Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole ValleyMuddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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Ride report: Sunday 29 April – Mad dogs…

Posted by Tony | April 29, 2012 | 9 comments so far

Was it windy? A new trail obstacle

Looking out the curtains this morning it certainly wasn’t a pretty picture. Horizontal driving rain sort of sums it up. However quite a few riders had said that they were coming out no matter what the weather (you know how you are Karl and Danny!) so I headed out and as usual the first foot out of the door was the hardest…

Spinning up to Bocketts (unusually a lovely tailwind) it looked like the other riders had already gone but as I got closer I realised that lurking in his Vdub was MarkyMark. As I knocked on the window I’m not sure whether he was pleased to see me or not! He was was about to give it a miss and go home.

As we headed out the rain wasn’t coming down too hard and out of the wind it felt quite warm, but in the NE wind it felt raw. Definitely not a day for mechnicals – so fingers crossed no stops!

We spun up to Admirals trackway and it became instantly obvious that we wouldn’t be setting any Strava KOM (even if we could) times. Although the ground was still reasonably hard, the top inch or two was pure gloop, with all roots being slippery as….. and some of the largest puddles that either of us had ever seen on the Admirals trackway.

Was it muddy?

Given the size of the puddles on the trackway we headed into wiggly woods, which was far slower than normals, then as Mark suggested, we headed to Polesden and up to Tanners hatch, then Ranmore. The bottom at Tanners, was ultra muddy and sketchy but the road from Tanners to Ranmore was great with a tailwind.

A new trail obstacle

Next instead of going to Landrover or White Down we turned off at the top of the downs past the scout camp and tried to control our speed as we slithered down Scouting For Boys. A first for Mark since it’s one of the local trails that most of the other moles don’t seem to like. Some of the huge rain ruts seemed to have been levelled but it was still a question of controlling speed more than anything else.

The next part of the ride was a moles classic, as we tipsy toed across the railway line, headed through a massive puddle in Westcott, then up to the Rookery and Wolverns Lane. Along Wolvern Lane it was definitely a question of avoiding the lane itself since the 4×4 puddles looked bottomless.

Spinning along we turned off at Tiling Bourne, down the tricky descent under the trees and then turned left, up what was basically a stream, to the bottom of the Leigh Tower hill. The final climb to the tower looked impossible so we skirted round and popped out at the Tower.

The weather at the Tower was grim. Waves of rain pushing through on the strong winds and unsurprisingly there was no queue for cakes. In this weather the new double glazed window at the tower looked a good option for the cafe owners! As we paid for the cakes the lady obviously took pity on us and offered to let us into the tower to keep warm. It took us nanoseconds to say yes.

Snug!

Once we’d dragged outselves out of the snug we rode around the tower and a gust almost blew me (not an inconsiderable feat given my mass!) off the bike. It was clear that we were heading back into a headwind, as we plodded off to Waggledance, Summer Lightening and Wolverns. The rain was really coming down but soaked shoes and flithly bikes/bodies could not deminish our enthusiasm as we maxed outselves out as the conditions allowed.

We crossed over to Westcott again and spun up High med, then retraced out steps to Ranmore, Tanners, Polesden, Wiggly wood and Admirals trackway.

Another new trail obstacle!

As usual in days when the weather was grim, once you were out in it, it wasn’t too horrible. Goretex and mudguards (my lovely new MuckyNutz Fender Bender getting it’s first test) are great and as long as you aren’t cold, rides like this are extremely enjoyable. The Moles hidden under the duvet really missed out!

Filed under Rides in April 2012

Tony

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  1. StevenD says:

    Similar day to myself. I would never have gone out (it was horrible as I loaded up the car) except that I had agreed to guide 14 Swindon guys around Swinley. We came across ducks swimming in puddles and more mud and water than I have seen for a long time, but like yourselves we all had a good time. I am glad you enjoyed your adventure as well.

  2. Markymark says:

    Incredibly good ride considering the conditions! Cheers Tony for the excellent company.

    I’ve not ridden anything that wet since Debbie from Cannock, Ibiza ’87.

    I really have to thank my equipment – mainly the Icebreaker baselayers, North Face Puddle jacket and the Mucky Nutz / Crud Catcher combo which meant i hardly felt the slop until my feet started to get wet.

    We both chose the full-sussers, Tony’s Five and my Stumpy. With a standard 3×9 i’m finding that in really dire muddy conditions this set-up runs much more silently than the 2×10 on my 456. BigAl and i had a conversation about this recently, both finding that when the 2×10 gets muddy and gritty you get that a slight ‘hunting’ in the gears and kind of ‘creaking’ from the chainset teeth as if the barrel adjuster needs a tweek. It clears after a while but i’ve never had that with the 3×9 and today was a good example of faultless classic kit taking the conditions in its stride. I’m not dissing the 10 speed set up, i love the ratios on the 456 but in dire conditions the 3×9 more comfortably handles the mess.

    Once you’d resigned yourself to that fact that you were going to get plastered we just settled in to a nice pace and kept rolling. There was so much water the top layer of slop was really well diluted which meant very few moments of heavy going and we sliced fluidly through nearly everything.

    I particularly liked Summer Lightening, 2nd section, which was a river from start to finish.

    Nearly disappeared in that 4ft hole at the top of Wolverns which Tony reminded me afterwards was ‘the one Matt was talking about’.

    I cant remember ever seeing such HUGE puddles. The bike was the easiest to clean off

  3. Tony says:

    “I’ve not ridden anything that wet since Debbie from Cannock, Ibiza ’87” 🙂 🙂

    Mark 22.0 miles for the day, 8.3mph average.

    I knew that there was a reason why I let Mark head up Wolverns first…..I would have helped him climb out of the huge puddle though…….eventually…..

  4. I set the alarm last night. It went off this morning and I made it to the window. I then laughed to myself and texted Mark that I wouldn’t be making it after all and dived back into the warm. Trouble is, having read the report and seen the photo’s, i’m now a little envious of the intrepid twosome having such adventures out there.
    Good on ya chaps!

  5. MuddyJohn says:

    “The weather at the Tower was grim. Waves of rain pushing through on the strong winds . . ” – thanks for that Tony, it makes me feel a lot better about deciding to have a second cup of tea and watch the weather from the safety of my duvet. But well done boys.

    What’s that Ruth, more toast with my tea? Yes please.

    PS I was enticed out by the late afternoon sun, but when I reached Wescott my tubeless repair from last week in Hogden Lane let me down again, so I am please I wasn’t out in the grim driving rain trying to sort that one out.

  6. Markymark says:

    It definately wasnt a day for mechanicals or tyre problems John!

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