Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 17 August – North Downs

Posted by Matt | August 17, 2014 | 14 comments so far

Goody Goody yum yum!

North Downs. Doesn’t sound like much really, does it? Yet somehow today we managed to squeeze in a variety of freshly uncovered trails, about 28 miles and 2800 feet of climbing (and, obviously, descending!). All in all quite a lot packed into a ride which never took us further than Shere then.

Ah the North Downs. Everyone thinks roots, clay and chalk and to be fair, for a large chunk of the year that’s pretty much it. But for a brief period in the middle of the year things get to be pretty good fun, as today proved, helped no end by recent trail developments.

Today our ride group of James, Eliott, Dave, Kev, Chris and myself was joined by Karl (no, not THAT one but another one from Ashtead), making a small group of seven. Incidentally, thanks to the Bike Snob NYC I’m always very tempted to nickname someone ‘Hot Karl’ when we meet another Karl. This is deeply unfortunate as a quick read of the link (or a look on Urban Dictionary) will explain, and why, wherever possible today I just got on with riding my damn bike!

With plenty of rain at times this week I stuck my lucky mudguard on the Kona singlespeed this morning and that proved to be an inspired (and entirely wasted) choice as we encountered no rain at all today. The only bit of mincing came within the first mile as we negotiated the puddles on the Admiral’s Track but after that it was dry all the way. The mincing was understandable from Dave and Elliott, both riding new 2014 Salsas in (literally) Regular and Large flavours of Spearfish and Horsethief. Both fine looking machines.

Our route took us up to Ranmore the traditional way, via Yew Trees which has now been optimised for horses with lots of aggregate down on the downslope. In fairness it was getting pretty eroded and without realising it there is now a small lip halfway down as the scalpings cover a drainage pipe, providing us with some minor fun. Being singlespeed though my main concern was the grind up to Ranmore. It seemed to take until then for my legs to loosen up.

Soon after that we picked up our first twisty bit, the top section of Wire in the Blood which served only to remind me that my forks are currently a bit soft. 100mm of Reba goodness doesn’t go far when there’s step downs and lumpy stuff to contend with. Back onto Badger Run, it was soon dispatched and then the steady pull along Collarbone toward White Down. By the time we reached the end of that, Chris had disappeared and when he did finally arrive he didn’t look to well, possibly suffering from a touch of Ebola (which seems to be ‘going round’ at the moment). He decided to turn back and try and get home before he collapsed in the woods, bleeding from every orifice, which would certainly have put the threat of bovine TB spread by badgers into perspective.

So we were six. And six we remained for the rest of the ride, meandering firstly along the North Downs Way, then up to the Drovers Road, then onto Dave’s target of Bingo Bongo Dave. This is quickly establishing itself as a bit of a favourite during this period we call summer, with all of us having a good go down there, despite a bit of sat nav error thanks to all the trees. My singlespeed really goes go well for a hardtail, although I properly bottomed out the fork as we crossed the road!

After that we span up to Honeysuckle Bottom and then dragged ourselves up to start on Wonderland (it’s name irritatingly putting the Simply Red tune into my head! Which is still there now!). I was unlucky enough to drop my chain which forced me to pull up – unlucky because it happened, even though I knew I’d set up the chain with one link too many when I fixed up the bike. I rode the rest of the trail a bit slower but it seemed fine and when I arrived at the bottom Dave said ‘we’re going round again!’ so off I went.

This time the chain stayed put and the extra familiarity let me ride it a bit quicker; at least the sat nav error was on my side this time. A great trail which might suffer a bit over winter but will be waiting for us in the spring I’m sure.

Yes Elliott really is that tall!

At some point during our ride an idea had formed for Kev, who’d taken on the cake-sourcing duties, with the suggestion of a stop in Ye Olde Sandwich Shoppe in Shere. To get there meant a climb back up to the Drovers Road past the sawmill, followed by a splendid trail down through Netley Park. At this point, as we left the Sawmill Karl pick up a flint cut on his tubeless tyres which required a short stop to wormify a repair from Daves backpack of possibilities. The stop gave Kev the chance to size up Eliott’s Horsethief which I don’t think will ever fit Kev judging from the picture.

So Netley Park. Awesome! First time for me and a lovely flowing wend through the trees, relentlessly downhill but with few surprises and a very instinctive feel to it. I love the way these tracks just spit you out into civilisation and you realise you’ve been passing them by for years and none the wiser. We didn’t waste too much time after this getting to our cake where I confess I shamefully and entirely guiltlessly managed to nab the last rock cake in the shop from James! Sorry!

By way of karma rebalancing things I got a week cup of scalding brown liquid claiming to be coffee, but the cake was lovely. I’ve put in an order with my domestic staff on the strength of it.

Rock cakesOur return was pretty straightforward, a kind of reverse of our usual Newlands route to Abinger, then onto the Roughs and all the way to Westcott, with me forced at times to go at Maximum Hamster speed to keep up. I could feel myself starting to tire, with the hills getting more and more grindy but my pace stayed consistent thankfully. A Concerted Hello approach seemed to work with the large groups of walkers we passed on the way back and for a change there didn’t seem to be too much friction.

Very little friction was in evidence from Elliott as well as he took off up the High Med climb at a rate which had us wondering if the Sheriff was on his tail to question him about some missing horses. Whoosh! he was gone with no reply from any of us.

The final trail of the day was a spirited run down Golden Nugget for us, one I enjoyed immensely as it was flowing really well. From there we needed only to haul ourselves through the Polesdon estate and home to Bockett’s. I had the urge to push for a stop at Domestique and don’t think any of us would have taken much dissuading but time was getting on. The prospect of ending the ride with a raspberry and chocolate brownie and decent coffee was very tempting, hopefully next time!

North Downs. Never would have expected to have this much choice (and that’s without the Norbury stuff which is out there too).

Filed under Rides in August 2014


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 14 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 17 August – North Downs’

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  1. Elliot says:

    Good ride that one! Several of the trails were new to me, the one with the fresh berms was fantastic, worth sessioning!

    Gotta say I was disappointed to see our lead had been eroded by cheaters taking a cheap shortcut on High Med, disgraceful! Sprinting the Horsethief to catch up turned out to be rather more effective than I was expecting, and could have resulted in a reasonable time if not for several groups of walkers…for whom I diligently slowed down of course.

    Nice to see a new rider out Karl, and come back in one piece, hope to see you again!

  2. Dave says:

    Lovely ride that.

    With reference to the first photo, as long as I’m not Tim Brooke-Taylor I’m OK with that even if we have 4 more wheels than we should have!

    The new berms on Wonderland were ace! Now if we cans top inexperienced riders going in too fast and braking mid berm we’ll keep it for a while!

  3. karlroom says:

    great ride chaps, nice to meet some new faces and discover some awesome new trails, petrol pump, bingo bongo dave, wonderland, to name a couple of new ones for me.
    Look forward to riding again soon.

    not so hot Karl !

  4. KevS says:

    A great mornings entertainment in good company.

    We are lucky to have so many fun trails in our local area.
    Hope you are feeling better today Chris, I thought we had lost you again … (:-()

  5. Dandy says:

    Looks like you guys had a fun time, some of those trails are great, aren’t they? But how do they make that coffee so weak? Is it the blend, I wonder? They seem to use the same amount in those coffee holders as other places 🙁

  6. Tony says:

    The North Downs just seem to keep on giving don’t they. It’s amazing how many trails there are around now. Fabulous! A pity I missed what looked like a great ride.

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