Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Your hardest ever bike ride

Posted by Matt | April 6, 2011 | 17 comments so far

I’m still buzzing from a road ride I did with Keith and Barrie last night. Around 29 miles or so along a flatish route from Bookham, to Cobham, Ockham, A3, Wisley, Sendmarsh, West Horsley and then back down to Effingham via East Horsley and then on to Bookham.

On the face of it, a nice route for an evenings ride with just 925ft of climbing. Except it was one of the hardest I’ve ridden!

Part of the reason for that was it was bloody fast by my standards – we averaged 19.2mph for the route and covered the distance in around 1 hour 20 mins.

Barrie and Keith are strong riders and we all took our turn leading to tow each other along, at least in the first half against a strong headwind at times. By the second half, I was gradually needing to tuck in behind them more and more as I was knackered, but hung in grimly even though both backed off a bit to keep me there.

I didn’t suffer any sugar crashes or anything like that but the workrate was relentless, even though I think we all were thoroughly enjoying ourselves. How weird.

After the ride I said to Keith and Barrie that was in my top three list of hard rides ever but I unfortunately can’t remember what the other two were! Maybe Borden is in there though…

So I was wondering, forget this was a road ride, forget the distance, forget the details. What’s the hardest ride the rest of you have had and why?

Do tell by leaving a comment below…


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 17 comments on ‘Your hardest ever bike ride’

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  1. Tony says:

    Hardest ride ever.

    115miles, 5500M (yep that’s metres) climbing, +35C in the valleys.

    Col du Glandon, Col du Crois Der Fer, Col Du Galiber, Alp D’Heuz.

    It’s called the La Marmotte and definitely my hardest day ever on a bike, MTB or road. I ended up riding the Alp at the end from hairpin 1 to 21 with cramp in both legs.

  2. AndyW says:

    Hardest ride ever for me was day 2 of coast to coast (3 days ride). Was riding from Whitehaven to Sunderland as this is supposed to take advantage of the tail wind.
    Day 2 was Penrith to Allenheads (a distance of about 40 miles) but on this weekend the wind had changed direction and we were cycling into a head wind the entire three days.
    This section also includes the biggest hills, the most painful of which was Hartside @ 580 meters from near sea level. Having covered close to 60 miles the day before and then having to pedal all the downhills as the wind was so strong nearly broke me.
    Frustratingly the only part I had to walk was near the top of Hartside where the wind was so strong it was blowing me across the road into traffic and it was just too dangerous to ride.

  3. Dave says:

    Well, I’m glad I missed that ride!

    Toughest is tricky, Marin D2D 2010 must be in there somewhere and the last Mole Killer loop I did.

    Last Killer loop was hard because of the pace and distant also ridden in the wet again. Only thing that kept the rhythm going for me was Keith’s sobs that accompanied the grinding sound emanating from his new XTR transmission ;o)
    I had to have a little nap in the afternoon!

  4. Dave says:

    Mind you, you lot don’t know you were born. Back in the day when the P Far was king we were real men. We’d get up before we went to bed and ride from Land’s End to John O’Groat round the coast road, then go down the pit and work for 72 hours non stop before feasting on dried bread.

  5. Markymark says:

    The South Downs Way in a Day a couple of years ago.

    Its 100miles / 160kms. Completion around 11.5hrs.

    It wasnt uber difficult but there were some stiff climbs (and they got more challenging towards the last 20 miles), my ball+chain was a bad lower back which started to kick in at the 65 mile mark around Truleigh Hill. Had a nightmare with the tightness when climbing.

    It’d been 27 degrees all week and the SW winds just kicked in over night to drop it to about 22 for the big day, but i still had trouble keeping cool.

    The total of the ascents is, i believe, approximately 3,555 metres or 11,660 feet, that’s about three times higher than Snowdon (3560) from sea-level.

