Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 22 January – Newlands Corner classic

Posted by Matt | January 22, 2012 | 22 comments so far

Today’s ride was billed – kind of – as one for the singlespeeders. Riding to Newlands is for the most part prety easy rolling, bar a couple of hard climbs at each end of the route, so with a few of us recovering from all sorts of ailments it seemed a good day for those of us with a mono-gear.

Actually, Dave and I had a hidden agenda as I was to take his rigid forked Inbred 29er singlespeed out for a run with mercifully normal handlebars on it for a change.

This isn’t going to turn into a rave about the Inbred, or 29ers for that matter. The concept is becoming increasingly mainstream and many of the people marketing bikes are pushing them pretty hard. They are… different is all I’d say. But certainly at times I felt the Inbred was working with me and at other times, against. As we shall see.

Putting some old Easton EA50 25.4mm handlebars on it (with a 50mm rise!) wasn’t an ideal option as 29ers tend to have a higher front end than 26ers but despite the slightly odd looks we managed to play around with the stem spacers to get a reasonable riding position.

For me it meant I could ride the bike without the distraction of Dave’s Mary bars – however good they may or may not be, they are not what I’m used to. Neither are those Eastons it must be said, they lacked the flex and leverage I’m used to from my wide, old Azonic bars on my normal singlespeed or the comfort of my carbon Easton bars on the Five. But they would do.

Starting off from the Farm were 14 riders, including ‘new boy’ Nick on a Singular Pegasus with really weird handlebars and StevenD who was joining us from the Chilterns in glorious HD (well, with his new ContourHD helmet cam at least). The rest of the riding group consisted of DaveC, MarkyMark, DannyP, JohnR, PaulM, KevS, Andy661, Keith, BigAl, LordOnOne, DaveW, making 14 in total. In the mix were 26er singlespeeds, 29er singlespeeds, and of course Nick’s 29er Singular Pegasus. Plus some people had gears and 26 inch wheels!

First off, a word about our riding shirts. We’ve just had delivery of our latest shirts from Endura and they are quite green! I mean, really green. It was a bit surreal to turn up and see so many of them in one place but as it turned out, the bright colour is a bit of a godsend on the trails. People see us, they can see who we are and more importantly straggling riders can see the rest of us up ahead. A lairy win then! You’ve been warned readers, you will be seeing quite a lot of these on the trails…

We headed off along the usual route along the Admirals Track to Polesdon with nothing much to report. The surfaces are very dry at the moment after another extended dry spell and drying winds with the odd puddle here and there. I was comfortable enough to spin along at the back with the 29er feeling slightly under-geared at cruising speed, an impression soon dispelled on the grindier climbs.

I hopped the drainage ditch at Yew Trees with an unusual amount of height and style before a scrabbly moment getting the bike into the gulley, which I prefer to trying to hold a high line on one side or the other. After that it was a long pull up to Ranmore as usual, with poor Andy661 – on something of a training burst of late – feeling the pain. Andy, I feel for you but keep plugging away and it will fall into place!

Onto Badger Run and Collarbone toward White Down I could feel the 29er working well, the bike has these truly enormous 2.35 Nobby Nic tyres on which feel like tractor tyres. They were a little over-pressured for me (the flipside being less drag) but the bike felt very planted on a very firm, dry surface.

In fact it felt almost flickable on the several sections of singletrack that followed up to the Abba Zabba complex and running it round the ‘chicken runs’ it felt absolutely fine. In comparison I took my Marin Muirwoods through the exact same route in December – a bike with the same rigid fork, but 26 inch wheels and V-brakes – and both bikes actually felt quite similar round here. The main difference was I could feel the 29er was much less nervous and less willing to be deflected off-line, despite a couple of sharp shocks through the wrists, but some of that control was coming from the disc brakes I think. I wasn’t worried about a lack of grip that’s for sure.

