Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 9 March – three way split

Posted by Matt | March 10, 2014 | 21 comments so far

Dandy in Norbury Park

Yesterday we had a three way split – early trail ride, a Leith Hill ‘gnarr’ ride and a roadie epic. Of these, only the Leith ride was up on the forum, given that the other two were hastily arranged efforts in the face of circumstance, but I guess it shows how useful it is building contacts on our forum.

So, with D’Andy off to the rugger in the afternoon, and me heading off on a bizarre bonsai hunt, we both met up early for a short Mickleham ride, while Keith and Tony got some major miles in with a 100 mile loop (if you can call it that) to Brighton to show off their lycra in the sun. Meanwhile, Al headed up the gnarrl-sters at Leith. I know very little of how they got on but a forum silence and a few Strava discussions suggests they had a great time with Karl being returned in one piece.

For Dandy and I, our meet up was at an unusually early 7:45 at the Anchor pub in Bookham. I was wearing a merino base with a cycle top AND softshell gilet which made me feel warm walking out to my garage but was soon to prove unhelpfully hot at we progressed through the ride.

My enthusiasm to get going was such that I left the house without my Camelbak which I didn’t realise until I’d reached the pub and decided I needed a bit of air in the rear tyre. Fortunately I had my soigneur with me in the shape of D’andy who helpfully loaned me his pump. In return, we both discovered that the head screws onto the valve head, so it was a win-win experience.

Now pumped, off we went. Up Crabtree Kane and into the Hazels near Roaring House farm, managing to dodge dog walkers but in my case managing to snag most of the small saplings on the way through. Things improved when we picked up the trail down to Bockett’s when wonder of wonders I realised for the first time this year that our Surrey clay was drying out nicely.

I really enjoy riding this time of year. As the trails dry out there’s minimal undergrowth which means much freer progress. Our progress on the other hand was one of onwards and upwards, to Alsation. First time for a while for me and to be honest, pretty hard work following a sprightly D’Andy up there on his singlespeed. He did offer to let me go ahead but I wasn’t havig any of that!

The trail ahead

At the top we turned onto Staine Street and bombed down the rollercoaster, the benefits of a riding pair meaning little hanging around and a good flow developing. Down and up and down and up and round and along and we finally arrived up on Mickleham Gallops. With such a fine morning the day had the feel of long miles ahead, what a shame I couldn’t take advantage of it today. It also felt quite nice to be up and out so early with the trails feeling noticeably quieter, though we did see a large shoal of mountain bikers on the Gallops heading toward Box Hill.

Perhaps they weren’t fully aware that a much nice run if off the south eastern corner of the Gallops, which is where we headed for a bit of Lazy Batman (how many names are there for this now?!).

The long meandering trail is in fine condition, the flow helped further by the progress toward dryness I mentioned. Unfortunately, someone – in a misguided effort to make a point – has it in the head that they can place logs and sticks and branches across the trail which hampered our momentum a little. I understand the point but suspect the trails belong no more to that individual than they do to us.

After that, it was back up the hill to TNP, with the climb feeling quite manageable with the sun out. The Penguin was great fun as we threaded our way through, I think it’s my first time when I didn’t have to dab over a root or two.

After running back into Mickleham village we crossed the A24 and climbed up through Norbury Park, both D’Andy and I on a schedule to get back by 9:15, with the ride feeling it was winding down almost before it had started. We finished the morning’s activities with a nicely relaxed cruise down Infestation before heading back into Bookham. Our final stats showed around 11.5 miles or riding in about an hour and a quarter.

One of those ‘better-than-nothing’ rides that just leaves you wanting more. I’m hoping you can thank my purchase of a 29er specific rear mudguard for the upturn in the weather, I didn’t even need to clean the bike!

Filed under Rides in March 2014


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 21 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 9 March – three way split’

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  1. Colin says:

    “…….didn’t even need to clean the bike”

    Judging by the state of the cockpit in the second pic, I beg to differ!! and that’s even by my sloppy bike cleaning standards.

    Sounds like a Moles ride of old – quick getaway, blast round somewhere local and back before you’re missed. Nice

  2. Dandy says:

    A fine start to the day, indeed. I felt I deserved my rather liquid lunch 🙂 And after yesterday’s rugby (‘rugger’ is an English term 😉 ) I needed another, similar blast today to work off the beer and the disappointment. Trails drier again today, even the Admirals Track navigable without waterproof socks if you’re careful.

