Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 5 December – Slushy

Posted by Matt | December 6, 2010 | 11 comments so far

Keith and co. climbing Alsation
After a full month of barely-there biking – my last off-road ride was November 3 I think – I managed a return to trail riding yesterday in the slush of a Narnia-like Surrey thaw.

It’s been a weird month. Mechanical hassles, partly including shot hub bearings have sidelined my bikes for part of it (and a big thanks to Biketech Mark for sorting my SRAM shifters btw). I’ve also been working flat out on a Muddymoles redesign which should start to see the light of day over the New Year. Oh, and I’ve bought a still-to-be-ridden-in-earnest road bike.

All that aside, it’s nice to know the group has been busy riding while I’ve been away. Yesterday was another healthy showing as 12 riders pitched up for a snow ride to Reigate, plus Darren who was hoping to catch Adam. Unfortunately, Adam’s car had broken down…

So, leaving from Bockett’s were Lloyd, DaveC, Tony, D’Andy, Ray, Dick, Jez, Keith, JohnR, Al and Paul. It was great to see the D’Andyman again after his own troublesome six weeks and trying out an Ibis Mojo too, although I don’t think it got a great test in the conditions.

We headed off with no great idea as to how feasible it was to ride to Reigate. John had been out the day before and reported terrible conditions but we probably got the better day as a lot of the snow had receded. But not by much.

Instead, we were treated to patches of mud interspersed with large patches of slushy snow which proved rather difficult to ride through. It was odd to find that the mud patches we’d normally treat with caution actually offered far more grip than anywhere else but we soon got used to correcting front and back end slides as we made our way down into Leatherhead.

Climbing up Alsation was hard work but if you didn’t mind having to dab now and again progress was pretty good. We continued on to Tyrells Wood and then round into Headley village, past the Cock Inn and up to the car park. As we navigated our way onto the trails opposite, the path cleared a little under the protection of the trees and it started to feel like riding again.

The moles at the Reigate Tea Room

The last time I’d been this way was during the half term week which had coincided with biblical rain on summer dry trails. The resulting swamp had made riding pretty miserable but now that a few weeks have passed there’s a firm line again with a bit of grip under the mud. I’m hoping winter riding will improve a bit from here.

We crossed over the road near the Pfizer building and splashed through the ice-topped puddles before picking up the North Downs Way toward Reigate, all of us having an interesting time staying upright as we rounded the big field which was still deep with snow. The haul up the otherside was do-able (I think Tony took advantage of leading to clean it) but I had too much traffic as most of us stalled.

Then it was on to Colley Hill and a decision taken to try the Reigate Tea Room. We’ve all got a bit cheesed off with the prices that Urban Kitchen have been charging since they took it on, preferring Ali’s Cafe on Headley but with no sign of her as we passed Headley we decided to give the Reigate Tea Room another go.

As it turned out, it wasn’t too bad and while you can easily spend a small fortune there a careful hunt through the menu found enough to satisfy our discerning palates. So a qualified ‘OK’ from us I think.

The route back took us via the rather nice singletrack alongside the M25, just about clear enough to allow an enjoyable meander through the trees before we picked up the trail across the golf course. Our snow radar by now was getting more and more adept at picking lines round rather than through the deep stuff and somehow we managed to keep going.

At Tadworth Tony took us along the tarmac to Love Lane, a new path for us which proved to be a rapid hoon on a clear path down toward Horse P!ss Alley. I followed D’Andy who has lost none of his enthusiasm for committing to corners despite, or perhaps the result of, his enforced layoff.

The ensuing haul up HP Alley wasn’t the most enjoyable experience but I was happy to finish in third place after starting plumb last by the simple expedient of keeping the wheels turning when everyone else needed to dab or careened gently into snow banks!

With that behind us we retraced our steps up to the Tyrells car park and set our sights for Life on Mars. This was the highlight of the day for me as we all managed to keep moving more or less in a nice flow through the snowy wood with enough pace to canter over the fallen logs but not too much that progress became a stop and start exercise on the brakes.

We finished up heading down Alsation with due caution, all except D’Andy again I think who seemed keen to at least give the Ibis a bit of exercise. He disappeared in front of Keith and myself at a fair rate of knots.

