Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

A thaw – so that’s good right?

Posted by Matt | January 15, 2010 | 14 comments so far

As with most people living in the UK it’s hard sometimes not to pay attention to the weather. So I’d thought I’d give you an update of my efforts to get to work this morning…

Friday is my commute-by-bike day which let’s me get in a nice 26 mile round trip to work off-road. I’d like to say it’s a peaceful time with birds chirping in the trees and dry dusty trails encouraging me to zippy progress. But for the past month or two it’s been a muddy, draggy slog. Perhaps if I lived in a mono-climate somewhere it would be easier but then I wouldn’t appreciate the good weather when it came.

All that aside, today I thought I’d give it a go since the thaw is well set in. Except up on those hills there’s still a lot of snow. As I rode up onto the bridleway at the end of Crabtree Lane (itself a slushy mess) I encountered pretty much impossible riding conditions.

Deep slush meant I had no traction at all. Not uphill, not on the level and weirdly, not even downhill where my singlespeed just spun it’s rear wheel feebly. I wasn’t going anywhere. And when I managed to move it was for just a few yards before the front slid away from me. Impossible.

So, Plan B. I walked and ran with my bike round the big field at Bockett’s and down to the Bockett’s farmhouse. By the time I’d reached the road crossing at Young Street it was 25 minutes since I’d left the house and I’d covered about two and a half miles. Once on Young Street I followed the road.

Even the cyclepath to Dorking was patchy slush in places although generally clear. But with commuter traffic rushing past in the opposite direction it was difficult to see where I was riding and as anyone know riding down to Dorking along the A24 always feels like you’re riding uphill.

After that a fear inducing tramp along the A25 beckoned but in truth it was the only place I could have ridden today. And with just one 32:18 gear it certainly kept the heart rate up for reasons not related to the traffic passing in the semi-gloom of sunrise. All in all by the time I reached work I was knackered but then I don’t tend to hang around when I’m riding solo.

All this makes me wonder how practical it will be to ride on Sunday? Really, the slush is impossible and it will still be there in large part on Sunday. What’s underneath is properly sodden soil and very slippery too as we discovered on Wednesday. So I’m going to be reviewing conditions at the last minute before Sunday!

Now all I’ve got to do is get home tonight!


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 thaw – so that’s good right?’

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  1. KC says:

    Why don’t we opt for a road ride or get over to the Look Out and do a combination of fire trails and stuff?

  2. Dave says:

    I’m not even sure that Swinley will escape from these conditions as a lot of the tracks over there can be a bit muddy. Newlands Corner is the obvious option in this weather even if it means a road tramp. I can get my Fat Boys one as long as we decide it’s a road ride!!

  3. DaveW says:

    I expect Swinley will be a bit much due to the combination of wet and technical, but I don’t think such drastic steps as riding on tarmac will be necessary – there has been a whole lot of thawing going on and with a balmy 7 degrees C and rain forecast for Saturday, I reckon most/all of the slush will have gone by Sunday.

    It will be wet and sloppy out, but the ground won’t have been churned up too much as we have all been riding on top of the snow and ice for the past few weeks.

    Be positive chaps – it will be fine ;o)

  4. Matt says:

    It’s a tricky decision; but best to keep an eye on things through Saturday.

    A tarmac adventure could be fun but it depends if it’s MTB’s on tarmac (slick-tyred or otherwise) or road bikes. I don’t have a road bike! So the disparity between riders potential velocity could be unworkable.

    I’ll have a good look tonight but will be on the road. At Leatherhead I’ll attempt to ride round the Leisure Centre and will get a good idea from there.

    This morning was comedy! Just zero traction, lots of spinning followed by a lurch sideways as gravity took hold…

    Keep an eye on this ‘thread’ and I’ll update it later.

  5. Colin says:

    “a tarmac adventure could be fun” Sorry-not possible (wink). Conditions can never be that bad!

    It’ll be fine by Sunday Matt, but i’ll pump my 2.35 mtb tyres to about 140psi, just in case I’m outweighed by the road voters!

  6. John R says:

    Oh no – I haven’t been out on the bike for weeks.

    I am out with my Saturday crew tomorrow, but from what you say, Matt, we may not get far.

    How about we turn up at Bocketts as usual on Sunday, and if it is still bad we can go for Dave’s suggestion of a road ride to Newlands? – and as we will all be on MTBs no problems with relative speeds.

  7. Neillp says:

    Have to agree with Matt here, I went out this afternoon from Ashtead. I got as far as Epsom Downs and decided to turn back.

    I am off to the coast on the road bike on Sunday!

  8. Matt says:

    As promised I gave the trails another short try-out this evening after tramping back via the A25 and A24. Where the paths are close to the road they are clear due to the salt spray I think but anywhere back from the road is patchy slush, some of it quite deep.

    Got to Leatherhead and went round the back of the Leisure Centre, was very greasy with mud and still plenty of slush. Very hard going and quite frustrating.

    Got to Bocketts and decided enough was enough and climbed up to the top of Young Street via the road, then home.

    John, let us know how the trails are tomorrow, I’m thinking a road MTB blast will provide a workout without the hassle but let’s wait and see.

  9. Erick says:

    Well, the weatherman is saying that we’ll have quite a lot of rain on Saturday, don’t think conditions will get any better on Sunday.

  10. Bookham Toby says:

    I’m planning a road ride on my fat tyred CX bike so will try to get up on time to join you for a change if you go out on the road.

  11. James says:

    Hi guys, I also rode to work and on the way back I detoured off the path in Richmond Park and it was very slippy and soft. always makes me laugh as you are not allowed too but I am a rebel ! I also have purchased some 661 kyle straits off ebay for £25 brand new. Just need a phantom jacket or similar now! If anyone has a spare one they want to sell let me know!! Matt you should set up a for sale section also the rider on the home screen still has a xmas hat on. Wont be out Sunday so enjoy the ride and see you all wednesday night.

  12. John R says:

    The weather looked too miserable for a ride this morning, so I had a quick scoot around the Norbury and Crabtree Lane area this afternoon.

    The major trails are 80% clear of slush and even then there is usually a track through. Not surprisingly they are very soggy, but rideable – The Admiral’s Track really lived up to its name today.

    The minor trails have a lot more slush and are often impassable.

    I think we would probably be OK doing Bocketts – Newlands on the Admirals / Yew Trees / North Downs Way, but routes like Landrover may need a few more days.

    With the Met Office predicting 1C-4C overnight and sun in the morning, it can only get better.

  13. PIJ says:

    Hi you lot – hope you didn’t listen to the naysayers and take the Devils own path to hell that is a road ride? Truly an excellent day to be out as a mountain biker today – every trail a technical challenge due to ice over mud. Go on; tell me you didn’t take the easy option!! I’ll never be able to look a Mole in the eye if you did!!


  14. John R says:

    PIJ – you’ll have to wait for the ride report to see . . . . JR

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