Monday, July 23, 2007

CHILTERN 'KILLER' LOOP, 22nd July 2007

Dozer had mentioned his wish to ride in the Chilterns last year, so we got our diaries together and finally got a date sorted.

Some of us have done this MBR killer loop before, for me it was my fourth time in the last year, last time was in April when the sun was shining and the trails were bone dry, so I have to admit to being a bit nervous as I headed down the M40 this time flanked by flooded fields.

After a very wet week countrywide it looked like we might just get away with a few showers. It was great to welcome two new riders in the shape of Paul, Dozer’s old University pal and Rob from California complete with his home built 18lb single speed cyclocross bike.

First bit of the ride takes in part of the Ridgeway and this had us slipping and sliding a bit, but was nowhere near as bad as I had feared. We gave Rob a head start on the first climb and then settled in the long granny ring grind – the steep ups showed clear signs of heavy rain with much of the surface washed away and the chalk base showing through.

The reward for the steep ups in normally a long downhill blast, but as we set off on the first of these our fun was quickly halted by a fallen tree, but then it was all clear. Noticeably not as fast as in April, but all seemed to get a buzz out of this track and one or two even ‘got some air’ in places. New to me was a sort of natural berm towards the end, no doubt worn by people trying to avoid the washed away mid-track.

The valley bottom trail we now covered was muddy in places, but not too bad, with some blue sky above it almost felt like July!

The next sharp climb was very washed out and slippy, but most cleared it. There is a bit of road up to Christmas Common then the next long blast through the woods. I expected this to be a bit to be a bit treacherous, but it was again better than expected. It did however catch Sicknote out as his wheel slipped into a rut and threw him off hurting his wrist, (he was looking a bit worried as he had a warning from Tracy not to hurt himself before their holiday). In April we were hitting over 30 mph on this track, the Garmin shows top speed around 24 mph this time.

The exit to this blast saw me with a flat rear tyre – the first I can remember on the 5-spot. So long that the spare in my bag had also got a leak, thanks Les for helping out with a new tube! :blush

Some more ups and downs before we reached that “impossible” hill. This made Dozer determined and he certainly got further up than anyone else I’ve ridden with, most were walking much sooner, even this was hard work in places.

Russell’s Water brought a challenging bridleway chute, with a sharp drop-off – this was a real blast on the loose & wet surface, almost reminding me of Wales. Over too quickly though. Somehow we managed to lose Les & Rob at this point, which gave some the chance to have another go as we went back to find where they had got to.

The final downhill blast was again slower than remembered and quickly turned into a very slimy rutted track which saw myself take an acrobatic tumble into the undergrowth much to Dozer’s amusement and then claimed another victim in Rob, who was tiring at this point, (How had he got so far with no gears!!). The run up to the return leg of the Ridgeway brought the first big puddles we had seen and also more clouds in the sky with the threat of rain. The Ridgeway itself has some deep muddy sections, but all got through and after loading up bikes it was time for a much needed pint, the rain still holding off. A good ride, especially considering the conditions elsewhere.

Weather: Cloudy, but dry

Posse: Dozer (Enduro); Les; (Hardrock); Darren: (Ancient Cannondale!); Sicknote (Hardrock); Paul (Hardrock); Uphilla; (5-Spot); Rob: (Homebuilt Singlespeed–unknown frame).

Mechanicals: Les & Paul; Chains came off. Uphilla: Puncture-Pinch flat



dahnhilla said...

Sounds like a good day - that loop was very good last time, especially that pub!!! Crazy how much fun the descents are, and it's all just natural stuff!

dozer said...

Uphilla, thanks for sorting it all out and guiding us round, not a lot of fun riding and navigating with an O/S map. I enjoyed the trail, the weather was good and the mud made the tracks interesting but still rideable. Always good to get a few new people out, maybe Rob & Paul will explore more trails for us on their local patch and guide us round next time. We need to be careful not to loose people on future rides, I had some maps printed but never handed them out, so if we hadn't got hold of Les on his mobile it would have been interesting. PS Remember Sicknote’s new name is 'Wrong Gear' :-)

Farqui said...

Being on call during a ride sucks, but I'm glad you had a good time.

Did you clock any red kites whilst resting on your backs :p

dozer said...

Don't you start on the red kites!!! Wrong Gear did a C3PO on us and Les couldn't work out where the strings were :-)

uphilla said...

Despite some harsh climbs I always enjoy this route and look forward to trying the extended version,(which takes in a local Pastie shop!), picked off the Singletrack web site.
Sorry to Les and Rob for losing them, we had done well up to that point, but will hopefully make us more careful in future!
Red Kites were there as usual..

Darren said...

Just back off hols and read the blog. Thanks to Uphilla a great days riding, great ups and downs and brilliant company. Still think Californian Rob was either mad as a brush or superman for taking it on with no gears! Looking forward to the next time.