Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 27 June – Reformed meat

Posted by Matt | June 27, 2010 | 23 comments so far

Oh dear! It really was one of those rides. What started off on paper as being a fairly ordinary run to Newlands Corner turned out to be rather an incident packed outing on the Surrey Hills.

We decided that given the extreme weather we’ve been experiencing recently we’d start our ride a little earlier than usual, meeting at Bockett’s Farm for an 8:00am start.

It didn’t seem to dissuade too many of us as 12 riders turned up, including DaveC, Tony, Barrie, Jez, Mike, Paul, MarkW, Paul901, Andy661, DaveW, Trevor and myself.

Our first experience of the trails today was a talcum-fine dust along the Admirals Track toward Polesden, I was hanging at the back and risked Baker’s Lung with the clouds of choking dust thrown up by the riders in front. I’m currently reading Grapes of Wrath, which deals with the fallout from the Dust Bowl disaster of the ’30s, and judging by today… no forget that! It’s a laboured analogy! But trust me, it was dusty!

At the top of the tarmac run to Yew Trees we found a sun and the word Moles! chalked on the road which was a suitably obscure reference to those in the know. Colin or Lee on an early run are my likely suspects, thanks for that guys!

However, we turned off for Hogden Lane followed by Pamplona as a change from Yew Trees. Hogden Lane proved similarly dusty and I couldn’t see much as I followed Mike down the descent, but once back on the Polesdon climb after Pamplona had fed into the top of Yew Trees things improved markedly.

We rode on, feeling pretty warm in the early heat. Although, as we found out last week with the sun up around 5:00am the morning was already advancing steadily. At the top of Ranmore we turned and had a fairly straightforward run along Badger Run and Collarbone to White Down.

Here we wound our way past the big fallen oak and found ourselves at the start of Reformation. This is a new trail that’s been quietly developed over the past months, I think by the Nirvana crowd and be warned. This is not for the novice rider.

I was feeling suitably circumspect as we headed off down it but initial impressions were that it was quite tame. Don’t be fooled. We took a wrong turn and found ourselves rolling along quite a nice bit of singletrack before we realised our mistake. Clambering over some underbrush we then found the trail we should have been on and proceeded to walk our way back up the hill.

Wow! That’s some effort. Off camber roots, steep, steep drops and some quite full on jumps are all tucked into this trail. Our walk uphill became a climb and I was starting to doubt my sanity as the trail itself proved to be a thin ribbon of chalk down some huge rollable drops.

At the top we turned and started down, with my saddle dropped a good few inches. Treat this with caution and keep your speed under control. I actually found it OK but then conditions were as dry as they get. Even so the preferred line takes you over some big jumps that I wouldn’t recommend and you have to make a conscious effort to avoid them, including a large gap jump.

But with a lot of care and sensible choices it turned out to be a lovely flowing run down which brought us out where we normally start our final runs down toward the Abinger Roughs, at the top of Blind Terror. The Reformation trail however takes you to the right and this is where things went wrong.

DaveW, he of the Jedi coaching school of riding, lead the way and handled the next big drop fine. I was a few riders back and was already dismounting to have a good look at what was to prove a nasty, loose, rooty, off-camber drop when Barrie, next man down, stacked it big time.

Over the bars and into a tree was the best way I can explain what little I actually saw (and what we could piece together later) before he came to rest, inert, in the undergrowth. It was a hurried, slip-slide on foot down the slope for us to reach him where we found a very dazed Barrie. It was a big incident.

He’s sustained some ligament damage (and a possible fracture) to his shoulder/collarbone as well as extensive bruising and concussion from the impact but I think he can consider himself lucky it wasn’t worse. After a while he was able to walk his way down to the road which only served to illustrate how steep the terrain was.

Tony was kind enough to shepherd him home by tarmac as it was really doubtful as to whether he should be riding at all. Get well soon Barrie, things are going to hurt for a few days that’s for sure.

The rest of us, feeling much more subdued that before, headed onward. The riding was hot but relatively simple as we rode a well-known path toward Newlands.

Unfortunately Andy was our next casualty, or rather his bike was, as a simple off left him with a pretzel for a front wheel! It took us a few hundreds yards to realise and then return to find him wondering what he was going to do about it!

DaveW took on the makeshift repair challenge by manhandling the wheel back into some semblance of circular and despite a certain wonkiness the end result wasn’t too bad.

Jez and Andy departed back to Bockett’s via the road with everyone advising Andy to take it slow and steady on his dodgy front wheel. Another knock and he’d be in for a sudden failure.

Our depleted party pressed on and to be honest I was enjoying myself quite a lot. The Greensand Way is always some counter-steering fun near Albury while the final hard climb up to Newlands held no horrors for me (with Barrie and Tony out of the way – sorry guys! ;o) ). Even so, MarkW was setting quite a pace and I was only thirty yards or so ahead of him by the summit.

After careful refueling with hot chocolate and Eccles cake for me we set off for home. MarkW cracked on as he needed to get back while the rest of us settled into a steady rythmn along what is always quite a busy path.

