Last Saturday (24th March) saw the the first RetroBike meet of 2007, 27 members descended on the North Downs and had a blast around the trails. To read a full account of the day and see some pictures of the bikes on show read on or check out this thread in the Rides/Meets forum.
The scene was set, the time was finally upon us, after nearly 4 months of pulsating expectation the day had arrived for the RetroBike Spring Meet 07. The previous months of secret training, the mass accumulation of parts from Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe BAYÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, the strict calorie control diet to ensure the retro Lycra did not cut off vital air supplies was overÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..it was time to break out the GT-85, fill the not so retro camelbak and head to the rendez-vous in the hotbed of Mountain Biking that is the North Downs and the sleepy village of Westcott, Surrey….
Click more for the rest of the report
After some fairly miserable weather towards the end of the week it was with a certain trepidation that I pulled back the curtains at 5.50am on Saturday morning, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to say it was nervous anticipation that had me up so early, but infact it was a screaming child in the room next door (Bet Ned Overend never had to change a Nappy the morning of a big Race !!). However, the Sun was out, the sky was blue and it looked like the biking gods were smiling on us.
After a quick breakfast and a spin around the M25 I arrived at Westcott and searched for the Car park. Having never been to this car park before and relying on the chaps of STW for itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s existence (praying it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t some elaborate SingleTrackWorld prank to make a w*nker out of me) I was relieved to find that not only did it exist, but it was huge and populated only by an old woman and a couple of dogs. Upon returning to the entrance to hang the all impotant Retro balloon markers I stumbled across the first arrivals , Mr Kawasaki (Neil) and RetroKing #1 (Max). I was duly informed that the link I had sent out to all the attendees actually pointed to a different car park up the road where as we spoke a harassed woman was attempting to stop a steady flow of bike laden vehicles mowing down a collection of 11 yr old footballersÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ I was convinced however that the balloons would do the job (despite two bursting on inflation) and as they began arriving like animals into the ark all seemed good with the world.
The Cars were parked and gradually the bikes were put together, faces were put to names to the usual cry of Ã¢â‚¬Å“oh, so youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Ã¢â‚¬Ëœinsert RetroBike pseudonymeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬? etc etc.. There was much cooing over the steel, aluminium and titanium on display, along with an amazed realisation that it was starting to take shape..
At 10.45 of the 30 listed attendees we had 26 riders raring to go, and with that Matt decided to grace us with his presence.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe British Rail tardiness awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to Matt Payne for his late arrival ( I blame the hairdressers car.)
After the photo shoot which was superbly organised by Neil we were ready to head off on the ride. Having cause chaos on the A25 as 27 knobbly tired riders pootled their way along the tarmac through Westcott we took the turn into the Wilderness and stopped to ensure everyone had made it and that there wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a Volvo with some Retrosteel on itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bonnet heading into Guildford. Problem, a quick count showed we were 2 down so John headed back up the road to try and find those MIA. As the rest of us pondered what could have happened, Chain coming off, Puncture (not on the A25 surely), mech issues etc John and GradeAFailure (Dave) reappeared but without Scarlett (Laura). It seemed that on the first road section out of the Car Park LauraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Knee cap had decided to relocate to a different part of her leg which put an end to any chance of a day out on the bike. In true Glaswegian style however she had ordered Dave to carry on and intended to join us later for a few drinks, what a trooper.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Lada award for first breakdownÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Bill Oddie award for spotting t*ts in the woodsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to Scarlett. ( A bit of a shoe in for the only girl award as Jez didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turn up.)
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Florence nightingale awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to GradeAFailure for his compassion in returning to nurse his wounded partner rather than carrying on cycling..(oh actually, that must have been in a parallel universe.)
So, we now began the off road antics, the sound of 20 year old mechs struggling to move chains on the granny ring accompanied by SPDÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clicking in was heard all the way from Westcott to John OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Groats. The trail was soon snarled up worse than the M1 on a Friday evening, hazard lights flashed as rusty legs and vintage parts combined to cause panic amongst all, desperate not to look foolish infront of the assembled masses. We all soon found our form however as the pace increased (no doubt Sylvain’s input) as did the posturing, at the mere sight of a camera people were out of the saddle, leaping 2Ã¢â‚¬? stones, and generally posing. This coupled with the outfits on display ensured the other groups we encountered whether they be ramblers, horse Riders or other bikers knew they were witnessing something pretty special.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Liberace awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to our leader and retro guvnor John, for the loudest bike and lycra combo (fluoro green FAT and matching top), as voted for by the girls in my office..
JV ‘Retro Guvnor’
As the pace increased and the riders grew more and more strung out we soon found ourselves toiling up a very steep muddy section where we were rewarded for our perseverance by stumbling on a beautiful corrugated iron shack, one of the main attractions of the area.
The Love Shack (no sign of the B52′s though)
After the awe struck group had got over this magnificent sight (and all the Deliverance jokes had been exhausted) the cry went up Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sylvain ??Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â¦It seemed our leader and Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtete de la courseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ had allezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d off and we were left pondering in which direction. One suggestion was that he had ridden up the Ã¢â‚¬ËœWidow makerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ but any suggestion we should follow suit was met with general guffawing Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ So we decided to head back to the trail as we knew our first point of call was Ã¢â‚¬ËœLeith TowerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Somehow our 2 groups then became 3 and then amazingly 4 as Neil managed to lose 25 people, some achievement.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Blair Witch AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to Mr Kawasaki for his attempt to get abandoned in the woods.
