Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 31 May – Ranmore, Abinger and Box Hill loop

Posted by Matt | May 31, 2009 | 13 comments so far

So that was May, and what a month of riding it has been. It’s been hot, it’s been dry, it’s been gloopy, it’s been wet. We’ve covered Leith Hill, Pitch Hill, Holmbury Hill, Newlands Corner, Headley, Reigate and Box Hill but in all that time we’ve never had an ‘incident’. By that I mean something where potentially injury was involved. Until today that is…

With the much promised hot weather that the forecasters have been predicting all week finally materialising (I guess they were right, eventually) getting out on the Hills was too good an opportunity to miss.

I was on my Five for the first time since I both resurrected it and demolished my wallet at the same time, riding it for the first time since before Christmas. In fact, it’s been barely ridden for a year – first I injured myself, with a resultant 10 week layoff, then I trashed the rear mech very soon after I’d returned to riding. Since then, I’ve been enjoying the Inbred too much to worry about it!

But mountain biking is about contrasts and it was time to throw my leg over the Five for a change. Initial thoughts were just how high it feels compared to the Inbred; for the first time in a long time I felt I was perched on a bike instead of sitting ‘inside’ one. Fortunately, that sensation soon passed.

Meeting up at Bockett’s as usual we had Dave, Keith, AndyC, Nick, Barry, John, a belated Jem and myself. At 8:30 the air still felt sweet and clear ahead to the day’s heat as we headed out of the car park bound for Ranmore.

I think we all had a bit more energy today from somewhere and we made brisk progress over to Polesden and then up to Yew Trees. Certainly, dry trails help as does the warm weather and blue skies. I was very surprised to find I could spin easily enough in the big ring (with about a 5 or 6 cog at the back) and was enjoying the suspension for a change. I guess all that hardtail singlespeeding has started to pay off after all.

If I had any doubts of the quality of my Five after months away they were quickly dispelled after the first fast run down Yew Trees. It made short but very stable work of jumping the drainage gulley there and then slowed me up beautifully for the runner who was blocking the path. No fuss or drama, just a complete sense of go where and do what you please with this bike. It was such a pleasure too to have brakes that work so efficiently!

Ranmore soon appeared on the radar where we picked up Badger Run for a very quick blast on to Collarbone. Before long we were making our way over toward the Abba Zabba play area. Fresh from his Swinley skills course, AndyC was riding better than I’ve seen him before and he dispatched Abba Zabba very handily indeed. I’ve said before it’s my bogey trail and I wasn’t about to try it today but Barry had a go, finding out that stalling at the tree creates huge problems. That run out is massively steep.

Collecting ourselves we then started on Blind Terror 2. I’m usually happy to try this one as it’s not as bad as it looks, despite the huge rooty bit at the top. The problem lies in allowing yourself to roll too freely though; I wasn’t too bad today but did feel perhaps I was a bit wayward down there. Not as bad as in the past though, I once did an inadvertant Superman all the way down on a V-braked Marin hardtail after coming unclipped at the top. Arms at full stretch, leg flapping in the the breeze and groin resting unambiguously on the back of the saddle. That was scary…

So we crossed the road after rolling around the lower slopes of Blind Terror 1 and things started to get interesting. I even dropped the saddle for a change to tackle the big roll in down through Numbskull with it’s big step halfway down. Nick had a hairy moment after snagging a vine at the wrong moment but fortunately got away with it.

Which was more than can be said for poor Andy. The last section of Numbskull features some rooty steps and a nicely bermed turn which leads down to a decent jump. It doesn’t kick up but it’s a couple of feet high and has an awkward run out. There is a route to the side to avoid it but you find yourself needing to make a decision quite quickly even though if the worst comes to the worst you can roll the jump.

That’s not quite true. The worst came in the form of Andy getting things wrong big time and pitching at speed onto his front wheel which had dropped very quickly off the lip. He found himself precariously positioned at the exact balance point, rolling forward very fast before the front dug in and he was pogo’ed violently into the air to drop directly down on his head and shoulder. It was a hard landing and for a moment he really appeared to have done himself major harm as he lay there unmoving in the dirt.

Thanks to John, who was joining us for the first time today and turned out to have more medical knowledge than the rest of us put together (he’s a physio!), Andy was soon back on his feet after being competently assessed for injury. He’d been badly winded and will hurt tomorrow I’m sure but that was the extent of his injuries. A huge relief considering he could have broken a collarbone or ribs in his crunching fall.

The same can’t be said for his Marin Mount Vision which he’s borrowing while he waits for his new Whyte frame to arrive. The front brake lever (a carbon bladed Hayes Stroker) was snapped clean off, never to be seen again and the rear wheel had snapped a spoke too, leaving it was a pronounced twist for the rest of the ride. Despite the fall and bike damage though, Andy carried on with the ride which was very impressive. I’d have wanted to go home I think but we had plenty of miles still to do.

Picking ourselves up we turned back up the valley toward Westcott, tackling MacPherson’s Mount and MacPherson’s Folly on our return to Ranmore. I was delighted to take adavantage of the gears on the Five, managing to clean both climbs with a short break in between. Although not terrifically technical both climbs need stamina and careful body positioning to keep the weight in the right place and maintain traction so I was very pleased with my achievement.

At Ranmore we said goodbye to Jem before a fast run down through Denbies and a saunter over to Box Hill to tackle the miserable climb to the tea rooms. As I’ve said we all must have had something extra in our Camelbaks today. I led up and thought I’d make a point of timing myself; surprising myself with a 8:30 run up the bridlepath to the tea room car park. It’s amazing what riding fitness and the novelty of a different bike can do for you. I was well satisfied.

