Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Wednesday 11 November – Headley

Posted by Matt | November 12, 2009 | 15 comments so far

Last night proved to be an interesting ride for several reasons. Ultimately the prospect of slippery, muddy trails failed to be a sufficient draw for many of our regulars which meant just Jem, James, Del and myself turned up at the garage for the off. We were joined later by a late starting Tony, who met us after his kids’ parents evening at the top of Alsation (strange place for a parents evening I hear you say!).

So, leaving Bookham my idea was to do a Headley ride in reverse, if such a thing is possible. We headed down past Bocketts Farm along the cheeky singletrack by the big field before crossing Young Street and heading down to the river Mole at a fairly brisk pace as I’d agreed with Tony we’d meet near the Leisure Centre. As it happened we were a few minutes late but a quick phone call revealed he was half way up Alsation so we agreed we’d meet at the top.

Crossing the A24 was a bit fraught as we blinded most of the drivers coming down the hill and got a few horn blast for it but we all made it across safely and started on the climb. It’s a smidge less slippy than it was the other day but standing on the cranks still means carefully balancing the weight distribution to make sure you don’t spin all that effort away. Hard work.

We then carried on to the top of the golf course having picked up Tony before continuing round to Headley. At the foot of Secret Singletrack I had to stop to sort a mechanical as my doofer/chain tensioner (call it what you will) had dropped the jockey wheel. After a bit of fiddling it seemed the problem was the bolt was stripping slightly but we managed to persuade it to grip for a bit more.

Finally we set off across Headley, with us all deep in conversation as the miles passed at a fair old rate. I’m pretty pleased with the way I’m able to dig in on the climbs at the moment, almost relishing the pain involved (and believe me it does hurt!).

The sharp declines and ascents across here really take their toll though. Having reached the road near High Ashurst we were forced to stop again for more doofer fiddling and by the time we’d made it to the Box Hill road it was in a sorry state.

Patched up as best as possible we quickly sped along the road to the descent down to Juniper Bottom. It was oh-so-tempting to try China Pig but with wet greasy mud everywhere and knowing there’s plenty of off-camber roots down there I decided to head straight down the valley. What an eye-opener that was!

Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ridden the descent for months. DaveC recently climbed it with James and mentioned he’d been confronted by a wave of water coming down (not as much as I found at Bordon though…) and the evidence was there to see.

Huge ruts and gulleys seem to have been cut in to the surface near the top which meant I had to chuck the bike around and over them to avoid going over the bars. Weight back, hop the front wheel over and all should be fine.

By the time we’d reached the bottom, the trail pixies had decided to claim the jockey wheel on my doofer which had obviously bounced clean off. At first I was worried I’d bust a spoke or something on the gulleys but it was just the chain flapping off both rings!

Within a short space of time though we realised that Tony hadn’t appeared. Fearing the worst, we turned and dragged ourselves back up the trail, I was able to keep the chain on with the positive tension coming from steady pedalling. Fortunately, just as the trail decided to really get steep Tony appeared out of the darkness and in one piece, nursing his bike down with a front puncture. Thank God for that, I was starting to wonder if another injury was on the cards.

Puncture fixed we trundled down to the road and again my chain miraculously stayed on. But it was clear I didn’t have many trail options open to me. With the fast pace starting to tell anyway we rode back through Mickleham village before climbing up through Norbury Park.

The climbing was ideal for keeping the chain in place but it didn’t do my legs any favours! Eventually though we rolled down through the park and on to Roaring House Farm and home for a respectably prompt finish. I had 15 miles on the clock at 9.9mph average by the time I got home.

A special mention needs to go to Del who it turns out is a director of Four4th bike lights (pronounced ‘fourth’). He’s a UK based engineer and manufacturer from Farnborough who has developed some very impressive looking LED MTB lights that chuck out a claimed 1200 lumens from a tiny unit – all very neatly CNC machined and anodised.

Del was kind enough to take my broken doofer off me for repair with a special anodised finish which I’ll be very interested to see. As for the lights, suffice to say he had plenty of output for his (and everyone else’s) needs – a set for review is on its way soon so watch this space.

Filed under Rides in November 2009


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.

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  1. James says:

    Another great ride. Had to push myself to keep up, I have a little man flu and 4.5 hours sleep the previous night and having already ridden to work and back I was a little tired but still enjoyed the ride. I was a little muddy at the end so think I might invest in a Neoguard and maybe the rear guard, Matt which rear guard do you have as I want a detachable one?

  2. Matt says:

    James, you seemed to be keeping up pretty well – I was conscious we weren’t hanging around.

    Mudguard-wise, I had the latest Crud rear mudguard on last night. If you want one with a quick release, Cycraguard do one which I use on the Orange.

