Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 6 June – Not so little crunch

Posted by DaveC | June 6, 2010 | 20 comments so far

We’re really going to try and avoid “crunch” references in the titles!

Today wasn’t Matt’s day and ironically not a day for my Spider 29er either.

12 good men and true assembled at the Farm this morning. The Role call included Matt, Jem, AndyC, Ian, Paul901, Paul, Mike, Joe, John, Barrie, Colin and myself. Matt was on my Spider.

We’d had a nice little route planned that took us on some loops round Headley and then over to Box Hill but the heavy downpour we had in Fetcham at around midnight had pretty much ended that idea in my mind as there was a fair bit of off camber stuff involved. We decided to push off towards Alsation and maybe take in Chainbreaker.

As we started to hit trails it became apparent that most of the rain had been sucked into the thirsty soil and on the first high speed left hander near the Leatherhead Reservoir I’d pretty much decided that we’d give the Alpine Trail a go.

We headed up Alsation with me forming a mobile road block at the front until the road crossing. Here as I paused for breath the rest of the Moles sped past and we climbed up to the gatehouse. I switched on my fork mounted camera at this point and started to get some footage as we headed left towards Mickleham and Box Hill. The camera twice decided to swing round and shoot backwards so I stopped to give it a little fettle as we headed towards the Alpine Trail, so called as it’s an off camber traverse with steep falls on the right if you hit any of the numerous roots wrong. The trail starts with a nice flowy section before the path narrows and the drops get more serious then ends with a technical drop down over a root bulb and a tight left hander. Regrettably it all went wrong for Matt here.

After the post mortem there was no clear cause of the crash but strange tyres, strange bike, speed, tight pedals and wide saddle all seemed to play a part. Whatever the cause Matt ended up in the bushes with several cut off branches providing a real bruising. To make it worse the Spider come over on top of him and the SPD buried itself in his thigh. Nasty! He did carry on though and one of those weird results was that he could hardly walk and stand but was still able to pull off some decent climbs on the bike.

The rest of us had a go over the roots to varying degrees of success and after a brief regrouping in the car park we headed off up the High Ashurst climb. At the top I added a bit of fun by turning left and following a nice downhill with a tight right hander in a rock strewn gully. Excellent technical riding! The gotcha is the climb up the other side!

After a rest at the top we headed to Secret Singletrack and I followed Jem in as I’d done several times today and found that his recent trip to the Spanish Mountains has made him even faster! I just about managed to stay in touch! Matt followed us in and had a comedy off as he failed to get unclipped from the tight pedals, giving another clue as to the earlier off.

We regrouped and headed back off over Headley towards our goal of cake at Box Hill. Fairly good speed was maintained and I watch Barrie lock up in spectacular fashion as he followed Colin into a tight left hander.

At Box Hill Matt showed off his grazed arm but the female roadie in front of us in the queue didn’t bat an eyelid. No gravle rash, no problem I reckon! Matt was clearly thinking of home at this point and decided to lead a break away party down Juniper Bottom for a straighter ride home. The rest of us decided we’d have a look and see if China Pig was in better condition than Wednesday night. It proved to be so!

I like China Pig a lot as a technical challenge but I do find I run out of puff about 2/3rd of the way down or close to the rooty off camber section. Today was no different but as AndyC caught me up we both took it steady over the roots and enjoyed the final swoop down.

From there a quick blat along Stane Street before the high speed chase behind Colin down Alsation. Road way clearances from Joe and Colin, maybe others.

Another good ride for me, get better soon Matt and remember to post the bruise photos!

Filed under Rides in June 2010


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 20 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 6 June – Not so little crunch’

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  1. paul901 says:

    Great videos but my God! they make it look easy.

    I really suffered today from lots of exercise in the week and could have done with one more rest day before today day but hugely enjoyable anyway.

    Best part for me was the Box Hill rest stop. Lousy hot chocolate that I tipped away BTW. All the roadies looking serious, superior and as immaculate as possible, not the done thing to look like you have had to work up the zig zag. It leaves me embarrassed to be one of them most of the time.

    All the MTBers looking grungy, dirty and smiling and anyone looking otherwise would probably go round the trails again in shame before having to be told to do so. Lots of laughs!

    I’m still grinning at how fantastic Elixir 5 brakes are compared with any Shimano, SRAM or Campag road brakes, enjoying that I’m off the brakes more downhill and amused with off-road clothes. They’re fantastic, pockets everywhere on the shorts, practicality of the Camelbak and discovered a headphone cable opening and a gel pocket. You’ve all probably forgotten basics like this but for me it’s a blast.

    Thanks for the support and patience as usual. This is my most enjoyable ride of the weekly routine.

  2. Andrew "Turner Guy" says:

    Wasn’t sure if the ride was on as there was nothing posted on the muddy moles website!

