Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Best conditions of the year?

Posted by Dandy | January 2, 2014 | 8 comments so far

Norbury floods

The best day of the week so far, which translates as the first day since Sunday that it’s not raining or blowing a gale, saw RoadMole and myself meeting at The Anchor around 8am.

Our plan was to head up to Ranmore and find some dry-ish trails to keep the legs ticking over and help work off the effects of recent festivities.  We headed up Bookham High Street to Polesden Lacey, avoiding the Admirals Track as we anticipated the familiar puddles would be to hub depth and we didn’t fancy starting the ride with wet feet.  The Yew Tree descent and climb was reasonably dry, though a few twitches on the descent were an early indication of how the chalkier trails were likely to be running.

We were expecting Badger Run & Collarbone to be a real mud-fest, and they didn’t disappoint.

First fall

On Badger Run, the off-camber induced a heavy slide on the slippery chalk, and as the rear tyre lost grip I vainly attempted to keep the bike upright which only succeeded in my performing a graceful pirouette before stranding myself ‘turtle like’ on my back. 

Tony rushed to assist, after first stopping to take the obligatory photo.

Pic 2 is evidence of my futile attempt to remain in control.

Through sheer idleness, I’m still running Hutchinson Toro ‘all-condition’ tyres on my Santa Cruz, and after my comedy fall, Tony’s comments were that they were probably SoCal ‘all-condition’ which didn’t include thick ‘n slimy Surrey winter gloop.

Skid marks

Collarbone was in similar condition, and was also blocked by several trees.  The gales had really ripped through this section of woodland.

At the top of Collarbone, we headed down Whitedown. 

Bizarrely, Strava shows me as recording a PR down here, which is most likely due to me rarely descending on this trail, with Abba Zabba my preferred route off the ridge. 

From here we headed back along the valley bottom and a climb up High Med.

Collarbone block

ATTW3/Red, White & Rose was next.

There’s a big tree down at the beginning, but once around this the trail is now clear.  This is because we stopped to remove several branches, and my trusty Swiss Army knife was brought into play to saw through a couple of larger branches still attached to fallen trees. 

From here we headed around to the ruined chapel in Westhumble, and a fine coffee and flapjack at Pilgrim Cycles, next to Westhumble station.

Suitably refreshed, I took Tony up to The Snail (aka Tactical Nuclear Penguin) which received the RoadMole seal of approval, before we headed back down to Mickleham and a flooding River Mole.


More photo evidence (main picture) shows my hesitant mince through the flooding river, where I expected to hit a hidden pothole at any moment.  Having successfully negotiated this, we climbed up the road to Norbury as the start of the bridleway is just to my left in the main picture, and we still wanted to keep our feet dry.

There are still two trees down on Infestation, with one requiring a ‘backwards limbo’ to get body and bike under the branches.

In summary, a fine ride in fine weather, with the mud adding to the fun; though I would appreciate it if the rain can hold off now for a month or two.  29km in just over two hours of riding, with 550m climbed.


Filed under Rides in January 2014


About the author

Having been mountain biking since 1996, you might have expected Dandy to have learnt to ride a bike by now. Several broken bones in the last few years prove the maxim that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

In between hospital visits, Dandy rides a brace of much-blinged Pace RCs, the 'green themed' 405 and the silver & gold 506. His winter hack is the Moles' favourite, an On-One 456 hardtail, now converted to an Alfine hub He also dabbles in 'the dark arts', keeping 2 road bikes in one of his seven sheds.

There are 8 comments on ‘Best conditions of the year?’

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  1. Tony says:

    Great ride in the winter sunshine only spoilt by some idiot riding down to the leisure centre and across to the model train lane. Thinking to himself “that won’t be too deep”. Wrong! Waaaay over the axles.

    At least the bike didn’t need much of a clean.

    D’Andy bike pirouette was something to behold. One minute he was riding in front of me and in an instant he and his bike were facing me. Bizarre! At least he’s started the year in the same manner as he finished the last 🙂

  2. Matt says:

    Glad you had an enjoyable ride, I’ve spent the day at work looking at the sunshine through my window!

    I noticed the other day that there was more than one tree down along Collarbone, seems like the top of the Ranmore Ridge and the north side got more of the wind effects than the south.

  3. Muddy John says:

    I was envious of the sunny morning you found for a ride, especially as it looks like the next few days will revert to wet and windy again. So I suspect these will remain the best conditions of the year for a while longer.

  4. Lee says:

    Weirdly I rode a similar route this afternoon, just with not so much sunshine. The trees down on Collarbone are a serious obstacle and there was also a rather large section of Yew across the track at the bottom of the whitedown descent.

    Other notable obstructions are on Alsation – a large enough section of the trail covered by a fallen tree about halfway down – and on the bridleway that runs past the entrance to LoM. Most of the conifers that are on the right have come down and the enforced diversion is not conducive to lugging a bike through!

  5. Mat Swan says:

    Looks like you had a good ride after I bumped into you at rykas. Thanks for clearing red white and rose, I appreciated a much clearer run than I was expecting after climbing over/riding round trees most of the way round Peaslake. Anyway, I’ll just reissue the offer of some riding a bit further east than you guys usually do if you’re interested.


    • Dandy says:

      Cheers Mat, and MuddyMatt has considered himself ‘nudged’ to work out a suitable date to take you up on the offer. Though with the sound of wind and rain lashing against the window as I write, it will probably be in May !

  6. J-R says:

    PS If you’re thinking of doing the Newlands route this weekend it’s worth knowing that on the NDW between Newlands and Whitedown Lane there were 11 trees down, although probably only about half a dozen where you had to walk. I guess the NDW ridge took the full force of the winds.

  7. Related: Ride report: Sunday 4 January - Ranmore roaming

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