Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 8 August – Summer Epic

Posted by DaveW | August 9, 2010 | 18 comments so far

With cloudy skies above the epic that was about to unfold was not totally clear!

With the usual start from Bockett’s farm scheduled for half past eight, 4 riders decided to put a few extra miles in. Il Dandino started from Kingston at about 7am and Darren, Amanda and myself started from Epsom just before 7:15am. I led the latter group over Epsom Downs, up to Walton-on-the-Hill, Headley, SST, Nower Wood, Life on Mars, Stane Street, King William steps, Norbury Hill mast, Infestation and Bocketts.

I was trying out Amanda’s Titus El Guapo, having a couple of dodgy moments on the way out including a great ‘broady’ at the top of Infestation, forgetting about the reversed brakes! Darren and Amanda kindly switched these over at Bocketts car park and I put some more air in the tires, not being used to Amanda’s extra squishy setup (Paul901 would have a fit – I think we are talking less than 25 psi…). Amanda and Darren were riding their hardcore Elsworth tandem.

The group gathering at Bocketts included DaveC, Guy Turner, Keith, Il Dandino, Suren, Amanda, Darren, Jez, Les(?) Barry and myself.

The most popular options seemed to be a ride over to Leith Hill, or a ride to Leith Hill via Brockham and Redlands. The latter is quite a long loop and would restrict the time we had to play on the technical bits, so we opted for a straight to Leith Hill area jaunt, plus technical play time.

With a view to coming back via Yew Trees, we took the Hogden track to Ranmore. I started out taking it easy, conserving energy for what for me was likely to be a 45mile+ day, but on being passed by Andy Turnerguy that pesky competitive urge took me and I stuck on his tail until the last few hundred yards when I put on a spurt and made it to the top first.

DaveC and Keith spent some time wrestling with Keith’s tubeless flat, giving us all the chance to get our breath and have a chat, before heading for the Landrover descent, when Dave shot off at hight speed and proved very difficult to keep up with – maybe a bit of pent up frustration there from the UST wrestling exercise!

On we headed towards Coldharbour via Wolverns Lane, taking in the wiggly singletrack by the fence to the right, before seeking out some technical trails specifically requested by Dandy. As we took in a particularly technical loop I lost it going over a stump – the same spot where I fell last time I tried that trail. Thankfully a light tumble given that I was riding Amanda’s bike! A few sections of tight shore saw several riders pushing. I failed on the approach to one section, but cracked it on the second attempt. Later I spotted an error I thought I had made last time I’d ridden that trail and took the left fork rather than the right, finding a tall, narrow, windy and slightly wobbly section of elevated shore. Jedi took over here as I gazed on to the next section and rode up and over okay, but unfortunately Dandy wasn’t so lucky, taking a particularly harsh tumble off the side of the 5’ or so elevated shore as he tried to dab on a corner, forgetting that he had SPDs. The Met Parachute lid saved his face as the guard smacked the edge of the shore, but his leg took a harsh scrape to the right shin. He manfully got back on and continued, although declining a second attempt at the shore!

The next piece of trail was a twisty climb, with a few technical challenges – one of the hardest, a fallen tree, was cleared by Darren and Amanda on the tandem, whilst most of the rest of us pushed over it or dabbed. My excuse was that I didn’t want to damage the big ring on Amanda’s bike. Hopefully no one remembers that when I next ride that trail on my own bash ring equipped bike!

The payoff for that climb is (IMHO) one of the best downhill sections in the Surrey Hills. Jez went ahead of me, stopping on the road crossing half way down as I launched the first jump onto the road and the second jump into the next section of trail, hooning through to the end of the descent. It was great being first down and seeing the broad grins and wide eyes of each rider as they emerged into the clearing!

Dandy was particularly happy, having cleared the two jumps properly for the first time, virtually doing a victory dance with the excitement and satisfaction of owning that section!

Our tea and cake break was long overdue, so after a brief play in a drop off and jump area, some of us headed up to Leith Hill tower, whilst the others headed for home.

