Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 2 Feb – Sunny but wet

Posted by Matt | February 3, 2014 | 14 comments so far

Moles at Holmbury

Boom! It’s February! And with it, for the first time in a while, a sunny day to get out on the bike. Despite hoping otherwise, turnout was strangely muted, with Elliott, Kev, JohnR, new-boy Chris and myself setting off from Bockett’s Farm under a bright and clear sky.

Our first act on reaching the Admiral’s Track was turn on to the tarmac to avoid the extensive puddles so early into the ride. As it later transpired, this was a sensible move.

This was my first ride for a while as I’d let the weather cheat me out of a lot of activity in January. I’ve also had a fair bit of back ache which all started from a dodgy pedal thrust on my Trek singlespeed in December which had been waking me up at night. I must be getting old.

Fortunately, once on the bike and with a few miles of warm up it doesn’t seem too bad although I’m lacking any real kick to my riding. We continued our warm up with the short drop down Yew Trees followed by the long climb to Ranmore which had me quickly losing a layer at the top as I was by now too hot!

Chris at White Down

Expecting a lot of mud we decided to miss out Collarbone and pass on Scouting for Boys, heading along the Ranmore Road before ducking into the trees as we neared the Drover’s road to approach White Down from the top. It was indeed pretty mud the trails were quite busy with lots of runners out on some kind of event I think, or just taking advantage to the sunshine like us. It seemed to put most into a pretty good mood.

Despite the glorious sunshine it still paid to pay attention to the ground, with the mud making things pretty heavy going in place and with fallen trees appearing regularly. White Down was an enjoyable blast but there’s still the tree down at the bottom and the surface across the field at the bottom was a bit sketchy. We tracked along past Deerleap Woods and crossed over on Abinger Roughs on what was basically standard XC fare.

Our pace was steady, just enough for me in my present condition to feel I’d extended myself without going over the top. After a rather sideways decent to the A25 via Raikes Lane it was time for the low climb up past Paddington Farm toward Holmbury. This separated the men from the boys or rather the singlespeeders from everyone else with Elliott and John heading us up the climb.

As we continued past the Volunteer and up to Car Park 9 (John eschewing the Youth Hostel route) it started to feel more and more like John had planned today’s route purposefully to break us with climbing. The climb from Car Park 9 was brutal after ten miles or so or muddy climbing already behind us which led us to start ribbing John for his go large or go home approach to climbing.

Things changed when we picked up Yoghurt Pots, after a few minutes at the lookout which gave us a chance to look back and see just how far we’d dragged Chris on his first ride with us. Pretty soon Yoghurt Pots was entertaining us with it’s recently fettled lines which I think flow pretty well. My relative lack of fitness had me feeling pretty sore on the lower third but it was a nice fast, fun run. Then we went uphill again.

But only briefly. We headed directly for Barry Knows Best ignoring some of the usual side-trails as we had our cheese straw sensors locked on at Peaslake.

Such is the way Barrie’s has been built you wouldn’t really know it’s been raining hard for a couple of months. It was in very good condition and I was giving it full beans when my rear tyre starting to go flat on the final third. At first I thought I must have burped some air out on one of the turns but I could increasingly feel the rim making contact with the ground as we neared the end and after catching a rider as well I had to back of dramatically. It was a shame because my time was quite respectable (2:33).

Peaslake Puncture

I ended up riding slowly into Peaslake on the rim, which necessitated a long and convoluted emergency inner tube installation after realising the tyre hadn’t burped but punctured, we’d wasted Kev’s CO2, the fix to the hole with a worm didn’t work and the observation that all the latex sealant in the tyre had dried up. Finally, after an extended pumping session the bike was usable again.

We rolled out of Peaslake heading North to pick up Rad Lane and the long bridleway down to Abinger village on the A25. This turned out to be a long pedal downhill through heavy mud – thank goodness we weren’t trying to climb up – with our progress enlivened by a walker standing in the middle of the track and berating us at length for riding down a ‘footpath’. I’m starting to find this constant carping by grumpy walkers is getting pretty tedious. It’s not like we’re running around the countryside demanding money with menaces and loudly abusing everyone we come across, so quit getting so angsty.

