Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 11 April – Leith Hill

Posted by Matt | April 11, 2010 | 11 comments so far

Tony on the Land Rover descent
After a dry week and with plenty of warm sunshine on our backs, it was a big group that assembled at Bockett’s car park this Sunday in anticipation of a decent ride across the Surrey Hills. I don’t think we disappointed, with something for everyone over the course of the morning.

A group of us had spent Friday night in a group fork fettling session, putting Dave at Cyclework’s advice to good use. With the dry weather I think we were experiencing a mixture of curiosity to see if the forks felt any better and apprehension that they might disintegrate beneath us.

So, there we were at Bockett’s with seemingly more riders than the start of the Grand National. DaveC, DaveW, Colin, Tony, AndyC, JohnR, TonyD, (another!) Dave, Jez, Barrie, Keith, Lee and myself. We quickly decided it was a Leith Hill kind of day and off we went.

Recognising that a few riders have recently expressed a preference for the Hogden Lane climb (and not wishing to face Yew Trees) I lead our group past Polesdon Lacey and down the short descent, which I’ll admit to having ridden better in the past. But it was dry pretty much everywhere and the trails were even showing signs of dustiness so having reached the bottom with no dramas it was time to start on the long slog to Ranmore.

Living so close to the Surrey Hills is a real privilege in the sense that we have access to some great local trails. But even so there’s some that I prefer more than others. Hogden Lane, in all it’s flinty, spiky glory is not one of my favourites by a long shot but it does at least get you to Ranmore where the fun can start. I guess it does provide a decent workout too if you like that kind of thing.

DaveC and I both wanted to get some photos and video today after too many unrecorded rides. It’s not that we’re trying to capture everything we do but as they say a picture’s worth a thousand words and it only takes a minute or two once you’ve got into the habit. So, we headed off down Land Rover, stopping halfway down to photograph (on Flickr) and film (on Vimeo) the action.

Colin on the Land Rover descent

Well, first off, an unprepared (another!)Dave nearly disappeared straight over the bars as he was next down and encountering the rooty steps for the first time I think. After a narrow escape the others followed with Tony nearly running me over and bandy-legged Colin kicking up the stones too. What became clear was my viewpoint was far from ideal as a large bush obscured riders approach but I never realised the extent to which everyone seems to veer over to the right of the trail over these steps. I always tend to the left…!

Continuing onward our next obstacle was upward, hauling ourselves up the Rookery climb. It’s no longer a technical challenge but it still takes a toll as riders spin or grind their way to the top. After catching our breath we picked up Wolverns Lane which to my mind is one of the nicest ways round here to gain altitude as you dip in and out of the trees. Spring is the perfect time before the undergrowth has encroached too much and we made steady progress toward the start of Summer Lightning.

At this point our ride group expanded further as we met James on his retro old skool Raleigh classic with its one-inch quill stem, seven speed block and V-brakes. Perhaps a step back too far in time? Anyway, James had turned up late to Bockett’s and had somehow managed a rapid tramp over to Leith Hill to get there before us. Quite how he did this I don’t know as I’m pretty sure we weren’t hanging around that much but maybe those photo sessions took more time than I realised?

We soon took a few more and Dave managed some video at the bombholes which you can see on Vimeo. As you can see it’s still early days in terms of camera-work but we did capture Lee narrowly avoiding a comedy dive into wet peat. Dave also captured three of us having a go at Deliverance, with DaveW showing no fear, Andy taking no prisoners and me being a little more circumspect and (I like to think) at bit more under control. I don’t often try Deliverance as it’s a long way down and things can go wrong but today it was clear and dry and I didn’t think the conditions could have been better for it.

DaveW on Deliverance

Having dispatched Deliverance we headed for the Tower and tea and cakes. My amateur efforts to pump the trail down to the Tower climb yielded a certain amount of success but soon we were heading uphill. My achievement at cleaning the climb on my singlespeed was not going to be threatened today and I ended up walking for a few yards in the middle. Overall though, not bad and we were soon tucking into Date and Marmalade cake.

Returning, it was time for the group to split as Jez, JohnR and (another!)Dave took a more direct route back after we’d all ridden Personal Hygiene. The rest of us returned to the top of Deliverance before passing it by and heading off to Waggledance. A number of us found staying close to the rear of others harder than it sounds (Colin!) but Waggledance offered it’s usual mix of effort and reward as I followed DaveC. A clearly faster Tony was right behind me, taking advantage of his full-sus and a return to his pre-collarbone break form I think.

Summer Lightning was next and we all shot down it as it’s in great shape. I always find the berms at the top disrupt my rhythm initially but by the second section things were flowing. Excellent!