Keith was really suffering a serious energy ‘bonk’ by this time, somehow continuing to turn his pedals, possibly with the thought of tea and cake driving him towards the tower. On the way we saw a lithe looking guy of about 60 or 70 years old on a good but old XC bike and no helmet, slightly lost. We tried to direct him to Peaslake, but of course after some typical ‘turn left at the tree’ type directions we suggested he follow us up to the tower, after which we could direct him on bridlepaths.

Regrettably, on navigating the bombholes, our charge decided to ride down a steep roll in and his bike flew one way, whilst he flew the other, colliding horizontally with a tree, chest/belly first and collapsing in a heap on the ground. He had hit his jaw, but thankfully seemed able to continue after we checked him out and filled him with energy gel and water and setting him on the bridlepath up towards the tower.

After our tea break we started to head for home. I rode down Deliverance on Amanda’s bike to give it a proper test and Darren and Amanda followed on the tandem (!). By close to the start of Summer Lightning, the group had broken up and it was becoming clear that I was going to be late home, so I conveyed my apologies via DaveC and Darren, Amanda and myself split and headed back towards my place as fast as we – no, scrub that – as fast as I could!

We went via Summer Lightning, Wolverns, High Mediteranian, Ranmore Church and Denbies, joining Stane Street at Juniper Hill and following that to Epsom, before taking in the gradual climb over Epsom Downs to Dead Man’s Bench and then across the golf course and down Riflebutts alley to Epsom, getting to my house by five to two.

No idea how many miles. Quite a few and at a fast pace (for me). A fair bit of chafing and a new love for ‘El Guapo’ (And before anyone starts, I am talking about Amanda’s Titus bike and not Greg!).

Filed under Rides in August 2010


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  1. Dave says:

    We did a similar route back ending with the YHA descent and climb, feeling it was kinder to Les who was, by this time, also wilting.

    I felt good but tired by the time I got home at 2:05pm with 29 mile son the clock and 4400 calories burnt according to the HRM.

    Some excellent new trails and lots to tricky , technical descents I like. Not so sure about the shore though!

    Il Dandini was looking confident as he took the second jump. I was equally confident as I rolled it ;o)

    UST tyres are great….WITH liquid latex in them.

  2. TurnerGuy says:

    From a utube view of those jumps Il Dandini did it looks like the trail goes on forward from there, not left like we did. But the end of the utube vid looks particularly nasty so it is just as well we went left 🙂

    I got split from the ‘early bath’ group as I thought I had could see them ahead down a route to my right at the top of a climb just before we got to Ranmore, but I had told them to leave me if needed as I had my satmap. Hope they are not still out there waiting for me! Got back to the car park about 12:30.

  3. KC says:

    Where did all that fluid go! I really really suffered on this ride. I actually felt good for the first hour but was saying to myself hang back because it has been a bigish week for me. At the top of Wolverns and going into Summer Lightning I was full of energy.

    A half hour later and I was getting very tired and found even moderate hills a challenge. I thought it might be an energy problem so downed one, then later, another energy gel. This did nothing and I was finding it difficult to focus on what to do. My body told me to cut the ride as short as possible but I knew I had to get some fuel and more water so the Leith Hill Tower was the only viable option.

    At the tower I downed 4 orange juices, half a litre of water and an energy bar and rested. On kicking off again I felt ok for 5 minutes then the cramps started. Great more pleasurable riding to enjoy! Now my mind was firmly fixed on finishing this ride so I said my goodbye to Dave C who was waiting for others at the start of Summer Lightning and just kept a slow pedal going to try to avoid my legs cramping again. The strategy largely worked and I made it up over Ranmore and down Yew Trees to arrive home in OK shape but very relieved.

    So what went wrong? I took 2 litres of water in the backpack and I reckon I only drank one over the 3 hours to Leith. This would not normally be a problem but it is not enough and I must have been poorly hydrated before the ride started. With the juices and bottle I bought at Leith I downed 3.5 litres on the ride and 3 energy bars but these really did not take effect until I was over Ranmore. I also lost at least 2kg in weight even with the hydration programme!

