Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Happy New Year 2020!

Posted by Matt | January 1, 2020 | 11 comments so far

Dandy takes it easy
Well here we are again. Another year, another New Year post. Welcome to 2020 everybody!

This year, come October sees the 15th anniversary of the Muddymoles website, at least in it’s WordPress-based guise (we can actually date ourselves to September 2003!). Wow! That’s a long time in internet years, probably equivalent to a century in normal time? Well, maybe.

The thing is, we’ve just passed through a real Wild West of internet history, and it continues to this day. In 2005 Google was just 6 years old, Facebook had barely started hooking up bro’s in dorms and Twitter didn’t exist at all. Things were different then.

I like to think we’ve chiseled out a very small Surrey Hills flavoured niche on the internet. It’s not been easy to keep the writing thing going but there remains much satisfaction in being able to remind yourself what nonsense you were getting up to at various points in time.

As for cycling, the bike world evolves along with everything else. 26″ wheels – gone. Rubbish brakes – gone. Punctures – largely, gone (excepting my traumatic Muc-off experiences in 2019). Since 2005 we’ve pretty much binned XC and we’ve definitely binned the terror of steep Freeride head angles!

Now, we have big wheels, big tyres and bikes that can handle much more than we can throw at them; though in my case that’s always been true. We have Trail bikes. Enduro bikes. Gravel bikes. Adventure bikes. Bike packing bikes. All tout long geometry, short stems, wide bars and increasingly, dropper posts. The future is here, but it’s also just round the corner.

What’s coming is e-bikes. 130 million of them in the next 3 years if this Deloitte 2020 report is accurate. Or in other words, double the projected annual sales that electric cars will achieve in ten years!

So there won’t just be a lot more e-MTBs round here; expect e-bikes to become the vehicle of choice for a lot of journeys under 3-5 miles.

Being in the UK, we will see this trend at a slower rate; being in Surrey (and any other suburb) we will see this trend last but make no mistake it’s coming. I’m already thinking about using an e-bike in the next year or two for most of my commuting and am increasingly interested in cargo bikes; or at least, bikes that can carry stuff. It’s the way to go and I think many will agree.

What we need for it to happen is infrastructure. Real, serious prioritisation of walking and cycling over cars. That’s a big thing and something I’m getting more interested in – the environment doesn’t happen in a vacuum and I’d like to be involved. We’ll see what that means as the year progresses…

Elsewhere, my 2020 goals are coalescing around fitness and experiences. First of all, fitness.

There was a time when I assumed that if I kept cycling then next year I’d be fitter than I currently was. That’s… a little naive. None of us are getting younger and while we’re not over the hill, some of us have a clearer view than we’d like of the other side!

In my case, as with so many people, my back causes me issues. I’ve started a programme of work on this but will post updates as I go along about how things progress. What I can tell so far is that your back might hurt, but that’s probably not where the problem started. It’s all rather complex!

At least I’ve escaped Christmas without putting on weight, which feels an achievement. Too long I’ve been curating 5 or 6 extra pounds at this time of year which I spend the rest of the year trying to get rid of.

Second on my list – experiences. I didn’t manage a 100 mile ride in 2019, nor did I visit a Welsh trail centre. In fact, most of my riding was commuting (which I want to continue) but other Moles have explored much more widely around the South Downs on warm summer days, and I’d like to do some of that too. Sundays have lapsed a little at times for me and that’s another target.

As for kit, it’s evolution for me this year. I have stuff to tweak on the gravel bike but the Bird hardtail is perfect for the moment. The Jeffsy is also in good nick, with some great kit on it; there’s an outside chance I might move the frame on but that all depends on a lot of factors.

All in all, I hope to add considerably to the 1474 articles published on the Muddymoles so far, and would welcome submissions from others – please send me ideas if you have them. At 9054 published comments, wouldn’t it be great to move that total towards 10,000 this year?

Happy New Year to everyone – thanks for the riding, thanks for the chat and thanks for the laughs!

Filed under Mutterings in January 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 11 comments on ‘Happy New Year 2020!’

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  1. StevenD says:

    26 is not dead ! The Trek I rode with the Moles back in 2010 is still doing sterling duties as a winter steed. Like you I visited no trail centres last year, yes they can be fun but I did not miss them. 2020, like 2019, will be about continuing to enjoy my riding whether it be in the local woods, along canal paths or in the mountains. Have a good 2020.

