Random musings about mountain bikes…

(North) Down, Down, Deeper and Down!

Had an awesome days riding in the North Downs yesterday.  Nice early start getting into Westcott for around 10am. 

Tested out the new Thule bike carrier for the first time with my On-One and Stuarts Specialised Stumpy fitted.  Held them really well and is very solid.  Particularly like that everything is held on the tow bar so nothing hitting the car and both wheels are supported.   Looking from the back the wheels don’t even stick out as far as the mirrors so not that nerve racking in tight spaces.  I got the Thule Euroride which has the tilt feature, this means I can lean the bikes back enough to get the boot open with them fitted.  This is very handy meaning that you don’t need to remove the bike carrier if you need to get in the boot. 
At 70 mph (would never exceed this) on the motorway it seemed fine with no evidence of vibration or bounce, the test will be next weeks trip to Wales.

Anyway we set off from Westcott and pieced our way up to Coldharbour and over Letih Hill where we stopped to admire the view with a coffee from the Tower, the day was absolutely glorious and you could see for miles.  We then headed over to Holmbury St Mary where we had a blast down Barry Knows Best and linked that up with a stop at Peaslake store were we had a very nice Minty Lamb and Chicken Tikka Pasty.  The Garmin Edge had been working fine up till this point and we were following a previously specified route (WMB90 – North Downs off the Bikeradar website).  As we left Peaslake the route decicded to recalculate (what I do not know) and as soon as we headed down a bridleway it would tell us to do a U-turn, it would then catch up  and start sending us back in the direction we had come.  Finally it just plotted loads of routes so when I zoomed out it looked like spaghetti junction. 

It was at this point that the trusty OS map came out and we realised we were in Blackheath and had taken a bit of a detour.  The plan then changed slightly with the idea that we would start to head back in an Eastern direction finding some nice little single-track along the way, this led to us finding a blinder of a trail somewhere in Blackheath, never to be found again.  It was a small little gully winding down a hill with some nice techy sections around trees followed by a few drop offs.  The usual thing happened at the bottom though and the trail vanished leaving us trying to cycle through trees and bushes to get back to some form of trail.  This obviously came out at the bottom of the biggest hill ever with only one way out – UP!

As we cycled back to Westcott we decided it had been a most awesome days riding.  The weather was fantastic, dry sunny and not too cold.  The trails we had been on were mostly dry, had been fun and were in plentiful supply.  It was nice to get out and piece together a trail just seeing were we ended up knowing that we could always look at the map and find our way back to the car. For too long we have been riding the usual local trails or following waymarked trails.  I have also learnt that my Garmin is great at recording test data and figuring out roughly were you are but not so great at letting me follow a downloaded route, although this could be some of my technical abilities.

It was decided that another trip was to be planned to the North Downs soon, this time though we would focus on the Leith Hill area and hit more of its singletrack.    What I do know is that I will not be taking my On-One with 1 x 9 set up as the hills around there are bloody steep and my legs hurt today.  Stuart the mountain goat rocketed up all the hills like a man possessed and is on top form for the 75 mile London to Brighton, I need to get more training in…..

We will return North Downs – your only 70 miles away…


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