Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride Report: Sunday 18th April – Brockham/Leith Rollercoaster

Posted by Colin | April 18, 2010 | 29 comments so far

Colin on Summer Lightning
When the weather’s this good, you just gotta make hay and after a superb (though much too rapid and exhausting) night ride on Wednesday, I was chomping at the bit to get out again and put myself forward as route planner for today.

Even if I say so myself, what transpired was a sensational route, one to sort the men from the boys.

In those terms, I was something like a late adolescent (I wish!) as by the time I got home, I was shattered, but it was one of those situations where the aching muscles at the end of the day simply act as a pleasant reminder.

So Matt, DaveC, DaveW, NewTony, OldTony(!), Adam, James and Andy661 turned out and as a nice surprise, the Dorking Cocks, aka George, Charlie and Toby also joined us, though they admitted they were just checking out our speed and fitness for the D2D re[grudge]match at Thetford in October!

Once again, I opted to ride the Pitch today. Quite deliberate as I had planned the route. Thankfully, James had opted to leave his old skool steely at home and was on his Spesh full susser, saving me the guilt of taking him down the Brockham Blast.

A quick blast on the Bocketts singletrack to warm up was followed by the climb up Alsatian to get the pulse going. Having worked hard to gain altitude, then we plummeted down Chainbreaker and went back up High Ashurst. If ever the conditions were right for me to pop my long overdue cherry up here, it was today and to my surprise I finally got this monkey off my back, though I nearly expired in the process, blaming my heaving chest on volcanic ash inhalation when we stopped at the summit.

Same drill, a climb followed by a blast, being Matt’s favourite (he’s not right) in the shape of the gnarly boneshaking drop to Brockham. Full suss helps I suppose but its still bloody hard work this one.

Then the rollercoaster effect stopped for a while as we made our way from Brockham to Holmwood via some really nice XC sections and a little road work, managing to get road rage from far too many motorists. Thoughts of buying a road bike rapidly parked after today’s experiences!

Then the aptly named Folley Lane took us back into proper mtb mode as it turns into the bridleway climb up into Redlands Woods. I really like the imposing view here as the hill fills up the horizon and you know there’s only one way – up.

DaveW rolls in to Deliverance on Leith Hill

Once at the top and after some recovery time, we then found some of the sublime singletrack and whoopy bits that make Redlands so special, taking in Man Friday and Cream Egg as we headed over to Coldharbour, past Deliverance (tackled by action man DaveW and Charlie) and up the rooty climb to the tower, which I cleaned again. The teastop added considerable time to the ride but there was no way I was going to incur the wrath of DaveC by planning a route sans calories!

Having had our fill, it was time to head back quickly – a few of us were already making our reservations with the doghouse so we notched off Waggledance and Summer Lightning then flew down Wolverns and the smoothed out Rookery.

With Andy661 feeling the heat, DaveC kindly paired off with him at a more sedate pace whilst the remaining bunch headed up Ranmore via the Pilgrims track where the sun really started to warm your back.

So, a bit of everything today, 32 miles for me and my gps reckoned 1400m of climbing (not sure how plausible that is though it feels absolutely true as I write). Great bunch, good laugh, fast descents, hard climbs, superb weather, trail dust to accompany the volcanic stuff and nice to see some lovely ladies out enjoying the weather, particularly the one on horseback on Leith Hill, marvellous!

Filed under Rides in April 2010


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  1. YoungTony says:

    One of the best days of hard slog I have ever enjoyed. More water next time…

    The side stand went, next goes the saddle bag, in comes the backpackwatersolution. Happy days, see y’all in a fortnight.

  2. Dave says:

    With weather like that I was happy to slog this ride out especially with Cream Egg and Man Friday thrown into the mix. Man Friday is just such a hoot!

    Gutted the memory card failed on the camcorder again as I’d have had great footage of Colin going down Chainbreaker. The is a short unedited video up on Vimeo of everyone coming down into Brockham so do have a look at that. Doesn’t really show the speed and bumps but if you listen to the sound there are a few choice comments!

    I reckon I must have done 28-30 miles and I felt it too. I ran out of water at the bottom of Ranmore as Andy and I pushed toward home. Heat and speed got the best of us both!! I should have mown the lawn when I got home but instead I just watched the GP! All over body ache today!

  3. DaveW says:

    An excellent ride yesterday – I’ve missed the driest rides so far this year for one reason or another, so I absolutely loved covering some serious mileage and getting in some good climbing and descending on the lovely dry trails – that really is a great route Colin.

    What with the great company, a good workout, sunshine, not too much heat and even some totty to even further raise the spirits, I’m still smiling! ;oD

  4. Andy C says:

    Sounds like I missed a corker. Man Friday and Cream Egg are new to me, so I look forward to a return trip there some time soon. My back seems to be benefitting from the bike free week-end (not that I’m blaming the bike), so I hope to be refreshed and eager for Wed evening.

  5. Matt says:

    Marvellous indeed!!

    Some of my personal highlights from the ride were the stutter bumps on the Brockham descent – seriously dangerous if you don’t show them respect. At the speed I was following Tony on his full-sus on my hardtail I though I was heading for a big accident!