    Looking back, I re-learned a powerful lesson.

    Drink lots, it’s too late when you are thirsty!!!!!

  4. TurnerGuy says:

    Apparently you need to be hydrated well before the event.

    Try some Zym tablets – I took some to the Cairngorms 100 mile ride recently (although didn’t actually have any myself) and gave them out to my sceptical riding partners, who then promptly ran out of puff at 50 miles, had some of my tablets – and went off reenergised. The son of one rider, who had only used a gym exercise bike in training before the ride and had borrowed a bike for the ride, was in a bad way, such that I offered to stay with him to get him back to the hotel. At 50 mile he then ate my Powerbar protein bar and had some Zym tablets in his drink and then we made it round the rest of the course, with little stops because of his saddle soreness> He then tried to power past me on the final climb, until cramp finally got him and the recovery van had to pick him up.

    Check out all the user reviews. They are like Nunn tablets.

  5. Dave says:

    ….and you can put Nuun in your bladders as they don;t contain anything for bacteria to feed on.

  6. Il Dandini says:

    Feeling guilty on many counts today:

    1. I confess it was me that wanted to tackle “the Particularly Technical Loop” (fight club rule 1) and dragged the group over to the far side of Leith Hill

    2. I persuaded the old geezer to come with us up to Leith Hill (forgetting we were going via the bombholes)

    3. I fielded a call from La Dandina at 2pm wondering where the hell I was (“still 90 minutes away love”)!

    It was a cracking ride though, with Highs & Lows for most of us! It was good to follow Dave Dubya over the tree roots on WoM, though I’m glad I wasn’t that close when I followed him at the start of ‘PTL’ where he again found his favourite stump.

    Unfortunately I was still following when we hit the final elevated shore, though no permanent damage done. However my right hand, weakened from last year’s fracture, took a fair whack again and is quite tender today. I will try that one with flats next time, or at least not clipped in, and remembering to focus on the exit, not the drop.

    Dave’s right about the second half, and I particularly enjoyed taking the drops at speed. It’s a great feeling when you clean an obstacle that you’ve previously avoided. And it wasn’t a victory dance when I turned the bike upside down and danced around it, just the realisation that my earlier fall off the shore had twisted the front shifter mech and a minor technical adjustment was required.

    OK, I may have ‘jigged’ a little, but I was quite excited.

    I do feel sorry for picking up the old geezer and persuading him it was easier to follow us to the tower. I just forgot the route we were taking, though direct, was a little ‘technical’.

    As Amanda pointed out, he should have realised when talking to me that we wouldn’t be sticking to the bridlepath, given that I was ‘armoured up’ and had almost a full-face helmet. I hope he’s not too sore today (besides, I was jealous of his Kevin Keegan perm).

    I really enjoyed the ride back, and I can report that Suren lost his ‘Deliverance cherry’ and successfully negotiated the descent.

    The ride back down Wolverns Lane is always a laugh, with plenty of little lips on the trail to boost off as you wind your way slowly back down the hill. My grin alone persuaded a couple that I met at the top of the Rookery climb that they had to come back down this way.

    We had a few ‘breather stops’ on the way back, and I’m happy to inform Darren & Amanda that we did as instructed and ensured Les was fit for nothing but the armchair by the time we got back to Bocketts.

    I was out of water, and had to stop at the Givons Grove petrol station for coffee and a bargain pack of Hobnob flapjack bars (£1 for 5). A final stop at a garage in West Ewell for a bottle of Lucozade Sport to see me back to Kingston meant that I rolled home over 8 hours after I left, with well over 50 miles under my wheels. What a cracking ride though!

  7. kc says:

    Thanks. I will give the tabs a try on the next ride.

  8. paul901 says:

    I am so glad I decided to bail out on Saturday, my posterior would not have survived that ride. Please tell me that the tandem is the name of a brand of bike and that two people did not ride a tandem up and down the trails that have me saying “they can’t be serious, no way do I want to ride that section”.

