Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Review: Mountain Mayhem 2012

Posted by DaveC | June 26, 2012 | 16 comments so far

Danny at Mountain Mayhem 2012

It wasn’t quite the Mountain Mayhem I had hoped for!

Kev and I arrived at Eastnor around Midday on Friday to find that the ground was already massively waterlogged and getting to be a mud bath near the arena.

Areas near the road were a premium for camping and we had to move to Area 8 in order to get an area we though we stood a chance of getting off of again come Sunday. We taped off a suitable area for 12 riders and set up our tent.

With that done we set off to explore. Looks were exchanged again as we squelched across fields towards the arena and we made our way to the food tent to eat and sign in. Not much was open so we headed back to the camp but did stop by On-One who had most of their bikes out and had a quick look. Rain was now coming down so we hooded up and headed off.

Pit area at Mountain Mayhem 2012

Back at the tent we found problem number one as the tent was taking in water at an alarming rate. Kevin took it all in his stride and painted the air blue while I mopped up and tried to get hold of Al who was on his way down. Luckily I caught him at Bookham and he was able to head back to my garage and get the spare tent out. Day saved.

With little else we could do and the rain eased up again we thought we’d head back for something else to eat and to try and find Darren and Amanda. This we did and had a look at the bikes they had bought down from Haven Distribution (who Amanda was riding for in the female solo category).

Kenda was also now open and taking a packet of money on they tombola as everyone tried to win a set of tyres, probably King of Traction was the favourite! We had another look at the On-One stand, Kev seemed interested in the lighter Carbon frame while I talked to Brant Richards about the travel on the different sized El Guapo 29er frames. The latest Phat Bike was also there and I had a brief chat with Shaggy about it as he’d been riding the earlier prototype.

Muddymoles (Kev and Jez) in the slop at Mountain Mayhem 2012

We headed back to the camp site and found to our horror someone setting up a tent with a camper also moved in. After some heated words it became apparent that short of a large stick we were stuck with the squatters. Surely it couldn’t get any worse. Al arrived and the big tent went up but with the rain now set in even that was a chore and left us with a wet tent interior as his palace has a separate fly sheet.

PaulM arrived next with his camper and family and we got them in the lower section of the plot. We were now well defended!

I think I only got about 4 hours sleep with wind, rain and cold and by the time 8am came I was glad to be up and waiting for the rest of our teams to arrive. Slowly it all filled up and we were complete. Jez kept our team waiting and on tenter hooks as he was our nominated runner.

There was a kind of spirit around that I can only imagine (and no disrespect to the men who went through this) to be the Dunkirk spirit. We were all in it together and just got on with it. I was out second for Team 3 and as Matt (Team 1) stood in the corral we saw DannyP (Team 1 come through in about 1hr 30 mins including the run… shame the timing gate didn’t see him!

Matt at Mountain Mayhem 2012 on the Kenda climb

Photo: rOcKeTdOgUk on Flickr

Jez was in a little later and I took off trying to find what level of traction there was. No much was the answer. Still, I made steady progress and by the time I enter the first bit of singletrack I’d overtaken more riders than had passed me. This progress continued until the end of the notorious “sticky woods” (plasticine version also available) where the muck stopped my wheels from turning and took the chain off as well. As minutes passed while I tried to clear it and get the chain back on all my hard work was undone as riders streamed past.

Jez at Mountain Mayhem 2012

Photo: andy_carter on Flickr

After what seemed like an eternity but was probably in reality no more than 5 minutes I got things rolling again and decided to carry the bike to the next clear section. Rolling again I’d lost some of my mental fight and was just able to keep it moving as we headed down into the camping area. The mud was pretty bad here but the real kick came at the beginning of the climb out of the arena area, where traction was extremely limited. The long climb is a killer and I really regretted only having a 30:36 as my lowest gear although much lower and I might have spun the wheels more. I felt a wimp knowing that Al was pedalling his Ibis round 32:16. Time the MoleTFU.