After much riding in circles and general confusion each group has the good sense to head to the tower. The first group to arrive were met by Gale force Baltic winds which made the normally idyllic look out spot resemble an arctic tundra, as the other groups took their time to arrive the early birds began to curse their short sightedness and the English climate. As we pondered where this so called Ã¢â‚¬ËœGlobal WarmingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ was it was pointed out by MadCow (Tony) that this phenomenon only caused extremes of climate and not an overall rise in temperatures, this little geography lesson was lost on Gump (Andy) who at this point had turned an interesting shade of blue.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Captain Scott AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for inappropriate attire goes to Gump.
As we discussed which direction to go next we learned that our leader for the day Sylvain had suffered the first major mechanical and was unable to continue, so alas we had to say goodbye to him and grahame who returned to the Retro Citroen and no doubt a pint..
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe AA AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for Ã¢â‚¬ËœCan you fix itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to Sylvain, because he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Ã¢â‚¬Ëœknow a man that canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, not in a car park in Westcott anyway.
As luck would have it one our newer members Gravitykarma (Joe) is a veteran of these trails and volunteered to lead the pack through the excellent and fast singletrack that awaited us as reward for the permanent climbing we had done for the previous hour or so. Those on fully rigids soon knew about it as we bumped our way along twisting trails with big roots and a few nicely placed logs !! There were quick technical descents followed by some punishing ascents and by the time we reached the second look out point there were some tired Retro legs and Red Retro faces.
‘Lid‘ surveys the scene
Having enjoyed this section of the trails so much we decided to do a similar loop again back to the same spot. We bombed along attempting to avoid groups of girl guides (none of whom offered a massage !), random Goths lurking in car parks (no sign of Stan Collymore though), and most bizarrely a bunch of druids resplendent in cloaks and wielding spears. I pondered the fact that we were yet to witness as truly spectacular crash. Phil (marks Dad) had done a fine impression of Beth Tweddle and cartwheeled off his Trek into a bush on a tricky part of one of the previous trails, there had been a couple of small incidents of SPD Tiiiiimberrrrs (ok me mainly) and a couple of people owned up to going off course a bit, but no really big spill. As I should have expected, the best was lurking around the corner.
After stopping to take some pictures I decided the front of the group was the place for me so I began to overtake people on one of the flatter faster sections of the trail. In my haste I flew up to KingRoon (Matt) a little too quickly and attempted to pass where there really wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t room, just as he decided to re-align himself to where I wanted to beÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ The result, one Kona Explosif and one RetroBiker cartwheeling through the air at about 25 mph and landing in aheap at the side of the trail. (note: this estimated speed will rise by 1 mph each time I tell the story.) When it was established that nothing was serisouly hurt (except my pride) I was able to blame Matt for his scant regard for the highay code as he did not mirror,signal,manoeuvre, and deflect fault away from the real culprit, Alpha Male stupidity.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Evil Kenevil AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for biggest crash goes to Hilts, well, you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect anyone else really did you.. (Note: 4 days later and still in pain.)
We soon arrived back at the top of the hill and did the descent into Peaslake for a cup of tea. This is a fantastic piece of track and really allowed everyone to go for it, however some had their runs spoiled by Punctures.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Bruce Banner AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for angriest reaction to a puncture ever witnessed goes to GravityKarma, whatever you do donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make him angry!!
The Tea shop gets mobbed
Once the teas had been drunk and energy bars consumed we headed back to base camp with the now obligatory steep climb before finding some nice trails and enjoying the ride back past farms and pleasant rural settings. It seems strange that you can be so close to London and yet be riding up some fairly extreme gradients and flying down steep technical descents, the North Downs proved an excellent venue for the meet and all in attendance agreed they would be back there soon.
We soon found ourselves at the Prince of Wales pub where we were able to enjoy a well earned pint and discuss the day that had been.
Gump gets over excited at seeing his first Jazz mag…
We said good bye to most of the group who headed off in various directions, those who stayed behind enjoyed a few more pints and then the bright lights of Dorking (well a curry house anyway.)
A few more awards to be presented as follows:
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Ã¢â‚¬ËœRetroCar awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to StevePSD , it was a close call with Grahames Citroen getting an honorable mention, but Steves VW managed to stink out the whole of Dorking high street, a fine effort.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Albatroos AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to kingroon for making it all the way from Australia for the ride, honourable mention to Simod who drove up and back to Exeter the same day.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Lord Lucan AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to Jez, the other no shows had family issues, work is not an acceptable excuseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Are we there yet AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to MadCow, who got so fed up with the incessant climbs that he headed back down the A25 for a pint rather than do the last oneÃ¢â‚¬Â¦(weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll ignore the New bike for now!!)
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Enoch Powell AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to RetroKing #1 for remarking as we sat down for our curry Ã¢â‚¬ËœDo they do Steak and ChipsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Trinny & Suzannah AwardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for most outfits squeezed into one Camelbak goes to WuTangled (Gus), and we saw the lot !!
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Magpie awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for silver lining spotting goes to Kona Kid (Guy) who on hearing of Sylvains demise was heard to say Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdoes that mean I get to keep the rear cassette he leant me?.Ã¢â‚¬?
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe more cramped than 5 hippos in a mini awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ goes to Russell and MadCowKev , good effort to keep soldiering on fellas.. Russ I think some training is in order before MM..
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe A-Team awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for bike ingenuity goes to Chris for the RTSÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rear braking set up, you are a brave man trusting that..
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Krankies awardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for father and son combo in matching gear goes to Mark Harding and his dad Phil, check out the picsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.
And Finally Comment of the Day.. Joint winners for this:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I once met Johnathan King, but that was back before he was a kiddie fiddler.Ã¢â‚¬? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not even sure how the hell we got round to this topic but hats off to Lid (Ken) as it is my oustanding memory of the day.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I can honestly say my Wife takes no interest in anything I doÃ¢â‚¬?, time for a spot of counselling me thinks Heathy Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
All the pictures from the day can be viewed at the following links:
See y’all at the next one