A decent pause ensued while we all refueled in the sunshine, talking our usual stuff and nonsense and enjoying the female riders in lycra. Eventually it was time to press on and Dave was very keen to do China Pig which was a good choice in my book.

I wasn’t expecting to lead up down there as I’ve often found it damp and slippy and get caught out by tiring near the end, but today with Dave behind me filming with his helmet cam, I rattled down at a good rate of knots. The steering on the Five feels so precise compared to the Inbred and I managed to get away with it a few times over big roots and thoroughly enjoyed the grippy trail. Monster fun!

That left us with a final push through Norbury Park after dropping off Barry who was heading back to Ashtead. I even had enough beans left to haul my bike up the climb past the front of the radio tower before we scooted over to the final very rapid descent down Infestation into Bockett’s Farm. I’d pushed it quite a bit today and was happy to park the bike when I got home and walk away; an excellent morning’s ride.

Andy, I hope you are not feeling too bad (or your wallet either) after today’s events, having witnessed the crash I have to say you were unlucky to get caught out but even luckier not to have really hurt yourself. John, thanks once again for your assistance, much appreciated. And thanks to everyone else who helped make today’s ride an eventful and enjoyable day.

Filed under Rides in May 2009


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 13 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 31 May – Ranmore, Abinger and Box Hill loop’

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  1. Andy C says:

    The ribs were a little painful yesterday afternoon, not helped by the gardening tasks ny wife had assigned me as punishment for taking the morning off domestic duties and “having a good (???) time”. An Ibuprofen last night ensured a good night’s sleep, and while I won’t be wrestling and branding any cows today, I seem to be in good shape. I’m not looking forward to explaining to the shop what happened to their shiny new Mount Vision. I think a slight economy with the truth is called for. Thanks again to John for his immediate assistance. I really need to do that Jumps and Bumps course now!

  2. Dave says:

    Glad you are OK Andy. I’m sure the shop expect these things to happen. It’s a mountain bike after all and tends to get ridden where there are lots of things to collide with. Don’t be too economical with the truth….I’ve got a great slow-mo edit on the cutting room floor ;o)

  3. Andy C says:

    Oh dear, I don’t think that video will make pretty viewing. I’ve just “fessed up” to the LBS (who shall be nameless, but you all know who they are), and will be returning the rather sorry looking, but beautifully cleaned, Mount Vision shortly. Apparently the new Whyte frames are waiting customs clearance. If I talk shiny new kit for the new frame maybe I will get let off for some of the damage.

  4. Nick Easynow says:

    Another good day out and the first time I’ve seen Abba Zabba. It was a lot bigger than I was expecting. Next time I’ll hop down to the bottom and have a look at it from there and I might be tempted. I just didn’t feel it looking down there yesterday.

    I’m glad you are feeling OK Andy. Nice to meet John too, and I’m waiting to see the days video Dave.

    Out of interest, did you catch my little ‘interaction’ with a vine (was it on Numbskull?). I have an 8 year old bouncing up and down with exitement at the prospect of seeing me crash…

    Take it Easynow 🙂

  5. Dave says:

    Hi Nick,

    Well…..out of 10 videos 2 fail to play. Guess which one they include. Yep, ‘fraid it includes the vine incident.

    I’m also having a few issues editing the footage directly but I’m working on it! I’ve uploaded an unedited clip of China Pig for now and hope to have “the BIG crash” up later

  6. Easynow Nick says:

    Oh, now that is a shame… 🙂

  7. John says:

    Ooooh Kaa-runch. I think thats taking test-riding to the extreme Andy. 9/10 for style-lets have a look at the slow motion action replay- yes nice tuck with the forward roll good pause at the top and ooooh no he’s missed the landing. Pain is just weakness leaving the body.

  8. tony says:

    I have never considered Dave to have a sadistic streak before but the multiple slo-mo of Andy’s endo does show a definite amount of schadenfreude.

    Looking at the video it does bring back momories of my front wheel wheelie on the same jump. I seemed to be riding soley on the front wheel for ages. Next person over was Nick who landed on Lee’s Cotic (ouch!). I’ll be taking the chicken run on that one next time.

  9. Dave says:

    Tony, I did actually agonise over whether to post this or not. Rich (DoaMB) has a similar one of me but with sound and much closer up as well. I’ve also had a near miss like yourself and on Sunday I went round to the right!

    However according to the definition is “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate.” I put it to you that my cognitive process neither sees it as trivial or necessarily appropriate.

    However, I do think that getting Schadenfreude into an MTB site does deserve some credit so well done!

  10. Matt says:

    I think if it’s just pride that’s hurt then fair game, post the video.

    If there’s minor injury then I’d check with the injured party to see if they’d rather their misfortune not be the source of amusement.

    Serious injury is not funny in any book and I would not show full stop. Unless the rider felt there was something for others to learn.

    But there’s definitely a sense of ‘that could be me’ in any of this stuff. I don’t think this or Rich’s one of Dave on DoMTB has any sense of spite or belittlement about them, they’re just a record of events I guess.

    No harm done in either case. But do bear in mind that jump at the bottom of Numbskull can catch you out!!

  11. tony says:

    Dave I won’t argue psychology with you but I would say that as long as it’s only pride (and possibly a bling carbon brake lever) thats dented it’s appropriate (especially after the 3rd slo-mo!) and hence schadenfreude.

    BTW did you notice how innocuous “your hand bash tree stump” looked last night flying down China Pig? It’s amazing how much more benign the trails become with a change in the weather.

  12. Dave says:

    Actually I did notice the stump but really struggle to work out which bit my hand ended up in.

    Anyway….Psychology and Psychotherapy are totally different.

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