    But I wore myself out the previous day combining the Nirvana Killer loop with the diary of a mountain biker single track blast and another extension that I think went into waggledance (following a local guide I met at the tower).

    36.5 miles and 5250ft of climbing. Spent Sunday morning building up my Voodoo Wanga for my 100mile Cairngorms road ride of Saturday – so gonna miss another muddy moles Sunday 🙁

  3. Matt says:

    Despite the title I’d say that was the heaviest accident I’ve had on the bike since I broke my collarbone – and it could have been much worse as I really thought I’d broken my leg. My elbow took a lot of stick too so it’s not hard to imagine multiple bones broken.

    What happened? In short the swoopy S-section round and down past the fallen tree at the end of the Alpine Trail caught me out.

    I found it almost impossible to get the front end of Dave’s 29er slowed and round that section and went over the bars into the underbrush on the left which is littered with small branches and tree stumps.

    I landed first on my elbow and rolled onto my back. Shortly after the Spider descended on me, probably 28lbs of bike dropped from a height and hitting me with the end of the pedal on the outside of my uper thigh. I really thought it was broken.

    Why did it happen? I don’t know. Possibly I was going too fast (but only Joe who was following could say really). I felt I was riding at a comfortable speed but had found the front to be wandering a couple of times on the off-camber sections.

    I’ve ridden this bike before over Leith Hill and Summer Lightning and found it to be a pretty wieldy tool, certainly not a problem being a 29er.

    Yesterday in contrast it felt completely different, with no turn in bite to speak of and a lot of inertia to turning. A longer Reba fork I think and summer spec Bontrager XDX tyres were different to last time.

    Also different to my usual bikes were the brakes, Deore hydraulics rather than my Elixirs. They certainly have a different power delivery and in my opinion are not as powerful, particularly in initial bite. So that, with the tyres and fork are the most likely contributing factors.

    A final complication was Dave’s saddle which I found subsequently was far too wide for me to get off the back of and impossible for me to get back on once I’d done so. I don’t remember any conscious thought of this at the time though.

    I keep thinking if it would have happened on my regular bikes and I don’t think it would. Against that there’s nothing I can point to on Dave’s bike that on it’s own could have caused the accident. Maybe all things together or maybe I was just going too fast. As I said, I don’t know.

    All in all a very nasty incident with me unable to walk comfortably at the moment and plenty of bruises down my left side. I’m not complaining because it could have been worse but it shows that even ‘experienced’ riders make rookie errors.

    Next time anyone borrows a bike, I suggest they tweak it carefully to suit them!!

  4. Dave says:

    I’ve change the title to reflect the serious nature of the crash. Not my intention to belittle it!

  5. KC says:

    Sorry to hear that you had a tumble on Sunday Matt and I wish you well soon.

    My tumble got me to thinking why it happened and given I am a relative novice there are many possible reasons. I guess I may possibly get some more training and try and focus further ahead but I think that the main reason for my accident was ignoring a basic rule of the road; be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Firing into a clump of trees hoping there will be a clear route through is pretty mindless in retrospect, albeit we can take comfort from those that have just done the same thing directly in front of us. When in doubt just slow it down I shall tell myself.

    Given all this I am reconciled to my learning process being one that will be punctuated with errors and falls. I hope that by investing in good gear I will come off lightly; certainly my helmet saved me a big gash or worse to my head.

    All said, I was so grumpy on Sunday I managed a short ride with Sue and felt pretty good. No heroics, just a plain xc route across Bookham Common. Leatherhead Leisure Centre, Bocketts and back via the Rectory Lane descent. It was a joy to be back on the full susser again and the trails are just great at the moment.

    Keep safe!

  6. Paul says:

    If you think about just how much “tweaking” some of us do to our bikes to get a good setup… trying someone else’s bike is sure to disadvantage when it gets tricky. And the 29er attacking after the fall, well thats just savage – Dave, what sort of beast are you breeding there!!?

    Hope you recover quick Matt, shame you couldn’t continue with the rest of us. Lots of smiley faces at the end of China Pig 🙂

  7. PIJ says:

    GWS Matt!

    Shimano brakes? Blame them every time. They do work, but the servo action takes a bit of getting used to and ultimately they do lack power compared to a lot of others. I’ve upped mine to a 203mm and they’re still feeble. I still use 160mm on my Hayes and Magura, so I’m not a Hamilton under braking either.

    Great vid by the way. The low position gives a good impression of speed, plus the narrow trails used emphasised it well. Your Alpine trail I’ve always ridden past, but always figured it for a footpath just to the top. Plus at that junction one is usually travelling too fast downhill to stop and look!

    Feel sorry for the guy who lent you the rig.


  8. Bazza says:

    Hi All

    Thanks for yesterday, really good fun out there. Dave the video looks great and it’s a good angle, mind the side wall writing is hypnotic!

