Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

A Long Day in the Saddle

Posted by Keith | April 24, 2011 | 9 comments so far

The earlier post on the forum gained little firm response to my invite for an early start on Good Friday. This was not a surprise given it was a bank holiday and most of the moles would have been either tucked up in bed or on family duties.

Given this, it was a encouraging to see when I finally got free of work on Thursday evening the numbers had swelled.

The plan was to complete a 20 mile loop from Bocketts and then for me to continue on another loop for another 40 miles. I didn’t expect company on the whole route but maybe the two separate loops would entice some moles to get out on these sun kissed trails.

At 0700 sharp the Bocketts car park included 7 moles: DaveC, Matt, Tony, MarkyMark, D’Andy, Ray and myself. With the temperatures already reaching 15C and promising to reach the mid 20’s we headed off towards Alsation with DaveC setting a brisk pace. My thoughts turned quickly to the miles ahead and how hard this might turn out to be but I was zipping along on my new 29″ Air Niner. It rolled so easily and felt so light and responsive that on the first climb of the day I knew it was going to be an easier prospect than with a heavy full suss.

We moved steadily up across Mickleham Downs, passing the top of Life on Mars and up on to Headley Common. A short road brought us out on the Boxhill Road and in no time we were at the top of Bat Outta Hell; our first downhill of the day. The trail was in great condition and brought a smile to all as we regrouped at the railway bridge. The sense in dropping all this height and then riding a mile down the road to ride up the ridge again towards the top at the Western restaurant brings into question our sanity. But on this day, with this view, this blue sky and the magnificent colours and smells (more on this subject later!), the climb was pure magic.

The next trail we would take in would be China Pig. At the entrance I heard everybody say “oh I will be taking it fairly steady, everybody except D’Andy that is. I am too old and too wise to get caught out by these statements, preferring to get the feel of the new bike before I head butt the scenery I took up the rear. At the bottom the faces said it all. Beaming like a cheshire cat, Matt said that he couldn’t remember riding it faster, and one returning mole who was coaxing himself back to the trails after an injury enforced lay off, also attacked the trail hard; I suspect adrenalin and competitive spirit came into play!

Time was marching on and I knew two moles would be waiting at Bocketts for round two so we rolled down the road, picking up Staines St and then retraced the route in reverse down Alsation. I agreed to go first at a modest pace to trail-blaze and make sure that we did not startle any early morning walkers, horses or bikers, but found none. After a brief wait Ray and I decided to head on to Bocketts. We waited for MarkyMark and D’Andy and latter learned that the rest of the mob had been delayed by a puncture. Since they were not planning on completing the second loop we headed off towards the Yew Trees climb with some new company. Paul901 and KevS had pulled back the covers and struggled out to join us. Paul came in for a bit of abuse from D’Andy from the off for not provisioning some fine coffee for the assembled moles at Bocketts, I confess to thinking the same as the temperatures had already reached the mid 20’s and a coffee break would have been most welcome.

We headed on to Ranmore, CollarBone and the pile of logs. Sad to say I missed the failed attempt by D’Andy to clear the logs, but I did witness his perfect demonstration at Abba Zabba where he made the drop in and roll out around the tree look so easy. As he screamed with delight at the exit I knew he enjoyed it; and actually it isn’t that easy at all. We noodled are way through the Terrors and Numbskulls and then picked up the valley where D’Andy left us to cover his own way back to Bocketts via another trail or two as we headed off up the Rookery and on our way to Leith Hill.

A welcome break and refreshments saw the remaining riders, Kev, Mark, Ray and myself bid fairwell to Paul who had rode well on his first trail ride for a while and handed over the ride to Mark who guided us through some great trails (Mother and BKB) to Holmbury and then Peaslake for a sandwich. My plan was to now move on more xc trails to pick up Blackheath and then the Chilworth road crossing to tackle the south face of St Marthas. Thanks to Ray and Mark who kept us on course as we hit upon trails that they had traversed before. Resisting the urge to sit and watch the horse xc event with a bunch of female marshals, St Marthas sandy ascent came into view! After this many miles I knew it was not going to be easy and boy was it hot! We reached the south col and all agreed a brief rest was in order. The final section is steeper still but we all made it up and took in the fantastic view from the church. Sometime on a ride you get a real high and this was the moment for at least 3 of the moles. I am disappointed to report that, as we admired the view and reflected, the fourth mole let rip! This would not be the last time either. Apparently it is normal to fart 12 – 40 times per day, emitting between 0.5 and two liters of gas. You should only worry if you fart significantly more than this. Boy, fourth mole – you should worry! The only positive in all this was that it kept us amused all the way to Newlands via the Chantries and Pewley Down.

Newlands was humming with bank holiday revellers taking in the sun so it was a surprise we got served quickly and were back on our way. I had a darn conference call to dial in to later and sensed that if we did not roll fairly quickly I would be late, so we ran along the ridge, down Collarbone and along the normal route via Yew Trees to Bocketts at normal mole pace.

It was an elated bunch that unclipped at the car park. It had been a long, hot ride but we had taken it sensibly and from what I saw we were all in good shape.

When I got home I looked at the stats. The Garmin route is here but in summary the Bocketts loops will have been about 57 miles as the crow flies and with the additional legs to and from home I reached my 60 plus goal.

(I forget to take my camera, doh, but I noticed Matt taking a few images so maybe he can add some media to this post)

Filed under Rides in April 2011


About the author

Well this MTB phase started more recently for me than most in the Muddymole clan. I had been suffering ankle and shin injuries from years of endurance running and finally decided to give cycling a try. Taking my Trek MTB to Cycleworks for a quick service I realised technology had moved on and that my old bike had passed the best before date.