Nick seemed to get on OK with his Pegasus but it looked a challenge trying to ride quite technical terrain with a rigid bike and semi-dropped handlebars. Rather him than me on this section.

Back on the tarmac we bumped briefly into MarkW trying out a Genesis IO before we split for Abinger and a blast across the Roughs and then on to Shere. This kind of terrain is great to take in the views and with a bit of weak January sunshine the relatively well-forrested slopes of the Hills were looking great. We were making reasonable time across Albury Heath with the faster, sandy trails allowing a good turn of pace.

At Park Road the group split for a time, some of the fitter and more energetic decided to work in an extra loop across Blackheath and up past St. Martha’s Hill to Newlands Corner while the rest of us continued into Albury and then up the Water Lane climb to the cafe. I found a comfortable pace on the lower slopes and just span along, enjoying the quiet of the singlespeed and the lack of pressure from better climbers than me.

But there’s no avoiding climbing the hill and pretty soon I was needing to dig in. I’m not hugely fit at the moment and those handlebars were feeling a bit narrow for singlespeeding but even so I just died up the climb as the hill got more and more grindy.

In fact, it wasn’t a bad performance (6th fastest on Strava) but boy did those big wheels feel that they were against me at near stall speeds. I’m not under any illusions that had John, Danny or maybe even MarkyMark been tackling this climb I would not have finished it first, especially as I could hear Barrie close behind me.

A break for coffee and cake (thanks Keith!) turned cold in the blustery wind as we waited for the splinter group to arrive. By the time they did we’d gossiped enough and were ready to roll on so the others said they’d catch us up after a short stop while we set off for home.

It didn’t take long for them to do so as StevenD’s chain snapped just past the A25 and by the time we’d fixed that we were all much colder and had been joined by the splinter group. It left us with a steady spin along a busy North Downs Way back to the Ranmore area, from where we re-traced our steps back down to Polesdon and finally along the Admiral’s Track to home.

The drama wasn’t all over though as with myself and BigAl deep in conversation – and cracking along – through the tunnel of trees back to the Bockett’s car park I snagged a loop of dead ivy or something with my handlebars (how ironic). The result was a slam down onto what I can assure you is extremely hard flint and clay.

I landed on my elbow and knee (thank you 661 Kyle Straits), with the shock felt right up into my shoulder (the same side as my collarbone break), while Kev, riding close behind, was thrown over the bars by a combination of bike and rider on the floor in front of him. With nowhere to go he landed pretty hard on his ribs and will be feeling more sore than I am as I type this.

I was glad we got away without any broken bones to be honest but it seems every time I ride a 29er I end up going over the bars!!

The final count as about 23 miles from the car park (26.5 for me from home), thanks all for an enjoyable ride.

Filed under Rides in January 2012


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 22 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 22 January – Newlands Corner classic’

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  1. StevenD says:

    I cannot believe I have broken a chain on two consecutive rides. Unbelievable.

    I edited the footage down to this to give everyone a flavour or our ride. I recorded in 1080P but the file size and resolution is too much for my PC, well until I get a graphics card anyways. The youtube footage is at 720P/30fps. I think I will go back to WVGA until I get a card.

    • StevenD says:

      Sorry about some of jerkiness. Part user (how and when and sometimes to stop moving my head), part maybe trying 1080P/30fps instead of 720P/60fps. For mtb I think I will stick with 60fps. In what became brutal editing to get the video down 200MB (and I gave up trying) I accidentally deleted a couple of captions eg Yew Trees. But it is a start, and it has got me out on the bike 4 times this year already.
      P.S Maybe I should have played that music on a ipod on the climb up to Newlands LOL.

  2. LordOnOne says:

    Nice vid!

    Being new to a lot of today’s landscape I underestimated that climb up to Newlands. It’s a bit deceptive and reminded me of certain South Downs climbs.

    Hope you two are okay after that crash, as it looked pretty spectacular from behind! Lucky I was struggling to keep up or it could have been a 3 rider pileup.

  3. Dave says:

    That’s excellent Steven!

