Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ogre Quake sort of weekend

After a good couple of months of waiting, my new bike was finally back in stock so I headed off to Swanage Friday afternoon to pick it up from Charlie the Bikemonger - purveyor of all sorts of interesting & niche bikes and associated things.  Unfortunately for my arms & downhill speed, the suspension fork is still to arrive - so fully rigid on a 29er it was for the weekend.  The Surly Ogre is not particularly fancy (I don't think I've ever had a fancy bike - money seems to get spent on travelling to interesting places), but it is extremely versatile.  I've bought it for its ability to carry loads off road - sturdy is a good word, heavy not so favourable - and still be useful for riding fun trails while hauling bike-packing gear (pretty much light camping gear) between overnight stops.

I stayed the night at cousin Pamela's in Poole, always fun, before heading off too-early Saturday for the Quantocks in Somerset.  I was to meet people I met at last week's event, but having to repair their broken bikes before an Alps trip put paid to that.  As it happens, riding by myself worked out well as I could stop whenever I needed to & tweak things on my bike & get it right.  The Ogre climbs well, as I expected a hardtail 29er to, but I got quite a nasty shock at the start of some of the descents - so bumpy, looking forward to the Reba fork turning up.  Noticeably cooler than the previous two weeks (we're officially out of the heatwave now, but it's still pleasant) it was easy riding and I managed to tackle the infamous Chimney without incident.  With no one to wait for, I ignored photo stops.

John & Anna weren't home when I arrived, so I wandered downtown in the sun for some lunch. On the way back I got to call 999 for the first time (I think I've managed only one 111 call back in NZ) - such excitement. About halfway back I noticed a lady pull to side of the road & stop with quite a bit of steam coming out from underneath the bonnet/hood of her car. It seemed a lot of steam really, so much so that I started to think it was smoke - I crossed the road and standing downwind it was easy to tell it was smoke. As I chatted to the driver about what to do, really hoping she wouldn't try to open the bonnet/hood, a small lick of flame poked its way out; calling the fire brigade was a logical progression. Seven minutes later with the road closed, an engine arrived - by which time the whole front of the car was on fire, as well as the road beneath, a tyre had exploded & the windscreen sported a large hole. The flames were quickly extinguished & the poor lady had the rather soggy remains of a car left.

The inaugural Quantock Quake was on Sunday - thankfully the start was brought forward two hours to nine o'clock to miss the heat of the day, this worked a treat as it was cool until the sun broke through at about ten and things got rather warm. Apparently it has been many years since a MTB event was held on these hills due to previous associated incidents - so it was officially not a race, but a sportive (although we all started at once). It was a well run & fun little event - only just over eighty riders - & I got to ride parts of the Quantocks I've never before. Six of us Combe Raiders were there looking rather swish in our shirts - those, not our supreme riding, attracted plenty of comments. I got home fifth in the not-officially-a-race, so I was quite pleased with that as I was really slow downhill trying not shake to pieces but quick enough uphill to regain time lost. John did rather well and got back second, a good fifteen or twenty minutes in front of me.

By the time we got back to John & Anna's it was proper baking (for England) and a good opportunity for a barbecue. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating, cleaning bikes a bit (no water needed, for a change) & entertaining the twins.

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