Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

A Better New Year! (and 2020 in pictures)

Posted by Matt | January 2, 2021 | 14 comments so far

Long shadows at Frensham
Each year we wish people a Happy New Year. While that sentiment holds true, it doesn’t feel quite right this time around.

We remain – for now, very broadly – the lucky ones. Others, not so much; so I’m not going to wish people a Happy New Year when their past 12 months may have been anything but. Instead, I wish you all a Better New Year and if you can find Happiness so much to the good.

I plan a post summing up my thoughts of 2020 but for now, here’s a picture from each month of last year covering as best I can the experience of the past 12 months.


Another year, another Moles Christmas ride.

A Mole cluster at Holmbury Hill


Back when we used to commute, even if the mud was frozen and the sky was fogged.

A foggy commute near Reigate


Not quite locked down, we opted for a ride around Frensham and Hindhead, the last time we got together en masse for months. As you can see I was ahead of the socially distancing game…

View from the bottom of the Atlantic Wall


April is the cruelest month according to T.S. Eliot. Who are we to disagree as Covid lockdown hit and my employer decided to review jobs. Both my brother in law and I found ourselves justifying our roles for the next three months; a third of my colleagues left the company. But our riding, both solo and in pairs ticked up during a warm dry Spring.

YT Jeffsy on Ranmore, April 2020


May was lovely! May was miserable. May was quiet. May was deadly. May was all these things. We kept our heads down, feeling lucky to be able to do so and rode and rode and rode when the chance presented itself (surprisingly less than you’d think). Bookham Common was both busy and familiar but new routes started to present themselves from all the exploring.

Cannondale Topstone and a field of poppies at Brockham


We worked, cowed, trying to justify jobs. The weather was glorious and we kept riding where able; if you could, why wouldn’t you? People’s eyesight became a concern, seeing castles in the sky or at least a looong way from London.

Some things don’t change though – we marked the solstice in our usual style with much to be grateful for (and yes, first thing in the morning is still cold even in mid-summer!).

The Moles on Holmbury Hill for the Solstice 2020


For the first time in months I was able to meet up with more than a handful of fellow Moles for a South Downs ride, a welcome relief from the stresses of work. What a tonic!

Moles on the South Downs near Brighton


A family holiday to Wales. Will it happen? Won’t it happen? Who knows? Who cares? Thus it went on until we met as a family for the first time in months in North Wales. It hasn’t happened since, but Llandegla was as good as ever and Mark’s son Eddie loved it on my old Inbred.

Llandegla with Eddie 2020

As a bonus – a wonderfully hot and exhausting Arundel ride made more pleasant with two pub stops…

Moles near Arundel

And not forgetting my biggest ride of the year – 43 miles on a MTB, meeting these guys at St. Martha’s Hill.

The Moles at St Martha's Hill


After we all ate out to help out, September started slowly for me. I think by then the work levels were pretty relentless and my enthusiasm for cycling was taking a dip. Fortunately revived by some great night rides with Tony, Lloyd and Jem, as the late September trails were buff.

Tony and Lloyd silhouettes on Mickleham Gallops


By now a pattern was forming – sensible meet ups at the weekend, keep your distance and coffee stops outside. We had a great month of riding both on Sundays and during the week for night rides, which after a long time were becoming a thing again as we tried to make the most of opportunities before – at the very least – the weather closed in.

Pausing just before the off-road Colekitchen Climb


Bam! Another lockdown hit us at the start of the month just as we were getting into a groove. It forced me to look around for some variation, not just to cope with the autumn deterioration on the trails but to change things up a bit. I found a largely off-road route to and from Kingston which really provided a nice change, as well as some interesting variations looping out to Ashtead and over to Oxshott.

But for the virus not something I would have bothered with, now safely in the memory for better times.

