07 May 2013SSUK
Well that was fun, great weather, fun camping and a very decent ride in beautiful suroundings. Square and Compass was as fab as ever and enjoyed the Red Lion and Banks Arms too.
Tom's field is well placed for not only a walk and play on the rocks at Dancing Ledge but to cycle too and from both Swanage and the Square & Compass.
Fun, laid back event, enjoyed the rider briefing 'Don't be a Dick' - we'll that sums up all you need to know quite nicely really. Was great doing the mass ride through Swanage and the ride itself had some tough climbs and fast descents, all good stuff.
There were 6 of us Cocks down in Purbeck for the event, myself, Charlie, Matt and Simon camped whilst Antony and Tread did it as a day trip. It was nice to see so many people on their singlespeeds and chat to a few like minded riders.
Must say a big thanks to Charlie the bike monger for organising a very enjoyable weekend, much appreciated by us all and to Basil for leading us around along with one or two others including a 'Coomb Raider' from the Quantocks and the guy from Bookham with the drop bars.
Some tough climbs out over the headland past Old Harry then again up to Nine Barrows Down (both of which I was well pleased to clean). Loved the descent past the Golf course through the heather and trees - very similar to some of our local stuff - and found the climb that followed back up the hill just too much having to push a short section half way up. Great descent followed down to Corfe Castle followed by traversing Corfe Common and another hard climb up to Kingston.
The final off road section down towards Chapman Pool was wicked but not as wicked as that bloody road climb back out of the valley but the reward of a short tarmac section to the Square and Compass was well worth all the effort.
I don't know who ordered the weather but so glad that they did, it was pretty much perfect conditions. Great riding, top pubs, beautiful locations and fab company, really couldn't ask for anymore, 10 out of 10 on every aspect.
24 March 20133 months in
Well what a year its been so far. More snow than I can remember, more cold than ever and of course the seemingly endless rain. You would think its been a right off of a year so far as far as mountain biking goes but as it happens thats way of the mark.
Amazing as it may seem I have managed to cover more miles on my bike so far this year than ever before. Granted many of those 850 odd miles are accounted for by the daily ride to the station and back and a whole chunk more by the full work commute which involves a 20 mile plus round trip but I have also had plenty of 'proper' rides too.
Despite having suffered a servear lack of form at least I have still managed to get the miles in. This includes a Gorrick race, a Brass Monkey and of course the Wales trip. And its not only me as amazingly the Wednesday night rides have been holding up very well too with an average of 10 or so 'Cocks' making it out pretty much every week.
Again, it has to be said that on many occasions the rides are much shorter than usual and the quantities of beer consumed much larger but hey, our local pubs need us right now in these tough times so I see it as doing the whole community a favour by topping up the takings at the Plough, Kings Head, Abinger Hatch, Stephan Langton and Volunteer.
Peaslake stores, the tower and Newlands corner have also been benefitting from us so far this year. This weekend alone saw 4 of us make our way over to Newlands in the snow and freezing wind. Never have I seen so much mud and there are more puddles than ever. Getting a puncture was no fun thats for sure but the bacon butty and tea soon warmed my fingers up again.
The hunt for dry trails is getting harder and harder and testing the abilities of our most knowledgeable trail finders. The constant grinding of expensive parts is almost enough to make you cry and has certainly, in our group, seen a resurgance in fully rigid singlespeeds of varying wheel sizes.
Its certainly testing times for us mtbers but surely warmer dryer times are just around the corner. With the clocks changing next weekend over the Easter break and a weather forecast I saw on metcheck today promising temperaturs of as high as 14 degrees, surely we'll soon all be reaping the long overdue rewards of sticking at it through this past 12 months.
Dreams of dusty trails, long, light evening rides and Bivy nights must surely soon become a reality, roll on summer 2013, you can't come soon enough but in the meantime we'll all just have to 'suck it up' and enjoy the conditions as best we can and get out riding on whatever bike we have available. I'm looking forward to sitting in the sun chatting with other 'Cocks' as we discuss how awful 2012/13 was as we top up our tans.
11 February 2013Wales in February
Well after all the talk and organising and with ideas flying around all over the place our North Wales trip did actually happen and it turned out very well indeed.