    Man Friday was indeed a hoot, just let it run and lean on the front brake. And my speed down Wolverns Lane trying to catch back up with the lead group was amazing, turning it into a really physical effort.

    Finally I too ran out of water about an hour from home even though I don’t recall drinking any!. Concentration was suffering at the end as I jus t cracked 30 miles for the ride by home.

    GP was a great race, action all the way and plenty of intra and inter team rivalry building.

  6. JamesH says:

    Looks like you had a good ride and I wasn’t allowed out 🙁 But did take my little boy out for a ride so still had fun! What a weekend. See you all on Wednesday night.

  7. tony says:

    When I got home there were 3 major bulging tears in the side wall of the rear Panaracer Trailraker. Hence I felt lucky to get round with a major problem. It’s the second Trailraker that I’ve had go like this, so it’s no more for me.

    Maybe the bike was trying to tell me something, since yesterday you could have got anyway with a semi-slick never mind a knobbly mud tyre.

  8. Dave says:

    Trailrakers – tick

    Side wall failure – tick

    Never use again – tick

    The Conti Edge I swapped to gave me no problems!

  9. tony says:

    Hi Dave

    Yep the Conti Vertical (protection, black chilli) on the front looks like it’s hardly been used in comparison to the Trailraker.

  10. Matt says:

    I can’t help think there’s a bit of luck involved with tyres – my Spesh Storm tyres ripped first ride out on flint up on Box Hill. After patching them they’ve been fine ever since over many miles now (I hope I haven’t jinxed myself!)

    I’ve heard in contrast that Conti’s have a reputation for cutting too so I really think the law of Sod is involved. With flint a big feature round here there’s always a chance of cut tyres.

    I just hope when I get my new Nobby Nics that they’re OK. DaveW reckons the larger carcass (2.25) USTs are supposed to roll better than the narrow ones?

    Even so, I slaughter a chicken to the Tyre God when I first go out!

  11. Dave says:

    Without wanting to make this a “What tyre….” thread, as single cut is random chance, mine were hammered and thread bear on the entire sidewall.

    I heard from Cycleworks that the they found Conti to be “not very durable” but that’s not my experience. Having said that, much as I want to try Rubber Queens, I’m not coughing that amount of money!

  12. tony says:

    I should maybe have said – three massive sidewall cuts and evidence of sidewall begining to fray and give way all around.

    More than chance of the odd occasional unlucky sidewall issue.

    Rubber queens look ace – maybe a bit too chunky now the trails have dried out.

  13. Matt says:

    All true enough except my Panaracer Fire XCs have done 2500 miles! Patched a good few times but no sidewall cuts.

    You can still cut three times (or more likely three cuts from one incident) on a ride without it being outside of the rules of chance surely?

    I guess whatever works for you, personally I think there’s a lot of subjective thinking to tyres anyway – I’ve never liked my Fire XCs despite them lasting for ages and generally being ‘good enough’ mainly because the shop ‘insisted’.

    My Storms (which I was persuaded into as being like Bonty MudXs – no way!) started out feeling good, then got a cut, now they’re feeling draggy (to me).

    All subjective as look at what/how we’re riding. Seems not to be massively affected by tyre choice really doesn’t it?

  14. tony says:

    Strangely my Fire XC pro on my Orange seem to be lasting really well. No problems with them.

    Matt – aren’t you just mentally angling for a tyre change – convincing yourself that the Fire’s need changing?

  15. Matt says:

    I’m mentally preparing to drop £80 on some Nobby Nics, yes!

    It’s a level of cost which you’d expect to get something bling for your money, rather than two black bits of rubber. I’ve needed to replace the very worn Fire XCs for ages but it’s just so depressing.

    That’s probably why people get so intense over tyres. They’re quite an investment.

  16. Jem says:

    Cream egg and Man Friday??Thought they were new names for special cake!

    Sounds as though you had a good ride out. Hope to be out soon (not jealous!!).

    Matt. I think that tyres seem overpriced, but what can you do?

    We are all happy to spend hundreds if not thousands on a bike and have a problem spending maybe £70 for a good set of tyres.

    They are after all the contact point between your bike and the ground, which is pretty important.

    They are also totally punished with what we expect of them, they take it all before the suspension has a look in.

    Think of the cost of high end motor bike and car tyres, makes our’s seem fairly cheap really.

    If you get a year or more out of them that’s not bad i’d say, equates to £3 a month per wheel for a years use. Even less if they last longer.

    So go on, buy your chosen rubber!

  17. Toby Ward says:

    Hello Guys, we really enjoyed the ride on Sunday, good route and company and made a change for us.

    As discussed if you ever fancy a ride starting on Leith Hill and full of miles of singletrack I’d be more than happy to lead you guys. I expect you’d know most of it anyway but there may be a few new bits.

  18. Andy661 says:

    Thanks to everyone for their patience as I continue to put in the miles and effort!! Was a cracking pace (for a noob like myself).

    A special thanks to DaveC who nursed me back to Bocketts (by missing a turn and adding a few extra miles… “That’ll teach him not to keep up!”).