Paul901 left the rest of us to head off round to the reservoir while he continued along the Drover Road but after a canter down Collarbone and a blast along Badger Run we found him again waiting/resting at the top of the Yew Trees descent. Reunited, we blasted back down toward Polesden and back home after a painful slog up under the bridge.

All in all, an eventful ride and one which just goes to show there’s no such thing as ‘just riding along’.

Filed under Rides in June 2010


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. kc says:

    Sorry to hear about the incidents and glad I chose the easy option on Saturday. A pleasant run towards Abba Z and then over to Leith and the Summer Lightning trails showed my ribs are ok ish but my fitness is down a bit.

    Moles to the rescue! I came across a couple sitting near Leith Hill looking fed up and lost. They wanted to get back towards the A25 near Westacott. The young lady was well equipped so I volunteered to act as guide. As we said farewell at the bottom of Wolverns she gave me a thankful smile; I sensed her male partner was going to get a mouthful after getting them lost and running out of water on such a hot day.

    As it was I was sadly tempted to stop for an iced drink at Ranmore car park but elected to head home to get it over.

    22 miles and ready for a return to the Moles me thinks.

  2. DaveW says:

    It was a good ride for those of us who didn’t suffer injury to bike or person! Hard going in the heat, but the early start meant we got back at a respectable time regardless.

    Aside from the good riding, perfect weather, agreeable company and dry trails, a highlight for me was the double veggie burger at Newlands Corner – lovely!

  3. Matt says:

    “A double veggie burger.” Right.

    Suddenly the reason for our riding accompaniment on the second half of yesterday’s ride becomes all too clear!!

  4. Lee says:


    My client, Molesy – the Banksy-styled underground artist whose work is causing stirs literally up and down the Surrey Hills – can neither confirm nor deny his whereabouts around the time of 7am on Sunday morning.

    Though to protect his professional integrity I would have thought that the sun you refer to was probably his interpretation of the MM logo (His choice of naturally occuring materials and the general opportunistic approach to his work is perhaps what is gaining him somewhat of a reputation amongst literally a couple of rabbits and a wood pigeon).

    A swift 20 miles for me, not before being nearly seriously injured by some idiotic virgin MXer, before it got too hot and back home for breakfast. πŸ™‚

  5. paul901 says:

    Yesterday proved the wisdom of an early ride if nothing else. 8am to 12 noon with much of it tree covered still sapped the energy. I calculated that I drank 4 litres of 9 pints of water yesterday, had 2 platefuls of sunday dinner (but no snacking later except for an ice cream) and was still 1kg lighter than at the start of the day!

  6. paul901 says:

    or rather, was 1kg lighter this morning than at the start of yesterday. It could be because I did not have a double veggie burger, nor a bacon roll which was my motivation at the outset!, in fact I was so flattened by the climb to Newlands that I ordered nothing and slowly tucked into an energy bar after sitting under a tree at Newlands for what felt like an eternity. Another climb becomes a personal challenge when the weather cools down

  7. Andy661 says:

    Again a public thanks to Jez who picked me up as i turned from Dorking towards Leatherhead.

    Really haven’t been able to piece together why such a simple bit of trail should have dumped me off and given the wheel such a good thump.

    Well its into the LBS for a new rim. Staying with the Mavic 717’s but hopefully the hand-build with the spokes and better nipples [insert own joke here] should be better.

    Also need to start getting to grips with my suspension as feeling like its not set up right for my god-like physique [Buddha…]. Any help gratefully received.

    Hope to be back on the trails by Sunday!

  8. Barrie says:

    Hi All

    Many thanks for your support and TLC on Sunday. I have very little recollection as to what happened on Sunday, all I can remember is I think the front wheel dug in or the front brake bit and threw me over very quickly, as I seem to have a lot of momentum, then landing hard on my head and shoulder, then heard the muffled cries of stop there don’t move!, apart from the little bit of shock etc and sore shoulder, although it felt like a hard landing, unlike Keith a few weeks ago, Dave C still did not look like Claudia Schiffer!…. must try harder next time! Anyone out there riding with no helmet take note, as the helmet certainly did its job, as I only had a dull headache rather than a fractured skull (not that there would be much to damage me up there!! Anyway I thought it may do me better mentally to ride home, which I think it did. However on returning home I was bullied in to a trip to A&E (great!) a few hours later, ligament and a possible fracture, to be determined on Friday morning with an appointment with the specialist), just very sore today and very frustrating, with lots of expletives coming out. Should not be too long before I am back out etc

    Shame Andy sorry to hear about your wheel, hope you get sorted out ok.

    Cheers again

  9. DandyC says:

    Collecting empties from the flower beds and vacuuming up the debris on the carpet was the most strenuous activity I took part in on Sunday morning, and after reading this report I feel I made the right decision. A party for Mrs Dandy on the Sat night meant that I had an enforced break this w/e, and let’s hope that’s the only ‘break’ eh, Barry? Good luck to you mate, I know how dangerous those Ranmore trails can be after my rib tickling incident on Numbskull last year.

