Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride Report – Sunday 1 August – It’ll be alright…

Posted by DaveC | August 1, 2010 | 29 comments so far

With a slight precipitation in the air I headed up to meet with the Moles at the Farm.

I arrived to find a healthy gathering that eventually grew to consist of 11 riders. Barrie made his comeback ride after a nasty fall some weeks ago, Keith was back after a heavy workload and StevenD joined us for the first time after being a long time commenter on our site. Making up the 11 riders were Erick, Ian, Lee, MarkW, DaveW, D’Andy and Tony “It’ll be alright”.

After asking if anyone had any ideas or routes Lee piped up about Gatton Park and I happily agreed as there’d be little chance of anyone damaging themselves on that route! I set off at a fair pace while D’Andy followed on his Green Pace.

Going was good to dusty for most of the way and I can’t say much that hasn’t been said before other than it’s a great cross country route.

Erick seems to be picking up the pace a bit and closing the gap in terms of speed and fitness. Barrie doesn’t seem to have been affected too much by his lay off, judging by the way he led MarkW up the final climb with Tony making a late run after them. I was pleased with a steady 4th place.

Several “panoramic” views were noted on at the tea shop although I still feel one was a funny shape. I’m not sure about the new management at the tea room. Drinks and cakes seem a bit expensive with £2.75 for “homemade” cake tipping the scale. Maybe in future we carry on to Ali’s Cafe at Headley.

So on the way back the pace was again fast and green and approaching Headley there began some debate as to wheather SS was going to be rideable. Enter Tony with his, now, immortal phrase “it’ll be alright”. Actually it was. The 2nd half had seen a strimmer and proved to be a flowy as ever.

We took in “Life on Mars” on the way back (we did it on the way there as well) as it seemed to be the concensus that it flowed better the other way. Wel the concensus weren’t wrong! Nice trail with some very tight corners but some good flow as well.

23 odd miles with DaveW looking like he’d have 40 by the time he got home and I guess D’Andy would be on a good total as well. Nice to see new riders and and returning ones! Good ride.

Filed under Rides in August 2010


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

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  1. DaveW says:

    It was a good ride. I haven’t been over to Gatton for a while. Also good: to see Ian, Erick and Barry (still with dislocated shoulder), plus new rider StevenD.

    I agree that the attempted gentrification of the Reigate Hill tea hut has resulted in ridiculous cake prices. The coffee was quite good though, so I might stop there again, but eat my own cerial bars rather than coughing up £2.75 for a small slice of unconvincingly ‘home made’ cake.

    Thanks to Ian for the extended test ride on his new 5-Spot. Very nice bike and an education to try a DW link bike out properly for the first time.

    For some reason I seemed to have a lot of miles in my legs yesterday, so I spent the morning wringing them out.

    I rode from home in Epsom up over the downs and along Stane Street, to the top of Juniper Hill, then took the chalky gulley to the right, down the steps past the King Bill pub, before taking in the steeper climb up Norbury past the mast, over to Infestation, emerging at high speed at Bocketts Farm on a near to collision course with D’Andy, who was coming from the other direction, before climbing the final hill to the carpark together to meet the others.

    On the return trip from Bocketts after the group ride I headed up to Norbury again and was really chuffed to ride the Druids steps for the first time without dabbing, crushing my ‘nads or going over the handlebars! Very pleased, but for some reason whenever I achieve a personal riding challenge like this my attention wanders over the following minutes and I had a dodgy moment on one of the off camber sections traversing the steep hillside…

    All was well after that as I took a fairly relaxed ascent of Box Hill and then a standard route across Headley Heath, down Horse Pi55 Alley and home via a final climb over the downs and a fast and furious descent through the golf course and down Rifle Butts Alley to Epsom.

    As Dave suggested, 40+ off-road miles at a good pace. I haven’t been doing long rides lately, so I can only credit the Wales trip for boosting my stamina and I suppose just being on form, as I usually struggle at least on the home leg, even when I am doing longer rides every week.

  2. StevenD says:

    Thanks for a great ride – I was knackered yesterday afternoon !

    As someone who rides on a mix of tarmac and off-road, I soon became jealous that you clearly have so many options for pure XC riding. Those 23 miles had the same effect on me as 30 miles back home and the early climb up Alsation certainly blows the cobwebs away. It left me wondering what I had committed myself into, you guys are a fit bunch. I think the previous weekend rides up St Boniface and Stenbury Downs on the IoW were still in my old legs but nonetheless there is no way I could ever keep up with some of you on the steeper climbs.

    It was great to finally meet some of you, and special thanks to D’Andy for holding back with me early on and treating me to chocolate cake and coffee. The cake certainly had a positive effect on the return journey.

