It was a great day's riding, although not without a few incidents.
Got back home at 11.30pm after a long journey back up North interrupted by several stops for coffee and power naps.
Great selection of bikes on display and also good to see practically everyone on old bikes too. Nice to meet several new riders as well as many of the regulars.
It was all going pretty well for the first hour or so. Then I caught up with Chiswick Collectables Craig who was on the phone berating TinTin Tony for his navigational blunders. "How the **** did you lose us? It's not like we aren't all wearing flourescent ****!" and "What car park are you in? Are they flashing their headlights at you?" made me chuckle.
Then just around the corner Spencer was sat on the ground looking totally discombobulated, his head spinning and feeling sick.
I suggested it could be vertigo induced by the height of his Nishiki, he more sensibly thought it could be something to do with the dirty kebab he'd scraped off the pavement the night before.
So along with my back-marker wingman Tad we scraped Spencer off the floor and regrouped to formulate a contingency plan as Spencer was clearly in no position to continue riding.
This is where the majority of the riders will be able to pick up their own version of the story.
I'm told there was some great riding over the next hour or two on the way to the pub.
For the rescue squad though it was a long walk with a sweaty bearded palpitating tall man back to the cars.
I was kindly joined by GRD Matthew and Chris (who's forum name escapes me) who, with their local knowledge, were able to find the most direct route back to the vehicles. Spencer's mate Dave/bram also came along to bundle him up if required.
So we spent the next hour slowly taking in the Surrey woodland whilst occasionally offering words of encouragement to a clearly broken Spencer.
Things like "Don't worry if you're sick on it, it's already got a splatter paint effect" and more sage advice like make sure you drink plenty of water, and MTFU big man...
I also got to tell my projectile-vomit-on-the-steering-wheel-whilst-in-the-fast-lane-of-the-M6 food poisoning story. Noodle wrapped around the epiglottis anyone?
Anyway, with Spencer safely dropped off back at the car, Matt, Chris and I set off on our own little ride over to the pub. The benefits of a trio of riders and some excellent local knowledge meant that we had a great ride on some incredible tight twisty secret singletrack.
Arriving at the pub, an apologetic Max was explaining that the main group had arrived an hour earlier than anticipated. There were a few hungry looking people sat in the sunshine nursing the dregs of a long since purchased pint. There were also a few Kleins left in the sun, their paintwork slowly fading.
Spencer was sensibly sat inside, quietly sipping on a medicinal pint of ale, and looking all the better for it.
The food soon started arriving shortly after we did, with Max again apologising for my lack of onion rings. (I reckon it was Ted C who ate them...)
Spencer's miraculous 'Phoenix from the Flames' like recovery continued as he announced that he thought he be okay to ride in the afternoon. He set off with Dave in the car to sort out their bikes leading to speculation that Spencer had in fact just reached to point of sobriety earlier in the day and needed a fresh infusion of Vitamin B.
I took the opportunity to adjust my rear brake to stop it squealing. I hadn't touched it since Mountain Mayhem so the perfect toe in on the brake pads had been worn off. Apart from the noise they were superbly powerful with excellent modulation. So how anyone can claim that it was a mechanical is beyond me... (I realise that I'm probably labouring the point here.)
After a group photo everyone was keen to get moving again, and as the big colourful retro peleton snaked off away from the pub, Tad and I waited patiently at the back to sweep up the tail-enders. Wizard of Oz Keane however decided that despite spending two hours in the pub, there was now a pressing urge to test out the facilities.
We waited, and we waited some more.
Eventually Keane finished pooing and we set out to catch up with a now woefully fragmented group. We found a group of ten or so riders waiting by the roadside with no idea of where to go. We asked bemused onlookers for advice to which one lady suggested we should have a map. The cheek of it!
Using the power of mobile phones we were once again rescued by GRD who guided us back to the rest of the group at the viewpoint on Holmbury Hill.
With rain approaching we set off down the Yoghurt Pots trail, a groomed and swoopy bit of singletrack which was quite good fun. Then the rain came and turned any exposed tree roots in perilous tentacles of death. The Telegraph trail had a few of these tricky obstacles to negotiate which required plenty of concentration.
Nevadasmith Adrian stopped to fix the broken chain of a chap who was out riding with his child. Spreading the karma.
Whilst the soft southern rain passed, everyone took shelter under the trees.
Onwards we rode riding plenty more sinuous singletrack and rooty ravines. One small roll-in caught Chiswick Collectables out, dumping him on the ground at slow speed. "Oh no! I've chipped it!" he proclaimed loudly upon inspecting his immaculate Cannondale. Luckily he avoided landing in the rather large pile of dog shit strategically placed at the crest of the trail.
It was Craig's reaction more than anything else that sealed the 'Crash of the Ride' title.
Fortunately there was nothing more serious to report.
Finally it was up a fairly substantial climb back to the finish point where Nevadasmith took 'Mechanical of the Ride' with a chain suck related front mech issue. Unlike the headset tweaking earlier in the day, this one didn't look like an adjustment...
All of which proves that it's always the last half mile that's the most dangerous.
Spirit of the Ride went to Tad for turning up like Lance Armstrong and generally 'knowing his place' at the back of the ride all day.
The prestigious Bike of the Ride award was cruelly snatched away from Tony's lightweight plastic canoe on account of him not actually riding with anyone. It would have gone to Splatter Paint's immaculate blue splatter Kona Fire Mountain, but he'd packed it away and gone home. Keane's lovely titanium Dyna Tech Torus was also DQ'ed on poo related matters, which left only one winner.
The much appreciated formica-chipboard-kitchen-work-surface-effect Nishiki ridden by beer zombie Spencer took the honours. I think he won back his rucksack.
Thanks to everyone for coming along and making it everything it was.
Extra thanks to Pete, Sophie, Chris, Matthew, Dave and Tad for guiding and rescuing duties. Thanks also to Max for his EdEdwards-esque piking abilities and all the behind the scenes organising. I say this despite the onion rings, or shocking lack thereof.
Hope to see plenty of you up at the Peak District ride on September 14th. Go on, it's only a 400 mile round trip...