After that our progress settled down to grinding out the remaining miles, and I’m sure Chris was starting to think every hill was just a little steeper than the last. After cruising Deerleap (apart from the mud and puddles there were several walkers around, then a group of horse riders further along), we finally started on the High Med climb. This was another steady paced climb, the a little wind on our backs and the bright sunshine starting to feel quite warm.

High Med Moles

On Ranmore we chose Dearly Beloved and headed downhill. Dandy had mentioned earlier in the week that there were a couple of tree down but the two or three minor logs on the ground seemed pretty innocuous until near the end when we came across a couple of massive beech trees blocking the path. They might not get cleared very quickly!

The final grind was via the Polesdon estate and onto the bridlepath which was as muddy as you’d expect at this time of year. After parting from John we started down the Admiral’s Track for the final couple of mile when Chris made his first ride distinctly memorable by pitching off the side of the bank and sprawling full length into one of the lakes blocking our path. It was very funny and thankfully he was nearly home as if he’d managed that on the way out it would have been quite miserable. Kudos for Chris for taking it in good sport.

Arriving home I had 28 miles, 3000ft of climbing and very tired legs. Brilliant ride though, it was a pleasure to be out.

Filed under Rides in February 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 2 Feb – Sunny but wet’

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  1. Elliot says:

    Love the puncture photo! It serves as a perfect illustration of me being super helpful in looking after the valve cap…and just how bad Matt’s back ache is!

    Well done for sticking with it Chris!

    • Dave says:

      I did wonder if Matt wasn’t engaged in some sort of ritual inflation dance to the tyre gods looking that that photo. Unless he had trapped wind, that would also explain the pose.
      T’was a nice day to be out and I hope to join you next week but looking at the long range…..maybe not!

      • tony says:

        It’s nice to see that you have been to the Barry school of puncture repair helpfulness. I hope that you were also giving Matt a nice steady stream of advice?

        I did briefly think about joining you but jetlag and a warm duvet meant for a long lie in for me.

    • Matt says:

      Well Elliott you may only have been guarding the valve cap but the diligence you applied to the task was beyond reproach. You certainly didn’t allow yourself to be distracted from it 😉

      For my own part, I was just stunned at the prospect of having to actually fix a mountain bike puncture for the first time in a very long time.

      Despite some unfounded criticisms that Dave hadn’t put any sealant in, we found a suspicious looking ‘homebrew’ substance coating the inside of the tyre. Too bad it had dried up!

  2. jonesy says:

    Shame we didn’t get to see you chaps at Peaslake… we stopped for a brew there about 12.00.

    So nice to be out int he sunshine at last!

    See you soon

  3. KevS says:

    Really enjoyed the ride out to Holmbury in the sun and blue skies, despite the mud and clag on the North Downs!

    Luckily and with a bit of planning, we avoided the real bog snorkelling areas, apart from Admirals track on the way home! Poor Chris, if only we had time to take a pic of his swiming incident!
    Hang in there Chris, you toughed it out in tricky conditions but at least you and bike had a wash off near the end. 😉

    When I took the pic of Matt at Peaslake he must have just “assumed the position” as I poked the button on the phone, as I really did not expect that result. Maybe some kind of Haka being performed before getting to grips with another comedy puncture routine with the Moles?
    Grounds for suing the bloke that sold him the bike with dried up goo in the tyres me thinks. Surely muddy Dave has a “Duty of care” for his ex machines? :-()

    Having single speeded on Saturday with DC and 26 miles in the mud on this ride, i was knackered in the afternoon and the call of the sofa loomed large … roll on summer …. ZZZzzzzzzzz

  4. tony says:

    “as we neared the end and after catching a rider as well I had to back of dramatically” Come on Matt don’t be coy. It was Kev holding you up wasn’t it? 🙂

  5. Andrew akak says:

    The walker was wrong it’s a bridleway. I remember it featured in singletrack 79 (they went up it, should have ridden with us instead).

    I can sympathize with Chris, I almost did the same thing yesterday trying to ride round a road flood.

  6. ChrisH says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement chaps, I hope I didn’t slow you up too much!
    Luckily I survived my ducking ordeal with little more than damaged pride.
    Thanks for a great ride. Hope to see you again soon.

  7. J-R says:

    Good ride all – good write up Matt. Nice to have a sunny Sunday for a change.

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