to say had a willing mind but stroppy body. Normally he runs in front and I chase him down, but today the chase was not on and I led for most of the time. I find leading horrid as I never know what pace to set and always get it wrong; either looking like a show off by steaming off ahead on bits I find easy, or looking a dick by riding so slowly that we nearly fall off. Can never get the balance between being too slow or too fast right.

At Headley I discovered that AD in all these years had never done the hard anti-clockwise loop. As he was suffering from a cold my empathetic nature kicked in, and we altered my plan to take in the easy clockwise option. Did I bollocks. I have no empathy whatsoever, so we did the hard route. I'm not sure AD was convinced when I told him that the return leg had the Impossible Climb in it, and he gave me that look, the one that conveys the "you're a twat" message quite clearly. But coming off the gravel drop, and appearing at the base of the climb near High Ashurst it was clear that I'd underplayed the climb. He was in front of me yet I could hear quite clearly the "no f**king way" and "you must be f**king joking, what an arse" type comments he was making. AD's a bit like that; he says it as it is. And yes as you first see the climb it is nasty. It's just a nightmare of storm washed gravel and mud, with baby head flint thrown in for good measure. It looks as though it's utterly impossible, this not helped in noticing some woman struggling to push her bike up the hill approximately 20m distant. I don't know the gradient, or length of the climb, but it looks ridiculous.

So up and off we set, with AD getting to the quarter distance point before stalling. I got to almost half way before my front end washed out due to me being a muppet and letting the pressure off. Luckily at that spot another trail joins in from the right, so I remounted and got a push off, as did AD and we both completed the climb. Really I should have dropped my front suspension right down and lifted my saddle a tad; that'd do it. AD did comment that it would be easy in the summer, but he's not ridden the thing in the dry, when the gravel moves at will.

Big Bollocks was at the Headley cafe, but he ambled off so we were free to have tea and coffee. A couple of guys from the Dorking Cocks were there looking all muddy, but other than those two we saw few people about. Where are all the mountain bikers these days? Did see rather a lot of road cyclists pass by, on what I suspect is a tour of the Olympic route around Headley and Box Hill. Makes me think my new t-shirt may find good homes.

Homeward bound was easy, and we opted for the chalk path down. This is AD's baby and my nemesis. 20 years ago I'd always have an incident going down this thing, so I'm wary of it. OK poor excuse for being crap....

We did have a discussion about full suspension versus a hardtail. I'm mad keen on the hardtail front as I like the simplicity and low mass, but AD just counters this with me being too masculine and simply not in touch with my feminine side. I'm being too macho in sticking to my guns. As he's fundamentally miserable on a hardtail, and happy on his susser, he may have a point. I've owned a few full sussers in my time, but they were old school, old geometry ones, not modern slackness. So put a cheeky bid on a 2008 Santa Cruz Heckler frame on eBay; figured I could easily swop everything over from my PACE as the specs are bang on. Cheeky bid of £305 almost bagged it as well. I'll keep looking and see what comes up, but by heck some of the complete bikes are cheap. £800 for a Heckler? I'm betting on a slow week I could find a nice Santa Cruz frame for my £300.

Oh yes Dear Reader, my wax | C3 ceramic lube mix; how is it fairing? Well as few of you may have realised it's..... rubbish. No lube after ten miles as it was all washed off. I think what happened on my last ride was that it was so cold the wax was chemically resistant to mixing with water, so stopped on a bit longer. Today, warmer, it disappeared quickly. We all kind of knew it would but I had to try. At least my chain was easy to clean afterwards. Back to the drawing board on this one.

And I've finally ditched my ancient Magura Louise front brake. It works, it stops me pretty quickly, but it doesn't give enough stop for me. I like to be able to lift the rear wheel when braking but the Louise couldn't do that, even when grabbed with all my fingers. So today after the ride I put on an SLX unit. It feels better already, so I may also drop the front rotor to a 160mm to shave a bit of mass. Talking of which I've been quietly dropping my own personal mass for a few months now, nothing substantial, perhaps half a stone or so. It makes a subtle difference on the climbs, and then again on recovery afterwards, so seeing as how it's no alcohol January I'm going to abstain and see how much I can lose. I don't drink a huge amount, 400ml of beer every two days plus half a bottle of wine or so over a weekend, but alcohol is just calories so I may drop a few more lbs. Theory of a cyclist......

A happy little spin out, as it should be ;¬)

*I did of course have an inkling he'd be on that seeing as how the rear wheel bearings on the Specialized are shot. I did suggest he just get a pair of tubeless wheels from Superstar for £200, and shave a bit of mass, but he shot me down in flames on that one. He should really get the wheel fixed and Man Up and go tubeless - I'm sure his rims are already suitable. But I'm not the best salesman for the system, and he has seen me covered in latex following an incident in the bushes Dear Reader ;¬)