    Then Andy661 shows how a w/e of Mountain Mayhem can weaken your rims (ooh err, missus), though maybe it was the Newlands veggie burger that did it? Let’s hope your bike’s back for Swinley next Sun.

  10. StevenD says:

    @Barrie, get well soon.

    Note to self: when you visit the moles take lots of body armour. Any chance of you guys recruiting a nurse ?

    fwiw; I had a fantastic 35 miler on Sat am. I started at 0715 and must make a point of going out that early again this summer. (If you watch the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang then you will see some of the villages I cycled through to get between the forests and trails).

  11. kc says:

    I seem to remember we had a nurse join us in a ride, or at least a physio… he fell off, got injured and was never seen again!

  12. paul901 says:

    Last time I noticed something encouraging it cost me. After my 2nd or 3rd off-road ride (ever) I wrote o the 19 May ride “First proper crash on the downhill of Leith Hill, I hesitated before remarking to Matt how good it felt that sometimes I was held up by others in front rather than my limitations. Seconds later my face was in the dirt, the bike having bucked twice and then for what seemed like an eternity I knew the bike had not yet landed. Oh sh… it did so on my back and head. Bike and I both seemed okay”. Probalby a tame crash compared with Barrie (I was amazed you hadn’t broken anything or pierced yourself on a broken stump).

    I should have known better when riding back along the flint track just before Bocketts on Sunday and saying to Dave how amazed I am with the punishment soaked up by the tyres. I then found the back was flat on Monday night.

    Thankfully my Iron Hands padawan training is paying off and this morning I removed the tyre, inner, inverted and checked the case, removed the little shard of narsil and put it all back together with a new Dr Sludge in a handful of minutes with nothing more than my bare hands. He’ll be proud of me I’m sure.

    I have to fess up that I used a (track) pump to put the air in though. We haven’t started inflation training yet :-0 although judging by Sunday I suspect DaveW leads the way with that.

  13. StevenD says:

    I hope it is appropriate to mention in this topic that I am trying to get on a MTB course with ‘Jedi’ Tony before I take on the Surrey Hills. I have never had any tuition and they just seem to need more skill than the Chilterns from what I have read πŸ˜‰ and my Sunday ride included over 3000 feet of ascent and similarly for descent.

    However I cannot really afford a 121 session, but if 3 of you want to make up a foursome please drop Tony at an email and remember me !

  14. DaveW says:

    Who needs a bell, when you’ve got a trumpet!

  15. jedi says:

    good to see dave w is riding well πŸ™‚

  16. paul901 says:

    and another nickname is born.

    “Vavazela Dave”.

    Or maybe Vavazela becomes the name for one of the points on a trail, something connected to DaveW

  17. Dave says:

    Certainly the “double veggie burger” explains a lot! It was interesting how the “trumpet” inevitably sounded the exiting onto the next part of the trail.

  18. DandyC says:

    Nice to see that the ‘Jedi’ training is paying off, Dave. You have clearly got the hang of not braking or farting in the section, waiting until the exit of the section before ‘sounding the trumpet’ just like we’ve been taught.

    SteveD – thoroughly recommend the Jedi training, I had a one-to-one a few weeks ago, and it worked so well I can loft my front wheel and fall flat on my arse now! I wouldn’t mind helping to make up a foursome for some further tution in the near future, especially as we have trips to Wales and Scotland coming up. I know KC is also interested in some further coaching, so we can surely get something organised soon.

    Don’t be put off by our tales of woe. We always warn newer riders of any impending ‘techy sections’; and we are all mature enough not to force anybody into anything they are not comfortable with. I guess like a tabloid newspaper, the bad news often gets greater prominence than the good.

    See you soon.

  19. StevenD says:

    I have been in email contact with jedi Tony, and can be very flexible on dates and locations, so hoping I get to meet some of guys (in safer surroundings, LOL) soon.

  20. MikeG says:

    “Andy661 says:

    …Really haven’t been able to piece together why such a simple bit of trail should have dumped me off and given the wheel such a good thump…”

    From what I saw (20 feet behind) you clipped the right hand verge which sent the bars through 90 degrees. bike stopped instantly, but you didn’t. The force applied to the now sideways front wheel ment it was a pringle before you even hit the nettles…! MikeG

  21. Andy661 says:

    Thanks Mike! lol

    And there certainly were nettles!!! Despite some Piriton my legs were still tingling on Monday! haha

    That’ll learn me!

  22. DaveW says:

    Sounds a bit like what happened on Telegraph Road. Where are you looking when you are riding a narrow trail like that?

    Just thinking that this might be something that could be avoided by looking ahead, rather than focussing on obstacles directly in front.

    Just a thought.

  23. Andy661 says:

    Hmmm… Might be an expensive and painful pattern forming here!

    Well the bike is back together and being collected later so will have to focus on looking ahead at Swinley on sunday!

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