Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 31 October – Spooky horse

Posted by Matt | October 31, 2010 | 91 comments so far

So it was Hallowe’en. A night with witches abroad and ghoulish happenings, at least in our household. But first, a daytime ride to Leith Hill in devilish conditions as the rain seemed to have settled in earnest, warning us of the winter to come.

It was busy at Bockett’s this morning, in contrast to last week’s tumbleweed. I think I have everyone when I say the group consisted of BiketechMark, Paul, Darren, Amanda, Adam, KevinS, Les, Tony, Rob, JohnR and DaveW. We also happened to see Darryl and his mates who passed as we left the car park.

I was riding my old skool Marin Muirwoods since my Orange and Inbred are both awaiting parts or need attention. The Muirwoods was obviously going to be a compromise with it’s V-brakes in this weather but I was keen to see how it behaved up against more modern machines.

Paul and Mark offered to show us a different route up to Leith Hill so we first headed round the big field and up the off-road Crabtree Lane before turning right toward the footpath over to the Chapel Farm descent.

There was plenty of mud everywhere as we slithered along the singletrack and I was happy to bring up the rear and give the descent on wet chalk plenty of respect. The problem with V-brakes in this weather of course is that they don’t grip until the rim has dried out from the friction, at which point they suddenly grab the wheel. Best not to get too carried away in the first place…

Crossing the road we climbed up Dearly Beloved, the narrow gulley causing several of us to grind to a halt searching for traction. After making the turn it was then a case of digging in to slowly winch your way to the top of the climb, with my legs suffering from covering 111 off-road miles from last Sunday to today.

From the Church we took the road to the top of Macpherson’s and headed down to the railway, embarrassingly causing another rider to abandon his climb up the top section as 12 of use barrelled down! Sorry about that.

I treated this descent with plenty of caution too, the top section features more wet chalk while the bottom section lures you into going too fast and pings you about quite a deal. On the whole though, I felt reasonably in control down there.

The lane took us along to the Unum building and then onto the A25 but after just a short section of tarmac we were back into the trees as we span along past the fishing lake and on up toward Leith via tortuous ‘short and sharp’ (according to Paul) climb up from the farm. We were all panting at the top.

By now the terrain was increasingly sandy, a big relief to us all except the path headed upward, ever upward. A brutal climb followed by a rest stop and another few hundred yards of climbing brought us out on the Wolvern’s Lane crossroads that we often take to return us to Westcott which was a mighty relief for my aching legs!

I have to say though that it was certainly fun to take an alternative route for a change, one that gave a bit of a workout too. We followed the lane up for a short way before a sharp right brought us down onto our usual path to Summer Lightning and the bombholes.

These conditions weren’t too bad for the Muirwoods since it was mainly climbing but from here things would get a bit more technical. The bombholes were a bit mad for me as I soon realised there was no point trying to slow down so the last one was taken at speed.

Passing Deliverance (which looked huge today) we headed to the cricket pitch with me picking a ginger line with the aim of keeping moving in the heavy terrain. Eventually, after much enjoyable meandering through the trees before and after the cricket ground we came out at the bottom of the Tower climb.

Mark and I managed to shadow each other all the way up, earning our tea break outside a Tower shrouded suitably in spooky mist today. The usual good natured conversation ended with Amanda and Darren deciding to head home via the Redlands woods while the rest of us took on a challenging Personal Hygiene. Well it was challenging for me at least as the lack of braking and rigid fork made things a bit tricky.

At the foot of the Tower climb John and Les headed home via the faster route while the rest of us looped back toward the cricket ground. At one point I was following Adam’s 5-Spot over washboard roots, having a bit of trouble controlling my bucking bronco of a bike; by now I decided that gripping the bars lightly and hoping for the best was the best option.

This came into play again on the run down to Waggledance from Deliverance. Here the steep trail, narrow line and glass-slick roots were OK once you’d accepted that any efforts to stop were futile. Best to just guide the bike down carefully dragging the brakes.

Once onto Waggledance I quite enjoyed myself as the carbon fork meant hopping the front over stuff was a piece of cake. I was happy with my pace and found Summer Lightning similarly enjoyable once I’d got the tricky top section out of the way. But it has to be said my arms and hands were getting battered.

Onto the run down toward Wolverns and then onward to the Rookery descent I had no way really of keeping up although mostly I kept everyone in sight. It was punishing, especially once on to the Rookery descent. The final third of this trail before you reach the tarmac was very, very physical for me over all the roots, rubble and bricks making me appreciate just how much work our modern suspension does.

The final few miles consisted of High Mediterranean, Ranmore and Yew Trees. All of these have plenty of gradient to climb at various stages so the workout continued. The run down toward Yew Trees from Ranmore (led by me) ended with a horse getting severely startled as I caned it over the drainage humps and before having to throw out the emergency badger for an emergency stop.

Fortunately I had enough braking left to pull up with plenty of space to spare and then warn the others and the rider took it well. Thankfully he was a decent rider – I felt quite bad about the scare and will have to slow down there in future as the trail tends to be busy and is pretty blind at that point.

Returning to the car park notched 24 miles for me in total (including to/from my house) and after notching 135 Sunday to Sunday inclusive in all this mud I certainly knew about it. Tired but not exhausted was a better result than I had expected really.

I hope everyone else enjoyed the ride as much as me. It seemed the mud was bringing out a positive attitude from everyone today.

Filed under Rides in October 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. paul901 says:

    Wow, that’s serious recreational mileage Matt, I was pleased with 100+ per week on the road a while ago, off-road is serious going. Commuting or taking advantage of half term?

  2. Matt says:

    I was commuting since it was half term. It’s not a way to get fit but I just thought I’d take the opportunity that was there.