    • Matt says:

      Happy New Year Steven! I think you’ll have to consider yourself an outlier with your 26er I’m afraid although I also have my old Inbred.

      It’s not used other than occassionally by my teenage son. I have tried it myself but can’t believe how short it is or how steep the angles are! Fine for general XC though.

      I’ve been meaning to hook up with you at some point for a day ride round your neck of the woods, maybe sort something out later this year?

  2. Tony says:

    Great article Matt. I agree that eMTB will be the massive trend for the 20’s. I think we’ll all be riding them for some things in the next few years.

    In the meantime I’m still going to try packing in my riding whether that’s local, SE, trail centres or further afield.

    Still loving peddling my bike in the woods!

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Tony! I thought you had an ‘e-Bay bitch’ to peddle your bikes?

      Seriously though, like you I still enjoy pedaling my bike in the woods, I’m in no rush to go electric. But as a means of replacing shorter car journeys? I’m all for it.

    • P Jenkins says:

      No trail centres last year either – the places themselves are fine, just the driving kills it for me, as being in a car is no fun these days. Finally moved from 26″ to 650b – not sure the wheel size makes much of a difference, but the geometry has; going up is the same, as is XC, but much improved on the downward bits. Still have all of my old bikes – Decathlon keep them going cheaply! Have to say bike reliability is great these days. When was the last time you had to adjust gears on a ride? It’s all good out there.

  3. Jez says:

    Happy new year to you and all Matt.
    Great article, enjoyed reading it.
    Quite interesting how many ebikes that are forecast to be produced this coming year.
    As you say, it’s the next thing for the current decade and beyond. I guess there will always be some that regard them not being what bikes are all about, but bikes have evolved since their inception, solid tyres to pneumatic tyres, rim brakes to disc brakes, rigid to suspension, various wheel sizes. Etc etc.

    I find the journey and evolution of the bicycle an interesting one, it’s how motorcycles became what they are with very small engines being used as pedal assist bicycles back in the late 1800’s. This helped development for non assist bikes. Now we have ebikes 100 years on. I personally think it astonishing what they are capable of now.
    As you know I am an advocate of ebikes for obvious reasons and I certainly will invest in another one in the future so that I can carry on enjoying a pastime that I love. Without them many would struggle being able to ride at all.

    As far as fitness is concerned, yes age plays a part, along with health. For me it’s also about the enjoyment of what the bike relates too – being out with like minded folk enjoying the freedom, company, countryside, trails, travel (local or international) or whatever it is that you take from it.

    “LONG LIVE THE BIKE” in whatever form it takes! It’s still a bike.

    • Matt says:

      Have you become Jez now Jem? For a minute I thought that our long-lost Lord Marg had left a comment.

      Interesting comments, given the history of pedal assist > motorbikes we could see the same with e-bikes > electric motorbikes.

      Hope to catch up with you soon…

      • Jemz!! says:

        I am referred to as Jez and Jem by various friends and many other names that may not be published. Just signed off as Jez this time.
        Electric motorbikes already exist, mostly off road enduro.
        At the Isle of Man TT race each year they now hold a race for e-motorbikes. They are able to cover 1lap (37 miles) at an average speed of 121mph (fastest to date )
        Cheers Jemz!

  4. Elliot says:


    I remember making a few predictions at the end of the 2000s about bikes over the next decade, most of them wrong. Really thought IGH or gearboxes would take over from derailleurs. Slightly disappointed about the lack of progress on that one. By the sounds of it they are coming. Nice to see the back of tubes though!

    • Matt says:

      I think the biggest thing no-one saw was finding a way to make a slack-angled bike handle properly when not pointing downhill. Lots of tech refinements allowed that to happen, rather than any one thing.

      That knowledge – one way or the other – is feeding into just about every product type now.

      Bike infrastructure has moved from being a hope to a wish and I think it will become an expectation in the coming years.

  5. Lloyd says:

    Good article Matt. In terms of trail centres one of the best weekends on a bike was our coed y Brenin trip the year before. I want to go back this year and will start a thread to see what interest there is. Also want to do a few BPW trips.
    The bigger plan is in 2021 to do a guided Wales coast to coast (north to south) over the course of a week with 40 to 50 miles a day. I am going to do research and make plans this year. Again will share info if anyone else is interested in joining in.
    I have been having back trouble for first time so any good strengthening ideas/ exercises do share.

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