Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 8 November – There was mud

Posted by Matt | November 9, 2015 | 9 comments so far

The Moles at Reigate by Karl Attard Photography

Some (very) MuddyMoles at Reigate
Photo © Karl Attard Photography

In my mind is a simple mud index scale for assessing trail conditions. This week, for the first time in a long time it was raised from ‘Seasonal’ to ‘Substantial’. Only time will tell if we hit ‘Apocalyptic’ in the coming months…

It rained all of Saturday, at times rather heavily, augmenting an already damp week. After a pleasant evening in Jem’s man-cave (not a euphemism) in the company of local moles, watching D-dub find oblivion on Friday night, the generally accepted opinion was that the trails would have deteriorated and therefore an XC ride to Reigate made sense.

This opinion may have been formed with the aid of alcohol but its’ plausibility stuck in our minds, so that by the time we set out on Sunday morning, Reigate it was. Our ever revolving carousel of riders dumped Karl, Elliott, our world-renowned fluffer D’Andy and myself in the Bockett’s Farm car park, while Kev, Lloyd, DC and Jem among others stayed at home. DaveW did make a brief appearance but sans riding shoes which necessitated a return home and a rendezvous later in the ride.

Our route, for those who profess an interest in such things, was our classic XC route to Reigate and Gatton Park, essentially down to Leatherhead, up Alsation and past Tyrells Wood to Headley, then on to Reigate via the North Downs Way. It’s actually a route I’m very familiar with as I use it occassionally for my commute to work.

There are no technical challenges to speak of. It’s a bit of a slog really as Reigate is higher than Leatherhead so you are always trending slightly uphill despite numerous short, sharp ups and downs, but at least the return is quicker than the outbound journey as a result.

This week, the main feature was mud. Well, mud, and lung busting spasms of uphill activity fighting for altitude. The first was the Alsation climb which set the tone for the day by being masked by lots of wet leaf matter over the top of a slippery clay-based surface. I’m not convinced that keeping it on the clay was the way to go today really.

At the top of Alsation we briefly met Keith (Rotorist) from DoMTB who was heading in the opposite direction. We gamely plugged on, and met DaveW at Headley before continueing toward Reigate, both us and the bikes picking up a steadily increasing cloaking of mud. I was regretting riding without a down tube mudguard or clear glasses as the mud was getting thrown into my face on the descents.

The mild weather at least seemed to attract a lot of horse riders, walkers, runners and families out and as we neared Reigate we saw more and more. At Reigate we set off round Gatton Park but conditions were treacherous, and my progress through the trees was politely described by Karl as circumspect (translation: I was holding him up!).

My circumspection was understandable. I just didn’t trust the surface which was sodden and covered in fallen leaves to the extent you could barely see the trail. The trails were taking a toll on me and by the time we reached the Reigate Tea-Rooms I was wilting. I attempted to recover by the invocation of cake but despite a very moist Salted Caramel Chocolate cake (which was enjoyable but rather sweet) the gusty wind chilled me very quickly.

I was really feeling the cold, so I had to Tango up in my very orange Howies Dyfi jacket which I was to wear for the rest of the ride, along with the effects of the Salted Caramel Chocolate cake. What goes down can also, sometimes feel like it’s coming back up! In contrast karl appeared impervious to the wind chill but as he says, he ‘runs very hot’.

The ride back was similarly uneventful, with an enjoyable wobble through Margery Wood followed by the cut across the golf course. The soft ground made our already muddy selves a moving billboard for the Moles and very likely confirmed in most people’s minds that mountain bikers are crazy. We were plastered.

Secret Singletrack is quickly returning to its’ optimum riding state though as the bracken dies back, it’s a shame the children’s play area makes the top section so exposed as it’s now a lot less secret than it was! We had a blast through there and then parted from DaveW (whose car was parked at Headley) before heading for home. We indulged ourselves with Life on Mars which I can tell has plenty more surface water (and mud) than the planet itself, despite anything NASA might tell you.

A final run down Alsation, with D’Andy and Elliott pulling away while I again held up Karl rounded out the bulk of the ride, leaving us only to haul ourselves back to Bockett’s at a relatively early 12:00. The afternoon promised to be a leisurely one for me as I took my son and his cousin to see James Bond’s Spectre at the cinema, along with MarkJ and his missus. This proved to be the ideal recuperative option as with 24+ miles in my legs I was beat!

So, last week mist. This week, mud. What’s next??

Filed under Rides in November 2015


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 9 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 8 November – There was mud’

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  1. tony says:

    Out today with “the Slacker” it struck me (not literally thankfully) that it is the covering of leaves over the mud which makes it so tricky at the moment. You just can’t properly pick lines. I minced with the best of them on the trails and had to recuperate with a coffee at Domestique in Bookham.

  2. Elliot says:

    While it was very muddy and even started drizzling later on I think the most notable moistness was found in the carrot cake! Luckily I took up the offer of a fork as I can’t imagine the mess if I’d tried to just lift it up and start munching.

    In all the rides I’ve ‘attended’ this was only the third to Reigate, and the first two were like 4 years ago! Thus I was pretty much lost after Headley and actually found the route quite interesting. Legs were itchy after all that muck though 😉

    • Matt says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Elliott. I forget we don’t often head this way as I normally cover it at least once a month, more so during the summer. It’s never a gnarly experience, but a good one for basic mileage.

      Cakes were generous but a bit pricey, I don’t mind too much as they were quite tasty but I did get uncomfortably cold which I didn’t expect considering it was quite mild really.

  3. Karl says:

    A good and speedy ride report Matt.

    It was a bit gray, and very muddy, but who cares, riding is always good eh?

    Nice blokes, good eclectic company, a serious workout, and a very nice coffee with a view.

    Oh, and when it came to descending Alsation Matt, I could hardly keep up with you.. No ‘holding up’ there sir!

  4. Elliot says:

    Riddle for those not present; 5 riders out Sunday and 5 in the photo. No self timers, drones or passers-by made use of. How come we’re all in the pic?

    • John Romer, who you have never heard of before! says:

      As it’s a Karl pic it could be anything – remote shutter release, photoshopped in later . . . . ?

      Looks like I am finally going to have to do the winter mudguard application before I ride with the Moles again.

      Nice write up.

  5. Kev says:

    That picture of you girls posing at Reigate hill could tell a thousand stories!

    Oh and, is D’Dub hiding a bottle of vodka up his jersey?
    Love Karlos Fandango’s guns out in the mist, what a brute! 🙂

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