    Had hoped to manage the Wednesday night ride but as it turned out decided it would be a ride too far. As it was the three 28 mile round trip commutes were quite an effort due to the mud and logistically a bit of a stretch too trying to make sure I had enough clothes to wear at work!

  3. Dave says:

    Shame on you at having to deploy the “emergency badger”. These badgers are not a mere play thing you know! Good to know the rider wasn’t too upset though.

    I took my man flu and went out for a gentle ride with Cathie covering some 10 miles or so. I also full filled the time honoured MM tradition of meeting Graham and Andy out on the trails.

  4. John R says:

    It was very discrete of you to avoid mention of my “comedy off” passing the gate outside Roaring House farm at the start of the ride.

    Les and I had a good blast down to Westcott then up the un-named track parallel to and above High Med, which is a quicker route to Yew Trees.

  5. John R says:

    And a big hello to the guys from BOC Morden I bumped into just as we were leaving Leith Hill Tower – especially Andy W on his first visit to The Surrey Hills.

  6. Jem says:

    Quite jealous!!

    Still feeling sh.tty with this virus and to cap it all, i’ve pulled my shoulder and neck at work.

    Off to the Osteopath in the morning.

    Matt you’ve covered more miles on your bike than I have in the van all week!

    FU$*.!K BOL*$>*KS

    Missing the trails.

    Hope to see you soon.

    Poor me!

  7. Kevin S says:

    Another good ride despite the filthy conditions.

    At times it was like following the back end of a muck spreader complete with steam rising from the group of riders in front of me! (no criticism of anybodys bike cleanliness or personal habits intended).

    Rear flatted on the road up under the bridges after Yew trees on the way back, just when I was cramped up and totally out of energy. Big thanks to Canada Rob for giving me a turbo push in the back (literally) so me and the flat could get to the top of the climb for repairs. So close to home as well, what a pain in the A#se.

    Tubeless or not to tubeless, that is the question?

  8. Dave says:

    All together now, “tubeless!”

  9. Muddymoles says:

    A week on the Surrey trails

    Riding to work with a fixed route along the North Downs in Surrey means you need different bikes to provide you with some contrast!

  10. cathie says:

    Dave and I had a very wet ride Sunday too and climbing Box hill is always a chore let alone in the rain but we did or I did while Dave stopped for a boy natter. I managed just over 35 miles this weekend which I thought was quite respectable.

    You sound refreshed πŸ˜‰

  11. Dandy says:

    Sadly, I’m in the same category as Jem, with some illness that’s been with me since my last night ride nearly 3 weeks ago πŸ™

    Sounds like you had a great ride, despite the rain. I will be away for the next 2 w/ends, so hope to be fully fit by 21 Nov. New Pace frame has arrived, so will be keen to test that out soon as long as it’s not too muddy ( so that will be March before I next ride the Pace!)

    Tubeless x 2

  12. Jem says:

    Dandy, should we compare symptoms of said virus!

    Drained, ache, tight shoulders, tired, sickness, dizziness, bla, bla, bla, bla!

    TUBELESS X 3 been preaching about it for a while now, SWEET!

  13. Kevin S says:

    So far its Tubeless winning 3-0.

    Looking forward to hours of cussing, heaving, sweating, pumping, grazed knuckles, sense of humour failures etc etc and thats just trying to go tubeless!

  14. stevend says:

    Tubes, I have still to see a really good reason to go any other way. Tubes have never been a problem. fwiw, using Slime tubes.

    Stay old skool !

  15. DaveW says:

    I use tubes and have never had a problem. Punctures can be reduced with Stans fluid in normal tubes or Slimes. I’ve always found puncture resistant tires to be effective too. e.g. Panaracer Trailraker PR. Watch the weight of some of these though…

    I am considering tubeless just for the novelty, but after seeing folks wrestle with UST – and given the weight of UST tires – I wouldn’t use that option. Stans rims with regular tires seems a better option.

    Also talk to Roady Tony before trying to use tubeless on your existing rims as I think he has a lot of experience of trying to run tubeless on his EX8.

  16. Matt says:

    Tubeless for me – never had significant problems apart from the time I cut the tyre in over three years now. That’s many miles.

    Don’t underestimate the value of being able to go for a ride without worrying about puncturing. Makes a big difference.

    Agree with DaveW re. UST tyres, they don’t offer a weight saving and in some cases the thicker sidewalls can make the tyre less supple. But any UST system in my view is better than tubes.

    Talking to the Schwalbe guy at the Cycle Show he reckoned the Stans rims with tubeless ready tyres (ie just put in some sealant) is the way the industry is going as a lot of newer bikes are getting specced with this in mind. OK, not everyone’s using Stans but most are looking at that kind of approach.

    As it happens, I’m getting some Stans Flows for my Orange and moving the 819 UST wheels onto the singlespeed…

  17. pij says:

    I run both systems, and can’t say I notice any difference in the way the bike rides.

    Punctures? Sorry, but tubeless doesn’t win it for me. Here in Surrey we have a lot of flint, and the number of times I’ve cut a slice out of the sidewall and had fluid spray out is beyond belief. You try cleaning that stuff off your bike! My tubes I fill with slime, so never notice punctures. The only negative with tubes is that I once got nine snakebites in a single hit – you don’t get that with tubeless.

    When you’ve wrestled getting a tyre on, then filled it with Β£5 worth of fluid, that tyre stays on… forever! Your summer tyre is your autumn tyre is your winter tyre. I’ll happily change a tubed tyre, but my tubeless stay on until they’ve worn away. Perhaps I’m being tight, but the thought of wasting Β£5 worth of fluid just to change a tyre… plus that fluid gets everywhere, and makes you look like you’ve been playing with glue or work part time at Ann Summers.

    Both systems seem to ultimately weigh the same.

    Stans rims are excellent.

