Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It seems so long since I have been on a decent ride I decided that I would take a Saturday off and head somewhere interesting. It was also a chance to find out if a recently diagnosed shoulder problem would cope with off-road.

Initially it was going to be Llandegla, but I allowed myself to be talked out of this on the basis of distance to drive time/fun ratio. So it came down to a toss up between Cannock and the Chilterns, the latter won on the basis of new ground/longer ride.

Santa had brought me a Rough Ride Guide to my beloved Chilterns and a loop from Nettlebed looked promising as it was described as a good winter choice. A sunny day made it seem more appealing.

I have always come back from the Chilterns with a smile on my face; it was not to be this time.

You will often see forum threads about GPS versus map & compass, if I needed convincing about the value of GPS this was the day, for when I switched my unit on the route had, due to operator error, not transferred properly and I was left with the A5 size map and written directions from the book to guide me. It soon became clear how this would affect the ride as I spent so much time having to look at the guide it completely stopped any flow, what a bummer :-(

The second blot was that many of the tracks were very muddy and churned up by horses – so I spent much time trying to find the driest line. Although in true Chiltern style there were some potentially brilliant downhill blasts, the navigation and “gloop” just took any fun out of it. In the end I called it a day and headed back to base by road.

This really confirmed the value of trail centres in Winter, a couple of laps of Cannock would have been far more fun and I think the longer drive to Llandegla could be justified for something predictable. Oh well, at least I have a taste of what it could be like in Summer and will no doubt return when the ground is drier, oh, and I will be checking my GPS more carefully before I leave home next time.

Great to be out on the 5-Spot, though, it coped well. There seemed no after effects to my shoulder, though fighting for control in some of the slime did cause a twinge or two.....

Weather, unseasonally warm, bright.

Posse, just me (Turner)

Mechanicals, None



Farqui said...

I'm sorry that I couldn't have tagged along, if only to try and lift your spirits.

Perhaps we'll schedule a trip later in the year, once the ground has dried out a little.

At least your shoulder held up :)

Rob#2 said...

A fine summary of 'winter riding in the Chilterns' When it's dry its fantastic, however, once it's wet the mud and water become oppressive and energy sapping. I think the section near Chinnor is about as bad as it gets across the whole 87 mile route. Similarly, many of my local Chiltern routes become a no go in winter. I can't wait for spring to arrive.

Having said that, I can see why you keep returning to the sections around Watlington. There are some genuinely interesting climbs and downhill sections and if you fancy some company once the ground dries out I'd love to come along.


dozer said...

I was just talking to Farqui yesterday about how do people cope without a GPS systems? Maps, they're for walkers!

As for R2, we are still waiting for you to organise a Chilterns ride :-) Maybe in the spring?

uphilla said...

- I will certainly let you know when I go again, because it has not put me off! I think if my GPS had been guiding me I would have completed the loop despite mud, it was the combination of map reading and mud that put the mockers on the ride!
There is lots of good riding in this area, but it needs to dry out a bit :-)

Farqui said...

It's difficult to see from the pic, but were you trying your new rockers and/or fork ?

uphilla said...

No to both, I am slightly hesitant to fit anything new at the moment as all seems to be working fine - fork is just about bedded in and rear travel is OK. Guess I just can't resist the odd bargain, probably need to engage brain before cheque book in future :-)

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