Ride Report – Burn Off the Xmas Pud, 30 Dec 07

30 12 2007

Burn Off the Xmas Pud was our theme and our resident Tinsel Technicians, Rich and Donna, did us proud with their festive crash helmet / bike creations 🙂

We chose this ride 1. because we love the Surrey Hills (the correct name for the area NOT North Downs, she says slapping own wrist) and 2. because with the recent rain on Friday we thought that as the ground up there drains so much better than our Sussex Clay it’d be easier going – WRONG !

After leaving the car park it was a little wet and gloopy but as we’d promised a leisurely pace it didn’t seem to be too much of a problem. 1st puncture was just outside the car park so we trundled on to warm the legs up. Quick chat stop, fettle and mutual admiration of everyone’s xmas pressies we were off again this time turn right away from the honeypots of Pitch and Holmbury and on more open trails with smatterings of technical interest to keep things going along the way.

We headed up a steep loose rocky, rooty climb to the Windmill (weird what you find out on the trail isn’t it ?) and rode along the ridge with the sun beaming down on us and an uninterrupted view to the South Downs. Absolutely stunning ! We weaved our way through some flowy downhill singletrack and eventually regrouped at ‘The Gully’.

This gully is steep sided, with varying entry points giving many levels of difficulty but none of them with a run out because it’s a mirror image of itself, bit like riding a totally unachievable bombhole with the narrow gully in the bottom (oh, which is full of tree debris hidden in deep leaf mulch!). Quite a few Muddy@rsers had a go, getting more and more daring as they ventured along to the steeper and steeper sections. Culminating in our mentalist, 5Lab, who opted for the monty of drop-ins up the far end of the gully with a nasty rootfest to negotiate all the way down. Respect ! I think it’s on film too…

Anyway, into the gully we went. The winter had unfortunately ruined it’s flow with alot of massive fallen tree branches, mini branches, deep leaf mulch and loose rocks to negotiate. I think the only one to clear it was Rick, but then he would wouldn’t he ! Me I managed quite a bit but then spectacularly crashed right at the end as my front wheel got ripped out my hands as I tried to cross a small gully. Now I remember why my knee hurts ! (little did I know I only had 2 more crashes to go 😦 )

Once at the bottom we turned right and followed a nice technical singletrack which turned into a really loose, pebbly gully which had been really washed away, a few near miss moments kept everyone on their toes then sharp right up a steep incline which had been chewed up by horses. Shame, it’s tough at the best of times but today it was just wheelspin city. Want to know why? Rich is your man, reciting his schoolboy geography as he and I span/pushed our way up. However, this was a taster of the mud to come….

We churned our way upward on muddy singletrack, the back end skittering on hidden bone coloured roots and circumnavigated the Xmas Tree plantation, flick flacked our way up and down a bit then off down a steep, rocky, loose gully out into a Millionaire’s backgarden (I’ve often wondered how much money he’s tried to spend to get that B.way removed), down the road for quite a bit then sharp right. Straight into bog city !

The climb to follow was, erm, well, erm, interesting ? As I kept telling everyone ‘In the summer this is a blast’, well today it was winter and it was b*ggered ! Chewed up by every machine known to man and beast it had turned into a rutted, gloopy, pedal / wheel eating nightmare. But wasn’t it fun ? I actually enjoyed the technicality of riding through the gloop, keeping a tight line, testing my balance and honing my mud plugging skills, oh and the nip of whiskey helped a bit too …hic !  No worries here though, if we thought going up was bad going down was almost impossible.

This one mile decent which …”in the summer is a real blast” was nasty today. Most of it was sort of rideable but it was a question of taste as to whether it was enjoyable, either way though we had to go down it. You may have felt like it was going up but honest it was going down, non-stop pedalling downhill is weird though isn’t it ? With absolutely no momentum and the grinding paste sandy soil slowly getting into your bike’s every orafice was not music to our ears. Especially if you were one of us on a nice new shiney bike …

That out the way the fun was yet to come (thanks to Rich, Donna & Mike). Well after a rather stiff climb that is (my crash no.2 -chainsuck on a climb and spat off into the debris)…but Clawhammer & Surface of the Moon we were bound. Why Clawhammer, well because of the split tree you have to ride through halfway down the trail. Clawhammer like everywhere today was chewed and muddy but still good fun singletrack filled with many dips and bumps, keeping you on your toes. Exit onto a road (my crash no. 3 – nearly over the bars as forks tucked man I’m having sh!t luck today) more twisty singletrack, through the Clawhammer, smile for photo and onto the rutted drop in.

Why Surface of the Moon, well on certain days the forest floor shines red & etheral.  The singletrack led into a rutted drop-in.  Drop-in cleaned, one last climb, honest one last climb, then for the sweet twisty final decent into Peaslake CP. Those who had the energy went off and did Barry Knows Best and returned on a high with goodies from the Deli and a smile to say, yeh I enjoyed that !

We feasted on Xmas cake, jelly babies, Maltloaf, Pannaforte, tea and coffee and mingled chatting about our New Year plans and how we’d enjoyed our new pressies on the trail. I enjoyed today, even if was hard work cutting through that mud…mind you I did promise you’d Burn Off the Xmas Pud…. wasn’t lying now was I !?!?!?

Great to see everyone today and here’s wishing you all a very Happy New Year ! See you on the trails in 2008.  Dates & venues to follow as soon as I have the energy but probably the last Sunday in January so keep your eyes peeled.

Lisa & Rick

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