    I am certainly going to try to get over to Bookham again before August is out, or may I suggest another Moles meet at Swinley, which is about mid-way between us, while everywhere is quiet ? I will keep an eye on the rides forum.

    Thanks again, the Moles are excellent hosts.


  3. paul901 says:

    I missed a Reigate Hill ride? Damn, I’m gutted knowing it will be a while before the next one. I was never going to make this ride due to holidays and arriving home late Saturday night from the west country. An old injury has rekindled so I’m off the bike playing it day by day, I might just make a solo trip to Reigate Hill this week if I’m back in action and can remember the way from the Headley Road. Sounds like you got your mojo back Dave after the tiring Welsh trip.

  4. Matt says:

    Blimey DaveW what are you on!? I haven’t put in a 40 miler for a long time, although I quite fancy one.

    I was glad I sat this one out guys (couldn’t make it anyway) as I rode the same route on my Friday commute and set a PB.

    Round trip I averaged 13.6 mph for a total of 28 miles (including into Redhill and then climb back up and round Gatton Hill that you did). Outward average was 13.2mph, so that means my 14/15 mile home leg was something like 14mph!

    Fast ride ;o)

    Also rode in this morning (car MOT) on my singlespeed, purposely notched it back 10-15% (added 8 mins to my time) for what felt a very easy ride. By the end of today I’ll be thinking I’ve ‘done’ that route for a bit!

    Reported cake prices are shocking! But that’s Urban Kitchen for you. Need to look at the Farm shop that PIJ recommended but it’s just a few miles further, which might cost us time-wise.

  5. PIJ says:

    Fanny’s Farm, be warned, is eccentric and possibly a bit too twee for MTB riders. I’m not sure she’d tolerate 11 turning up en mass? You could easily do it though, and avoid doing a pointless loop around Reigate Hill / Gatton Park:

    Fanny’s is on a bridleway that links back into ‘my’ circular route shown above.

    The new t-shop at Reigate is a bit of a joke price wise. The coffee’s are good, but everything else just doesn’t do it for me. They don’t prepare anything there, so no bacon and egg banjo’s. Ali’s cafe at Headley is way, way better.

    Personally I find the NDW from Reigate to Headley a tad boring, but admittedly fast if you want to put in some quick miles. I’ve shown a slight alternative here is all. You already know the little dip off via the bridge over the M25 – my adjusted route meets this later on after the golf course section. Coming off Reigate Hill and linking to this route you get that lovely fast blast down the rooty section. My personal best down here is 52km/h. Nasty.

    I pulled in to Headley just as you guys passed by for the SS blast. Ships in the night…

    If anybody lives locally and wants showing around this particular circular route one Sunday, then do feel free to join me. Usually on top of Reigate Hill for 10’ish. Most of it is plain sailing, but I do know of one or two little dodges that improve upon the bridleways no end.

    Happy riding!


  6. pij says:

    …in addition to the above…

    Singletrack ran a test of a little i-gotU unit for £70. I happened to be in Epsom one day so popped into Maplin to have a look. They do a more basic unit for £40 that I taped to my handlebar. Looked horrid, but by heck did it work well. Only good for showing people where you’ve been, but for me that’s ideal. Plus the software that comes with it is very easy to use. May be of use to you guys?

    As you may tell from my route the gps unit is accurate to perhaps 5m or so, but that seems good enough for post route plotting. Certainly good enough to show my ‘secret’ little diversions.


  7. Dave says:


    That is some of the route we do over to Epsom Downs but the joining section looks totally new.

    Does you GPS software allow export in GPX format? That would allow import into our Garmin units and allow us to follow it.

  8. PIJ says:


    it does – Matt has my e-mail address if you want me to copy you in on it. Bit long to post here.

    It’s not new – you’ll probably kick yourself when you see it on the ground. One of those “so that’s where that trail goes to” moments. Bit like SS; it’s there, just needs pointing out.


  9. Matt says:

    Thanks PIJ, an interesting diversion through Marger Wood just over the M25 – I normally just head straight down to the car park and turn left toward the golf course but that looks like a nice loop.

  10. pij says:

    I’ve e-mailed the GPX stuff to Matt. Hope you can export it as I’ve never done this before.

    It’s not a bad little route, but some of the sections are better in reverse, but you’ll know which ones already….


  11. PIJ says:


    the Marger Wood bit is very slow, very twisty but fun. Perhaps better tackled as a solo ride when you have a bit of time, than when as a large group as you’d just bunch up and spoil it.

    My route through Banstead Downs is the new one though. Very raw in parts, so needs developing. I’m still trying to develop a complete circle that avoids grass, but that massive warren gets in the way.

    Give it a go – you may like it!


