Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 3 January – Tunnel Hill Moles

Posted by Matt | January 3, 2016 | 14 comments so far

Tunnel Hill has Moles!

Tunnel Hill has Moles!

Today’s ride can be summarised in one word. Wet. To that can be added the word ‘Very’.

This is going to be a short ride report. If I’m honest, I’ve only just dried out, so I will keep things concise.

It was a ride characterised by sounds; the sound of James’ home made rear mudguard flapping on his 4.8 inch rear tyre as we clattered down the trails. The sound of splashes through deep puddles and the sound of gritty drivetrain components facing their sternest test. Most dominant of all, the sound of brake pads squealing on discs at different tones depending on the harmonics created by pad thickness, wheel size, tyre volume and of course by how white knuckle the rider’s situation had become.

Added to all that racket was the sound of rain, drumming incessantly off leaves, lakes, ponds and off seven bedraggled riders who were soaked to the skin despite the advances made in modern ‘waterproof’ fabrics.

James' fat bike home made mudguard

James’ fat bike home made mudguard

DDub was our expert guide round Tunnel Hill, a ride that covered largely MOD land and also included Karl, Tony, Lloyd, JamesS and Elliott. We started from Mytchett near Frimley and circled the Deepcut area of Porridge Pot Hill and Old Windmill Hill and out to Frith Hill. We also crossed and re-crossed the Basingstoke Canal, the ride starting out in lightly damp conditions but deteriorating into full rain mode by the time we were halfway round.

Much of the area – the first time I’ve ridden here – reminded me of an unspoilt Swinley and there’s loads of interesting singletrack. The bits that were good were very good and I look forward to experiencing them in the dry. The bits that were bad were nearing Bordon levels in terms of number and volume of puddles although none of it was unrideable. I also look forward to riding these in the dry!

Most of the trails were a mixture of a fairly grippy surface with lots of treacherous tree roots that caused sudden ‘handling imbalances’. The first challenging trail (where Tony straight-lined off the piste) nearly accounted for me too but with speeds quite low it was a case of not going for maximum hoon but picking careful lines instead. The result was a very good lesson in trail navigation through the day. I learned not to try popping off adverse camber slopes (got away with that one) and also how to hug a tree (which was a solid impact with no lasting effects, thankfully).

On a couple of occasions I was forced to employ the Celtic Gambit due to the steepness of the hills but generally it was a case of lots of sharp uphills followed by reasonably flowing singletrack. The final result was 18 miles of hard work with several of us pretty tired and cold by the end of the ride and all of us wet. Very.

No brake pads were killed during the making of this ride but I think most of us have shortened the life-span of those on our bikes considerably. It was great to ride different trails with an obtuse mind-set regarding the weather, but I’d like to return again when things are a bit drier. I was lucky that DDub had a spare pair of gloves (having left mine at home) as I don’t think I’d have got far riding bare handed (thanks DDub).

So as it turned out, our first ride of 2016 wasn’t even in the Surrey Hills! This will change for sure in short order.

Filed under Rides in January 2016


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 14 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 3 January – Tunnel Hill Moles’

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  1. Elliot says:

    Can we all chip in for James to get a proper mudguard!?

    Well the good news is that’s only the third time getting properly wet in the last year. Not bad going at all. Also I ended up both considerably wetter and colder at the ‘summer’ QECP Enduro!

    The bad news is my theory that more expensive means better when it comes to jackets is done. Polythene cycle poncho next time.

    Nice work today DW! There’s clearly some great singletrack on offer. The last few trails were especially enjoyable. Looking forward to going back again 🙂

    • Matt says:

      I was told once that if you ride the same place at the same time each day (e.g. commuting) you’ll only actually get rained on something like 7 times a year, even if the rest of the day is wet.

      So that’s one rain event out of the way already for 2016!

      Personally, I was wet through to the skin and so cold that even Tony’s heated seats couldn’t help. It only really kicked in once we’d finished though, but getting changed was a trial!

  2. Tony says:

    The first picture – taken near the start – doesn’t do the conditions justice. Although we started off in drizzle that soon turned to light rain, then heavy showers, followed by heavy rain and finally, completely hosing it down.

    My jacket, waterproof trousers and Specialized Defroster combo actually kept me remarkably dry and quite warm. I know Matt was cold since he had the seat heating on max and the car heating on 24degrees and he was still shivering! How about a waterproof next time Matt?

    Also after the D’Andy beer adventure and this ride both sets of pads on my Five were gone with the rear rubbing on the rotor by the end. Still they did pretty well.

    Seeing as I’ve had three extremely wet MTB rides in a row I should be good till June for the next time I get wet? Maybe!

  3. Jemster says:

    Having only ridden there once myself, I was looking forward to another visit. Cue – Man Flu!! At least I didn’t get soaked.

    I look forward to a visit there soon.

    BTW I have the leftover tin I cooked the Christmas turkey in for James’s rear wheel. Should just about be wide enough for that tyre. A few cable ties, job’s a goodun!

  4. James says:

    All offers gratefully received. If you could just braze a mount on the turkey tray I’m sure it would do the job nicely.

    There are surprisingly few rear mudguards for a fatbike so I had to improvise! Must say it work quite well considering the conditions. Even Elliot who has the most effective mudguards ever ( I think he is under strict instructions from his mum not to bring home dirty washing) was covered.

    Thanks for guiding d-dub.

    Matt you could have gone back for a shower and hot towel at the spa..

  5. Karl says:

    An enjoyable ride, and thanks to D’Dub for leading.

    Only the epic rain at the end, took the edge off. Might wear a waterproof jacket next time.

  6. Mat S says:

    I see your wet ride and raise you a flood in the same area! A new year ride that way a couple of years ago…

  7. Related: Ride report: Sunday 28 February - Tunnelling moles | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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