    Tubeless is a faff, and you have to carry a spare inner tube around anyway. I ran tubeless when it first came out years ago; wasn’t convinced then. I’ve run it again for a year now; still not convinced. Honestly I cannot see any advantages with the system over tubes.

    For me, not worth the effort really. It’s expensive, doesn’t save weight and I get as many punctures as I do with tubes. The pain of fixing the puncture you do get is bad; especially if your riding buddy is using tubes and looks on bewildered as you get sprayed in a fine jet of latex.

    I’m not on the fence here; don’t bother with tubeless is all I can say. Waste of money and time.

    3-3 now?

  18. pij says:

    I’m not telling a funny story here; this is the truth.

    To change a tubed tyre I make a cup of tea, tear the bike down, change the tyre, put it together whilst drinking said tea and chatting to neighbours or my kids. I may do a small service to the transmission at the same time. Perhaps even throw a ball for the kids.

    With tubeless I warn wife what I am about to do. She sends me to the bottom of the garden, collects the kids and goes out to the park for an hour. Months later our neighbour will politely ask why was I was kicking hell out of things at the bottom of my garden one day?

    Don’t underestimate how bad fitting some tyres to your rims will be without the aid of an inner tube. You will initially be detached over this funny puzzle. This intrigue will slowly give way to anguish, then full on anger, especially when you’ve just broken your last tyre lever. The pain will not be forgotten. Ever.

    Life is too short for tubeless tyres!

    Matt and Co obviously put trappist monks to shame with their patience.

  19. Colin says:

    I’m at that stage in life where messing round with latex products and spilt liquids has lost its appeal!

    Run quality tyres such as Maxxis that seem to offer superior pinch and tear properties across the range (I used minions, advantage, medusa and aspen, depending on the bike/conditions).

    Latex tubes make a big difference to puncture resistance.

    I’ve had a few thorns this year but not one flat.

    And my garage isn’t covered with a strange white fluid

  20. paul901 says:

    As a trained Iron Hands jedi I can only reflect in awe at the teachings of my master when puncturing on the trails. Inner tube changes rendered to a therupatic few minutes.

    I am guessing that:

    a) this is much less fun in muddy conditions and

    b) avoided when going tubeless unless a tyre is ripped badly

    However, as resident village idiot I shall stay toobed for the time being. Although I might try tubeless on God’s own riding surface

    (road if that was too cryptic)

  21. pij says:

    I run Maxxis exclusively; flint doesn’t recognise any such claims to tear resistance! Their new range looks interesting though, with the new tear resistant material. In my humble opinion though, sidewalls have been getting too thin of late. Some of my tyres are like paper.

    Nice to hear of another Aspen user. For me that is an ideal all year tyre for the rear. I’ve not been brave enough to try it on the front yet though. Probably never will be!

    Sorry, but you’ve had enough of spilt liquids so now you’re onto latex tubes?

    As for the strange white fluid, you don’t use Squirt as a chain lube then? That leaves an interesting coloured and shaped residue….

    I sense that perhaps we are about to move waaaaay off topic?

  22. pij says:

    Paul901 – changing a tube isn’t that much of a hassle is it, even in the mud? OK you get covered in mud, but by then you are already surely?

    My tubeless rear has punctured four times in the last year, the front never. My tubed other bike has suffered one puncture. Of the four punctures, three were ripped sidewalls, so in fairness could happen to either system. The fourth was a large hole – fixed by going all downhill style and putting a double dose of latex in.

    The tubed puncture I cannot remember where or when it happened. The latex puncture I can still recall the date, time and location [Belgium]. I can also remember the happy hour it took to clean that stuff off my bike.

    Punctures happen. But personally they happen to the same degree with either system – I’m riding over the same stuff after all. I just can’t see any advantages that Β£50 worth of latex has over decent tubes. And if you swop out tyres on a regular basis, you’re going to get through a lot of latex.

    And tyre levers….

  23. Dave says:

    Interrupting the PIJ show for a few moments and getting back to the topic!

    Can’t say I recognise any of what PIJ says. Monday evening I went into the garage, deflated both tyres on the Spider, took one off at a time, emptied the latex into the new tyre and re-inflated it*. Repeat.

    Last night I went in and pumped them back up to pressure again (both normal tyres).

    I think the whole process took me 20 minutes.

    * with a compressor.

    Likewise the UST rims on Cathie’s bike didn’t ever cause me any hassle.

    Regarding the risk of flint cuts I think it is a genuine risk but not one I’ve ever experienced. I’m racking my brains here but apart from the tyre Matt refers to I can only recall “pin point” punctures, usually caused by thorns. I did have a TrailRaker PR that suffered sidewall damage but I put that down to a one off as so many other Moles love ’em.

    So Kevin, best thing to do here is go 50/50. Tubeless on the front, tube in the back!

  24. pij says:

    Somebody has to be the posting monkey on any given day! Long live the pij show!

    And yes, I’m even bored of myself now….

  25. Matt says:

    Go PIJ!

    All good stuff, but I have to say I’ve only ever cut once on my tyres, although close inspection reveals a good few nicks which could have caused problems.

    Most people who ride tubeless have suffered this I think at some stage.

    I use a Panaracer tyre repair kit which fixes 90% of tubeless punctures without the need for removing the tyre at all. Highly recommended.

  26. pij says:

    Not talking any more. I’ve taken my bat and ball home ’cause Dave is being mean to me. I’m in a big fat sulk.

    …actually that kit sounds spiffing and may even turn me to the dark side of recommending tubeless… …seeing as how my main gripe is in having to carry a spare tube and puncture repair kit around with me.

    Still not talking to meanie Dave though.

  27. Dave says:

    hehe…that’s MR Meanie to you!