To get off the Hill we decided to head toward brick alley, a new one for some but just a different way of returning to Westcott via some singletrack fun, some XC trails and a couple of cheeky footpaths which bring you out behind the old Nirvana shop. The singletrack was excellent fun as I nailed the whole section at high speed, even managing to stay focussed down the narrow gulley.

By now in Westcott we needed to get back up to the top of Ranmore with someone suggesting the MacPherson’s climb. It’s not my favourite but it’s a challenge and you can grind most of it before the boys are separated from men in the final third. I was definitely adolescent unfortunately, but not surprising given the singlespeed I was on.

The final descent of the day saw us heading down to Chapel Farm from Ranmore Church with DaveC and Tony upfront enjoying their gears. I was in pursuit but lost them on the flatter sections where I could hear someone catching me behind. As we neared the final section I realised that perhaps that fork service (and air pressure top-up) had been successful after all as the bike felt superb. A nice clear line, a sweet-tracking fork and confidence in my Elixir brakes saw me carrying a huuuge amount of speed through. I was buzzing by the time I reached the bottom!

Which left the final ‘climb’ to get us back up to Bockett’s. I dispatched half on foot before it levelled enough for me to put in one last effort before home. All in all, a terrific morning’s riding, covering around 22 miles or so. I hoping, as we all are I’m sure, that this is the start of a prolonged spell of ideal riding conditions. We’ve waited long enough after all!

Filed under Rides in April 2010


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 11 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 11 April – Leith Hill’

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  1. Dave says:

    What a great ride, lets just hope that the rain doesn’t come back again!

    My thighs are really aching after 30+ miles over the weekend and I’m wishing I’d given Deliverance a go now…..

    No further forward working out where all the oil is coming from on my brakes and I spent a good hour with the IPA out again cleaning the pads and rotors. I can actually get the rotor to sing by drawing rag over the surface though so as it appears to have happened since the new wheels were fitted I’m wondering if it’s partly a resonance issue……out with the 203 on the front then!

  2. tony says:

    I obviously wasn’t going fast enough yesterday as I seem to be clearly in frame on the photos. Having said that I did notice that Matt was in the bushes and honestly wasn’t trying to mow him down!

    Great ride with trails already in good shape. It’s amazing how quickly they have dried out. Roll on summer.

  3. BiketechMark says:

    Sounds like conditions are back to early March, sweeet, sorry i couldnt make it but we entered MUC OFF 8 on sunday… unfortunaley it was a disappointing and, in places, badly routed course with many broken bones and bikes being the agenda for the day… so, see you Wednesday night for a first-class Surrey Hills fix.

  4. kc says:

    Great ride and report and thankfully the photos and videos caught my in the saddle this week rather than hugging trees or messing about in the bracken!

  5. Colin says:

    Lol, bandy legs are back – i thought I had eradicated that from my riding style!

    For the record, from the viewpoint at the top, AndyC was by far the cleanest and smoothest down Deliverance on the bling machine.

    Nice pics Matt, very arty and a really crisp

  6. Dave says:

    If you watch the video carefully (probably full screen) you will notice AndyC’s rear wheel lock up for a short distance at the top whick “appears” to cause the tail to drift a bit. This is an observation and whether that makes one descent cleaner than another is up for debate I guess.

    As I said above I’m keen to have a go again but that’s easy to think and say when I’m 10 miles away! ;o)

  7. Lee says:

    A cracking ride after a few weeks off the bike, despite a puncture, a leaking camelbak and ‘that’ tumble (Thanks for the footage Dave!)

    A nice alternative way back too and clearing MM is a nice little confidence booster particularly as we never climb it early doors so to speak.

  8. John R says:

    Great ride on Sunday. The Deliverance video was good – especially from the low camera angle. I thought Andy C’s sideways action at the start looked very cool.

    Fred and Warren (you know who you are) – look out for the man in blue on the Bombholes Vimeo clip.

  9. Paul says:

    Excellent, looks like you were making the most of the conditions guys!

    Great detail in the pics and footage, the facial expressions just crease me up 🙂 Dave looks like he’s giggling like a nutter going down Deliverance

    and Lee…I’ve got some Medusa mud tyres for sale if you still want to play in the stuff 🙂

  10. tony d says:

    Top weather and an excellent 2nd ride out with a great bunch. thanks for putting up with me!!

    Will have to remember my helmet next time and give deliverance a go.

    Bruised and tired, but happy!

  11. DaveW says:

    Nice to see a few pictures and footage, without the ride turning into a photoshoot. My exit line on Deliverance left a bit to be desired – I think I had been concentrating too much on the new (to me) entrance line and forgot to think about the exit. Couldn’t see anything wrong with Matt’s and Andy looked good and controlled (once he’d let go of the back brake ;0)

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