    Both work well, depends on what you want – the quick release one makes it easy for thieves if you’re commuting with it? And is slightly heavier.

    Something to think about but performance wise they’re much the same.

  3. tony says:

    I seemed to have legs of lead last night! Very strange – I blame it on the parents evening – since I can’t think of anything else that might have caused it. Apart from my lack of fitness of course.

    The front puncture coming down Juniper Bottom was of the “interesting” type since it was quite slippery without having to content with a tyre going down too.

    When I got home investiagations revealed a partial separation of valve from tube. It looks like the new Fire XC on my winter stead is so loose that the tyre moved. I was still impressed that the sealant in the tyre only meant a slow deflation. A rapid loss of air coming up to some of the big ruts on Juniper Bottom would have been quite “exciting”.

    So some bigger rim tape is going on, plus a locking ring (I never can be bothered but probably should!) on the new tube.

    Otherwise, very good ride and the SKS front / Crud rear guard combo kept me remarkably mud free.

  4. Matt says:

    On the subject of ‘rim issues’, I’m reminded of the time back in the primordial soup of MTBing when Dave’s rough rim(?) or tape resulted in a ripped valve practically every ride for about six weeks.

    Oh how he laughed…!

  5. Dave says:

    …and that was the end of rim tape for me and the introduction of insulation tape instead. Actually that sticy material based rim tape is good but this was like a heat shrunk cover that just slipped round slicing the valve off.

    Been in the garage fettling today. CRC delivered a Kenda Klaw 29er rear tyre which has gone on the Spider with a Nevagal on on the front. Pikes on the 5 now have an extra firm spring in them so Looking forward to giving those a go although I fear it’ll be many months before I’m able to find sufficient traction to test them properly.

  6. Jem says:

    Hi James,

    Good to meet you yesterday eve: How did you rear skirt perform keeping the mud off.

    The detachable rear guard I use is the Topeak rear defender. It seems to stay put and do the job.


  7. Andy C says:

    Another vicarious ride for me, from the comfort of my dining room. I did manage 35 mins on the exercise bike on Tuesday, and should do the same tonight.

    My bright green Chris King hubs arrived today, all the way from USA. Pace should get built up soon.

    James – No need for a neoguard, just ziptie a piece of inner tube between the fork bridge and the crown. Very smart in ‘stealth black’

  8. Colin says:

    Andy, i’m disgusted. You bling up the new Pace and then zip tie a torn up piece of inner tube to the forks.

    Have ye no shame? Has the recuperation period had an adverse impact on your mindset?

    I can understand not wanting to spoil the asthetics by fitting a ‘Captain Beaky’ fast fender (!) but c’mon man, snap out of it and bling it baby

  9. James says:

    Colin you took the words from my mouth!! Although I will fashion a 3l Coke bottle for the rear guard!!!!

  10. tony says:

    Andy we want to see “no soft drink can shim engineering” on the Pace either. I know you love the application of a good shim.

    Bling, Bling, Bling!

    I hope that the new wheels will have matching green nipples?

  11. Matt says:

    Ooh, green nipples, nice call. I’d go further and suggest a quarter turn of spokes in either white or green with the other three quarters in black. That would be a truly unique build.

    As for mudguards, by coincidence I’ve just been trying out the Mucky Nutz Fender Bender which came in the post yesterday. What a test it got this morning! I’ll do a full review in due course, but might be worth a punt? Very stealth.

  12. James says:

    I had a look at the fender bender but not many reviews so bought the neo thingy. Aint that typical!!

  13. Andy C says:

    A sudden intrusion of work has resulted in less time perusing the Moles’ site, so I missed the entire discussion regarding the colour of my nipples.

    But first, to answer Colin’s and Tony’s valid criticism, I confess I too had second thoughts on the cheapy inner tube solution, but I do find the Neoguard logo too intrusive.

    It looks like Matt may have found the answer in the Mucky Nutz, depending on his review. And at only £7 it could help offset the cost of my full X-0 groupset in the anodised green colourway and green Truvativ Noir carbon cranks.

    Onto my much discussed nipples. I had not thought of green; I was going for the plain silver spokes to avoid being too tarty (guffaw) and to match the greys and silver elsewhere. Now I am going to have to spend an evening researching nipples, better be careful what I type into Google then as I don’t want to repeat the ‘Intense Tranny’ experience.

  14. Muddymoles says:

    My pink anodised chain tensioner

    Four4th lights help in refettling my chain tensioner with the result I now own a unique pink anodised doofer!

  15. Related: My pink anodised chain tensioner | Mutterings, Lifestyle | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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