    You may have a point if you were an early adopter of all this stuff. I only changed this year and have not looked back.

  28. Kevin S says:

    pij. You must be exhausted!!! Better go and have a lie down in a darkened room, a latex free one preferably πŸ˜‰

    But seriously folks, I seem to have opened up a whole world of opinions on this subject and its good to hear all your views.

    After I have popped out and bought a new Cray super computer to analyse all your contributions a decision will be made … or maybe I will just say Sod it and do B#GGER ALL until the next flat! πŸ™‚

  29. Markymark says:

    Cracking ride, and strangely warm. Believe it or not this was the FIRST time i’ve had to hose my bike (and myself) off in 2010! Seriously, remember back to feb/march when those E-NE winds blew for weeks and weeks and sucked the ground dry. It really has been a great run of dry-ness this year. Amen.

    P.S. Coldharbour Bonfire and Fireworks at the cricket pitch on Friday night. Starts at the Plough pub with a ceremonial walk up the tea-tree-light lit track passing a cool display of pumpkins half-way up. The local butcher pitches up with a huge BBQ and gets his home-made sausages going, plus mulled-wine and soup. A great family evening wth a cracking fireworks display. Bung a few quid each in the bucket at the top… or sneak in from the back if, like us, you’re ‘in the know’.

  30. paul901 says:

    pij – what the others know but you may not is that I wasn’t being flippant about changing tyres in mud, I’ve never done it. My first mud ride was one wet Sunday with the moles in September (occasionally there was a muddly puddle) and my second was last week on Holmury Hill and someone else posted saying it wasn’t muddy! I am not looking forward to seeing muddy then but suspect I have to if I am to understand why this group is called MuddyMoles.

    Please also understand that on the early high sections of Yogurt Pots last weekend I was confronted with a puddle and naturally moved to the edge of it, pure (road) instinct then in the next second as my rear end (not the bike) twitched on the next roller-coaster bit in these ‘mud bath’ conditions the brain said “pillock, you’re on a mountain bike, ride through it”. Such is the rawness of the whole off-road experience.

    This is my first autumn of riding on anything other than tarmac. (I sort of assume family riding around Bushy Park doesn’t count). Whilst I’m on this that first nasty bit of BKB had me wondering if I would be comfortable descending on any tyre. I expect it’s easier than it looks as I manned up and did it a couple of times in the summer.

  31. pij says:

    Dear Mr Meanie Dave Sir,

    I came back to tubeless as it does have an appeal, mainly being able to forget putting air into my tyres when they invariably run low [often 15psi is my riding norm]. Plus I like messing with bikes. It’s still essentially the same system I ran a decade ago – just with better tyres. I’m a cheapo and use normal tyres; if I spent some money and bought good kit, then the sods may well go on better.

    Paul901 – apologies in order. Sorry. If you’re worried about that kind of thing, well, er, don’t. You’re riding with a bunch of people who like doing that stuff. The guys I go with have no clue as to doing pretty much anything on their bikes – they know full well that happy help is on hand in the form of moi. If you’re worried about punctures, just install some slime filled inner tubes and keep your tyres pumped up to 35psi. As for riding on slippy stuff, we all had to start somewhere so stick with it. The learning curve is steep but short – just don’t get drawn out of your depth on some of the descents around here.

    As for what tyres to use, boy could we go on and on about that issue. Generally, as with bikes, the best tyres for the job are the ones you have right now!

    Front tubeless, rear with a tube? All my pinch flats have been on the rear, so a tube wouldn’t help there. Generally I’d use the same system front and rear, but can see the sense in having a good quality inner tube on the rear – possibly a heavier downhill one.

    Ironically it was on Dave’s hill where flint ripped my sidewall out twice. The other time was on that cracking descent to Epsom Downs. Odd, but I’ve only ever ripped out three tyre walls, all this year. All Maxxis tyres, all Aspens. D’oh! Possibly a connection is beginning to form in my mind.

    Going for that lie down now.

  32. Jem says:


    After all that lot, what about getting some solid rubber wheel chair tyres.

    No punctures and will last as long as the bike

  33. pij says:

    ….or just ride a kid’s bike. My children do some stupid things on theirs, and ride through anything with no apparent problems.

    It is an idea though. Reigate to Boxhill and back by office chair.

    I think the issue of punctures is overstated here. I’ve had four in a year, three of which were caused by riding through flint. If one is daft enough to ride flint, then one should expect the worst?

  34. Dave says:

    Taken individually PIJ it’s not a problem. Get 15 riders together and it begins to be irritating!

    Actually maybe that’s it really. Doesn’t matter what you do, just do something to stop having to change tubes mid ride.


    1) Slime filled tubes (retail or DIY)

    2) Tubeless solution

    3) Liners

    4) PR tyres

    5) Super resistant latex rubber tubes

    One of the irritations is that it’s often 2 riders who seem to suffer as happned on a recent night ride. Compounded by the fact one rider was fornt and rear tyres.

    MY solution is tubeless and I’m very pleased with the results. Maybe it’s also that I’m a bit like Ali over the flints…..”floats like a butterfly” ;o)

  35. Dandy says:

    Caption competition: Finish the phrase, “Muddy Dave floats like a butterfly and …”

    A) … Sinks like a brick

    B) … Smells like a wildebeest

    C) … Rides like a cart horse

    Best entry wins my worn and torn Fox Sidewinder gloves (brown, with sweat stains – well I think it’s sweat!)

    Can you tell I’m at home with nothing to do?

  36. Dave says:

    Oh you tease!

    The answer is obvious A, B & C!

  37. OrangeRoo says:

    Sounds like a great ride with only the light rain giving a sense that Winter riding is just around the corner.

    Together with Tom, I took a few roadies to Swinley on Sunday for an MTB taster session. We eventually made our way to the Labyrinth and had 3 good runs down the various available tracks.