    Its a fantastic trail and worth doing over a couple of days to enjoy it, with a stop over at Gumber Bothy camping barn in West Sussex which is 43 miles in from Winchester.

    Am planning to do it again this Summer (end June/beg July) and will post some info at some point to guage interest and see if we can get a small group together.

  6. DaveW says:

    My hardest ride was with my father from Sparsholt to my Gran’s in Ferndown, Dorset, at age 9 on a steel 3 speed Raleigh. About 40 miles of trans New Forest hell.

    My Dad (as always) rode 100 metres in front of me, so I always felt I was trying (and failing) to catch up and I didn’t get any slipstream benefits. The headwinds crossing the New Forest were horid. It was enough to put you off cycling for life. It didn’t though, did it?

    I was really proud of having covered the distance, when none of my mates had ever ridden further than the corner shop. :o)


  7. Andy661 says:

    Most realistic answer would be “the last one”! Lol

    But seeing as i’ve only been on a mountain bike a year and a bit D2D has to be up there cos i spent 5.5hrs cycling very slowly in it! Hehe.

    The Mayhem night and early morning laps were awful cos of the breaks between laps.

    But to be honest some of my early rides with the Moles were the stuff of nightmares!

    But i kept coming back too.

    I may update this post in early September. . . . !

  8. Jem says:

    My hardest ride was from Bookham to Lulworth cove with Mark T when we were 16.

    We rode everywhere when we were 14-16yrs old, until we discovered mopeds and motorbikes.

    Fully loaded with panniers and camping gear. We ended having a week at the camp site and not going far at all, as my knee was swollen and Mark got terrible sun burn.

    We got the train home!

  9. Jem says:

    Just to say it was 115 miles of hell!

  10. paul901 says:

    Too many to mention. None of the epic adventures others have had and which make interesting reading. Nothing glamourous and monstrous like the classic Alps and Pyrenees pilgrimages either.

    Just plenty of occasions when completely flattening and having to consume large quantities of food to recover and be able to ride on, one when I had had to call the team car out 20 miles from home, simply incapable of pedalling at all. Another when I would have had to walk a broken (flat tyred) bike home for many miles, another when a kind old lady gave me a lift back from Bentley to Farnham, she was like Mother Teresa arriving from nowhere and bravely offering help to a stranded bloke walking a broken bike. At least two others when a touch of the ‘farmer Giles’ made sitting on the saddle nigh on impossible, not good many miles from home.

    Each of my memorable rides became hard because of events and circumstances rather than the physical effort of long torturous rides. That always seemed like madness to be honest (as in work, parenting and life in general meant I didn’t want the lost recovery time) and so I didn’t pursue them.

    Hell, come to think of it I can’t even talk of having to continue riding after severe crashes, falls or breakages like some of you can. Now, I suspect there are one or two tales to tell out there.

  11. JohnR says:

    My hardest ride was home (in those days, Shepperton) to Bath on a sponsored ride with a school friend, when I was about 16. We did 100 miles and optimistically allowed about 8hrs for it.

    Woefully under trained, we experienced unremitting undulating roads from Wantage to Swindon, then heavy rain to Chippenham. After that, total and abject fatigue set in – we had experienced our first sugar bonk. This was totally vanquished when we gave into a desperate craving for chocolate and mars bars at a garage in Box – and we soon sped up Box Hill and down into Bath – some 6 hours late.

    Perhaps my second hardest ride was my first outing with the Moles – Abba Zabba? You must be joking. You call this the “chicken run”. . . Blind Terror – I can’t do that, . . . .

  12. StevenD says:

    Maybe I am not ambitious enough or I have just have not cycled enough because I do not think I have anything that stands out as ‘that was my hardest ride’. Some the rides that Moles take part in are just not something I have yet attempted, although at some point I would like to. MY rides are sometimes unexpectedly tough due to winds and mud but I still manage to smile through it all, even if it is with my feet up on the couch with an alcoholic beverage in my hand afterwards.

