Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 10 January – Go West! With the Muddymoles…

Posted by Matt | January 10, 2016 | 10 comments so far

Matt faces a large puddle

Matt faces a large puddle

Don’t be fooled by the picture. Yes, we certainly found some deep puddles today, but overall it was a sight less muddy than the Surrey Hills. Where were we? Over at Thursley and Frensham since you ask.

Yesterday afternoon the usual forum thread kicked off from James (who ultimately couldn’t make today anyway!). After a bit of teeth sucking over what our local hills were like – muddy, apparently and likely to be more so after yesterday’s heavy rain – it was decided to indulge in a ‘Karl special’ starting on Thursley Common. After a bit of A3-related delay, Lloyd, JR, DaveW, Elliott, Karl and myself set off from The Moat car park and headed up to Pudmore Pond.

This proved the be the trickiest part of the day as Pudmore is ringed by a well made boardwalk which unfortunately is devoid of any chicken wire for grip. The boards were wet and like an ice-sheet, as Karl found out. I was at the rear of the group nursing a sore back and following Lloyd who is instinctively wary of low traction surfaces – with good reason. Still, we made it round the pond, which is probably a great place in the summer for bird watching if that’s your thing as the whole place this side of the road is a Nature Reserve.

The moles tiptoe on wet boards at Thursley

The moles tiptoe on wet boards at Thursley

Once on firm ground the surface was exactly as described. Very sandy, but firm after all the rain while still managing to be sapping. Only John really had a bike suited to the conditions as he was on his bright green fat bike. He appeared to be able to motor over long sections of sand without difficulty although John’s like that normally anyway!

The Moles on Kettlebury Hill

The Moles on Kettlebury Hill

We soon crossed the road and headed for Kettlebury Hill, a large open area of undulating heathland that the MOD uses. The whole area is sand and features stout climbs and rapid but non-technical descents. At this stage, the rumoured sun had yet to make an appearance. We would alternately drag ourselves to a viewpoint, then motor down the other side. Where there were trees, they tended to be pines with the promise of interesting singletrack if anyone could get the time and permission to build some.

Karl goes first

Karl goes first

JR heads down a sandy chute

JR heads down a sandy chute

Despite the sand, or maybe because of, progress was remarkably slow. Maybe some of us were not quite firing on all cylinders (I know I wasn’t) but we couldn’t be said to be challenging any speed records today. When the sun did come out – shortly after story from John about a recumbent off-road tricycle which I started to think was pharmacologically inspired but was assured otherwise – it felt like all the effort to get here and ride was all worthwhile. We basked in a thin January sun for the rest of the ride and loved it.

Karl can't help himself

Karl can’t help himself

Pretty soon we had Frensham Great Pond in our sights, peppered with small sail boats and seemingly guarded by an army of families out walking kids and dogs. We weren’t in any competitive rush (it’s not the place for that sort of riding) and managed of co-mingle without difficulty and blessedly, without argument although if D’Andy wants to get stuck in, this would provide a rich source of people to exchange views with!

This had a Japanese feel to me

This had a Japanese feel to me

JR on his fatbike

JR on his fatbike

Karl recommended the tea rooms at Frensham Little Pond, backed up by riders familiar with the area, so off we set for coffee just 15 minutes up the trail. Unfortunately on arrival we found the place closed and being an uncompromising lot we soon determined to turn round and head back to the Great Pond, via a hill which managed to look like a gentle rise but turned out to be a long and painful drag up to the top a mere 100ft above the level of the lake.

Moles climbing from Frensham Little Pond

Moles climbing from Frensham Little Pond

Karl shouldn't be allowed out

Karl shouldn’t be allowed out

The reward for me was a very large bacon roll at the Great Pond snackery. Having crossed Bacon Lane twice to get there it was the only ting on my mind. Initially thinking it was a bit pricey, it turned out to be perfect and I was Powered by Bacon™ for the rest of the ride.

Without us noticing, time was getting on. We set off slowly again to allow for the bacon to do it’s job and headed back to the Little Pond via a slightly different route, eventually circumnavigating virtually the whole Pond, avoiding walkers, dogs, horse, runners, kids and all manner of recreation based objects.

Ddub climbing from Frensham Little Pond

Ddub climbing from Frensham Little Pond

We then left the Ponds behind and crossed Tilford Common en-route to Yagden Hill and it was here on this second half of the ride that we really started to encounter some big puddles some of them seemingly bottomless. It proved a good idea for John to plunge in, parting the waters like Moses with his 4.8 inch tyres as a means of finding out if the puddles (lakes?!) were rideable. Generally the ground itself was firm underneath so once your tyres had cut through the slop there was grip to be had but of course if slowed us down.



We reached the car park quite abruptly after a phone from my wife to find out where I was, with 17.5 miles on the clock. I enjoyed the day, loved the sunshine and found the riding made a nice change to last week’s dousing. It may have been a bit light on gnarr but the company very much made up for it. Thanks Karl for shepherding us round!

More photos can be found on Flickr.

Filed under Rides in January 2016


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 10 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 10 January – Go West! With the Muddymoles…’

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  1. Elliot says:

    Liking the pic to word ratio! Fantastic views in every direction 🙂

    Shows how much rain we’ve had in the last week(s) when even sand starts fighting back…dragging like a brake stuck on in some places. Still a whole lot nicer than struggling through ‘bastard glue mud’

    I reckon that route would be ideal if we somehow cut that puddle-fest byway but included the punchbowl climb/decent?

  2. Kev says:

    Nice write up as usual Matt and very speedy! Is this the new standard for ride reports through 2016?
    That will take some resolve to meet these targets.

    Great pics guys, sorry I missed this expedition out west again but I am fighting a serious case of CBAs’ness Sunday mornings. 🙂 You know what i’m talking about.

    The last pic looks like Matt is contemplating filling in his tax return in a pensive, apprehensive sort of way. 🙂

    • Karl says:

      Tut tut Kevs. Get out and keep that engine running clean..!

    • Matt says:

      Generally Kev I find being outside is better than being inside at this time of year. It’s easy for the winter to seem very long when you’re looking out the window.

      I’m enjoying the riding and the company at the moment but so much is habit. Once you stop it’s hard to get into the Sunday routine again as you, DC and me (last summer) have shown. Don’t leave it too long kev and if you want a road bimble instead let me know.

      As for delivery of ride reports, I can’t promise anything! I’ve been trying to be more prompt but you’ll get them when you get them!

  3. Southside Johnnie says:

    Great ride and report – thanks Karl and Matt.

    Also nice to see a decent pic of myself on a bike – cheers Matt.

  4. Karl says:

    Super Deluxe piccies chaps!! Especially like the one of Moles climbing with the outrageous views behind.. How lucky are we to be able to do this?

    Great of you to expedite the ride report so fast and so well Matt..

    I seem to have ruptured my extensor ligament after that littel slip on the boards.. bugger.. should have kept my Kevlar motorcycle gloves!

  5. Tony says:

    Just to add to the above – great pictures.

    I thought that I was going to ride without hassle by heading out with the Rolling Dynamics road ride from Esher. However the combination of a big group that seemed to take ages to organise and a run of punctures meant that it was a very disrupted ride!

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