Home after work, cycling gear on, waiting for Jez to get back to go out riding. Dragged the Titus out as it hasn't been out this year and it's an expensive bike just to be sitting in the garage. Pumps tyres up, air in shock, change Garmin mount...hear the racket of Jez's motorbike engine...Jez arrives with a big CBA to riding. I go anyway, thinking I'll get a good spin in before it gets dark, being on my own will mean minimum faff (yeah right!).
Drive off, a bit of thought about where to go, as I'm on my own decide to ride Great Hill but where from? Abbey Village is the closest and most sensible time wise so get there unpack bike, get rest of kit on, lube the chain. Whilst back pedalling the chain to lube it it falls off the cassette and jams between cassette and spokes, grrr. Had to undo powerlink to fish it out, get it out and make note to do some serious bike cleaning (of all bikes) as chain is black and so now were my gloves.
Put it all back together and linked it up but failed to notice between threading it through derailleur and joining the powerlink it had fallen into the spokes again, grrrrrrrrrrrr! Undo it all again, rethread, join it back up, gloves even blacker, put car key in jacket pocket, jacket pocket now covered in black, oily fingerprints. So much for a quick and faffless start!
Set off riding, a few pedal revs later the grinding noise tells me I've done my usual crap job of threading the chain through the rear derailleur, seriously, seriously tempted to chuck everything back in car and go home but the prospect of dry, moorland trails is too much.
Pull over at Sawmill, undo it all again, thread chain through properly this time and manage not to lose powerlink in the long grass, off again with no grinding and working gears. Quick map check to locate the first piece of cheek I was intending to ride and head off to it, getting used to a squidgy bike again which was creaking annoyingly from the swingarm. It felt a lot heavier than the On One, particularly lifting it over gates.
Off up a section of relatively well packed double track onto the moor, will be a bit of a grassy slog in the wet but only one section looked like it would get boggy, mainly due to tractor tyres. Get up onto the moor and pick up one of my favourite pieces of running singletrack. In the spirit of minimising faff I stopped to take some pictures, it was lovely:
On again towards Great Hill and I'm finding the rear suspension (and the front to an extent) a bit of a liability to be honest, was like riding a pogo stick. I remember that last time I rode it I found the same and it needs some settings tweaked, more rebound damping I think, the rebound adjuster on the shock is turned wholly to one side (technical description) so I turned turned it completely the other way to see what happened.
Onwards onto the big track to the summit of Great Hill, more photo faff and the creaking seems to have stopped from the swingarm. Cracking view of the sun dropping, more picture faff and general staring:
Up to the summit of Great Hill, stare a bit at the sun dropping then head down again. Just as I was setting off I heard the low battery beep from my mobile, oh great. So now if something does go wrong with bike or me the mobile is about to die. That did make me pause a bit, original plan was to head to White Coppice but maybe it would be more sensible to take the big track back.
I got to the decision point and headed to White Coppice, it looked more fun. I do ride more cautiously on my own (especially with a dying mobile) and fluffed a few things across the rutty moor that the application of a little more speed would have probably fixed but it was fun and mainly dry. The rear suspension seemed a bit better so will need to twiddle the forks a bit soon.
The sunset was gorgeous and one of the reasons I headed up here, I know from past activities that the view is pretty good from Great Hill and I did watch for a bit, however I had lights/layers and food with me this time, the working and charged mobile phone thing obviously needs some remedial work though:
The bit I was worried about was the rutty drop to White Coppice but I had a whale of a time on that and was briefly tempted to ride/actually push (let's be honest) back up and do it again. Sense prevailed and I pegged it along the new bridleway for a bit then back up through the woods to pick up the moorland singletrack. I got down, just, without putting my lights on but fired them up for the last short bit of road back to the car.
Quick drive home for Chinese after a mainly satisfying ride and a cat runs across the road in front of me, I stop in time, just.