  12. Andrew says:

    Hayes Strokers

    Sorry to go off topic but does anyone have any tips for how to fettle Hayes Strokers brakes. They came on my new bike but whatever I do they always seem to end up rubbing, catching and squeeking and always seem to wear one pad worse than the other (and they are not swappable). I push the pistons back when changing pads (and in between just for luck), reset the position of the caliper by loosening it off and tightening again with the brakes pulled on but after one or 2 rides the same problems come back.

  13. Dave says:

    If one of the pistons is lazy you need to ease it out (wheel out) and apply some brake fluid around it t hen work it back and forth to see if it eases up. Plenty of cleaning then to get excess oil out of the way.

    I always centre my caliper to the rotor, without any pads in, on the basis that it is then centred. DaveF at Cycleworks also recommends this way of doing it. Other Moles loosen and apply the brakes but I think this tends to make the pistons lazy.

    Having said all of that I have 3 sets of Shimano brakes that are great and one is a real noisy bugger no matter how many times I do the above and clean it with IPA (IsoPropolAlcohol(?) not Indian Pale Ale). If you gte one ad rubbing then it tends to glaze and then squeal.

    Hope that Helps!

  14. Tony says:

    Agreed on the cake pricing! I had the disappointing £2.75 “homemade” slab. Fanny farm shop is very different and a bit of a roadie hangout. Worthwhile going to even just to add double entendre to a ride report.

    The route over from there to Banstead Down is one I haven’t done for ages but it used to be a favourite back in the day when I used to ride with the fast boys from Corridori.

    So much for secret singletrack being rideable. My front wheel was the strummer for the top section. It’s a good job I knew the way!

    Secret single track followed by life on mars and alsation is a great combo back from Hedley. Particularly now Alsation since it is now only a handlebar, or less, wide and a max speed it’s a big buzz

  15. StevenD says:

    ‘Secret single track followed by life on mars and alsation is a great combo back from Hedley’

    Now I follow you re:life on mars. Yes that was a really good section that I enjoyed immensely.

    How did someone come up with Life on Mars tag for that section ? (D’Andy briefed me on the origins of Alsation).

  16. pij says:

    Tony – you should try it again; people have been out adding to the trails. Banstead Downs have a bit more to offer than they did 15 years ago. Bit like a mini Headley if that makes sense?

    From memory I got my Pace RC36’s from Corridori.


  17. Andrew says:

    Cheers Dave will give that a go.

    Is Muc-off disc brake cleaner equivalent to the IPA you mention (sorry no ingredients listed on the can and my o level chemistry is a dim and distant memory)?

    Even though we don’t ride together often (and seem to meet on the trails less frequently than we used to), I appreciate the site and the helpfulness of the Moles and site visitors. During dull moments at work it reminds me of what I would prefer to be doing and gives us ideas for new routes.

    We have started using the descent off the back of Boxhill into Brockham recently and that certainly gives the brakes a work out. The route we follow after Boxhill and Brockham takes us to Leith via Redlands. After a few wrong turns the first time we tried it I have to wonder who rides those trails hidden in Redlands? For my (old) age and technical ability I ride some things I probably shouldn’t (hence 2 faceplants in one ride a couple of weeks ago) but some of the stuff in Redlands is just bonkers.


  18. DaveW says:

    The first rule of the fight club is “you do not talk about the fight club”! ;o)

  19. Dave says:

    Muc-Off consists of IPA, so that is OK.

    As DW says we don’t talk about Redlands! Mums the word! All tricky stuff but good if you can do it.

  20. Dandy says:

    Really must sort out that bike computer, or buy a GPS, or even get one of those Maplin specials PIJ was referring to.

    Anyway, Sunday seems like a long time ago, but I reckon I clocked around 45+ miles all told. It’s not too exciting from Givons Grove/Stane St back to Kingston, but it’s about 12-13 miles, and having left you at the top of Alsation around 11.30pm I got back home to Dandy Towers around 12.45. Not bad considering I left at 07.15 !

    After a shower and a good lunch, a snooze was required before completing a few domestic tasks for SWMBO. Managed to crack open a beer around 6pm, and made good inroads into a bottle of merlot later on. Just finishing it now, actually 😉

    Good to see Steven D, and an XC bash along with my ride to/from Bocketts is all part of my structured (yeah, right) training plan for D2D.

    Building up my endurance base before working on speed towards the end of August, then starting my taper down in 3rd week Sept (or maybe I should bring that forward to 3rd week of August to be sufficiently rested for the big day?).

  21. pij says:

    The i-gotU is way cheaper than a bike computer, and far more accurate as it is GPS data. Cheaper than buying a Garmin or iPhone, and the web site data is free so far. Have a look at this month’s Singletrack for a review. Apparently you can just chuck it into your bag and it will still record the data…. but I taped mine to the handlebars ’cause I still don’t trust technology!