    Certainly they tasted some serious mud as we were well covered when we got back to the car park.

    A friendly MTBer with an Orange 5 (must have been a good chap) lent us his high pressure hose which helped. Interestingly he also had a rug to stand on and plastic bags to wrap up his beast once he had fettled it! Call me old fashioned but isn’t that going a bit far?

    It takes all sorts…

  38. Matt says:

    [groan!] Now I can look forward to our next ride being decimated by 15 riders all puncturing.

    Should be back for tea-time…

    Seriously hope all this talk of punctures hasn’t jinxed us!

  39. OrangeRoo says:

    For the record my vote has to go to tubes. They provide simple and relatively hassle free riding….

    As for the guys at Swinley….. well you know what he’d have chosen!

  40. paul901 says:

    OrangeRoo – we roadies can be bl00dy stupid and I’m up there wih the best of them but even I would have realised my 700 x 25 bike had no place going around Swinley. I would have politely ignored the trap and stayed on the road…

    If the trails get much heavier I suspect I’ll start puncturing my own tyres just to get additional rest stops. Please tell me as we head towards winter that they don’t…

  41. pij says:

    Paul901 – sorry to say, but if you think you’ve seen mud by now, then you are in for a bit of a shocker once the rain sets in, the leaves have fallen and the horses have been out. You’ll soon get to know where the worst of the trails are, and will be intimate with lubes of varying sorts. Mountain bikers tend to hide away in darkened garages come the winter, applying favourite lubes lovingly to their chains.

    Suggest you get some grippy tyres fitted pronto.

    But don’t worry, the mud will soon pose no challenge to you… it’s the wet chalk you have to watch, especially on Stane Street or Colley Hill out of Reigate. That stuff catches everybody out. Well, apart from Dave who floats over everything. Apparently.

    Honest, by next May riding in the mud will be second nature to you and you’ll be fitting semi-slick tyres like the rest of us to up the challenge! Learning to ride in mud oddly prepares you for technical climbs in the summer; you soon learn to recognise a stall and how to appropriately apply power through the rear wheel and/or balnce your body mass against it.

    Mountain bikers state they hate mud, but we all secretly love splashing about in it. Best bit is walking into a pub or cafe looking like a lagoon monster. [Actually I look like a lagoon monster when not covered in mud…]

  42. paul901 says:

    When I cleaned the Whyte today the cassette had half the forest inbetween the sprockets, good grief, I spent as much time on that with the thinnest screwdriver I had than I spent on the rest of the bike clean.

    Note to Dave – the rear wheel noises disappeared so maybe it was that rather than brakes although I shall take IPA to disc pads per advice in separate exchange.

    The Lidl pressure washer I bought in October has been succesfully trialled now for several bike washes and on the wide fan setting has nice gentle power. So it’s not the post-ride cleaning which bothers me, nor is it the fitness training from mud riding, it’s that horrible muddy splashing when you ride through it, that girly-spa-treatment feel that no man-treatment should include!

    That’s it, isn’t it, off-roaders secretly like the mud treatment!

    (makes note to disappear fast at the first mention of MuddyMole Waxing event…)

  43. stevend says:

    Paul, do you use mudguards ? It is only my lower legs that get splashed, above I am fine unless I fall off. (Actually I do not mind getting muddy, it is all the cow crap etc that I mind).

    I recommend you get a suitable brush for cleaning the sprockets after every ride.

    Welcome to MTB ! LOL.

  44. pij says:

    This threads gonna go past the 60 mark isn’t it?

    Paul901 – Robert Dyas do a De-Solv-It max strength degreaser. Using this you can get a fine spray that gives enough juice to just clean the sprocket and chain without cleaning the bearings out as well. Use the bare minimum amount; don’t go mad, and don’t spray onto bearings. Halfords do a big yellow sonic toothbrush that gets into all the nooks and crannies. Lots of water afterwards, dry with a cloth. Somebody once told me that WD40 desolves rubber, so I avoid using it on my bikes. I’m guessing that you know how to oil a chain! I hope you do as I am sure none of us here really want to show the ultra pedantic side of things in describing how we oil chains now do we?

    Your cassette will pick up a lot of stuff, unless you spend a bit of cash and get one that lacks material at the back. Having a dirty, oily cassette makes it worse.

    Some people spray their bikes with silicone spray as mud doesn’t stick to it. I don’t as silicone tends to be all pervasive and gets everywhere – personally I like my brake pads free of the stuff.

    Watch your forks with that pressure washer!! You can get a decent spray called Juice Lubes or such for them.

    Plan for a new bottom bracket around February. Sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t. One of life’s sucky things.

    Non-windy days with mudguards you should be relatively clean after a ride. Well if you ride alone you will be. Add in wind or rain or other riders and you’ll be a lagoon monster in no time.

    The real initiation into the world of MTB’ing is to spend 2 hours preping your bike, only to go straight out onto the trails again.

    At least you’ll have radiant skin!


  45. tony says:

    Last night was Mud-lite

    Wait til mid Jan-Feb. I’ve ridden along collarbone in a continuous 6inches of mud.

    I’ll be getting D2D flashbacks if this conversation continues!

  46. paul901 says:

    I realise it’s mud-lite out there of course, all joing aside. It’s such a shock to the system never having ridden on it, like having perpetual head-wind on the road.

    My bike cleaning routine isn’t too shabby, there was a forum thread on it a while ago. I already use a Muc-Off type product but only on the drivetrian and I don’t leave it on there for long. I wet the bike with power washer and take the worst off gently, use capful of car-wash in half a bucket of warm water and a soft-bristled brush, go over the bike completely like this then rinse with the power washer again. Spin the rear wheel (in the rear wheel stand) to remove water, wipe the bike down then oil the chain generously, go up and down the gears and wipe off excess if needed. It’s becoming a habit after every ride now.

