Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Cycling in a time of Coronavirus – count yourself lucky

Posted by Matt | April 6, 2020 | 2 comments so far

YT Jeffsy in Norbury Park
These are tough times for people. If you are able to get out on the bike, count yourself very lucky indeed.

First off, I’m mindful of what I’m about to write. I’m going to write about the riding I’ve been doing while we’ve all been supposedly confined to barracks for up to 23 hours a day.

I am very much aware of my privileged status in being able to ride – when work commitments allow – perfect trails in glorious weather, while many are either working their socks off, putting themselves selflessly at risk or stuck ten floors up in a London flat with primary-age children.

I have to admit I’ve stretched the envelope a little – largely because, I’m riding alone; I can ride to the trails within a mile of my home (or hit the empty roads); and I’m definitely NOT stretching my riding into all-day epic territory.

On top of all that, the countryside – now closed to visitors – is essentially empty bar a few locals.

YT Jeffsy at Tanners Hatch

Not all good

As with many things, it’s not all biscuits and gravy.

Three weeks ago I thought how lucky I was my employer was able to trade at close to normal; two weeks ago how effectively we had all switched to work from home; then 10 days ago I had to take two days off work with immense fatigue and a very dry throat (injury aside, unheard of for over ten years) – was that coronavirus?

At the same time, my employer has decided now is the time to fundamentally restructure the department I’m in. The outcome of a work project I had no involvement with means… we are all having our positions reviewed. This couldn’t have fallen at a worse point.

I consider myself a very good web developer and an excellent employee, but no-one is immune and for the next few weeks stress and uncertainty reigns.

Thankfully I’ve recovered my health and my work continues for now, but around that I plan to ride as often as time allows within the broad advice for regular excercise. I say enjoy things when you can.

Cannondale Topstone and a near empty A3


My rides consist of a mix of gravel biking (I’m trying to shake up the on/off-road mix a little), and the MTB of course.

A couple of local rides on the Jeffsy have been hugely enjoyable because not only has the sun come out but the trails have turned dusty almost overnight. At the same time, the vegetation hasn’t really got going so you can ride unhindered.

One recent ride was a classic winch and plummet hour and a half over Ranmore and Mickleham. So many possibilities presented themselves I had to leave them for another day as I needed to get back for a meeting. Even so I managed View to a Kill, Rumble in the Jungle, Red, White and Rose, Life on Mars, Lloyd’s Left Leg and Sean’s Helmet. That lot certainly stretched the lungs for sure.

On the gravel side I have a new loop out to Wisley/Pyford Lock which mixes woodland and tarmac in equal measure. It’s lovely, you work as hard or as little as you like but it’s a great mental reset. Good health comes in different forms.

Cannondale Topstone on Wisley airfield

More gravel adventures – yesterday, I rode the gravel bike to Dorking off-road via Bockett’s, up to the Sawmill and then down Crabtree Lane to pop out at Westhumble, then after looping Dorking town centre I came back via Little Switzerland.

Today, I took the bike up the Coldharbour Climb to Leith Hill, then after dropping down to the A25 I came back off-road via the Colekitchen climb to the North Downs Way, then down to the lumber yard and back on the road to Effingham. Turns out you can do a lot on 38c tyres and 40psi!

Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe the Jeffsy again. Either way I’m spoilt for choice.

Things are still mad

Despite all the above, this is a stressful, mad time.

The PM is in intensive care. The economy has hit a wall with unknown consequences. I may be out of work. None of us know if we have had the virus, will get the virus or survive the virus.

I hope these momentous times can be the start of a much-needed reassessment of our world. It turns out, communities are important (even communities of MTBers!). People are important. Friendships are important.

Take the cycling opportunities you get given but remember our privilege. Ride safe, be responsible.

You all have my best wishes and fervent hopes that we and our loved ones stay safe and well. I look forward to riding with you all again soon!

Cannondale Topstone on the North Downs Way

Filed under Lifestyle, Mutterings in April 2020


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 2 comments on ‘Cycling in a time of Coronavirus – count yourself lucky’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

  1. P Jenkins says:

    The work thing is very odd. I was out of contract on the month end, no prospect of it being extended. Had an interview for another post on the 27th, and got the role. That afternoon it also got pulled. 3 hours before the end of the year, my original contract got extended. Nobody knows what is going on, and it is best now to look at life day by day. Enjoy what you have now! Very few people can plan even a day or two ahead. Just keep riding – it helps. And in any case, sometimes it is just time to move on.

  2. Dandy says:

    Like you Matt, I’m acutely aware of how privileged I am. Currently we’re just ‘physically distancing’ here in BC, we’re not ‘locked down’. Even better, I’ve a wife, a daughter and a dog for company. I’ve been able to regularly run and ride with my daughter as my exercise buddy, and all 4 of us can go out together on long hikes when time allows. I’ve dialled down the gnar factor on mtb rides as I don’t want to end up in A&E (was that ever likely? I hear you cry). Meanwhile, for me work is proving uncomfortably busy, so much so that I’ve not had time for a decently long bike ride for a week or so, I’ve just been heading out on shorter runs for exercise instead. Stay safe, stay well, keep riding 😉

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