Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 23 January – PIJ’s route to Reigate

Posted by Matt | January 23, 2011 | 15 comments so far

Today it was back to the natural habitat of all moles with a muddy winter ride over to Reigate. We tend to drop in the odd ride east just to prove that you can have fun without going south toward the Leith and Holmbury honeypots, but at this time of year it’s all a bit ‘clay’.

Remembering a fast blast night ride from last summer we decided to give PIJ’s roundabout route another go.

Tony on Secret Singletrack

Up at Bockett’s then this morning were 12 hardy moles, including DaveC, Big Al, Barrie, Tony, Ray, KevS, Emma, Jason, Jez, Danny, Lloyd and myself, eventually joined en route by PaulM, lucky 13! It was one of those days when starting out and any enforced standing around was going to turn chilly but once underway the flat wintry weather didn’t really cause any real problems.

We headed down into Leatherhead, passing some guys preparing a canoe at the river (well, it’s a hobby…) before embarking on the long climb up to the top of Headley, first up Alsation and then on past Tyrells Wood. In all it’s a long two and a half mile climb with only the odd dip to relieve the workrate. At least most of the pain is over after that although there’s still plenty of work to do. Mud was quite a problem.

As was the pace for me. I’m still recovering from a xmas virus and my enthusiasm can make me ride far harder than I’d like. Mostly I was able to hold back, knowing that an endorphin fueled dash was going to leave me paying for it later but it’s not easy to reign yourself in. And the singlespeeders up front were running pretty quickly.

Fortunately, unlike on the road there’s plenty of stops to regroup. At the top of Headley we headed down the flinty track toward Epsom Downs before turning toward Walton on the Heath and passing the Blue-something-or-other pub as we headed toward Lower Kingswood.

There’s is quite a warren of trails across Walton Heath, with lots of nice singletrack. My memories of it at it’s summer peak (where we found ourselves dashing through some great rollercoaster trails) were quite different from the reality of damp roots and winter clay but it was enough to show it’s worth a revisit when things dry out. As it was we fishtailed our way across the Heath but still managed to enjoy ourselves.

Eventually we popped out on the A217 Brighton Road for half a mile before turning into Kingswood and running across open farmland on rough pebbly tracks towards the Gatton Estate. At this point we bumped into PIJ (aka Phil, aka workshopmanualman) who had gifted us this route via GPS last year despite never having met us. The wonders of this inter-fanglement technology.

After chatting long enough to get cold again(!) we pressed on, taking the sharp drop down under the M25 before hauling ourselves up the Gatton climb to the Reigate Tea Rooms. A welcome but shockingly expensive stop. Remember, the coffee’s reasonable but BYOS – that’s Bring Your Own Snacks!

After that it was a case of returning to Bookham via our much-travelled rolling route across the Tadworth golf course. Unusually today people seemed to be out in force. We saw loads of riders (on bikes and horse), plenty of tediously carping ramblers and for once had to stop while a golfer played a shot off one of the tees. No pressure, but he hooked it!

A brief puncture stop for Danny gave us a rest, then it was on toward Headley via the draggy climb up to the car park, a long slog for me behind Kev who seemed to be making it look easy.

With the end looming we headed into a Secret Singletrack that was in great condition. I had the luxury of going first so I could stop and take pictures and was really enjoying myself. I didn’t really want to stop but made up for it after everyone had passed by steaming down the last flowing section. Can’t do that on a road bike…

The fun continued at Tyrells Wood as we picked up Life on Mars, by no means what I’d call fun on the top section which is heavily churned into greasy slop but lower down it gained grip and I gained a bit of speed following Tony. Even so I was a bit worried my front wheel was going to let go at times.

Onto Alsation, a careful descent for me knowing people were out and about and then we only had the climb back up to Bookham to deal with. By now I was happy enough to get back, the beginnings of tiredness were just creeping in and it felt it was getting colder. All in all, 24 miles door-to-door and the realisation that my stamina needs some work!

Here’s Dave’s ride route if you’re curious.

Filed under Rides in January 2011


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.

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  1. Dave says:

    I feel pretty drained this evening but it was a cracking ride. Great to be out on the singlespeed again and thanks to everyone for the positive comments on the respray that few of you have seen before.

    Moments before we saw PIJ Kevin was saying he thought he’d been a bit quiet of late and then there he was making like the Shopkeeper in Mr Ben. Spooky!