    Then I let the bike dry and go over it with the ‘M check’ I was shown earlier in the year.

  47. Matt says:

    All this talk about mud reminds me how much I love it. I don’t over worry about cleaning in the winter but switched to singlespeeding in the main as it does mean less to go wrong.

    The thing is to just wash the bike while the mud’s soft so the key areas (chain/derailleur/cassette and fork seals) are clean, then go out again and get it muddy! It’s a bike, what’s the worst that can happen?! So long as it gets a good clean off after a ride and a stripdown in Spring it’ll be fine. Much like myself.

    Also, nothing makes you feel more ‘mountain biker’ than coming home covered in mud. Just work on your wry grin to give to people who say you’re mad!

    Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want mud all year but the beauty of riding in this country is you get the contrast; just when I start to get a bit ho-hum over dusty trails it changes and vice versa.

  48. Dave says:

    Yep, have to agree with Matt here. Quick blast with the hose and a brush and that’s it.

    As Tony will no doubt confirm, I occasionally oil the chain as well. This might chain though as I bought a chain checker and promptly changed some chains!

    Singlespeeds are great for this though. minimal effort in the garage, maximum on the trail.

  49. pij says:

    Pah to the lot of you – obviously real men are the Moles. What’s wrong with going all anally retentive and spending hours lovingly lubing your chain?

    I suspect big fat fibs here; I’ve seen you lot out, all in co-ordinated riding gear. Talk of never cleaning your bikes reminds me of Planes, trains and automobiles: “you see the game?”

    Come on; fess up. The Moles clean their bikes!

  50. Dandy says:

    “Come on; fess up. The Moles clean their bikes!”

    There’s no shame in admitting I do, religiously. Me and the bike stand under the cold tap once a month, whether we need it or not πŸ˜‰

    Though that could explain my current illness πŸ™

  51. pij says:

    For some reason the word “fungal” comes to mind.

    I think some bikes cry out not to be cleaned after a ride. My Pace just looks plain wrong when it is clean, so I don’t. Bit like a Seies 1 Land Rover; it’d be criminal to clean one wouldn’t it?

    Oh dear. Have I just admitted to talking to my bikes? Wonder why nobody ever comes out with me on a ride?

  52. KevS says:

    Just been out to the garage on this dark wet Friday evening,

    having been working away all week, only to find that I still have not repaired the flat from last Sundays mud fest!

    Many bad words were than uttered in said garage but I dont count this as talking to my bikes, just ‘effin and blindin’ as you do!

    Tubeless or not too tubeless, that is STILL the question.

    This should get pij fired up again. πŸ˜‰

  53. paul901 says:

    It’s time to put the carbon road bike away, or at least bring it inside for the winter for both turbo trainer and roller use. It will get a 15 minute clean, an hour closer clean, an hour of polshing, another hour looking for missed areas and fingerprints and I might even wear cotton gloves for the whole process. It only travels inside the car, this bike doesn’t have the indignity of going on the bike carrier.

    The steel road bike will be on the road for the winter, I shall try and keep the tears back seeing the beautiful polished old-school Dura Ace kit get road grime on it. It hast to earn its keep though. It is getting newly built wheels around the faithful Ti hubs so has something to look forward to. It will have to travel on the bike rack, sad really.

    The Whyte will get mud washed off it as previously described and mechanical checks as I rely on it in pretty scary conditions and need it to be safe. I have no emotion towards it and it is not allowed in the car. Lots of laughs!

    I suppose it’s my “I don’t want to think about it bike, it just does a job” unlike the pampered tarmac machines. Not to play down the enjoyment of the trail rides though, I’m looking forward to the next one tomorrow morning.

  54. pij says:

    Hmmm. Out today and I was getting better grip from my rear tubeless tyre on the slippy climbs than my riding buddy was on his tubed tyre. Could be that I’m a climb master, but more likely that the tyre was deforming to the ground better, hence giving a bit more grip. Remember that I use the Aspen all year, a tyre without much in the way of knobblies.

    Don’t you hate humble pie?

    As an aside, has anybody cleaned that steep gulley / rock chute in Reigate park? I got 3/4 of the way down before going over the handlebars. It hurt but boy was it a laugh.

    Lots of MTB’ers out Saturday afternoon. Is Saturday the new Sunday?!?

  55. Dave says:

    OOoo! Rock chute? Co-ordinates please! No idea where you mean.

    I was out with 7 other Moles today, sort of “B” team outing for ailing and inexperienced Moles. A ride where a Mole can get it digging claws back into tip top condition.

  56. pij says:

    In the pub last night a local stated that he used to ride it and that it’s known as Break Neck Gulley.

    Reigate park is small; if you need sat-nav to find it, then should you even be allowed out on to the trails? It can be seen from Colley Hill.

  57. Dave says:


    I get it, it’s a local place for local people!

    Google maps doesn’t show a Reigate Park so I guess we’ll never know!

  58. pij says:

    Reigate park = Priory park!

  59. pij says:

    ’tis on Google, so there! No localism here!

    Now, back to the real issue; tubeless blah, blah, blah…

  60. pij says:

    Ever helpful Google – just clicked on my posted link and it shows the whole bloomin’ world. OS maps much, much better. Basically south of point ‘C’ and you’re there. Left hand path.

    “We’ll have none of them Moles around here thank you very much. Reigate park is for Reigate people, not Valley people.”

  61. pij says:

    …just one more post and this’ll hit the 60!


  62. paul901 says:

    You know as a roadie, I am so pleased at the generally friendly and tolerant nature of riders, horse-riders and walkers I have seen since taking up the mud-fetish side of things in May. Surely Reigate isn’t the exception, lots of laughs! I am now curious who that large group are coming from Reigate into the ‘Valleys’ and hills whenever a Mole ride heads their way.

