Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 10 October – 10-10-10 Three Hills Ride

Posted by DaveW | October 11, 2010 | 24 comments so far

It was my birthday on Sunday and I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do more than go for a ride in the Surrey Hills with some friends.

With a few dry days promising drying trails and the Dusktildawners returning from their traumatic experience of virtual trench warfare last weekend at Thetford after months of riding as fast and as far as possible in preparation, I fancied a fairly relaxed, fun ride, mixing in a bit of XC with some nice singletrack and a few optional ‘light freeride’ challenges in the Surrey Hills, so I proposed my version of Davebus’s classic 3 Hills Ride.

Riders included Dandy, Jem, Matt, Robin, Amanda, Darren, Robin and Les (?). Robin showed up on a nice new FSR XC – apparently second hand, but looking absolutely pristine (when I see bikes like this I feel a mug for getting sucked into the whole boutique MTB world and spending thousands of pounds on each bike.

As nice as it is owning and riding top notch kit, it really isn’t necessary, as Robin proved during this ride, being one of the first up most of the hills and being one of the only ones completing some of the technical challenges).

The sky was overcast to begin with and Pitch Hill, our first summit, revealed a bit of a view down to the Weald through the low level clouds. Heading on down trails 0 and 1 there was a little mud, but the roots were pretty dry and we were able to set a good, fun pace.

Next was Deathstar, one of the gnarlier descents of the day. Some rattled down the whole thing, others escaped from the steep, rocky descent to take the various gentler, but off camber alternatives, and some pushed and scrambled down.

We rode down to the road next and up Holmbury Hill, starting past the exit to Barry’s, heading past the Reservoir and up to the viewpoint. By now the sun had burned through, lighting the woodland and the view to its best advantage. After regrouping, I attempted to extract the squeaking mouse from my brake callipers with a tire lever and we continued to Leith Hill via Yoghurt Pots (so good we rode it twice) and Upfolds Farm.

At the tower we indulged in tea and cake and sat in the sun chatting for a while. John headed for home at top speed, having made a commitment to his family and the rest of us headed back at a more sedate pace, via the play area, Yoghurt Pots, the quarry and Chocolate Jesus, along with a few other unnamed (as far as I know) bits of singletrack and technical challenges.

By now most of us were tiring and several had to be back at Peaslake by 12:30, so we headed straight back via High Ashes, Holmbury St Mary, Holmbury Cricket Pitch and Holmbury Hill summit once more, with the sunshine and good company making for an enjoyable climb.

We made our way to the Reservoir via singletrack and then took on Barry Knows Best at high speed. The conditions were perfect – just enough moisture to keep the dust packed down and provide some grip and no real evidence of gloop.

A great ride in nice conditions, with no injuries or breakdowns, good cake and company and I think only one off, made this a great birthday ride. Thanks all!

Filed under Rides in October 2010


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  1. TurnerGuy says:

    when stressing about how much I spent on my bike I just look in the Evans catalog at all the bikes there – Scotts at 8K, a Crack’n’Fail at 7.5k, and things look a lot better 🙂

  2. tony says:

    Sounds like you had a good morning and I’m sorry I missed it.

    In a complete reversal of last weekends I did an early road bie ride – an afternoon at Dr Who live (ace) with the boy beckoned. Hence it was spangly white disco shoes, lycra, 23mm tyres and an immaculately clean bike before and the end of the ride.

  3. paul901 says:

    I’m still feeling sorry for myself that Sundays have had to give way to daughter’s horse-riding until a Saturday place become available. Trails beating me up on solo rides is a more miserable place than learning in the group.

    Pleased to hear it’s not just me who sports white road shoes (Northwave with good ventilation), although they are away until next year now and the trusty Black Specialized take the muckier months (by road standards that is).

    I see what you mean about MTB grips now Tony, when cleaning the Whyte yesterday I saw how I have one worn them down, holding on for dear life too often no doubt.

    By the way, how can the conditions have been good yesterday when Mickleham’s steep chalk slopes had me off twice descending and twice climbing, in all cases the front wheel went. Tyre pressures too high, TireProXC, novice rider, I know I know.

  4. TurnerGuy says:


    no need for solo rides 3 out of 4 Saturdays (when wife is not working) – as I am often out and was joined by StephenD for a couple of the previous Saturdays for some good rides.

    Other places to look are the Tunnel Hill Trolls forum, the Diary Of a MTB forum and the ‘London Calling’ thread on BikeRadar. Nirvana also have their XC ride on Sat mornings.

    The Trolls forum seems to have a lot of road riders as well…


  5. John R says:

    It was a great ride Sunday with perfect weather. I also had a blast following our route back to from Leith to Holmbury, then down BKB to Peaslake. Just wish I could have stayed longer.

    Paul, maybe you do need to look at the tyre pressures – I was out at Box Hill, Mickleham and Stane Street on Saturday and had no particular grip problems at 30psi.

