Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 29 January – Start at Abinger

Posted by Matt | January 29, 2017 | 8 comments so far

Cold bikes at Newlands Corner
Do these bikes look cold to you? No? In that case, you probably spent Sunday morning at home. Take it from me, these bikes were cold!

Not the kind of sub-zero conditions you might think; more the kind of cold that gets into your bones after standing out in a cold wind for 40 minutes eating bacon and drinking coffee. The kind of damp chill that leeches the heat from your bones and seeps into your feet and hands. The kind of chill where you look out the window and congratulate yourself that you are indoors.

Unfortunately, Elliott, DDub, Lloyd, James, Karl and myself were very much outside and had little to congratulate ourselves over at that point. After a long slog up Water Lane, being beaten by a large number of very happy looking trail runners (I took it for an endorphin high rather than smugness), the heat we had generated quickly dissipated standing in the queue for food at Newlands Corner. As always, their most reliable customers had beaten us to it as well (hello again Graham and Nick!).

Just as we felt the need to start riding again as the cold started to bite, DDub discovered a loose rear wheel which, even after our collective bodging, refused to tighten. I think the axle wasn’t locating in the dropout, causing the wheel to rest on its skewer but it was hard to tell. Most odd and a problem our cold minds didn’t deal very well with, which meant a steady return. My head was particularly cold as I was riding sans helmet after forgetting to bring it with me.

The art of bike faffing in January

This would not normally be a problem – a few yards up the road I would have realised and returned to the burrow to get it. This time though it was – we’d decided (perhaps too strong a word) to start the ride from Abinger Roughs to avoid the numbing boredom and sapping effect of the Bastard Glue Mud (BGM)™ that characterises the Hills at this time of year. Abinger is easy to get to, and marks the start of the sandy lands south of Ranmore, but the change of routine rather threw me out.

So I rather felt I was riding semi-naked. Not as naked as this guy, but certainly a little underdressed for the day. Even so, the basic idea seemed to work out quite well. We headed down to Paddington Farm and rode up pretty slowly, gradually loosening our legs as we went. James caught us on Dandys old Cannondale, having ridden over from Ashtead and missing us at Abinger.

I was on the Pine Mountain which I hope is my last ride on it – I’m selling it to free up some space as it doesn’t really suit me; too heavy for a spinner, and too rigid for a mincer, both of which descriptions apply to me!

We were soon on Holmbury and resolved to do Yoghurt Pots in the murky conditions. The days of yoghurt are long gone, these days it closer to houmous I think, reflecting our middle-class sensibilities. On the rigid Marin I found it pretty grim, in fact I can’t think of a time I’ve enjoyed it less! Admittedly my tyres were too hard – 14psi up front and 17 at the rear where I think the sweet spot is around 10 and 14 respectively, but it was a real bone shaking experience downhill coupled to no punch going up thanks to the weight. Momentum was hard to find.

Next up was Barrys and wisely I decided to be the tail gunner. Again, this wasn’t a riding experience I enjoyed; another rattle-fest with the bike slow to speed up, slow to slow down, and the front end giving me a battering – frustrating because the bike fits well enough and I remain certain that there is fun to be had on Plus size tyres. But not on this bike.

We swept – sadly – past Peaslake Stores as with our Abinger start we only had five miles on the clock. The plan was recalibrated to Newlands Corner so we had to rely on guru Elliott to lead the way. Our faith was amply rewarded with a drag up Walking Bottom on the road, followed by a meander through the trees to Secret Santa. This is quite a heavily engineered trail these days and has several gap jumps that we all wisely circumscribed given the slow conditions and our own abilities which tend to range from sensible to foolhardy but rarely include aviation.

Elliot navigated us down River Run which today was thankfully lacking in water, then toward Blackheath before we veered off for Water Lane and the long climb to the bacon. We were caught and ignominiously passed by a large group of runners but there was nothing we could do about it. I keep saying it, but trail running is a growing sport on the Hills – let’s hope they keep away from Barrys!

Waiting on Hackhurst Lane

After the bacon and faffage of our stop we were frozen and it took a few miles on the long drag along the North Downs way to warm us again. Our return to Abinger car park came via the C1 climb (but going downhill) toward Hackhurst Lane, a descent we haven’t approached for a long time. Overall, we had around 18 miles of riding, a lot less mud than usual and the pleasure of being out so I think it all worked out well today. Next time I’ll take my helmet!

Filed under Rides in January 2017


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 8 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 29 January – Start at Abinger’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

If you haven't had a chance yet, jump to our comments form if you have something to say.

  1. Dandy says:

    Glad to see the ol’ ‘dale getting an outing. 30 minutes on a static bike in the gym, followed by a few ‘light’ weights for me (yes, there’s a joke in there). The ‘bison terrine’ brunch at the Homer Street cafe was well-deserved, I felt.

  2. Elliot says:

    Lightning fast ride report!

    There was a few parts of that route I haven’t ridden for years so it made a nice change 🙂

    Bikes don’t mind being cold but I couldn’t feel my hands after standing around slightly damp at Newlands, should have left the gloves on for sure!

  3. SSJ says:

    It was just as grim in the afternoon, perhaps worse as a gentle drizzle settled in. But an ascent of McPhersons made up for no tea stop.

    Hopefully I will be less lazy next Sunday, or I will be in danger of turning into Kev.

  4. Tony says:

    Weirdly actually felt colder yesterday on the road bike (didn’t even stop for a cake) than last weekend where it was -7 at the start of the road ride. A bit too much BGM for we yesterday to get the baggies on.

  5. Tony says:

    At our age? No wonder Kev doesn’t get out in this weather!

  6. Karl says:

    Enjoyed that ride, and didn’t feel all that cold.. Last Sunday was -8!
    Pleased to have missed the BGM but still pretty filthy.

    Nice report Matt and nice steering Elliot.

    See you soon.

Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.