I drove up taking Charlie and Wendy with me and we met up at Llandegla with Matt and Simon who where driven up by Antony. The six of us set off on the trails with a light covering of snow on the ground.
My previous visit here had been on a Sunday in February 2012 and the place was packed with both the main and overflow car parks rammed full. Our plan to ride here on the Friday worked a treat as just a few fellow bikers were out on a weekday afternoon and in sleety conditions.
We set off together and made steady progress on the long climb up to the first real section of singletrack. It was at this point as Simon, Antony, Charlie and me sped off following the red trail that Wendy and Matt just seconds behind managed to head off down the blue option.
Having waited around and even back tracked and being unable to find us we eventually set off having a great following the red and black loops all the way back to the visitor centre. Much needed afternoon tea followed and in short time Matt and Wendy turned up having realised there mistake and back tracked to pick up the red route which they followed from there.
The Trails were fantastic, loved all the zig zaggy descents and climbs, the berms and tabletops, even the wooden board walks, all rode well and made for a great couple of hours entertainment.
As we supped our tea thoughts turned to Leo, Ray and Jo who had headed directly to Snowdon to attempt a ride to the summit. As it turned out they had a good crack at it but were defeated by the snow about 2 km from the top – perhaps trying it at a better time of year would have been wiser.
With the days riding done we made our way over to our B & B near Coed y Brenin. Can’t remember the name of the place but it was very nice, warm and clean and the owners very friendly and helpful, they even drove us up to the local pub near the log cabins which was a really good place to spend an evening.
The following day following the usual mix of too much beer, gin, vodka and brandy we took our time getting ready. The weather was damp and overcast, really not too pleasant but we had come a long way to ride so that’s what we were going to do. The fast squad set of 1st (Ray, Leo & Antony) whilst the rest of us fluffed about and waited and waited for Joe. Eventually we got going, cycling down the A470 (not much fun) to the visitor centre where yet more flaffing followed.
Eventually we got going and basically did the beast. I loved some of the new additions to the trails, not technical but really fast and swoopy with the added advantage of cutting out the small road sections. Can’t remember the names of all the trails but we really hammered many of the downs before having a well-earned rest at the café half way around.
Once warmed up in the Wendy house with tea and soup we set off again, I managed to drag everyone around the big fire road loop which I seem to be in a minority of one as I quite like it – coming down from the top was very misty, no views today but it was kind of fun riding flat out hardly being able to see what way the track was going to turn next. Soon we arrived at the start of the singletrack decent and having re grouped we set of in order, Simon and Charlie at the front with me chasing them as hard as I could on my hard tail whilst Matt, Wendy and Joe followed.
All too soon it was over and we were spat out on the fire road. Charlie who had been I’ll all weekend so far decided to head back to the visitor centre and Joe and Simon joined him which left Matt, Wendy and myself to continue on the loop taking in the final climb and then decent to the car park. On arrival we decided it was too early to go for a tea so headed out and did a small loop taking in Dream time before returning back to the start. Temptation once again got the better of me and along with Matt we did the blue route and just loved the flow of it and that wicked section of berms – really good fun. With that done we joined Wendy for a cuppa before returning to the B&B.
Another enjoyable evening out followed and a good sleep was had by most - just ask Ray. As Sunday dawned thankfully the 4 to 8 inches of snow hadn’t materialised and over breakfast we decided the best option was to pack the cars and drive them down to the Visitor Centre before heading of on a short ride. With this done we cycled as a whole group covering all the sections of the Beast and Dragons back that we had missed the day before clocking up another 12 miles or so in very sleety conditions.
That concluded a weekend of fine riding in poor conditions but at least that meant the trails were quiet. We had no major offs or mechanicals, Wendy and Joe managed to demo 2 or 3 bikes between them and hopefully a good time was had by all.
10 January 20131st big group ride of 2013
So that’s the 1st real Wednesday ride of 2013 out the way and it appears that despite the calendar putting us into another year, the trails are in the same sorry state.
Still, with a good forecast for the evening we had a great turn out of 13 riders and it was really nice to see the familiar Cocks faces as we head into another year.