    • pIJ says:

      Aha! Interesting route past the caravan. Will do. I like all this GPS route sharing, but there are some sections that are best deleted…. for locals only!

      Looking at the bikes in use on Sunday, it seems to me that the magazines current subversive promotion that only full suspension bikes will do is wrong [look at the long-term test bikes they use]. If you’re new to the sport, it would seem that whilst they test £500 bikes, the actual message is that you need £3,500 bijou suspension bikes to do anything off-road. I’ll bet that 100% of the Moles, if you switched to £500 Kona specials from Wiggle, you’d still be with the bunch come the ride end.

      Sorry, have I gone off topic again??

  2. paul901 says:

    I completely lost myself in this report, like you do with a gripping novel. By the end I could feel the tiredness and was glad to pick up the reality of another piec eof shortbread and another sip of coffee before getting up for work!

    I like the sound of the route and look forward to trying it but 2 1/2 miles climbing at Mole pace? Hmm…

  3. pIJ says:

    Nice to bump into you guys again, even if I was caught doing my usual nefarious activities. All innocent I can assure you.

    Good luck with the virus Matt; day 25 of mine and counting. Nice to have met you at last, and thanks for the web tips.

    As I was doing the route also, but in the opposite direction to you lot, I can tell that you missed the nice wiggly bit at the end of the pass through Banstead Heath – no tyre tracks! That whole section is a bit horrid with the mud, but as you say, it’s a bit of fun come the summer. Actually scratch that; I kind of like it all the time []. The mud this week was less claggy than last week’s, but it got everywhere – I had to strip and clean the rear mech as best as I could as it was just clogged up with fine mud. At least my RRP mud-fling-guard on the forks worked better now that I run it backwards!

    I’m looking at that route afresh by the way, as there are a few linking trails that may make it faster in the anti-clockwise direction. It’s a popular one though, and I can’t claim ownership – it’s been there eons and will be for long after we’re all gone. I tend to use @trip for posting routes, as this is OK for some of the European ones, but there are tons of other internet MTB route guides out there. Be adventurous people! I think MBR did this side of Leith Hill as a route last year.

    Somehow I was out for 4 hours; mainly route finding but also because my riding partner finally found me, so we had to start again didn’t we? Knackered but happy.

    Your description of the Urban Kitchen cafe is spot on. If only they sorted out their cake prices they’d be fine. £2.75 for a slice of goo is just plain daft for a cafe where you have to sit outside on wooden benches. I work in Brixton, and Cafe Nero have the same type of cake for around £2.25 to £2.75 – and here I get the internet, it’s warm and I can sit here for hours.

    I did both the caravan and Urban Kitchen that day [hence the 4 hours out time I guess] and it was amusing to watch the activities. There were people such as ourselves, who’d ridden in from all corners, happy but tired, but for the main there were bikers who got their bikes out of cars or off racks. These guys must have had some kind of inferiority complex as they’d kept their bikes muddy from last time, and the Reigate lot seemed very aggressive, playing chicken with the cars. Each to their own I guess.

    Thanks for posting my website Matt. I’ve also got that I’m going to use for the t-shirts.

    Ah well, work calls – see you guys out again!

    • Dave says:

      I think this highlights the problem with trying to guide 10 plus riders. We need to be sure of the route otherwise there can be a lot of backtracking. We managed to get it down to one backtrack on Sunday and one section I missed entirely through gassing rather than watching the GPS.

      More rides with 1 or 2 Intrepid Moles to find new routes. Oh, and Moles who can actually remember the route!

  4. John R says:

    Looks like a good ride, but I don’t envy you the mud.

    The photo looks great, Matt.

  5. KevS says:

    Well our chance sighting and chat with PIJ has certainly sparked him back into life, roll on PIJ! 😉
    Great ride again despite the cold,dank, sunless, muddy day and much amusement to be had with all the sideways action, off piste incidents and banter. (Although there wasnt much banter from me grinding up to Reigate hill cafe from the bottom of Gatton Park)!
    Judging by the time shown on Dave’s Garmin route I reckon he nipped round the course early than met up with the rest of us and rode it again, outstanding commitment! 🙂

    • Dave says:

      Foiled again!