  3. J-R says:

    Sunday was an enchanting morning, which I decided to spend reacquainting myself with the road bike, since I’ve got the Compact 50 coming up, have done no riding for 2 weeks and no chance of weekday riding coming up.

    Even though I felt the lure of the trails, especially as I passed High Ashes Farm and Starvall Corner, it was a nice day for a road ride around Coldharbour and Box Hill. And 30 miles suited me fine.

    I am glad to hear that Karl was returned in one piece by the gnarrlsters.

  4. tony says:

    It was a fine day to be out yesterday and our little road loop was excellent. Mostly very few cars on the lanes and we both felt reasonably fresh at the end (even if I had to do a little loop of Bookham to get to my target). The MTB trails are indeed getting into increasingly better shape. I need to get the tyres on the dirt soon.

  5. Dave says:


    I get off having to right a full report and can just tag some bit on here.

    Karl, myself, Kev, BigAl, Tony2 and Elliot formed the additional ride which started from Leith Hill. Karl turned up looking worried that he thought he had seen JR on a road bike. I told him not to be so stupid………

    BigAl showed us round the trails as ever and what great fun it was in drying conditions. My initial thoughts on the Tower to SL extensions was quite muted but after tea and cake we gave them a bit of a ragging and they felt much better. They claimed Kev and myself on the second run though. I think we covered something like 16 miles (GPS varied by about 2 miles!) but it felt like much more. Few more weeks of this weather and it should be excellent conditions out there.

  6. KevS says:

    We had a great time slaloming between the roadies as Dave and I drove up over Whitedown on the way to Leith Hill with bikes hanging off the rack, none of em mine I might add. 😉

    After 3 months of miserable weather we were all enthused by the sun on our backs, drying trails and another of Big Al’s magical mystery tours around the gnarr on Leith.

    I was riding Dave’s Orange Gyro and what a magic carpet ride it was, easily floating over everything it was pointed at, both down and up. So much so that my confidence and speed got the better of me on the new SL trails that I had to step off and lay the bike down briefly as speed exceeded skill level!

    Other Moles also enjoyed the conditions too much and were forced to bail out, but not Karlos Fandango this time so all good! 🙂

  7. Dandy says:

    “Other Moles also enjoyed the conditions too much and were forced to bail out, but not Karlos Fandango this time” !!! Is there a typo here or something ?

  8. Karl says:

    Well take the Mick you lot, why not.. Personally I consider that my list of experiences, just make me an ‘experienced’ rider, so nerr.

    Anyway, thanks to Al for a great steer, up, down, and around the lovely Leith Hill. A magical morning full of the excitement of spring, with the air rammed full of scent and potential, fabulous vistas, and gorgeous warm light. What a treat.

    The new Tower to SL extension is a welcome addition, and like Dave. I enjoyed it better the second time round carrying a bit more pace. Excellent to ride some great techie stuff too to the N/E of the Tower, it’s the sort of trail that I enjoy best. Looking forward to a bit more drying out actually, as there was quite a lot of gloop at the bottom of some of those scream and drops!


  9. Elliot says:

    I can’t believe how much drying occurred in just a week! On the other hand, a few boggy bits remained. In fact I believe a certain velocipede with a chili pepper on its headtube was photographed stationary, upright and half way through a submarine dive?

  10. StevenD says:

    Pump head screws on, but keep the stopper in the half you are not using to maximise air intake. (you see I am becoming an expert with the big b*****d pump). 🙂

    I am glad everyone had a good w/e, it was almost like summer. FYI I have just got a Catlike Leaf helmet, if you are in the market for a new helmet then I recommend checking them out.

  11. DaveW says:

    Glad you all got some good riding in. I failed abismally – having nearly got to the meeting point at Leith Hill I realised I’d forgotten my camelback, so went on a mission to find some bottled water/sports drink, only to then recall that my wallet was in my camelback too. So I went home, picked up the bag and headed down to Coldharbour, thinking I might spot some familiar faces. However, on my first descent I came a cropper down some rooty steps, planting my face firmly in the filth, bending my rear derailleur and shredding the gear cable outer, so I had to spin back to the car in 1st and give it up for the day. I headed home via box hill and regretted it – the journey took ages due to the vast quantity of road cyclists. At least when you are on a bike you can easily overtake slow cyclists…

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