    Keith, +1 on trying Nuun or other salt tablets when you hit the wall. When I had a similar struggle on the “tale of two pairs” ride I was grateful of the Leith Hill extended stop. ‘Pippin’ (usually known as PaulM) did his breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, pre-lunch, lunch and second lunch hobbit thing of effortlessly scoffing seconds of cake. I was glad of the rest and one piece of cake however I dropped 2 whole Nuun tablets into a 500ml bottle of water. Too intensive for normal drinking but I had a theory that it was salt deficit rather than fluid deficit if nutrition and lack of rest are not obviously to blame. It seemed to work so I would be curious to see if you find similar next time it happens.

    Here’s hoping for a ‘balanced’ ride next week. 25 psi! Oh my God, I suspect my tyres would aks me to get off if I asked them to carry my weight at that pressure, lots of laughs. I might try to get down from 45 to 40 I cna pluck up the courage.

  9. turnerguy says:

    Did anyone else get bitten to hell – I am sitting with swollen up appendages 🙁

    Suren – was that you asking for Saturday riders on the Diary of a Mountain Biker forum the other week – normally I ride on a Saturday but that weekend was off.

  10. Jez Margetts says:

    Hi TurnerGuy. It was me and Barrie who lost you around Ranmore. We were waiting around at the road past the scout site having just headed straight up. Barrie back tracked to see if he could see you but assumed you must have peeled off somewhere so we headed off. Nasty climb that one. Not sure I want to do it again unless pushed for time.

  11. turnerguy says:

    Sorry for causing you hassle – my new chain was jumping – I either have a stiff link or I probably left it too long to change – didn’t help with the climb 🙁

    I made that same mistake on my last moles ride 2 weeks ago when trying to get back early with Andy661!

  12. Jez says:

    That’s a cracking photo by the way. One for permanent placement over that side ====>>>>

  13. StevenD says:

    One can never say that the Moles have boring rides can they ? Most weeks seem very eventful and the ride reports make this site a Monday morning must read.

    ‘Dandy wasn’t so lucky, taking a particularly harsh tumble off the side of the 5’ or so elevated shore as he tried to dab on a corner, forgetting that he had SPDs. The Met Parachute lid saved his face’

    Iif you are going to do elevated shore should the parachute not be on your back ?

    ‘his bike flew one way, whilst he flew the other, colliding horizontally with a tree’

    Now I have a certain feeling of deja vu.

    ‘it wasn’t a victory dance when I turned the bike upside down and danced around it’

    So there you have it, when you feel mightly pleased with yourself – do the Il Dandini, turn bike upside down and do a jig , the latest dance craze from Moleworld.

    ‘I do feel sorry for picking up the old geezer’

    Added to the list of; phrases you never thought Dandy would write. I just hope you gave him the card to your chiropractor and not your dentist.

    ‘That’s a cracking photo by the way. One for permanent placement over that side ====>>>>’

    Agreed, and printed off and framed and put on the office desk.

  14. DaveW says:

    I need to credit Darren for the photo – thanks for sending that over Amanda.

    I really do need to take a camera myself – that descent of Deliverence on a tandem was a sight to behold!

  15. StevenD says:

    I forgot about the tandem, stands back in amazement, disbelief and a certain amount of admiration. Oh well, refer to paragraph 1 on my post above.

    I just googled ‘Elsworth tandem’ and this thread was 2nd.

  16. AJ says:

    It was a wicked ride on Sunday and it is always good to get the tandem out for a spin especially on the more techinical trails make it more exciting. I must admit i though i had lost my post on the back of it to Barry who was brave enough to have a go and if his smile was anything to go by after the first downhill i could see he loved it. Next time we ar out if anyone wnat to have the ride of their life just let me know and you can have a swap.. It the best fun on 2 wheels.

  17. DaveW says:

    It occurred to me that the race home would have been quite stressful, if it weren’t for the comfort that Darren and Amanda like that sort of thing and despite the fact I was going at full tilt, were probably finding it quite a leisurely ride. As a result I really enjoyed pushing myself. Cheers!

  18. suren says:

    Hi Turnerguy, I’d be up for a sat ride tomorrow….

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