    It worked pretty well around here – it does lose the signal in some wooded areas, especially in dips, but picks it up again pretty soon. Good enough to log my ride on Sunday, so probably good enough for any location in Surrey.

    For the bike geeks it only weighs 20g. I’ve had a Garmin for years, but I never managed to get it to work that well. But this thing is just plug and play.

    Downside being that it’ll not show you where to go. All it is is the GPS receiver and data logger. However I like to study maps and follow my nose on the ground, so that’s not an issue for me personally. In any case with the Moles it sounds as though at least one member of the party has access to Garmin anyway, so the i-gotU would just function as the world’s best cycle computer.

    And for the amateur slueths out there, one use for the device is to hide it in your child’s / partner’s bag and see where they go during the day.

    For the price of a single tyre I think it is amazingly good value.


  22. StevenD says:

    @D’Andy, 45+ miles is very impressive. There is no question that getting on a bike is a good appetizer for food, beer and wine – that I understand, but an afternoon snooze !??! I thought that was for wrinklies, LOL.


  23. paul901 says:

    Steven, the nap will not be due to fatigue but due to hours of glare from the shorts and bling!

    However, Le Dandy’s mileage is actually more impressive when taking into account the MTB-road ratio is something like 1:2 or 1:2.5 so even if some of those miles were to and from Kingston it can easily equate to 60, 70, 80, who knows.

  24. DaveW says:

    Extremely jealous of Dandy’s afternoon nap. My wife was out of the door like a shot when I got home and I pushed the double buggy, plus 3.5 year old girl and 1.5 year old boy, plus balance bike up to the downs. My daughter covered a lot of ground on her bike, refusing to let me carry her or her bike up the hills (that’s my girl!). We went to the playpark at Langley Vale and then back home via the woods. All good fun, but I was definitely fading away by the evening and once they were asleep, the delicious Belgian blonde (beer) was most welcome.

  25. Bazza says:

    Hi All

    Great to be out out again, after a little enforced layoff. Shoulder and collar were aching a bit mind on sunday afternoon but so far so good, but definatly need to get my collar bone back in place

    cheers Baz

  26. PIJ says:

    I was at the Reigate cafe the other day. Coffee is very good I must say. However the chap in front of me ordered two sarnies plus two teas. £12. £12! For that you have to sit in your own car or on the grass. One could conceivably go to a restaurant nearby and not spend much more than that on a proper meal.

    Am I getting old or something? Find their prices somewhat scary.


  27. DaveW says:

    No, you are right Phil. The prices are out of all proportion.

    You might expect to spend that at a motorway service station, but not at a kiosk by a rural carpark.

    They are being way to greedy and I predict that we will see another change of management within a year.

    The old place was a bit spensive on the cake side, but at least it was convincing home made cake. And you could get a toasted teacake, grumble, grumble, whinge, whinge. :O(

  28. pij says:

    Hi DaveW,

    I’m the same; don’t want to whinge about the place too much. It’s good that there is a cafe at all. However, it is not for normal people; it is for the sales rep travelling to a convention somehwere. The last cafe catered for walkers, cyclists and hungry AA men. You don’t even see the motorway wombles there any more. I think they’ve tried to move the cafe too far away from the old customers by re-inventing it as a bijou sarnie bar.

    When Surrey residents moan about prices [we ride £3k bikes after all!] then something is up. “Yah, yah! Buy, buy. Service the Porsche, sack the cleaner, buy, buy! Sell, sell!”

    I had a friend down from Scotland a few years back. I took him out for a spin, and he generously offered to pay for lunch up there. It was £6 and he was shocked; he only had £4 on him and thought this adequate. What would he make of the cafe now, two years later and double the price, yet less of a service? Indeed any readers from oop Norf would question the sanity of £3 pieces of cake. That makes the whole cake worth perhaps £40?

    We used to stop there at the end of a ride for a ten minute post-ride chat. Now we just ride on by, so we’ve kind of lost a social element to our rides as well.

    Keep the coffee, install a proper kitchen, drop the silly cake prices by £1 to £1.50 or so.

    There. Nuff said.

    Mind they are a big concern, so I suspect they may know more than I on the subject of running a cafe. They certainly make better coffee than I do, although I can beat them hands down on the bacon and egg banjo!!


  29. PIJ says:

    Sorry, been the “posting monkey” here…. last one, promise!

    The above posting was written from a Cafe Nero in Brixton. Coffee £1.80, indoors, free papers and I was able to surf the internet. Muffins £1.80.

    Downside? Woman next to me had six espressos in one hit, and put at least five sugars in each one. 30 spoons of sugar, six espressos, ten minutes tops. She ended up dancing in the middle of the floor with what looked like a newspaper wrapped around her head.

    You don’t get that in Reigate!

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