  6. paul901 says:

    Makes mental note. There are Saturday options

    Makes second mental note. If only I could have made early ride John, I would have saved myself a lot of trail grief (I got lost, twice, I was off 4 times, I stupidly tried to walk up an impossible slope through undergrowth, gave up after 20 minutes, had to come back down, lost my glasses, had to go back up to find them. Seriously stupid.)

    Makes third mental note. Must get down to John’s weight so I have the guts to lower my tyre pressures

  7. StevenD says:

    @ Paul & Andrew – Swinley sat ? we ca discuss in the rides forum.

    @ Paul ‘Must get down to John’s weight so I have the guts to lower my tyre pressures’.

    Do you not mean ‘so I do not have the guts’ ? LOL.

  8. ERick says:

    I’m sorry I missed this one out too. A combination of extra work load and childcare duties are making me a fat bastard! It’s been two weeks that I don’t sit on a saddle.

    Riding aside, I’m now looking to get a new pair of brakes – saw some Formula The Ones in white….. bling bling (not that I go fast enough to justify new brakes…)

    Hope to join you guys soon.


  9. Matt says:

    I’ve been unlucky enough to have had migraines regularly for around a fortnight now. I think primarily it was when I stood on the pedals when riding the rigid Muirwoods and felt around seven of the vertebrae in my neck go pop one after the other!

    Anyway, Sunday was basically like riding with a severe hangover for me, which was a bit miserable. Even so, after some strong painkillers in the afternoon I realised I’d had a great time on the Orange with Dave and the others!

    Great ride, shame about my neck and lack of energy (which may be related)…

  10. Robin says:

    Thanks for the great ride on Sunday Moles! Enjoyed every minute and definately getting some of my confidence back. Ok, the first few seconds of my reverse end-o after jamming up behind Andy weren’t the best but at least the landing wasn’t too bad.

    Sorry I had to shoot off so quickly after the ride. Had to get back to Horsham before 1:00 or suffer being locked out of the house until 5:00.

    Hope two make it two weekends in a row, and who knows maybe my lights will arrive some day.

  11. Andy661 says:

    Looking forward to getting back in the saddle but Cycleworks is SLOW! 🙁

    Earliest they’re looking at my bike is the 18th. Rubbish!

    Think this is last of my free services and then i’ll be using Surbiton Cycles which is about 300m from the front door.

    Setting myself some challenging goals on the bike under the careful guidance of the Transwales Trio. . . Lord help me!

  12. paul901 says:

    Cycleworks told me they keep demo stock of road bikes Andy so I am guessing they do the same with MTBs, maybe blag one until yours comes back to keep you on the trails?

    Also the Whyte free services are nothing more than a check over if I understand it correctly so we still have to pay for parts and repairs unless they are under warranty. Sounds like you’re having work done?

  13. Dandy says:

    It was a cracking ride, Dave; unfortunately in more than one sense. On cleaning the Pace in the sunny afternoon sunshine, I noticed some flaking paint and discovered a crack in the seat tube where the suspension bracket is welded to the tube.

    Moose Cycles have confirmed Pace are happy to send a replacement frame as it’s not even a year old. It’d had a thorough clean last Sunday after the Thetford mud bath, and all was fine then.

    It’s not as if I’d abused it on Sunday’s ride either, with my still slightly sore ribs and lack of practice curtailing my appetite for any of the more technical options.

    So it’s back to the trusty On-One hardtail for a while. That’s the trouble with these fancy suspension bikes, either the frames are cracking or they’re so good looking they get nicked 🙁

    I hope you enjoyed the rest of the day, Dave. That was an excellent route and a fine reintroduction to the Surrey Hills for me after a 6 week absence.

  14. DaveW says:

    Sorry to hear about your flaky crack Dandy.

    I suspect the culmination of just under a year’s worth of enthusiastic riding – although any frame designed for 5″ travel should be able to cope with that and much more really.

    At least Pace are being cool about it. Any idea of the lead time for a replacement?

    Will it be the same colour?

  15. TurnerGuy says:

    Andy661, it is worth trying to maintain your bike yourself as any trail beakdowns are going to be less of an issue and costs will probably be less.

    Zinn and the Art of MTB Maintenance is a good book.

    Also one of the MTB mags had a maintenance DVD on the front last month and youtube have some vids.

    There are quite a few good tools on sale now for reasonable money, whereas some years ago it was all expensive Park. Ice-tools and X-tools are two, and Cyclus in particular are quality tools.

    It will take a little while to offset the tool cost against the savings on servicing, but it is worth it.


  16. Andy661 says:

    @Paul – i’ll see what they have.

    @TurnerGuy – agree. Trying to keep cycling related costs down for a while seeing as most of my disposable income has been hot footing its way to CRC or Wiggle! It has not gone unnoticed with the Director of Domestic Procurement. . . Have seen the vids online so will start doing more myself or get hold of a knowledgeable Mole and have them mentor me! 🙂

  17. Paul says:

    Hi Guys, sounds like you capitalised on the great weather. Would have been nice to shake the Thetford sludge off my tyres but I needed to be in Liverpool keeping up-to-date with the latest Ju Jitsu coaching standards. (It nearly clashed with D2D – would of been BAD!) Reckon I was more tired than you guys on Sunday night just from the driving.

