Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Wednesday 13 January – still snowy

Posted by Matt | January 14, 2010 | 9 comments so far

Last night seemed a common consensus that if you haven’t ridden in snow this year it was your last chance for a while. The weather is turning and despite a good covering of snow in the morning by evening temperatures were soaring. It was nearly 0°!

So up at the garage we had a pretty good turnout. Barrie, DaveW, Colin, James, AndyC, Jem, Tim, MattP7, Tony and myself made 10 riders venturing out. With the rapid thaw there was plenty of slush around which was to make things difficult throughout the ride.

First off, up Crabtree Lane and Wiggly Wood. The idea was an Effingham run, partly to keep the amount of descending at a sensible level and partly to give Tim a gentle introduction to night riding on his ‘cross bike! Generally it seemed less of a handicap than you’d imagine but I’d prefer at least some braking options available to me.

Wiggly Wood was quite a slog and it was soon apparant that few people had passed this way since our last roll through last week. Having warmed ourselves up we headed toward Tanners Hatch via the usual route which soon showed there was lots of snow around. It was no easier than last week except this time we continued to the Dorking Road, discovering on our way that we were first to blaze a trail this way since the snow started!

Very hard work but we were getting used to making occassional dabs to stay upright, plus the odd section on foot. The difficult riding continued up past Tanners, the problem being that the still-fresh snow had one line and veering off it meant you had real trouble keeping momentum and staying upright.

It surprised me really, I sort of expected the trail to have been ‘bashed’ a bit more by walkers and the odd 4×4 (they’ve got to be good for something!) but as we started on the climb to Ranmore everything was pretty much pristine. I was managing to keep going on my singlespeed reasonably well but soon had to get off and push for a spell.

Ahead of me, Colin and Jem made full use of their gears as they rolled on. 50 yards of pushing saw the trail start to level off so I climbed back on the bike and followed the tracks made by the others (I think Tony and Barrie were also ahead of me by now).

It was a blessing following the tracks as although the problems of steering and balance remained at least there was something to follow and I wasn’t just blundering through the thick snow as Colin and Jem were forced to do. The slower pace than usual and the heavy going resulted in one of the hardest climbs I’ve had for a while.

At least my core muscles were given a good workout as I was standing most of the time and the inevitable wobbles forced me to keep moving my weight on the bike to compensate. My forearms were burning!

Eventually we ‘summitted’ and watched as an inept 4×4 driver slewed his vehicle across the verge before beaching it by the edge of the road. What he was doing off-piste I don’t know but it ended with him stuck and not going anywhere. Echoes of last week’s BMW there.

The Ranmore road was sheet ice degenerating into soft slush and so proved a continual challenge. We stayed on it rather than venture onto Collarbone which we fully expected to be more heavily snowed up than the Tanners climb. So we carried right through to the turn off toward Effingham, being passed by a truck with snow plough at one point which didn’t seem to be doing much to improve the road conditions.

By now we were starting to tire but pressed on, eventually picking up the descent which started with almost impossible mud as patches showed through the softening surface. There was still tons of snow around through and as we started on the descent it was hard to make out where the obstacles were until you rode over them.

Again there was really just one line and moving away from this brought plenty of heart in mouth moments. My concentration wasn’t great and despite moving at a reasonable speed I had a few ‘moments’ of fishtailing, fortunately without coming to grief.

At the end of that we crossed over and picked up the route to Effingham. This is normally a great singlespeed spin but the surface was very unreliable tonight. Following DaveW I could see him continually losing the front and back of his bike as the surface grip kept changing and I suppose it was the same for everyone else.

Crossing the field near Effingham proved to be equally as bumpy and unforgiving in the snow as it is in the summer and the next section which we usually blast along felt as though I was riding with two flat tyres. A very strange feeling!

By the time we’d crossed Bookham Common we all knew we’d had a proper workout, a reasonable pace, lots of dig-in-and-pedal-dammit! work and an intense rattling from the rough surfaces. Great fun then!

My HRM said I’d burned 1730 calories in just 13.5 miles which was far shorter than the route felt. I’m guessing the snow is starting to leave us but what’s left behind is going to be a muddy hell for a while. I’ll find out on my Friday commute to Redhill!

Filed under Rides in January 2010


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: Wednesday 13 January – still snowy’

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  1. Tim says:

    Good ride !! Fair point about the brakes – anyone any idea how I can improve them ?

  2. Bazza says:

    Hey Matt,

    It felt like I had so many nearly off’s and sideways slides and tail end snaking, I certainly lost count, but glad I managed to stay upright, as I felt knackered last night and certainly by bookham common, I could not concentrate. I defiantly had very very hard work out all over, as I am still aching today. My monitor said I had burned off 2600 c after I had rolled back to Ashtead, delirious!…, then I opened the door and was thrust the baby, from Mrs R who said, see if you can get her to sleep!….., so you can imagine the next couple of hours of one spaced out father with baby. But still good stuff last night.

  3. James says:

    It was a blast, manged to keep the bike up and fell only once! It was indeed a tiring ride made worse as I had had an hour of snow riding comuting earlier. Stopped off for a Mars and a non diet coke on my journey home which was lush. Another mole-tastic ride.

  4. Colin says:

    What a killer ride, so exhausting but satisfying too. Despite Matt’s smoother than a silk codpiece pedalling technique on his SS, I was determined to capitalise on the challenge he faced up the Tanners climb, even more than the rest of us with gears. Barry then suffered a flat after passing me to add to the pleasure.

    Not that i’m competitive you understand, but it will be the one and only occasion I beat any of the lead peleton up a climb this year so i’ll enjoy the glory………….until Sunday’s rid at least.

    Don’t know my personal calorie burn count but closer to Baz’s i should imagine – judging by the binge i needed when I got home.

  5. John R says:


    I set off to join you in the slushly snow and ice last night, but found my back brake was graunching horribly. So I headed home and changed the pads instead.

    What a shame!

  6. Andy661 says:

    Sounded like a great ride.

    After my mechanical dramas i decided to get myself round Richmond Park this morning. Pristine it was not!

    The slush that had been frozen overnight was just beginning to melt and was horrible to try and get thru.

    My solution was to let 3-4 seconds of air out both tires [starting from 60psi], and get on the big ring at the front and the granny ring at the back.

    Think this have more grip and a smooth delivery of power, such as it was! Any other suggestions on how to cope with such conditions?

    Avoided a huge tank slapper, just. Lol.

    Got family duties this weekend but will be out with you after that.

    Looking to pick up some P7’s at the end of the month. There’s a million different ones on dealextreme… Any experience of them anyone?


  7. James says:

    60psi wow thats high, I run 40psi and that is on the high side for most riders

  8. Matt says:

    Barrie’s calorie cinsumption shows the difference between just riding with the group and having a three mile solo blast each way to get there. I’m betting you weren’t hanging around Barrie?!

    As for tyres, I run about 32psi in all my bikes. I’ve never tried 60psi but it sounds pretty sketchy to me and rather unforgiving. Guess it’s what you’re used to though.

    Andy if you want a decent, cheap P7 light this one seems popular ;o)

  9. Dave says:


    Obvious answer would be buy a mountain bike!

    However, I guess you could run 29er carbon forks if you have a 1.25″ head tube and the put a disc on the front end? Genesis Croix de Fer……

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