Today's ride was brought to you by the Volstead Act.

Saturday's night ride was severely curtailed, indeed nay! it was entirely absent. We'd been over to Crystal Palace all day, and, thanks to late running trains, had a late lunch at The Crystal Palace Market - a rather fashionable burger restaurant. My burger was lovely, and for once the children ate all that was presented to them, so it couldn't have been bad. My burger, the spicy hot one, had me sweating happily. Got back a little too late to go out again on the bike, and to be honest I was too full of food to make the thought pleasurable. Apologies for letting the side down and all that.

So, Sunday morning. Not full of food, bike clean and ready to go, ice on the roofs, time to get out there. Tentatively climbed the hill, expecting gear slippage due to my partially knackered cassette and chain, but it held off until the end of the ride. Figured out that recommended lubricants are all fine and dandy with new chains, but for worn out crap perhaps I should revert back to thicker, cheaper stuff. Time to put away the Rock 'n' Roll and bring out the heavy duty winter lubricant me thinks. Certainly don't fancy swopping out old transmission for new given the sloppy mud we've got here in Surrey right now.

In many ways it was an average ride of average duration, 25 miles or so. But in others it was a lovely winter spin out. The mud was there, enough to be challenging but not enough to halt progress, even on a semi-slick rear tyre. Actually there was one over the bars moment when I hit a tree root hidden in one muddy section. Nice soft landing though. Along "Phil's Bush" I was making progress through the mire, and had a cross country runner on my tail. Made the fatal mistake of pushing too hard through there. Knew I was doing wrong right from the off but tried to save face in not slowing down. The problem is, the faster one does through this kilometre section of deep mud, the more wheelspin you get. 500m in and you're a sweaty mess with burning thighs. Predictably at 750m the runner past me and left me for dead. Well, he did until the mud stopped and I was able to nip past again. That taught him not to mess with me.....

Not many riders out today, and not many tyre tracks either suggesting a quiet weekend on the trails perhaps? To be fair I couldn't blame anybody for stopping in and giving it a miss. The temperature hovered a few degrees above freezing, so was OK, but there was a cold wind blowing which made being stationary a slightly miserable affair. My coffee stop at Headley was a quickie; the coffee going cold real fast. Tried to do the trail known as "Life on Mars" but there were quite a few fallen trees and the alternative route left me with a cut face thanks to a tree branch whipping back. Bugger off-piste after that.

No idea why but my ride was occupied by two thoughts; the Volstead Act and a sudden desire to buy some Absinthe. Funny how, alone in the woods, cold and on a bike, your mind wanders to odd places. Daydreaming may well explain the near misses all ride, where trees suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Over near Headley one daydreaming moment had me tank slapping down the trail in an hair raising moment. Muddy trail full of Land Rover ruts. I was, for some odd reason, riding the central ridge. Blew my nose, looked up, small but slippy branch in front. Normally you'd either just ride over it or pop the front wheel up. Not me, not today. Panic braked and turned at the same time, off the ridge and into a rut. Lost control of the front end and slipped past the innocent branch all sideways with the front wheel skidding. Managed to stay upright, but boy was it a stupid move. By now I was beginning to wonder if stopping in bed would have been better for me.

Kind of glad I took the PACE RC303 out, even with its' shitty transmission. Did want to take the Orange Five as I've not ridden it for six months' now and miss the fun. But the conditions were not suspension friendly, and slightly slow. My riding was utter pants, and my head was somewhere else. If I'd been on the "faster" bike I'd have had more silly incidents. I'm not advocating taking out a piece of crap every ride, or even having a winter bike, but sometimes, just sometimes, a crappy bike will fit the situation perfectly.