    Here’s hoping for another dry one next Sunday!

  18. pij says:

    ….it’ll not be the last time a Pace frame cracks either….

    I suspect us Pace owners get a bit paranoid about cracks. For years I was put off buying for that very reason alone, as each owner I spoke to back then was on their second or third frameset.

    To be fair to Pace, they do seem to sort the problems out, and I don’t know what the industry standard for frame returns is. Pace may well be low on that score, but over reported as us owners are not exactly at the bottom of the social pile, so may well moan a bit more than the Average Joe. There is also an allure to their products that once you’ve owned something made by them, you’ll be back for more. My original RC36’s were utter rubbish, as was the lightweight stem I once bought off them; it could never be tightened enough to stop rotating around the stem. But when their stuff works, it works forever. I love my bike, but I’m always looking at it in a curious fashion!

  19. PIJ says:


    I think if you’re taking your bike in for just about everything, then there will come a time when you’ll notice the LBS start taking the piss. Either the bike’ll not be ready until “next week” or you get charged for every grommit, even some that were not used.

    Having said that, we’re not all mechanically minded, and no matter how many books or DVD’s one buys, there will be a limit to one’s ultimate skills set. I think the best thing to learn or recognise are your own limits. I’ve put a few bikes together from bits, but I’m a right twonk when it comes to over-tightening bolts or solving problems when something doesn’t go together first time around. I’ll never be able to build a wheel that runs true; no patience for that.

    Start small; adjust your gears, change a tube or some pads and go on from there. Don’t go mad with buying tools right from the off; you’ll probably never use most of them. Ask the Moles what they take out as trail tools, buy same, and that’ll probably do you for ever really.

    And it doesn’t hurt to develop a relationship with an LBS at all. Mine know full well that I can strip my bikes down, but they equally know that often I’m time constrained so will occassionally give them the bike to fettle. They’ll not mess me about, and sometimes will adjust bits and bobs FOC.

    Also often if you’re buying from the shop, they’ll fit the item FOC. So for instance if your head set is kaput, don’t just go and have it serviced, get a new one instead. Same with bottom brackets; daft, but it can be cheaper to bung a new one in, get a warranty, than have the existing one cleaned and re-greased.

    Apologies if this is all “teaching Granny to suck eggs” to you!

  20. Andy661 says:

    Cheers PIJ. Cycleworks do always seem to be pretty busy when I call….

    Do fancy getting more adept at the mechanical side of things and will also help bodge trailside fixes in extremis 🙂

  21. PIJ says:

    I’ve got no issues with Cycleworks – I don’t know them, so can’t diss them, and don’t want to go down that route anyway! What I mean is that if somebody takes their bike in for repeated small repairs [gear adjust, brake squeal, change tyre] then this person will gradually be placed at the back of the queue. It’s only natural; if you’re in business and some guy comes in for a £700 set of forks, then somebody with a maladjusted rear mech, then somebody after a new £5k bike… where is the small repair going to fit in? Naturally last until they have 5 minutes. Sometimes the bike shops are sending out a subliminal message that perhaps it’s time you went out and learnt these skills!

  22. Dave says:

    Hi PIJ,

    I agree with you entirely. I stood in the said shop somewhat aghast as a chap came in with a road bike and a flat tyre asking for it to be repaired so he could go on a ride.

    I blame the decline of meccano as a toy.

    There is very little yo can’t do as even the specialist tools are coming down in price. Wheel building does require patience but I was still able to lace a wheel up and take the slack up in the spokes. From there it’s a question of having the right jig and patience! For little over £10 I let John in Cycleworks finish it for me as he’s into his “cyclists knitting” as he calls it.

    You are right though, it’s a business, they have to follow what brings in the most money.

  23. pij says:

    Sometimes it’s just unwitting ignorance, perhaps aided by a lack of basic meccano skills, and encouraged by a lazy attitude. Our LBS is full of flat tyres waiting to be fixed, and the last time I had a tyre fitted to my car a gaggle of women were there getting their pushchair tyres blown up. Kwik Fit for blowing up pushchair tyres?

    But… chap I go cycling with needed new pads fitting. I pointed out that all he had to do was remove a pin… Anyway, he managed to split the caliper apart and get brake fluid all over the place. Cost him £50 to get the whole lot rebuilt. Perhaps sometimes it’s best that some people do exclusively use their LBS?

    I think sometimes people forget that the bike shop is a business and not a hobby enterprise. Mine is funny; he’s all chatty and friendly with you until an open wallet walks in the door. He then dumps you instantly without a second glance. I kind of like that honest attitude to life.

    Have I gone off piste again? Sorry!

  24. Dave says:

    Yes, we have taken the topic way off.

    I also agree that some people are not “mechanically sympathetic”.

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