So, besides myself (Toby) we had the Dorking Contingent of Matt G, Matt R, Charlie, George, Michael (No, not that George Michael), Huw, Joe and his mate Simon. Duncan was down from Chertsey, Simon the bullet biked over from Reigate (or is that Redhill), Brian drove up from Crawley and good old John, (otherwise known as Old Cock) arrived from London.
I was elected to lead despite trying hard to get out of it so after pondering a little drew up a rough route in my mind. Nothing too technical and a fairly early pub stop as Simon was keen to celebrate being 42 years young.
We headed off out around deerleap where we passed another group of six or so riders coming in the other direction. From there we continued across the Abinger Roughs then around the back of Gomshall before making our way up to Ponds Lane. On the approach to this path Charlie questioned my sanity of taking the group up there in the current conditions – he didn’t know it had been resurfaced.
With a large group and quite a wide spread of fitness the ride was a bit stop start as we tried to keep everyone together. Still, reasonable progress was made and at the top of Ponds Lane we took the bridleway through the farm then eventually over to Peaslake.
With all the mud and the extra Christmas pounds being carried it was proving hard work, added to that the temperature had taken a real tumble already being much colder than recent nights. We passed through Peaslake where another group of bikers where getting ready by there cars outside Pedal & Spoke and headed up the road towards the end of BKB.
We had a final group gathering here before embarking on the climb up Holmbury Hill and finally on to the Kings Head where we arrived in drips and drabs.
Duncan & Michael had both missed the Christmas meal so I presented them each with a Dorking Cocks puncture repair kit – oh how Duncan needs one with his recent spate of flats with yet another one being collected on the way home.
As usual the beers were lovely (my 1st beers of 2013), the company entertaining and the pub warm and cosy. All too quickly it was time for some of us to leave so the advance party of Myself, Duncan, Charlie, Brian & Michael got ourselves prepared.
On leaving the pub it was all too evident just how cold it had got with frost already covering many of the cars outside. A quick blast down the road didn’t help matters as the 1st mile or 2 all the way down to the Volunteer has the wind chill biting hard with little in the way of hard effort required which normally warms you up quickly.
We went up the little road by the Volunteer ignoring the road closed signs only to come across a huge tree down justifying the closure. We had to dismount to scramble past the tree then it was onward to the A25 and back to Westcott (not before having waited with Duncan to sort out his front wheel having had yet another puncture).
What happened to the rest of the Cocks that we left at the Kings Head I am yet to hear but I suspect it involved more beer and a wobbly ride home. Not the best ride ever but in the current conditions the 18 miles we covered and the company in which it was done still made for a cracking evening out.
19 December 2012Christmas Meal Ride
Well what a great night that was. It started not so well with a weather forecast of torrential rain for the whole evening so I was expecting a big turn out of riders at Nirvana.
As we previous years we had a table booked at the Kings Head in Holmbury but for a larger than usual number of 25. Most people tend to meet there be there’s always a large percentage who like to cycle hence avoiding the drink driving issues of getting home.
So as Brian and myself rode up from my house to the shop we weren’t expecting too many others to appear. In time the group number rose to 7 with Ray, Charlie, George, Matt G and Matt R all turning up before the 6.45 off time.
Our first stop was to be the Stephan Langton and we headed off that way, up round the church, up Rookery lane and then the Rookery climb, where Matt G and myself both performed miserably not quiet making it to the top. From here it was along the singletrack beside Wolvens Lane then the cheeky path over the style and down the edge of the field tot the style at the bottom.
This path can always be a little dodgy and today proved no exception with Brian taking an off and ripping his jacket quite impressively on the barbed wire fence.
Having all safely negotiated the styles at either end of this path with some relief we headed on up past the waterfall to Broadmore.
From here we climbed up between the houses on a path that is becoming increasingly boggy with all this rain up to the road then straight over and down to Friday Street. George took a spill as his bike washed out in the mud on this section but no harm was done.
As we pulled up at the Langton there was already a pile of bikes outside which turned out to be Nick and his Norwood Paragon group. They to were on there Christmas meal ride and planned next to visit the Kings Head before concluding their evening with a meal at their regular drinking whole of the Volunteer.
We shared the Langton with them for a pint and then they headed on there way. We on the other hand found Joe was also there and had ridden the whole mile or so from his house as was Paul and Ed Duffy. Glasses were refilled and lots of rubbish talked. At some point Nashie arrived in the car with Wendy and Huw and a 3rd pint appeared in front of me.
