Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 19 January – Karl’s 115th Dream

Posted by Matt | January 21, 2020 | 6 comments so far

Long shadows at Frensham
With apologies to Bob of course, but Sunday’s ride was revelatory. The root cause was sunshine, sand and good company, but Karl had a thing or two to add.

This past week has been wet. Very, very wet and the sort of cold that seeps into your bones. I missed a couple of days commuting last week because the conditions just did not entice me outside on a miserable third week in January, but I did finally manage to squeeze in a commute at the end of the week.

By Friday, things were changing; the air was drier but cooler, so I went for the gravel bike on the basis that the trails were bound to be swampy. On the way home I rode up through Denbies and then followed the Ranmore Road all the way to Crocknorth and Green Dene before heading down Orestan Lane toward Effingham.

That produced a few moments of considerable unease as the Topstone threatened to shake me off while skating over rough, muddy ground. I probably need more tread and more volume than my 38c Pathfinders can muster at this point in the year.

By the time I got home, I had decided that an off-road ride over Ranmore at the weekend was not on my radar!

The Moles at Gibbet Hill

Fortunately, the Mole collective had come to a similar conclusion and plans quickly evolved for another visit to Hindhead and Frensham. When the trails are at their worst around Dorking, south-west Surrey gets to play its trump card. Miles of dry, sandy heathland and views to die for.

The cherry on the cake was a weekend free from rain, with wall to wall sunshine and cerulean skies overhead.

I last rode in this neck of the woods in late October. Since then, autumn’s copper hues have given way to winter starkness but on a day like Sunday it showed the landscape to its’ best. Lost of views through stands of bare trees to rolling hills beyond, and a low sun casting long shadows as we meandered along.

It wasn’t about the gnarr. It was about lots of steady riding free from mud, a few lung-busting climbs and a mutual appreciation of the moment.

Dreaming big

Our route was largely a repeat of October’s too, with a few changes and detours. And Karl’s dream. There was always Karl’s dream.

Now, for decency’s sake there is little I can tell you of this flight of Karl’s fancy. Save that it featured Jem, a blue-eyed brunette and two bulk containers. Jem himself was – I would guess – both a little disturbed and a little disappointed that the whole thing was just a dream! But it’s the thought that counts I suppose…

It certainly kept us thinking for the rest of the ride!

Lloyd on his Trek Farley

We rode south to Hindhead for an early coffee; I’m in two minds about coffee at the start of a ride but I think that’s just habit. In reality it was all jolly civilised and the National Trust tea rooms at Hindhead do serve very nice coffee.

This whole area has transformed in recent years as the old A3 scar heals and it is busy with people and families out enjoying the environment – especially on a crisp, clear sunny morning!

After topping up on caffeine we set off in a northerly direction as we lost height from the peak of Gibbet Hill. It’s a lumpy, bumpy bridleway down to the Thursley Road. I’ve recently fitted a new, longer Mudhugger rear guard but could hear I need to add or tighten a few zip ties. It was moving just enough to rattle so I’m glad I used their protective tape. It didn’t go anywhere, but noise is movement, which means a risk of damage from the friction. I’ll have to investigate further.

Elliot managed to flat which is an unusual occurrence these days; more so to see Elliot’s minimalistic ride pack DOES actually have everything needed to keep on rolling! A worm was eventually deployed and we were back on track.

The Moles at the Devils Jumps

From here it was on toward the Devil’s Jumps, with an ever-steepening climb to reach the summit. The views are worth it with a wide vista before you across Rushmore to the North before a nice precipitate plunge down off the hill. It’s short and sweet but nice and steppy so it keeps you on your toes.

The photo opportunities at the Devil’s Jumps proved Karl’s undoing though. It wasn’t until we’d rolled up to the cafe at Frensham that Karl realised his phone had gone AWOL, and puzzling it out we came to the conclusion that it must have been somewhere between the Devil’s Jumps and Frensham; either at the summit, or in the plunge off the hill.

Tall shadows at the Devils Jumps

Karl at the Devils Jumps

For some time we mulled this over while we drank coffee and ate (I had a very substantial bacon roll!). Most likely we would have to revisit the Jumps but it would be the Devil’s own job to find the phone with the extensive heather covering the hillside.

However, intelligence manifests itself in many ways. After trying to hit up Google’s ‘Find my Phone’ with little success, Jem said ‘I’m just going to ring this and see what happens’. Bingo!

Karl’s phone was promptly answered by a lady who had found it while out on a walk and was now lunching in the Bel and the Dragon pub! She was more than happy to return the phone and very pleased we had called, so we set off for the pub. Improbably, thanks to the goodwill strangers, Karl was reunited with his phone.

The detour marginally shortened our ride but it was worth for the karma involved and a little re-arrangement of our plans a small price to pay. Any route choice was a good choice on a day like this.

A frozen pond at Rushmore

So we worked our way back to Thursley via Truxford and by the end of the ride had notched up just short of 19 miles. That was good enough for us, so we retired to our third stop of the day in the Three Horse Shoes pub for a couple of restorative pints.

That’s two weeks in a row now that the social part of the ride has been as enjoyable as the physical. If I did that every weekend my family would soon let me know their views, but I do like to appreciate these opportunities when I can!

A marvellous way to spend a Sunday.

Filed under Rides in January 2020


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 6 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 19 January – Karl’s 115th Dream’

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  1. Elliot says:

    Hmm, three out of the last four times I’ve ridden there, punctures. I’m running out of worms!

    Very nice ride and great to see the sun out at last!

  2. Jemz!! says:

    Enjoyed the day over that way. I am now recognising land marks, hopefully soon I’ll know how to piece together a ride without becoming lost.
    Even das Panzer behaved, not cutting out once. Seems the 2mm washer has worked!
    Thanks for the tip on the dropper post Matt. I’m glad it stayed up, otherwise it would have been quite an effort cycling like I was riding a kids bike!

    • Matt says:

      I was briefly worried I’d sold you a pup with that advice. When the post stayed down I was thinking I’d ruined the ride for you! It works for the newer Reverbs (mine’s circa 2016) but I’m not sure about the newest (2019/2020) which has its’ own bleed port.

      Basically I’ve used it several times to get the sag out of the dropper and as you can see you can do it trailside. It’s a handy little bodge – I first saw it here: How to fix your spongy Reverb without tools.

  3. Karl says:

    Always feels transcendent over that way when the sun shines.
    A smashing ride with cheery fellows.
    Got my phone back and had a beer.
    Or was it a dream?

  4. Dandy says:

    The conversation on our weekend’s ski tour wasn’t quite so … er, colourful? But we too had some bright winter sunshine on Sunday morning, and now the rain has returned to Vancouver to wash away all of last week’s snow. Still plenty falling in the mountains though 🙂

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