Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride Report – Sunday 5 February – In the snow

Posted by DaveC | February 6, 2012 | 11 comments so far

Dave and Dandy at Headley in the snow

Well it was forecast for a long time and for once it was accurate. The snow came on Saturday night, ready for us on Sunday’s ride although there was a definite thawing feeling about the morning as well.

At Bocketts Farm I met Matt, Tim, JohnR, Keith, Tony, JonH and a special appearance by Dandy. MarkMark also put in an appearance after meeting us at the back of the Leatherhead Leisure Centre having been delayed riding over from Epsom.

Conditions were best described as interesting and changeable. Riding up to the meeting point on the roads taught me early on that the virgin snow provided more traction but with much more resistance, whereas the tyre tracks were easier going but much less reliable.

Some moles in the snow at the top of Alsation

Passing through Leatherhead it all felt a bit disappointing as the snow was much wetter and more slippery than it appeared; just ask Tony, our first rider of the day to slide gently to the ground as we headed down past Thorncorft vinyard. There really was nowhere to put the power down with confidence as either the front or back (or both!) ends of the bike could snap away from you abruptly.

It was a day for climbing though as at least you weren’t going too fast when you came off. The slog up Alsation was more interesting than normal and much harder work, especially where the snow had drifted a bit in some of the exposed spots. Grip wasn’t exactly lacking – no worse than a typical muddy ride – but with the snow covering getting deeper as we gained height you were either lucky or your weren’t. At least you could leave your bike upright given the right depth.

Life on Mars was particularly interesting and I set off after Keith who seemed keen to trail blaze in the virgin snow. He seemed to have little problem with grip as I slid all over the place trying to keep up. Could have been tyres, could more easily have been tyre pressure.

Dandy riding up Alsation in the snow

We said “Goodbye” to Matt who needed to get back early and slid on toward Headley. I was certainly feeling that our rate of progress was making Reigate look optimistic and with no sign of Ali’s Cafe in the main car park we felt that Box Hill was a much safer option.

I had another off as I followed Keith and may well have been responsible to Tony downing his bike beside mine but it was all another laugh! At the end of this section we paused and Dandy produced a hip flask containing a subtle blend of the finest brandy and whiskey. It put hairs on your chest I can tell ya! Tony also failed dismally as a “chain-spotter” after announcing JR had a certain type of KMC bling chain, only to find out it was close to the cheapest 10sp one JR could find.

Keith riding Box Hill in the snow

So we headed off again with me leading through the trees to find our way out of Headley via the two dip run. Coming up on the first slope JonH commented to me how were weren’t picking up speed while going down but it gradually took us. Dandy very near took us both as he charged between the two of us in a typical “A&E or bust” display of cycling prowess backed up only by a unique fashion sense. No bones broken but a few shaken up and a few sideways moments.

We were grateful to find Box Hill open and cakes plentiful although it was the first time I’ve been there since the extensive redevelopment and increased seating. Most of it was snow covered but we got the idea over a warm cup of hot chocolate into which I dipped my flap jack (try it!).

Jon climbing through Norbury Park in the snow

We took a variety of ways down and one too many offs for me led to a very bruised knee and a need to take the flatter route home while some of the remaining Moles headed back up to Norbury park.

An excellent experience, with some great photos of the North Downs in the snow on Flickr.

Moles in the snow from muddymoles on Vimeo.

Filed under Rides in February 2012


About the author

Dave's been riding seriously since about 1997 and is one of the founding Molefathers — along with Matt and Mark — that came up with the idea of a MTB website for Mole Valley riders.

He's had several different bikes but it's now mainly 29ers in Dave's stable, apart from an Orange 5.

Current Bikes: Orange 5, Salsa Spearfish and Kona Big Unit

There are 11 comments on ‘Ride Report – Sunday 5 February – In the snow’

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  1. JR says:

    Good conditions for riding in the snow, thank goodness the Box Hill tea shop was open.

  2. StevenD says:

    Nice report, pics and video all together – it is good to see. In the video at 1.30 Dave proves the point that you can capture your best moves with an action cam, then maybe have evidence of reckless riding by the D’Andy ? and I notice JR is a secret scene stealer as he again works his way into the coverage 😆
    Clearly good fun and disappointed that it would have been too difficult to join you all.

  3. Jez says:

    Great stuff. I never made out to you guys in the end. It was a bit of a slog so just went to Box Hill, Headley and back to Epsom.

  4. Big al says:

    Shame I missed this one , but snowed in with a Rear wheeled drive BMW !!! . Spent the morning clearing snow
    off the drive .

  5. Matt says:

    I really wanted to ride further on Sunday but alas I needed to get back pronto.

    Even so, I didn’t get home until 10:30 after stopping to chat for ten minutes to a mate at Thorncroft and then skirting the large field past Roaring House Farm.

    It was a huge laugh riding in the snow which seems a hell of a lot easier when you are blazing your own trail – I find following someone means I get sucked into following their wavering wheeltracks which means I slip and slide even more.

    Had a bit of a moment heading past Tyrells Wood, my own fault for not paying attention to speed and hazard ahead but it reminded me how easy it is to get into trouble. I would have loved to ride down Box Hill in the snow (great pic!) but suspect I would have stacked it in front of hundreds of spectators!!

  6. Markymark says:

    It was a real slog over from Epsom Downs. As you saw at Headley it was much deeper over this way. Bizarre to see the top of Alsatian so deep too and yet only 1/3rd of the way down it had virtually disappeared.

    Nice bit of filming DaveC. LoM was hugely enjoyable, unridden that morning and only a few footprints and dogprints helping show the way.

  7. Markymark says:

    P.S. did anyone get a pic of my ‘artwork’ at the top of Alsatian?

  8. tony says:

    I do love riding in the snow and I had a great few moments. Although many of us are probably trying to get the mental image of D’Andy’s stocking top flash-of-flesh out of our minds.

    Caught on the video. I did almost give Dave a Nobbly Nic tatoo on his back when he crashed into a rut right in front of me. We had plenty of comedy crashes.

    The best bit was definitely heading down the face of BoxHill. It all seemed fairly straight forward in the powder snow at the top but at the bottom where the sledges had polished the snow, sketchy hardly begins to describe how it was. The best single moment was about half way down as D’Andy and I rode down, a guy was heading down on a sledge in full TA wannabe camo looking serious, D’Andy uttered the classic “Target aquired” and we buzzed the sledge either side at about twice the sledge speed. I was still laughing at the bottom of the hill.

  9. Guacamole says:

    Target acquired! Love it. As for me I was so intent on staying vertical on the Boxhill descent I nearly ended up in Rykas car park rather than exiting neatly through the gate at the bottom.

    Epic ride, I nearly made it round without a significant off only to fall in Norbury Park. It was done with great style as Tony will confirm with more than a hint of a balletic movement to end the graceful glide to halt

  10. Tony says:

    It was indeed a dying swan of a fall. Complete with a arm thrown out in the end to finish off the move. Technical quality 9.4 artistic impression 9.9.

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