  19. Rob says:

    Next time you do that route please let me know as I will show you an alternative (and better in my opinion!) route down to Brockham.

    Hoping to get out with you guys soon !

  20. DaveW says:

    Just for the record, it is Schwalbe that reckon larger volume tires roll faster than their lower volume ones

    They are of course heavier and therefore accellerate less quick, but the report suggests that this is more than compensated for by the improved rolling resistance.

    True? I don’t know – contentious – but I’ve ordered some 2.25 Ralphs…

    Another thing on the tire conversation which occurred to me recently is that you have to spend a helluva lot getting wheels rebuilt with lighter rims and only then save a few grams, but you can take a lot of weight off this critical area by buying lighter tires…

    On the Panaracer Trailrakers, I reckon there is no better rear mud tire and I intend to continue to get the PR version year on year – I have had one split on the sidewall, but then I’ve also had that happen on other tires. A sharp flint at the wrong angle is going to cut through rubber, no matter what you run.

  21. tony says:


    Did you notice those Dorking Cocks talking to everyone we met, waving to ever other cyclist, distrubing the serenity of the countryside and the peace of a MTB ride.

    Too bloody cheerful and friendly those Cocks


  22. Colin says:

    Thanks Rob always open to new trails and routes – in fact, I’m hoping to attend your DoMTB ride on Sunday. Haven’t frequented a ride with you lot for ages and the new routes sound interesting. Cheers

  23. Erick says:

    I’m getting jealous here. Spent the sunday loading and unloading a van… Moved flats.

    Looks like you guys had a blast, I’m looking forward to joining you soon.


  24. Andy C says:

    Continuing the Tyre thread hijacking, I put Trailrakers on my On-One last June ready for the winter. As you know, due to some thieving scrotes nicking my Whyte, I ended up riding it all through the summer and autumn until the Pace arrived in January to share the burden.

    Because of the crap weather since February, most of my mileage since last June has been on the Trailrakers, and they’re still looking good, with no great amount of wear or damage. Cue my turn to offer up the sacrificial chicken to the tyre goods having made that statement!

    I noticed a few times when following riders down the well-muddied trails recently that those on the likes of a Fire XC Pro (Matt) were slithering around more than me, as you would expect. Also, the guys at Moose Cycles were rating Trailrakers for the winter conditions.

    For the Pace, after intense research and a chat with Matt at Cycleopedia (, I have bought a pair of Maxxis High Rollers (2.35, LUST, 42a) for my summer trail riding. In particular, I have 2 days at Cwmcarn in ealy May, a day’s ‘All Mountain’ training with Rowan Sorrell, followed by an uplift day.

    They will soon replace the winter tyres, Bontrager Mud-X 2.0, which seem to have worked pretty well in the few winter rides where I’ve taken it out. They also cornered well on the wet and very muddy Forest of Dean DH trail, though I’m not so sure about their handling over the roots (given that’s where I came off and buggered up my broken hand for the second time this winter).

    Now what do I put on the On-One for the summer, or should that be another thread?

  25. StevenD says:

    more tyre hijacking… Andy C, consider keeping the Mud-Xs on. I bought Mud-Xs last September and on my few winter rides they were outstanding. With the recent sudden change (hooray) from mud to bone dry I have now found that the Mud-Xs are really good on the loose stuff (and we have a lot of that in the Chilterns).

    Okay, not so good on tarmac but I am going to put off changing to summer rubber for now.

  26. Dave says:

    Nothing like the mention of tyres to start a lively debate is there!

    I find it interesting how various people can have various opinions on different tyres but I guess if everything was the same then there’d be one bike with one tyres ridden by all World Cup riders (whatever the discipline).

    Thinking about it I seem to recall that I ran the Trailrakers over one summer which might have been a factor in their early demise!

    Currently my own stable has a diverse range of shoes with the only consistence on the 29ers which are all shod with Nevegals. That’s just a mix of acceptance of the tyre that came with the wheels and a modicum of satisfaction with their performance.

    Looks like another cracking day.

  27. DaveW says:

    Good point re keeping the MudXs on StevenD – although I think the Highrollers will be more forgiving for the more progressive riding AndyC has planned for his Pace.

    The MudXs would be good on the 456 though – I’ve never used them, but they are meant to roll well as well as clearing well. Well well.

    This would mean though that our ‘Dandy’ AndyC will miss the opportunity to get some bling bling Chris King gold plated tires, or something to contrast perfectly with his outfit and skin tone ;0)

  28. Dandy AndyC says:

    This weather should do wonders for my skin tone. Must throw in a few darker shades to my wardrobe as the tan improves.

  29. OrangeRoo says:

    Amazing to read – it was an awesome morning, just sorry I wasn’t out with you guys. Whilst Murphy the dog is an able companion and he’s black and does get muddy, he’s no substitute for the Muddy Moles on a Sunday morning.

    For the record on the tyre theme, my rear Trailraker was fab in the mud as DaveW suggested – mind you I won’t slide in the snow any more! l’ll return to my cheap and cheerful Conti Mountain Kings for the summer.

    I almost took my bike to Saudi with me – maybe next time!

    See you all, Roo

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