    Is mountain biking like hells angels after all then? “Blimey, they’re getting air, who are they?” “Oh, that’s the Guildford Goons, Holmbury Heavies, Ranmore Rascals, Pitch Pixies…” How exactly did the Dorking Cocks get their name?

  63. StevenD says:

    Paul, I think we need to blame Dandy for all this rivalry.

    The story goes … that one day, in the long distant past, on a mole ride he mutters to himself about quickly grabbing a granny, not realising he was overheard by not only other moles but a Reigate spy. News got out and so whenever the Moles ride towards Reigate they get the impression that the Moles are infact marauding Vikings. So they get very protective and join a ride to show protection for their women.

    Sadly they are completely wrong. Valley people (and I should know, I live in a valley) are in fact a pleasant socialable bunch who just want to makes friends with anyone.

    It is all about misinterpretation and to this day Dandy insists he was just trying to make the going a little easier on a short steep climb.

  64. paul901 says:

    Fantastic Steven, you fellas living in Valleys are “a pleasant sociable bunch who just want to makes friends with anyone” on account of the diet of mushrooms and judging by that fabulous tale I want some of whichever variety you’re on today! πŸ™‚

  65. pij says:

    Paul901 – for the other side of MTB’ing, where the walkers and dogists do not like us, then try to ride the little section atop Reigate Hill on a busy Sunday!

    But, ‘Valley Boys’ v. ‘Reigate Snobs’ fights aside, we’re a sociable bunch.

    “Oy, you spilt my energy drink!”

    “You lookin’ at my bike?”

  66. Dave says:

    Ahh…so, looking at the OS map in Tracklogs it looks like the park to the Sounth of Morrisons.

    Going back to the sat view in Google Mpas there looks like there are 3 paths down, so is it one of those?

    Anyway, assuming we “went ghetto” and ventured that far South, is there a route back to Dorking on the bridleway network from there?

  67. pij says:

    …third one along, heads down to the duck pond. Pick up the Greensands way back via the Skimmington Castle, up to Box Hill via the lime works. Some of it is even on bridleways!

  68. pij says:

    It’s a known pathway down into the park central. Often you’ll see many bikers pondering it from the top, only to move on. But look at it as a steep bomb hole, and it starts to make sense. We’ve done it with dabs at the mid point, but to me that’s not playing the game and we are trying to do it sans dabs. Possibly quite an easy ride when dry, but we’re struggling with it in the wet. Just makes it more fun. Actually just makes it more dangerous.

    As an aside, this month’s What Mountain Bike features a Reigate based route that almost takes this in…. so there’s your way back to Dorking.

    Just don’t try it when there’s 15 of you as I’m not convinced of the legality of this one. Riding it seems to be tolerated by the Parkies, but one suspects if too many people try it, then steps wil be taken. By stealth is the way to go.

    Actually the steepness of it may mitigate against too many people giving it a go anyway, so a self limiting drop.

    An alternative way back is up the Colley Hill chalk path; you all know that one?!

  69. StevenD says:

    Paul, behind every tale of lore is some truth πŸ˜‰ .

    Dorking Cocks – something to do with being fat with short legs and having five toes, source Countryfile which I have just watched and this week covered the Surrey Hills, incl Leith Hill and Dorking Cocks. Next week it is the Chilterns !

    Oh my, how this thread has spead so far off topics and around the houses. Sorry Matt, I will bow out of this thread now… riding off into the sunset with tubes in my tyres. LOL

  70. Matt says:

    What a conversation! I also saw the Dorking Cock on Countryfile tonight but that doesn’t reflect well on me does it? Well, anything to see Julia Bradbury…

    Apparantly the Dorking Cock dates back to 47AD but I didn’t think Charlie was that old!!

    As for Reigate Park, I wouldn’t go there on a weekend, it’s overrun by the yummy mummy set taking their kids to the park. It’s not an MTB area, more recreational for families so probably wouldn’t be a good move. And riding UP to Colley Hill from Reigate Heath? It’s do-able (I’ve done it) but only once in every 20 attempts if you ask me.

    Nice area, I know the drop I think, at least the rough area anyway. Once saw one of those military style ‘boot camp’ fitness groups looking silly in the Park but some of the girls looked fine…

  71. pij says:

    Yummy Mummies? That’s a reason for going! You’re right about it being busy, but like most places people do not stray far and the gulley is pretty much people free. It’s not a place to go often, more something to do when you’re feeling silly. We do it at the end of a ride, as then when do stack it’s a short trip home.

    The chalk path? Once in every twenty times? Winter, yes, I agree and we avoid it. But during dry spells it can be cleared every single time. Just be prepared to dig very deep into your reserves, and have some low pressure in your rear tyre.

    Guess for us the Chalk Path is your Box Hill challenge? We do it at the start of a ride, not after 12 or so miles of hacking around.

  72. Dandy says:

    I must clear my name from these scurrilous accusations concerning me and the granny! At no point was I referring to techniques used in this ‘so called’ sport of mountain biking.

    I was promoting my, by now, widely postulated observation that a benefit of advancing years is that the age range for members of the opposite sex that one finds attractive widens considerably.

    Rightly. the Moles are becoming infamous for the looting and pillaging that accompanies the cake stops on a Sunday morning, indeed I have seen shopkeepers rushing stocks of flapjacks and carrot cake off the displays and under the counter in a bid to avoid our unwelcome cravings.

    I wish to make it clear that I was absolutely trying to complete the ‘Viking raid’ nature of these stops, and once I’ve taken 10 minutes at the top of Reigate Hill to bring my gasping lungs back down to a slight wheeze, those frilly-aproned tea ladies with their downy moustaches better prepare for a Molestation of Moles unles PIJ and his gang are around to defend their honour.