Eventually it was time to head on and with Joe swelling the number of riders to 8 we set off on our way. A short tarmac stretch over to Abinger Common then off road to Holmbury followed. We arrived at the Kings Head in time for our supposed 8.30 start and found the rest of our party there.
The pub was heaving with 25 of us and 2 other Christmas parties there too there wasn’t a lot of space and we were all rather crammed in. The atmosphere and beer thou were very good and the beer flowed nicely. To be honest I can’t remember much detail of what followed.
He food did come out in drips and draps so we found some people had virtually finished there main whilst others were just starting – didn’t bother me and I really enjoyed my food and still the beer flowed.
As has become a bit of a tradition I handed out a small present for everyone – normally these would be personalised colanders but this year for a change everyone got a Dorking Cocks puncture repair kit which seemed to go down well.
Eventually the time passed and before I new it midnight had come around and the ride home loomed. A sneaky ciggie with Charlie out front confirmed the weather wasn’t a complete nightmare and us cyclists eventually saddled up for the late night trip home.
I’m not sure who led the way but quite sensibly they opted for the road, down towards Abinger Hammer but cutting off past the Volunteer pub, down to then along the A25 and home. No idea how much I drank in the end but it was a top good evening, a suitable end to a very wet year.
16 December 2012Brass Monkey 2
Just over a week ago I entered my 1st ever Gorrick (Brass Monkey) race. Encouraged by my friend Iwona I decided it was about time I gave one of these events a go.
With all the rain we have had this year the local trials around Dorking are in the worst conditions I can remember and with reports from Charlie & Antony of the Gorrick area trails being far dryer I was further inspired to take part.
A third reason to enter was the thought of riding new (to me) trails which I keep hearing about being very singletrack based which appeals to me very much.
Being my 1st race I opted for the 2 hour category to give me a taste of what to expect. I drove over there in plenty of time for the 12 start and was registered and ready by about 10.30. Matt had also entered the race so we decided to wait for the 4 hr riders to come past the start finish area to try and gauge just how long a lap would take us
Well the front riders came through at about 40 minutes, we were guessing for us it would be nearer the 1 hour mark for a lap and when our friend Antony came through to complete his 1st lap in about 50 minutes that confirmed what we thought
We stayed to watch a little longer and saw Iwona come past in 2nd place having taken about 1 hour for her lap. After this we went back to the cars to prepare for the race.
We were on the start line in plenty of time but were about 3 rows back from the front and in the middle. The race was led out by a quad bike around a large sports field area and the usual manic start ensued - being in the middle of the pack was so good, we kind of got boxed in and took a while to work a way out to the side and pass riders. As soon as we hit the singletrack it was mayhem as everyone slowly sorted out into single file and hold ups occurred at every little obstacle.
Eventually the field started to spread out but the front runners must have gained at least 5 mins on those further back within the 1st half lap. The course itself was very good, lots and lots of singletrack with tight corners, the odd roll in and muddy/rooty sections - lots of small sharp climbs and a few wider sections to make overtaking easier.
As the first lap progressed I felt I was gaining more places than losing but was also struggling to get rhythm. I have to admit to seriously calling it a day after just one lap as I felt like I struggled my way around. I think towards the end of the lap I managed to persuade myself to clear such thoughts from my mind and and give the race a proper go and get on with it.
On crossing the start line for the 2nd lap the field had certainly spread out a lot more and the start of lap 2 flew by no without all the traffic jams of lap 1. I felt stronger and much happier to carry on and also as you do the course a 2nd time and start to recognize features it becomes a little easier.
I carried on with the aim of trying to finish lap 2 inside of 2 hours to give myself an option of a 3rd lap should I feel like it. As we approached the finish I passed Iwona (she was on her 4th lap) and got over the line in about 1.56 so could, and probably should have done a 3rd lap however I decided that I’d done enough for my 1st race.
Matt who was in the same category as me (Vet Males) and riding singlespeed came over the line just a few minutes later at about 2.03 so just missed the cut off.
All in all it was good fun, really enjoyed the course and now I'm more aware of what to expect from these races I'm looking forward to having another go on the 13th Jan.