    Matt hope you are feeling better but i am sure there are less painfull ways to get stiff!….

    cheers everyone


  9. StevenD says:

    @Matt, sorry to read about your crash. It reminds me a bit of mine, I could climb a 1:7 hill afterwards but struggled to walk for days. I hope you get well soon.

    I have just got back from 8 days in South Holland, and I was on really well maintained forest trails every day. Feeling a bit knackered but also fitter, despite one route going (literally) through a trappist monastery with great beers to sample.

    One thing I found though, and this might be a pointer for Matt, was that I recently changed back to Bonty XDXs and in the slippier forest sections (I was out in the rain one day) I struggled with the front end, nearly losing it over some roots and partly buried tree trunks that were laid across the trail. I wish I had my Mud-xs with me.

    Do not get me wrong, I think the XDXs are a good summer trail tyre, but I now go faster and I keep forgetting that my beloved Mud-Xs are at the back of the garage when I come across the slippy stuff.

  10. Dave says:

    lol……now I can see Keith wanting to order one of those but Matt would need inflatable pants. Actually he would probably need knee length ones…….mind you they could double up on a long ride……….

    I’ll leave that one there.

  11. kc says:

    Bizarre though this may seem I have been fine all day today with only modest pain from the ribs. This posting just made me laugh and all the pain is back!

    I am going to have to take a enforced rest from the forum for a while!

  12. Colin says:

    Great ride taking in the pearls of this area – Alpine Trail, Secret Singletrack and China Pig all in one ride.

    Hope Matt makes a swift recovery, don’t think we’ll get him back on a 29er for a while!!

    And Dave, well done for the footage, you’ve finally cracked the hardware challenge.

  13. StevenD says:

    @Dave, nice video. I think that if I mounted a camera on my bike I would lose it so I am doubly impressed. There are some great segments of your ride and thank you for sharing.

  14. Jem says:

    Great ride boy’s really enjoyed the company and the bike today. The trails are spot on at the moment, puts a hugh grin on your face.


    I have suspected for a while, but now my suspicions are revealed. You are a Porn writer aren’t you?

    And I quote;

    The SPD (what’s SPD stand for, is it sizable protruding di..k?) buried itself into his thigh. Nasty. He did carry on though and one of those weird re: sluts was that he could hardly walk and stand but was still able to pull off some!!!!

    Now that you have a high def: camera you could also get into the filming.

    Great footage mate, really impressed.

    Hope that your thigh is not too painful Matt, maybe a session with one of these sluts will take the pain away! Get better soon.

  15. DaveW says:

    Commiserations on the bike crash Dave – at least you weren’t riding it at the time!

    Matt, I don’t think you really need such a long string of excuses for falling off on that section ;o) The unfamiliar bike is sufficient. I’ve stacked it a number of times on that section and seen numerous people do the same – plenty of people don’t even attempt it and just get off and push.

    Even the usually exemplary rider Lee(roybrown / Commencal XT / DOAMB) dissapeared into the bushes when I was following him down there a couple of months back.

    It added injury to insult though to hit those branch ends and then to be attacked by a 29″ spider – v. bad luck. Hope you feel better soon mate.

  16. PIJ says:

    Hmmm, I’ve just ridden your Alpine trail. The off-camber bit, rooty sections and dappled light is all bad enough, but that “little s-bend” at the bottom?? You’re telling me that people ride that? You made it sound an innocent, if a bit of a troublesome worry. I got half way around, back brake slipping, all my weight over the front with nowhere obvious to go other than over the handlebars. I got off, and shook my head at you lot.

    No wonder you hurt. Good on you for attacking it, and having the nerve to do so. Sorts the men from the boys, and I’m 100% in the boys camp… er, if you see what I mean…


  17. D'AndyC says:

    PIJ outs himself as ‘camp boy’ shock!

    It could be worse PIJ; before I rode with the Moles I was a 10 stone weakling, now I am two separate gorillas !

    (wrt Viv Stanshall RIP)

  18. PIJ says:

    Ha ha! I’ve been outed. Better join the scouts quick. Dib dab. More of a worry is that the Alpine trail ends in a remote and secluded lay-by.

    But seriously folks….

    Have to take my hats of to you guys if you clear the s-section. Even if you do all wear gorilla suits??


  19. Dave says:

    In fairness to Andy he does normally reserve the Gorilla suit for a Saturday night. If he turns up for a ride on Sunday with it on you know it must have been a good night and in the open air the stale beer smell is tolerable.

    The end section is tricky but I’d rather do that than getting air on a fast section which I think it potentially far more dangerous. A slow technical section is what it’s all about for me.

    The S-section is really just about control and weigh distribution. Having a seat post that drops really helps! The direction I take in the video is probably not the easiest you just have to know that the root step is doable and that flattens the S out a lot.

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