      Actually I’ve no idea where it’s picking that time up from. If you click on the View Details link it does not mention that time again. I think it’s supposed to be the start time as opposed to the elapsed time. I had to edit the route in Tracklogs to take the trip to and from home off. This then lost the HRM data (probably a good thing!) so maybe something else got lost in the conversion to GPX.

  6. Tony says:

    “The photo looks great, Matt” Technically although maybe not content! Must breathe in for further photo-ops.

  7. PIJ says:

    Cheers KevS …watching and waiting for an opportune time to comment is all! Hate being the posting Monkey.

    I don’t use GPS as I am an OS / human memory fan, but I do sometimes log routes that way, so can appreciate the small errors that creep in. I noticed that you guys did an odd dog leg just prior to the A217 – funny how a bunch of MTB’ers travelling together leaves a trail that even I can follow. To be honest it’s only 400m or so of winding singletrack, so not the end of the world. And the direction you were coming from is easy to miss as the trails all kind of look the same. You must have taken a left uphill over grass and then a slight downhill to a signboard? Instead of the slight left, take an even slighter left through the trees adjacent to the grass…. Hmmm, getting confusing. One to work out on the ground me thinks. In Germany they use hired GPS units plus marker posts on trees.

    The A217 is a pain, especially going uphill, and it may have been better to hoik a right at the signboard prior and follow the singletrack trail kind of back on yourselves, but up towards Colley Hill and the Sportsman / Mogador – there are quite a few nice little routes on Banstead Heath that are infinitely better than the dual carriageway. Indeed just crossing straight over the A217 and following the opposite lane down for a km is a safer option. But then doing that you’d not have caught me taking photographs of the love in my life…..

    John R; the mud was, er, challenging in parts, but MTB’ing is all about the winter surely. [Apologies for calling you Shirley.] My riding buddy was champing at the bit as I was slowing him down, so to slow him down on the return leg I took a parallel trail to the M25 to Colley that is always really muddy – think 400m to 500m of pure 10cm or 15cm deep watery slop with absolutely no hard ground at all. Sorts the men from the boys that bit, and always knackers the power riders out. Guaranteed. They just spin out. There is a trick to doing it without too much effort, but to tell would be to lose my rather limited advantage… and I do so like to put the power guys in their places every now and then. Us ‘oldies’ have to have a trick or two.

  8. paul901 says:

    I’m missing something here. I looked at the link which shows 20 miles in 7 hours at an average of ubnder 3mph. That’s from a walk of the route, right?

  9. Dave says:

    I’m guessing something has gone awry with the conversion process Paul. I had to use Garmin Training Centre to download the track so I could export it into a GPX format for importing into Tracklogs to remove the trip to and from my home. This gpx I then uploaded to the Garmin connect site. The elevation and distance appear OK but not the timing.

  10. pij says:

    My GPS gives correct timings, distance and speed… yet will give wildly optomistic elevation gain. To Guildford and back involves 4,000m of climbing apparently. No wonder I was tired; or could it have been Biketech Mark setting a fast pace! Can’t totally trust GPS units – OS map, plus a spotter on the ground who knows the route or can just sense when things have gone awol.

  11. Dave says:

    Tracklogs correct for this (based on OS maps), as does Garmin Connect to a certain extent. GPS isn’t very accurate for elevation unless you have one with a barometric elevation sensor in it.

  12. pIJ says:

    Aha! Thanks for that. My first two rides out using it I was bragging as to how we’d climbed twice the height of Snowdon. That on a jolly to Box Hill and back. Penny dropped pretty quickly.

    By the way the above postings seem to be ever so slightly negative as to route finding; personally I think you did very well. 200m missed in approx 30km of riding? Come on; that’s rather brilliant and a good advert for the unit. Especially if you consider that the GPS is only accurate to a few metres – the 200m section I’m on about has a 700mm wide trail head hidden between two trees; you have to know its there. The track you actually took runs essentially parallel to it within 5m. Easily missed. And is anybodies life worse for not having done a little extra section, or for having ridden 50m the wrong way down a road? Or if you’d have done the sections ‘correctly’ you’d have missed a chance conversation. Don’t think it so bad.

    You had a few minor wiggles, but ask anyone to repeat the same route 6 months later just using local knowledge and memory – you’d have lots of wiggles or deviations. I use an OS map for route finding, and using that to establish new routes usually means a ride takes twice as long and is fairly unenjoyable.

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