Just for the record our results were as follows.
Antony was in the Vet Male 4hr race and he managed 5 laps and came 15th out of 77 on his singlespeed.
Matt was 52nd out of 93 on his singlespeed in the 2 hr Vets and in the same cat I came 38th which I was quite pleased with.
Iwona did well as she always seems to and came in 2nd place in the 4hr Ladies so I waited with her for the podium presentation. All good fun and well organised, the trails were certainly a lot dryer than the Surrey Hills and the riding well worth the trip for
11 November 2012Scotland Trip
Just back from a few days in Scotland with George & Martyn. Great trip, covered about 100 miles, stayed at Blair Atholl and Newtonmore and visited Aviemore, Kingussie, Laggen and Inverness as well.
Had two days of riding some remote off road tracks including the Gaick Pass and had very little rain, only the odd light shower but it was windy. The sun also made regular apperances, the scenery was wonderful as ever and we had the odd eventful moment what with Georges Split tyre.
Even managed to get a peak at the Mythical Glen Bogel and the Monarch of the Glen House.
30 October 2012Bike & Beer 29/10/12
08 October 2012D2D 2012
Through this rubbish summer that we have had I decided there are one or two challenges I want to do whilst I can, one of those was to do a 12 hour Solo race.
Now, having done D2D for the past 3 years as part of a team and knowing full well what the conditions can be like some might well say that this event isn’t the ideal choice for your first ever 12 hour solo.
Well, I took the gamble that the weather would at least be ok, surely it can’t be that bad 3 years in a row and as luck would have it it payed off. Antony, Mark and Matt had also all signed up to do it solo as well so 4 Cocks should make it quite fun.
Matt unfortunately wasn’t too well so didn’t make the trip and although Mark did come along, he too wasn’t feeling great so bailed out after 6 laps. That just left Antony (riding as Team Milo) and myself.
We had had a lot of rain leading up to this event and certainly the trails back here in Surrey were feeling the effects of it, the forecast for the period of the race thou was actually quite nice so even if the ground was soaked at least unlike last year you could hang around outside in the dry and that alone makes a big difference.
Well, we all travelled separately to Thetford and met up in the Solo camping area. Having had a chance to register and look around the main arena and the soloist’s tent we decided not to bother with a practice lap or with the soloist tent as there was very little distance between that and where we were parked up.
Instead we spent our time getting bikes, clothing and food ready. Come 7.45 we made our way to the starting line and were somewhere around halfway up the field, it was a clear night and cold but DRY. We had seen other riders in the afternoon returning from practice laps and they didn’t seem too muddy which was a blessing I can tell you.
At 8 sharp the race set off first doing the 1.5 mile lead out lap before recrossing the start line to start properly. It’s a bit odd being a soloist as you’re not racing flat out all the time and it is a little disconcerting to have so many other riders constantly passing you whilst you only occasionally pick the odd one off yourself.
It didn’t take long to settle into the race and the 1st lap was gone inside the hour, the conditions overall were good, I especially liked the 2nd half of the course after the only bomb whole, there was some really nice flowing singletrack in here although the bit where the ‘music’ was playing was rather muddy. There were also some fairly muddy sections in the 1st half of the lap but all was just about ride able and as the race went on it did dry out a bit.
Well, on entering the race I set myself the ambition of doing 10 laps (100 miles) and having completed lap 1 it looked like that may be achievable. My tactic would be to just ride pretty much non-stop and at a good steady pace, I had put some chocolate and sweets in my pockets and had one bottle of power drink on the bike. Having never raced like this before I wasn’t sure what to expect so learned as I went.
I knocked off the first 3 laps without stopping and told myself I want to get 5 done and then reward myself with a chance of clothes. This I pretty much did, stopping very briefly at the end of each lap on the side of the course to eat a chocolate bar and have some drink. At the end of lap 6 I headed back to the car to change clothes, get fresh food and drink and new light batteries ( I had carried spares with me). I stopped no more than 10 minutes and there was no sign of Antony or Mark so I assumed they were both still on the course.