Somewhere in the last quarter of the track MarkyMark caught me and went past soon following by another shout and Phil from Team Kinesis Movelo (I hope that’s right) went past me. Phil used to be the mechanic in our local Cycleworks, top bloke! With the final descent ahead I clung on for dear life and hoped the tyres would clear of mud by the time I need to corner! One chap who I’d swapped places with a number of times was now ahead of me and suffering from cramp. In the swamp that preceded the finish line he had to pull over and I got my place back. 2 hours and 3 minutes I was back in and handed over to Andrew.

Paul's Niner clogged at Mountain Mayhem 2012

Heading back I heard rumours of severe weather from midnight and Jem sent me a text to confirm the rain was coming in heavy. I suggested that given the conditions we might want to sit it out and head out in the morning and there was general agreement. With that I popped the ear plugs in and passed out. Apparently sometime during the night a mud man entered the tent as Tony finished his lap. No photos have yet come forward but I was out for the count.

By 4:30am the wind had dropped and I could no long hear rain so I breakfasted on Belvita biscuits and other cereal bars before heading out around 5am. Kev apparently heard me and headed out as well, catching me in the first quarter of a lap. Conditions had changed and the grip was now in the really wet mud and the running water. Well, that was unless it was on a down slope and then there wasn’t a lot of grip as I found out caking my left side in the goo. Sticky Woods 2, Dave 0.

Halfway round Mountain Mayhem 2012

I caught Kev up and stayed with him until the descent where he went away from me in what only can be described a true display of Dandy Downhilling. Not having Dandy’s style or ability I let him go and trudged on at my own pace but the arena section was a bog. The climb up the other side was relatively dry but still hard work but the odd stop did allow me to marvel at the early morning, just washed, beauty of the area. The views were outstanding. One bedraggled rider I reminded of the beauty around us even smiled as he too took in the view.

Generally conditions over this side of the course were worse unless you could find flowing water and then you had a small reprieve from the grind. Somewhere I was talking to another chap who was “enjoying” his first MTB event in 12 years having previously done 11 years of downhilling. He also mention how beautiful the area was, maybe it was something that those of us up at that hour enjoyed! He obviously left me on the final downhill but I wasn’t worried, I’d completed two laps (half the previous year) and had another event where I could smile wistfully and nod saying “yep, I was there”.

Muddymoles at Mountain Mayhem 2012

I might give it another go next year, very little chance of getting me back to Thetford after 2010 though!

More pictures of Mountain Mayhem 2012 are available on Flickr.

Filed under Racing, Reviews in June 2012


About the author

Dave's been riding seriously since about 1997 and is one of the founding Molefathers — along with Matt and Mark — that came up with the idea of a MTB website for Mole Valley riders.

He's had several different bikes but it's now mainly 29ers in Dave's stable, apart from an Orange 5.

Current Bikes: Orange 5, Salsa Spearfish and Kona Big Unit

There are 16 comments on ‘Review: Mountain Mayhem 2012’

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  1. Markymark says:

    Perversely, i enjoyed it much more than i thought i would! After Muc-Off 8 a few years ago (which incidently i absolutely hated) my expectations were fairly low.

    However, cameraderie was high among the Moles and throughout the laps it felt as though for every 9 people we overtook just one or two went past. It sure felt good to see more people suffering than we were. I heard that a few people were crying at the side of the trail – with balloon tyres they couldnt even push the bike, let alone walk on the clay slop.

    All those training rides paid off chaps! I mean come on, look at the results, we came roughly in the top third (66th) out of 180 odd teams and we were hardly trying really.

    After setting off for my second lap just after 10pm i handed over to Tony just before Midnight – our last rider out before morning – before Dave and Kev got stuck back in again about 5am.

    Regretfully I used the Hope-sponsored power wash at Midnight as my steed was in such a mess. Having duely stripped the 456 down today to assess the damage i can report the drive side BB is knackered and the jockey wheel bearings are shot. Oh, and one replacement set of rear pads (i actually hardly used the front brake at all!).

    A great experience. Anything else will seem a dream to ride on after this. Hats off to everyone for knocking out two laps each in the most dire conditions possible…

  2. MuddyJohn says:

    Well done chaps, and Amanda, is all I can say.