By the time we arrived back at Bockett’s it was nice to see we had managed to cover the route at a pace that wasn’t significantly slower than our usual efforts, despite the snow. I certainly felt it later on though as I could hardly keep my eyes open early evening and ended up hitting the sack early. I guess a month off the bike makes quite a difference after all!

Now if only the roads would clear I might be able to compensate with some road miles. Mind you, I’d missed those trails I can tell you…

Filed under Rides in December 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.

There are 11 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 5 December – Slushy’

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  1. Dave says:

    Glad to hear it wasn’t just me that felt massively drained by the ride then!

    LoM proved to be very rideable although I did chuckle to myself on one sweeping left hander where there were a few tracks way off line.

    Some of the sections proved very stable but then You’d hit a section of slush and it all went pear shaped.

    Great fun, if very tiring!

  2. John R says:

    This is the first ride where finding a section of mud was a welcome relief.

    But Sunday was a definite improvement over the day before and learning the sideways riding techniques was really quite fun.

  3. Paul says:

    It was just brilliant being able to have so much fun in otherwise inhospitable conditions!

    There was certainly loads of nervous giggling and yelling going on as we all tried to keep rubberside down. Loose riding, great for the core muscles and a real sense of achievement when you don’t dab.

    Sunday morning well spent, cheers guys!!

  4. Jez says:

    Glad it wasn’t just me feeling a bit ZZZzzzzzzzzz

    Great to be out in the snow. A few days melting made biking more feasible. Still some comedy bumping about when riding next to anyone as the grip was quick to disappear.

  5. Dandy says:

    It felt good to rejoin the Moles on the Sunday outing, my last effort being mid-October (though I did have a Saturday morning at Swinley 2 weeks ago as a first ‘re-introduction’ to the gentle arts of snapping limbs against immovable objects).

    I was so fatigued I could only manage 2-3 glasses of claret before retiring, rather than polishing off the bottle. It seems like I can’t blame that entirely on my recent illness, judging by the other comments above.

    Not much I can say about the Ibis Mojo. It seemed to track well on the few downhill sections without the ‘escape lane gravel trap’ effect of slushy snow patches. I didn’t weigh it, but it seemed pretty light and climbed with no discernible suspension bob sapping your efforts.

    My eye is taken, however, by the deal on offer at Moose Cycles ( for the Pace 506 (150mm travel) frame, reduced to £950 from £1350reduced. Hmmm,might go well with some Rock Shox Lyric 170mm air forks as my ‘fun’ bike.

  6. Colin says:

    what does that tell you !!

    a CRACKING deal

    Ouch, sorry Andy

  7. pij says:

    Oy! You leave us poor Pace owners alone. Bad enough we have to put up with pig ugly bikes….

  8. Dandy says:

    Thanks for sticking up for us Pace owners, PIJ, but there’s nothing ‘pig ugly’ about the RC405 (imho). I guess I should really get some piccies up on the site, to share its beauty with you all and dispel once and for all these rumours (or confirm the prejudices).

    How’s the rib, PIJ?

  9. pij says:

    My 303 IS pig ugly – fact! Comedy down tube doesn’t help the looks one bit, but is entirely functional. I’ve not seen a 405 in the flesh though, so I’m prepared to hold my opinion on that one and defer to a greater authority.

    Rib still bloomin hurts, thanks, but I’m off out tonight for a night ride so it can’t be that bad. Can it? Ride first, pain later. Teach me to build a sled then trial it out in front of a load of girls.

  10. pij says:

    Oh dear. Just been out for a spin – literally. Nightmare out there, even off the roads. I thought once off the main drag, and on to the bridleways, there’d be some traction on the frozen slush, but no. There is some limited traction to be found on the verges, but where people have been walking there are mini ice rinks at each footfall. Going uphill was verging on doable, but downhill is just not – well, I lie; I clearly did it, but in traditional three-legged, slippy-slippy fashion. Just not fun. Lovely to be out, really nice evening; cold and clear, but not clever to be on the bike here in Redhill.

    Big fat 42a tyres please!

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