Feeling refreshed I set off on lap 7, and having cooled down a little it felt so cold to start with and my fingers were going numb, still, it didn’t take that long to warm up again and wind my way around the course. Just before the bomb hole on Lap 7 Antony came past, he was on lap 8 – top rider coming past was the cheeky shout I heard, that was the 1st I’d seen of him or Mark since lap one.
Onward we went and at the end of my lap 8 and over 8 hours into the race I decided to pit again and get a warmer top to put on and check on food, drink and batteries. This time Mark arrived at the car whilst I was flaffing and announced he wasn’t feeling great, was struggling and was going to call it a day with 6 laps done.
Now changed into a warmer top I was off again on lap nine, there was still about 3 hours to go I think and although I was really getting tired now it looked like 10 laps was a real possibility. Lap nine came and went without incident and I went straight into lap 10, all be it slowing considerably now as tiredness really started to hit home.
Having said that, with about 2 hours of race time left as I was cycling along it got me thinking, if I could just do 11 laps that would be the longest I distance I had ever ridden in one go – back in 1995 I had done 106 miles in one day on my Lands End to John o Groats trip but that was all on tarmac. So, the seed was set to make this my longest ride ever and that did galvanise me a little too. As the end of lap 10 approached the sun was rising and daylight was starting to end the need for bike lights.
For the 10th time I rode through the start finish area and set off straight into lap 11. The course did seem quieter now and all the fast boys I just pulled over to let past so they could continue they races for honours, for me it was all about personal goals and finishing as high up the field as possible, top half would do me but the higher the better obviously.
Once again, almost in the same spot as before, Antony came past me, lap 13 is it Antony I said, no its 12. He had taken a small rest then nodded off for 30 minutes unplanned, which had messed up his timing a little, it meant he wasn’t back in time to start that all-important 13th lap. After a short chat whilst riding together Antony slowly pulled ahead to complete his 12 th and final lap. Shortly afterwards I came in to end up on a total of 11 laps and completely knackered but very chuffed.
Now all through the event none of us had any idea of our placings so it was a very pleasant surprise to go and check out the results. 147 soloists had registered but only 122 started. Off those 122 Mark came in 75th with his 6 laps where as Antony did fantastic to be 8th with his 12 laps and if it wasn’t for his little un planned knap may well have made the top 5. For me, well I am really chuffed to have finished 18th, well above what I had expected.
Would I do it again, well I’m not sure yet. I enjoyed it, it has achieved the goals I set out to do but I have to say it is just much more fun riding in a team. That’s not to say its not fun as a Soloist because it is and obviously has lots of challenges but , for me at least, you just can’t go out and attack the course like you can when doing a one lap blast every 3 hours or so in a team.
I must just mention what lights I was running. I had Ay Ups on both my helmet and handlebars. I had one 6 hour battery for the bars and three 3 hour batteries for the helmet. I kept the helmet light on full for the entire time and thisjust about lasted the race and the handle bar one I used on the low setting which lasted to about lap 8 or or so. I did also have my two £30 cree lights but decided to keep them as reserve only using one of them for laps 9 and 10.
The Ay Ups big plus side is the battery life, long enough to see me through an event like this but the big down side is that they just aren't bright enough and I think that cost me time. The Cree light when I used it was fab, with hindsight I wish I'd made more use of them as I had a good 3 hours of battery life on full setting for them which I didn't utilise and they are much brghter than my ay-ups.
So, if I were to do it again I'd use my more powerful lights 1st to make sure I benefit from them and run the ay-ups as back up. What I will say is all the lights performed well, no dropped connections or loose batteries or anything like that and Simon's ay-ups that Mark was using were certainly brighter having been sent away for a £30 upgrade of the leds.
All in it was a great event - I may, or may not return for a 5th year in 2013.
08 October 2012Peaslake MTBO
Just over a week ago I entered the Peaslake MTBO. I was hoping to have a partner to enter as team Dorking Cocks but as no one was available I did it solo.
As it turns out it worked out really well for me, I managed to get all of the checkpoints and retun with 11 minutes to spare. I have to say I thought this may be enough to win but as it turned out I came 3rd which I'm still very pleased with.
Really enjoyed myself and the event but it is more fun having a riding partner. Particularly enjoyed the 2 very small sections of bridleway I rode to collect checkpoints which I had never ridden before and that is a rare thing for me in this area these days.