The Limpsfield wonder - Titsey Hill

Not posted for some time.

Many apologies for not posting. Still alive, still riding. Kind of been chasing my tail for the past three months work wise, fighting the inevitable decline to nothing. Should really have bitten the bullet last November when things looked terminal, where my employer definitely started to show signs of having nothing for me to do. Only problem being that I'm loyal so stuck with it. Lesson learnt.

In terms of riding I've been on the fat bike a lot. Mainly as a functional tool riding to and from Oxted, or collecting on-line purchases. Again with a fat bike this was definitely a case of wanting to fly the flag rather than using an appropriate tool for the job. Indeed having owned the fat bike for years now, it's hard to think of any situation where it is ever the best tool for the job. I guess again I'm being loyal, belligerent or just plain stubborn in using the thing. Must say though it is fun..... especially on rocks and gravel. Mud? You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. Just slides over the surface. On the flats it can sometimes fly along given the right surface. Roads seem like you have the brake on. Most downhills, the flat, flowy ones, are a blast.

Done anything different?

Mainly my rides have been to Oxted and back. Pretty plain commute to what I called work. Done a few local loops, again of no real interest to you Dear Reader. Did do one with PP that was novel with a few nice stops.
  • Redhill to Godstone via the sand pit.
  • Godstone to Limpsfield via the muddy track that PP hates and I quite like.
  • Up Titsey Hill, which everybody hates prior but afterwards wonder why as it is only 7 minutes.
  • Tea at the Botley tea hut - really quite nice.
  • Over to Warlingham and the never ending climb up to Gravely Hill at Caterham.
  • Drop down via a cheeky path to the Green Rooms at Godstone. No idea why we went there; hateful place with ultra slow, stroppy service. Never again. I really dislike the Green Rooms.
  • Back via the sand pits to Redhill. 
Quite a few cheeky bits just to throw PP. You see I'm a bit of a trail hound, and love nothing more than finding new stuff to ride. It amuses me to take a local out, somebody who has lived here all their lives, and within 500m of any ride, they're going "never knew this was here!" I don't think I'm particularly brilliant at finding stuff. Just that I've not lived here for fifty years, so it is all new to me in a way that isn't to a local.

Justify the fat bike.

PP was out on his Trek Remedy, a nice 26" old skool mountain bike. It still looks nice, is capable yet at the same time is starting to show its age. It was clearly better than my On-One Fatty, especially weight wise. My fatty now comes in at a rather shocking 43lb. However, in its defence all the crap you carry in a backpack, I carry on the bike.

The interesting thing for me was PP and his riding. For years he's been kind of hounding me for my inability to do jumps, nail every trail and just generally be silly. In my defence I've been a solid, if not exciting rider. My excuse being twenty years of injuries and multiple A & E visits; one crushed shoulder, one broken collarbone, concussion, exposure, two broken ribs, multiple cuts and bruises. Not a high catalogue of injuries, yet enough to make me think and wince. He's never, for instance, fallen down a set of steps thanks to stupid bike design (call up the Klien Mantra please), and probably never will. Or gone for a night ride deep in some Belgium woods only to find the area rife with twitchy hunters. Or, heaven forbid, a solo night ride in Belgium again only to find oneself miles from home, rounding a corner and coming up against mulleted wierdos clearly up to no good.

Not any more. PP fell off and cut his knee the other week and got an infection. Out riding with him in the past, he'd be fast on the downhills, hooning around. Out post injury a very different rider. Not at all keen on the downhills. It'll pass, and I guess soon I'll be the brunt of the sympathetic looks as I mince down the next rock gulley on an inappropriate bike. Actually I probably will not as PP wants different things from a ride to me now, so we rarely see eye to eye and it's all a bit neutral.

The Pentlands.

One thing I did do a little different was to take my Orange 5 out for a spin around the Pentlands in Edinburgh. We were visiting friends, so I took a bike. In the end it was both fun and frustration in pretty equal measures.

You see Peebles and Glentress were only 30 miles away. I had a choice; drive out for an hour, or just ride into the hills. On my trusty map it looked an easy ride into the hills from where we were, and I had just driven 500 miles so did not fancy even looking at my car....

It was the wrong choice. My easy cycle ride out of the centre of Edinburgh took over an hour, through the suburbs. There was a cycle route. For some reason the lovely roads people in town closed a few roads, and put up diversion signs. Fair one except most other places tend also to put up equivalent signs pointing out where the diversion is. Edinburgh don't. Several times I ended up in big, meandering estates following car drivers also lost. The last diversion worked for me in a way - I ended up atop a big cliff looking down on the cycle path, so just had to find a way down. I did have a map, yet these things are cumbersome and mine lived in my pocket. You can't keep looking at it.

Got to the Pentlands, and by heck was it cold. Really exposed up there with a strong wind, and really muddy. Not big hills, or indeed big views. Still loved it. Just did a big old loop. The only negative, well negatives; my map did not show where the pubs were, so I just ate what I carried, suffering the cold wind as I did. I found out later on that - in the photo below - there's a pub near the lake. The other? One big massive bog going uphill. That was a mile of carrying or pushing my bike. All the same I was content. The last time I rode these hills was on my Orange Clockwork C16-R in 1996.

This view was stunning. The mud does not look too bad eh? Oh you are so very wrong!

I actually really like the Pentlands. Always have, always will. Quite possibly Peebles would have been a better ride experience. Yet on this day I saw only two other cyclists. I'd found my own way around a quiet part of the world. Peebles and Glentress get 1,000 riders a day.

Of course on the way back the cycle route was badly signposted and had an unsigned diversion on it. Really, who in their right mind closed a cycle path and provides the only alternative route into town as the A9? I'm not fazed riding on roads, yet even I though that perhaps this wasn't such a hot idea. It was pretty awful. Cars kept giving me punishment passes, and one bus was right up my arse honking his horn. Luckily it was only for a mile or two. Eventually I regained the cycle path. This wasn't so good as, bizarre as it may sound to a Dutch reader, the cycle path was more scary than the exposed A9. It ran down Princes Street. It shared the same space - exactly the same space - as taxis, buses and trams. A cycle route shared with a tram way? Years ago I managed to put a wheel into a tram track, so know exactly how that ends.

Edinburgh, you really suck as a town for cycling in. As a city for visiting it's pleasant enough for a few days. Better once you find the beaches for a bit of a breather. Tend to find the city a bit one dimensional otherwise; it's all laid out for tourists to find easily, so there's no sense of finding your feet and doing your own thing. Just if you take your bike, leave it in the car and drive out. Much better.