    What I have had are many memorable rides; my first moles ride (my god these guys are fast), cycling on the ridge path of St Boniface Down on the IoW with clear blue skies (big WOW factor), my first off road ride in Holland, …. and of course how the heck did I cycle after THAT deer moment ? But I digress and change the topic, the former maybe is yet to come and the latter is what keeps me riding.

  13. PIJ says:

    I was once invited to a weekend of “jolly cycling” and drinking around Cambridgeshire. I pitched up on my trusty Orange Clockwork with huge rucksack in the belief that we’d be pootling between pubs. They were all on touring bikes with no gear – they wore the same clothes all weekend. I got funny looks, and they set of at a fair old clip. Over 3 days we did 300 miles…. I kept up, and showed them how fast a mountain bike could be ridden, but boy was I glad there was no day 4!

  14. PIJ says:

    And then there was that ride in Canmore, Alberta. Hired bike, guy in the shop points to a BIG mountain and suggests a little ride up then a “bit of” downhill off the side. Kind of got a little bit lost up on the top – no mobile ‘phones back then and no map, got into a panic over possible bear attacks [I was ringing the little bell for all it was worth] and then finally after much searching found the trail head for the downhill. Never ridden mountains before – especially the Rockies, never had a full suspension bike, and had never pointed myself down a near vertical rock chute. Man did I blubber to the local’s when I got back. Not a hard ride as such, but utterly frightening.

  15. AJkiwi says:

    Well my hardest ride have managed to narrow it down to a couple both stick in my mind for the real adventure of the ride.

    First one was when i convinced Adam and Darren to ride from Cwm Carn bike park to Afan and back the next day as much off road as possible. After mapping it onto GPS and booking we arranged to pick Adam up 5am so we got an early start. After a bit of mucking around we finally made it to Cwm carn and got away for 9am a bit late but there you go it was a really lovely hot day and sprits were high.

    We had not long met Adam and not sure if he was used to big adventures but told him it would be about 10 – 12 hours ride. Once up to top of cwm carn we headed over the fence and turned left across the top down a valley and then back up again once there we had a few moment s to find the trail as was hugely overgrown so first obstical was head high fern so down we went it was a hoot as all you could see was Darrens and Adams head over the tops of the fern and as I’m a short ass you couldnt see me at all.

    Next was making to decision of taking a few shortcutrs as we could clearly see we would be out there all night if we did the planned route so chopped out a couple of bits. Stopped in a town called Rhondda to get a bit of food and drink so i looked after the bikes while the boys went into the supermarket for food only to be accusted by a bunch of young welsh lads asking how much the biks were and where were we staying I must admit i was a bit worried as they out number me 6 to 1 but after a bit of cheek they seemed ok especially once they found I was from NZ handy sometimes.

    Then on our way and time is fast running out and Adam was startign to feel the adventure as was stating the only thing we had not encountered was a river crossing at this Darren and I looked abit sheepish as we had made a wee navigation error and were on the wrong side of the hill which ment we had to do a bit of bush bashing and cross what Darrens called a river but I would class as a creek I must say this really made Adams day not to mention the rather vertical climb to get back onto the track it was a crawl and drag the bike sort.

    But once back on the track it was plain sailing as was at the back of Afan forrest but the only problenm we had was daylight or rather lack of it yes we were in the dark with only 2 sets of lights so made it a bit more interesting but we managed to make it to our destination after 14 hours and lucky for us the lodge made us some dinner which we ate so fast as were starving went to bed and then faced biking back to the car the next day. We are planning on doing this again this year if anyone would like to join us…

  16. Dandy says:

    You make it sound so much fun I can’t wait to have a go …… does that sound as unenthusiastic as I intend it to be? 😉

  17. nigel says:

    the dyfi enduro was hard,said i wouldnt do it again when i finished,but started planning for next ive done it i know how to pace it so looking to knock at least 30 mins off my time next attempt.

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