Ashtead crossing with Class 377 EMU


The start of December saw a brief lockdown-lift before Tier 4, not that we realised it at the time. We quickly got back to big weekend rides and weekday night rides with a variety of routes that saw us slip, slide and at times shiver around the hills, but by mid month our fun was heavily curtailed again.

By the tail of the year, I was very much feeling the lack of riding company. It was actually my biggest month of the whole year for mileage as I chased a year end total that proved just slightly beyond me, but I really could have done with company over the last two or three weeks. It was a case of R + 1 but no more, and riders were hard to rustle up! I finished the year with one of my biggest riding weeks so it wasn’t all bad.

Crossing the M25 toward Chatley Heath

What I’ve discovered – as I think many of us have – is how much I value the company of others on my rides.

Given the context, well done to everyone for a memorable year on the bikes where I hope we all managed to find some escape. We can only go forward from here.

Filed under Mutterings in January 2021


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 14 comments on ‘A Better New Year! (and 2020 in pictures)’

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  1. Kevs2010 says:

    Nicely done Matt. Great selection of photos that must have taken a fair bit of time to research.

    Here’s to a safer, healthier, more group riding fun year with others.

  2. Jem says:

    Good summary of the year Matt. I think I appear in 3 of your photos, that’s probably the total rides I did with the group 2020. Hope to do more this year once the restrictions lift.
    It would be good to get away too for a long weekend in Wales maybe.

  3. Elliot says:

    Nice selection of photos!

    It’s been good to see you all during the brief interludes between tighter restrictions. Looking back through my own rides on Strava and photos I think it was a pretty good year for riding considering, despite the lack of trips further away and Sunday Mole rides that can probably be counted on one hand. Got in some good exploring of new areas which I hope to continue.

  4. Karl says:

    Agree the piccy choice is fab Matt!

    Really nice write-up. Sums it all up very well indeed.

    Here’s to a lot of fun riding together in 2021 eh? ?

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Karlos, your company was great value during 2020 and two or three of these images are your work nabbed off Strava. Thanks for that.

      I’m cautiously hopeful for 2021 once the vaccine game kicks in, it’ll be great to get us all together again. We may end up with a Summer Solstice/Xmas ride combined at this rate!

  5. Dandy says:

    Great to see the chaps keeping those cranks turning, despite all the obstacles that 2020 presented. I turned back to the dark side earlier in the pandemic, not wanting to risk a visit to A&E. Since the summer it’s been back to the trails, mainly riding with my daughter who’s with us due to international travel restrictions. Our ‘emergency orders’ get reviewed on Friday, here’s hoping we’ve all been good over Christmas. I should be skiing in Revelstoke right now, but we’ve postponed that to the end of the month thanks to the ‘COVID-clause’ offered in most travel bookings here. Maybe a post-vaccination trip back to the UK later in the year? Here’s to a better 2021 !

    • Matt says:

      Hi Andy, glad you are well. I can speak confidently for all when I say it would be great to see you if you get the chance to come over.

      We are hunkered down – gutting out the winter and gutting out the virus as best we can. Better days will come.

  6. Mark Chillingworth says:

    Great pics and observations. When this virus is over I’d love to join some of your rides.

  7. StevenD says:

    From those photos, a similar year to mine, and a good summary of 2020. I loved the serenity of Lockdown 1 and spending a few days MTBing with my daughter in Wales in August was an amazing experience, but the rest of the year was hard, different and strange. I really missed group rides and just hope things get better by the summer. All the best to the Muddymoles for 2021.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Steven, been following your adventures on FB, you’ve done well over the past year for sure. This time last year I was thinking it would be good to meet up for a beer and bikes ride round your locale – er… that didn’t quite pan out!

      But there’s always this year…

  8. James says:

    A great summary of what has been a challenging year for all, with the only positives from me being the opportunity to spend more time with the family and being able to get out on the bike more.

    Looking forward to joining some more Moles rides when COVID allows – hopefully just in time for when the weather gets better!

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