    Note to all riders, if you see Matt on one of my bikes, stay well back!

    Hope you are not too broken Kevin. Apart form the incident on Admirals Track it was a pretty uneventful ride.
    It was really great to see so many Moles out, especially the ones who had been missing for a while.

  4. Nickyboy says:

    Enjoyed a great first ride with the MM’s…… Good to meet you all and thanks for a friendly welcome.
    Ps. Matt, it’s a Gryphon, not Pegasus!!

  5. DaveW says:

    It was a good ride and good to ride with the Moles again. It has been a while. Unfortunately my satmap failed to record the Blackheath/Martha’s detour – I’m glad I did it though. It is a nice route, although I missed the bitchin climb up to Newlands on the classic route. Sorry I had to break away early, but I had to ride back to Epsom. I never quite caught up with John R – I kept him in sight, but making up the half mile between us just never happened, especially once we got onto the hardpack and he changed up a few gears and I span out in my chosen sole gear.

    I went back via ‘Then there were 3’, which was a bit slippy and up Stane Street to Epsom, making up a cool 40 miles.

  6. Markymark says:

    Great ride again fellas, and amazing trail conditions for January.

    The shirts are great, we wont need night-lights on Wednesday, just a match and 15 shirts should bounce enough light around the woods.

    We clocked 26.4 miles with that additional break-off loop across the sandy fir-cone riddled Black Heath. It’s a really nice fast section (…yes DaveC, apart from that climb to the path leading up to the church!).

    Thanks for the vid Steven!

  7. tony says:

    Hi Steve. Great video. Is that photographic evidence of Barry being dropped on Yew Trees by JohnR!

  8. KevS says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the ride to Newlands and back, as always. Even the long slog up the chalky Waterlane track seems to be getting easier, with gears that is.

    I agree with Matt, the hardpack chalk and flinty surface along the Bocketts tunnel was harder than tarmac and not something I would recommend to have an endo on!
    Nothing broken but coughing, sneezing, laughing, stretching are to be avoided at the moment due to badly bruised ribs. πŸ™
    My fault for shadowing Big Al and Matt at a sprightly pace!
    On the plus side it got me off of having to paint the kitchen ceiling on Sunday afternoon .. result! πŸ™‚

  9. Andy661 says:

    Yet another ride of death for me but just gonna have to keep plugging away.
    Highlight of my ride was on the final road descent from Polesden Lacy my 27 gears were finally faster than MuddyDave’s 1 and I was able to use the walky-talky:
    “Dave, you all right at the back?”
    “Push it and we’ll gap our way back to the peleton!”
    Thanks again to everyone for their forebearance!

    • Dandy says:

      I was hoping to join you at the back this Sunday, Andy, as it looked kinda lonely back there for you πŸ™ Instead it looks like I will be making duty calls to the wife’s sick relatives in Suffolk. I hope to make the following Sunday though πŸ™‚

  10. JR says:

    Nice video – my style consultants (daughters) were “impressed” by the new mole jacket colour.

    Great ride and thanks to Mary for taking us on the Blackheath excursion – I’ve been lost there at least once before.

  11. DaveW says:

    Yes, thanks Mary….

  12. Markymark says:

    Marymark to you!

  13. Matt says:

    You sound quite contrary Mary πŸ™‚

    Hmmm, Ponch and Mary, what a double act!!

  14. Baz says:

    Hey guys really good to be out with you all again and yes its been a while since i have been out, i think it was a newlands trip mid december when tony and I turned back!! and went up C1 anyway glad tony picked up the climbing problem i am having at the moment, indeed i had to nurse myself round all day, fighting the urge to press hard on the pedal climbing for fear of blowing and all of you having a good old laugh later in the day, sorry i could not hang around after collar bone on the way back but i had to be back, hope matt and kev are all right after your tumble. Tony you eagle eyed Ba8tard you, thats me out training lots now then.
    Stev nice vid

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