  73. paul901 says:

    and thus is born yet another Surrey Hills legend, KY Dandini and his flock of riding starlings…

  74. pij says:

    ….care in the community per chance?

    Warming to the subject, and fully in the sense of p**s taking that this has become….

    The last bastion for cake and tea here in Redhill is the infamous Fanny’s Farm Shop. Luckily she has an abundant and copious supply, and is patently too far for the weakling Moles to travel in any instance. Instead us Redhilliers cunningly allow the Moles access only to the notoriously expensive and cake free Urban Kitchen atop the last fort of Reigate Hill. Here the Moles are stripped of all their gold and sent hungrily back to the Valley from whence they came. Us peace loving MTB’ers on the better side of the Surrey Hills are hence free to enjoy the calorie ridden delights of Fanny’s.

    [I was going to say: “free to munch at Fanny’s” but that would have been too obvious…]

    As an aside, Matt mentioned the Reigate Yummy Mummies. 1-0 to us over here in Snob land I feel; we have Yummy Mummies, you have Dog Poo Alley? No contest.

    Back to adjudicator Mr Meanie Dave to nip this theme in the bud. Please!

  75. Matt says:

    I’m not criticising the Yummy Mummies (quite partial to the idea really), just noting that the Priory Park is not really MTB territory.

    Of course, your valley towns have their own issues don’t they? Redhill? I’ll rest my case.

    Still regards yummy mummies or indeed any other female – the first law of advancing years and with the benefit of hindsight… never rule anything in, never rule anything out…

    Still, D’Andy has to take everything to an extreme doesn’t he?!!

  76. pij says:

    Music hall joke…

    Redhill is a lovely place.

    To leave.

    Bum bum!

  77. Matt says:

    What’s with this ‘bum bum’ stuff?

    You know someone who love you long time??

  78. pij says:

    Oh dear. Somebody who has not watched Basil Brush as a youngster? Am I showing my age here?

  79. stevend says:

    pij, I think you meant boom, boom – did you not ??

  80. pij says:

    Sorry, I’m from the Midlands. We were too poor there to get an official BBC Basil Brush and had to do with a knock off copy from the market.

    My world is shattered. For four decades I’ve been saying ‘bum, bum’ and wondering why I get invited to strange parties.

  81. pij says:

    Definition of sad: Looking up the original Basil Brush catchphrase on Wikipedia so as to denounce stevend for the charlatan that he is, only to fail miserably.

    Anybody know a good psychoanalyst other than Pamela Stephenson? She’s too focused on ‘down below’ issues for me. I can’t cope with life any more. Not only have I moved to a place derided by the Moles, but I cannot get a simple children’s tv programme catchphrase correct.

    At least I’m a quick learner:

    Boom, boom!

  82. Matt says:

    ‘Anybody know a good psychoanalyst’

    Never trust a person who has the word *nal in their job title…

    Oh dear… was that freudian?!

  83. Dandy says:

    Don’t bother with a psychoanalyst, PIJ. I got sent to see one, once. All he did was show me pictures of naked women, then tried to tell me they were just ink blot drawings. The man was barking, though his receptionist was quite fit; and I did get to see that Michael Douglas who was being treated at the same time πŸ˜‰

  84. pij says:

    You still got those pictures?

  85. KevS says:

    Soooooooo, are we going to push on to the 100 posts mark for this wild and rambling, not to mention tribal P#ss taking session, or is it time for us all to seek out professional help from some Psycho babble analyst? (sorry Matt, I mentioned the *nal thingy)

  86. Dave says:

    Resisting to rise to the bait to protect my fellow professionals I’ll just say that I think Freud was misunderstood and leave it there.

    Interesting that no one ever makes a Rogerian slip, or a Jungian slip.

    Anyway, Erotic Transference is bread and butter to a Psychoanalytical therapist!!

    Now, no one can ever say that Basil was misunderstood! I’ll always remember the episode when Demis Roussos came on in a kaftan that Dandini would have OK’d only to find Basil in a miniature version.

    Boom, boom!


  87. paul901 says:

    I once sat in the George Pompideu museum in Paris mesmerised by original Dali, Matisse and mostly Picasso artwork (and lots of other fodder which at least gave a good laugh).

    However, one of Picasso’s works (think this was in a book rather than on the wall) was his typical contorted abstract of a woman squatting having a wee.

    This made me wonder exactly what a psycho-*nalyst would make of Picasso and how much money they could make from the work involved in the process!

  88. pij says:

    “Soooooooo, are we going to push on to the 100 posts mark”

    Nah, 87 is enough.


  89. pij says:

    Dave, please share; don’t hoard….

  90. pij says:

    Hauling this one back a tad….

    Some of the posted rides here, and ones I’ve done recently, could quite conceivably be done using a, shhh, cyclo cross bike. One suspects that the NDW and Stane Street would be ideal for a cross.

    Yes, I am being drawn to the dark side of off-road riding promoted by the beer swilling and chocolate eating Belgiums. For rides of an hour or so, when that is all one has to spare, such a machine may prove a fun alternative to a fat tyred bike, and possibly better for getting fit. I understand that as age creeps up on us, and we get past 40, then short rides may actually be more beneficial to our health than longer ones. Not that I do this for fitness.

    Has anybody here given it a go? Answers involving a hybrid don’t count.

    Odd, but some people I have raised this issue with have had very strong negative feelings towards cross bikes. Cross over cross? Yet this year I’m seeing more and more of them out and about. Possibly fashion, or heavily promoted by the press, but the guys I see riding the things have got thighs like you wouldn’t believe.

    Not that I look at mens’ thighs you understand.

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