    Conditions look diabolical in those photos, I have no idea why you choose to do this to your poor bikes.

    I am happy for this to be another event about which I can smile wistfully and say “yep, I was at home”.

  3. Jez says:

    “This sh*t makes Cambodia look like Kansas.”

  4. Jez says:

    You know, I think I used that cheesy quote after D2D and thought things couldn’t get any worse after that event. I was wrong. Things can and did get worse! Mud was horrendous.

    It was better when it started raining hard as the mud ran off a bit and didn’t clog up so much. I hated the first lap but quite enjoyed the second (maybe cos I knew I wasn’t going to do anymore). Still, the worse the weather the more ‘we’re in this together’ came through and was rather comical. It was my first Mayhem and not sure whether I’m a big fan of the course. Clearly it’s a nightmare in the wet so would be nice to try it in the dry.

  5. Markymark says:

    P.S. forgot to say a hugely impressive performance Amanda!! Am pretty sure i couldnt have kept going that long.

  6. PaulM says:

    Absolutely, fantastic performance Amanda!
    10Laps – Heroic!

    The only thing positive for me about doing a 2nd lap was that the clay immobilising my niner (see Pic) had softened allowing my rear wheel to turn for more of the lap, rather than be carried! I was so delighted that I even got up early to start a 3rd, but that was easy to talk me out of – thanks guys – could have been a near death experience !

  7. DaveW says:

    Well done everyone – rather you than I!

    I did wonder what it had been like, when I rode through the mud and puddles at Swinley on Sunday morning. Awesome 2nd place in category for Amanda – riding for that amount of time and distance solo is incredible, but in those conditions, super human. You are all officially mad.

  8. Karl says:

    +1 DW

    You don’t have to be mad to be a Mole.. but it helps…

    Actually you do have to be mad..

    No Mole does not exhibit some form of mental instability.

    Res Ipsa Loquitur

  9. OrangelessRoo says:

    Amazing scenes – complete mayhem?! All deserve a medal.

    Well done to all intrepid Moles… Muddy ones of course!

  10. DaveS says:

    Well done Moles, especially Amanda!

    I was under the impression Muddy Mole were actually supposed to be Muddy… It seems to have turned out to be exactly as written on the tin. Have you thought of doing this at Glastonbury? Coldplay’s Waterfall could be a good accompaniment as you go round or maybe this..:

    btw – My shoulder is getting better, I see the consultant mid July and hope to be back out in August for some DRY rides!!

  11. AJkiwi says:

    Hi Guys

    Well what a race it was and i actually enjoyed it especially when it started to rain that made me smile as meant i didnt have to push or carry the bike for a bit. the hardest lap for me was lap 9 this was about 6 or 7 in the morning and teh mud inthe first half of the course had started to dry so it was back to a bit of bike push. my favourite part was teh second half of the lap espoecially the down hill bits was lots of fun. i seem to have recovered a bit and am looking forward to riding my bike this weekend at Black mountains although wont be very competitive but will enjoy the ride instead. I learnt a lot from this race and really wished i had some skinny tyres although the fast track LK were great and had loads of grip int eh downs just needed them to be 2.1 instead of 2.25. thanks for all you support and encouragement that is waht keeps me going. The whole race was awesome espically all the people as support for riders was great even in the early hours of the morning.
    Hope to see you all soon.

  12. Alex says:

    I saw a few of you lot on my laps. Meant to say Hello as I’ve been a reader of your site for a few years. I live 10 miles away but always avoided Mayhem. Now I know why 😉

    My write up is here: Never again tho I’m officially retired!

  13. Matt says:

    Hi Al, shame we didn’t get to say hello, would have been good to meet up. Our shirts did cause a collective intake of breath when we saw the colour but at least they are easy to spot!

    The Hedgehog is always worth a read I find… you change your bikes as often as Dave does!

  14. Related: The founding fathers | Muddymoles

  15. Related: Ride musings - frosty mornings and winter slops | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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