I walked out a week later with a Specialized Rockhopper and headed off into the Surrey Hills. Most of the time I ran along the North Downs Way, normally struggling with some technical aspect or other more than once on each ride. Realising I was likely to replace ankle and shin injuries with broken bones I sought out help and found, by chance, the Muddymole group. It was with some trepidation that I embarked on my first ride, a night ride, and surprisingly I survived.

As they say the rest is history. I have bought 5 bikes in the last 3 years, not all for myself you understand, as I commute to work and encourage my family to push the pedals too. My pride and joy is the Orange 5 SE which keeps me out of trouble more than I deserve. It is a bike that flatters those with limited skill!

There are 9 comments on ‘A Long Day in the Saddle’

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  1. Ray k says:

    Thankyou thankyou for an absoutly joyous ride. The weather, senery ,route ,bluebells, company, horseriders all added to a fantastic ride thanks again

  2. Dandy says:

    A fine way to start the w/e, Keith. Although I was struggling a little to keep up with DaveC, who was flying along knowing he only had the first loop to complete, I really enjoyed the two ‘killer’ descents, Bat Outta Hell and China Pig.

    Would loved to have included Life on Mars and Secret Singletrack too, but it was probably my fault for slowing everybody down on the climbs 🙁

    It was good to see Mr 901 back out on his proper bike, the Whyte, rather than those weird carbon-forked road bikes! Even if he did forget the coffee 😉

    I was a little annoyed at not clearing the ‘log pile’ but was pleased to clean the Abba Zabba complex despite a late course correction as I rounded the upper tree in order to avoid heading straight for the lower tree on the right-hand side. I must remember to look at where I want to go rather than staring at the obstacles I want to avoid, with the inevitable rib-breaking consequences 🙁

    My return via High Mediterranean and ‘And then there were three’ were very enjoyable. For the first time this year I comfortably climbed HM in the middle ring, the after-effects of last year’s PVFS having forced me to spin up this moderate climb in the granny ring up to now.

    And then there were 3 was as much fun as always. Looks like the trail pixies are building smaller jumps with fallen tree branches, but with no built up ramp they’re just a speed hump rather than a ramp. Of course, it could be someone trying to slow down or discourage mtb’ers 🙁

    Although concentrating on the trail, My peripheral vision couldn’t help notice the bluebells that were in full bloom in
    the surrounding woods. Beautiful.

    I contemplated an ascent of Box Hill and China Pig and Life on Mars on the return, but realising this would delay me sufficiently to put my promised pre-lunch return to Dandy
    Towers in jeopardy, I simply span along the A24 to Leatherhead and Bocketts with the sun on my back and a song in my heart!

  3. stevend says:

    Although unable to join you all, thank you again Keith for inspiring the early start. 0630 seems like the middle of the night when you get out of bed, but my own Chilterns ride was just so much better for a 0700 start. This summer I am definitely going to try even earlier rides, and the plus is that you are home by lunch time so SWMBO cannot accuse you of going AWOL when you are required around the home.

  4. Tony says:

    What a great morning. It was great to be out on the trials especially since it was late Feb mud that I remembered and dry/dusty that we got. China pig was great – very fast – just Iike I remembered.

    I was out with the family in the afternoon for a spin along to Newlands corner when I saw you all again. Plenty of smiles, you all looked to be in good shape. You seemed to have had a great day out.

    BTW shouldn’t this thread be called “The long good friday?”


  5. paul901 says:

    Unusually I am not going to go for the easy target of Dandini here. In his defence, the log stack is now crumbling and if it hadn’t given way he would have cleared it easily…

    … never let the truth get in the way of a good story and all that.

    It was good to be back out on the Whyte and it did all feel rather nervy and strange but it was the kickstart I needed. My right knee was a bit unhappy afterwards but is okay and I should be fine for Sunday Mole rides again now.

    If a ride is planned for this Friday I might just turn up with a couple of flasks..

  6. Jez says:

    Congrats on reaching the mileage. Good effort that. You are making me worry about Kielder now.

  7. Kevs2010 says:

    Nice ride report Keith and eloquently composed!

    It was a great ride in excellent company. Really enjoyed the banter and modest amount of P#ss taking that went on. It sure helps to make the miles pass by, especially on some of the steep grinding climbs we endured.
    St Martha’s summit was a true test but worth the effort for the views all around.

    Let me know when you want to do another long run. 😉

  8. Matt says:

    Just to say I really enjoyed the early start in conditions which are unlikely to be any better this year. We will look back on this weekend with some fondness I think for allowing mileage quotas and suntans to be easily topped up.

    Unfortunately I only had time to do the first loop, a mere 22 miles at a pace which I reckon was reasonably quick. Hats off to the rest of you for completing the full 60! We stumbled at the end with Tony picking up an unfortunate puncture but I have to say China Pig and Alsation were both taken at a mental speed! Must be those MudXs!

    All very good fun, see you soon…

  9. Markymark says:

    It was superb to start early and get in some decent miles (especially with the SDW in a Day on the horizon we need to be knocking out some 50+milers).

    Regarding the Mr Methane moment, I confess it was I, and blame the cake i ate on Leith Hill and energy shots mix. By the time i got home i was still able to knock out the National Anthem from my ar*e which didnt go down that well.

    To top it all, got caught ‘flossing’ with her best Egyptian cotton “that’s my ******* face towel!”, and cleaning the Surrey dust & grime off the side of the bath with a flannel and White Company vanilla bergamot Seychelles shower gel. All in all, a fabulous day.

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