Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Wednesday 14 Jan – Norbury and Headley MTB loop

Posted by Matt | January 15, 2009 | 8 comments so far

It seems Upcoming works then. Last night we had 12 (count them, 12!) riders turn up for our regular night ride, possibly on the basis of Upcoming although there was a fair bit of coincidence involved too.

A lot of riders who’ve threatened to come out for a while actually did for a change. For the record we had Dave, Colin, Nick, Graham, Jeremy, Jem, Tony, John, DaveP, Lee, Mark and myself.

Perhaps there was an element of being lulled into a false sense of security with the warmer weather, not helped by my optimistic hopes that ground conditions would still be favourable after the dry weather recently. My predictions are as optimistic as Colin’s ‘just another 100 yards’ claims in Wales last year so should be treated with caution. Some of our riders already do that, the rest are learning!

After last weeks enjoyable blast we headed off in the same direction through Wiggly Wood and then back to the radio mast in Norbury via Crabtree Lane and down to the A24 at Mickleham. It had become apparent by then that conditions were far from favourable as the ground has acquired a very draggy top surface since the weekend thaw. Not muddy really, but incredibly sapping and the effects were starting to show amongst our riders.

DaveP, recovering from a nasty flu and six or seven weeks off the bike was first to bail out as the rest headed over to the climb up to Mickleham Gallops. There was further sorting of men from boys as we hauled our asses back up onto the hills. Most of us were in the boys camp and I was at the back with Mark.

Over the past weeks the fast conditions seem to have sold me a dummy into thinking I was regaining my fitness. This was a wake up call as my legs were clearly still tired from Sundays ride so I just settled in to spin up the climb, even stopping at one point for a breather. Mark was starting to feel the effects of only occasional riding in the past couple of years and limited exercise elsewhere and was clearly hitting the ‘not fun’ stage.

Mark and DaveP have my sympathy. We’ve said many times how riding is the only way to get fit for riding and I know first hand what it’s like to get back in the saddle again after a layoff. Mine was only three months but I still don’t expect to be firing on all cylinders for a while yet although it’s coming. In the meantime, it’s sodding hard work. All I can say is keep riding guys and it’ll come.

At the top of the Gallops we dived down Chainbreaker which was a real test for everyone in the damp and dark conditions. Some were riding it for the first time, John was on his first ever night ride and I managed to have a tail flapping moment over the log dropoff. Hats off to everyone for their safe arrival at the bottom.

Here we said goodbye to Dave, Mark, John, Nick, Graham and Jeremy who for various reasons needed an early return to base. Which left just Lee, Colin, Tony, Jem and myself to conquer the High Ashurst climb which was managed largely on foot with the emergency lung deployed.

The reward was reaching Headley, numerous stops where we gossiped like old women and the Secret Singletrack from Headley car park followed by the golf course run and Alsation.

This time I actually managed to jump the track half way down completely, a wonderful feeling as the chatter from the trail momentarily ceased before I landed both wheels smoothly on the downslope. Just to be clear though, it’s by no means a proper jump, just a bit of rising ground either side of a narrow tarmac track. I probably got six inches off the ground but the feeling was immense!

By then we were on the last leg back to Bookam via Leatherhead and Thorncroft Manor, interspersed with further long stops for chats. We were starting to get really tired so any excuse was fully taken advantage of. In all, 16 hard miles which I just hope pays off in the next few weeks. Holmbury beckons this weekend in an effort to mix up the riding a bit, should be fun.

Filed under Rides in January 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.

There are 8 comments on ‘Ride report: Wednesday 14 Jan – Norbury and Headley MTB loop’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

If you haven't had a chance yet, jump to our comments form if you have something to say.

  1. Mark says:

    I really enjoyed last night. It did bring home a number of points though.

    Firstly I need to work on my fitness. The pace nearly killed me at times last night, and the ride across the Gallops was one of the slowest longest slogs of my life.

    Secondly my bike needs a serious overhaul. The gears are just not sitting properly, which made “digging in” really difficult. I have spoken to Mr C, and he is going to have a look. If necessary (and it probably will be) a new cassette, chain etc might well be in order.

    Still enjoyed it though!

  2. Matt says:

    Glad you enjoyed last night, I had my doubts to be honest. As I said yesterday, it was bad timing coming out on a night when conditions were at their most taxing.

    I’m guessing your bike will need a freehub, cassette and chain as well as the inevitable jockey wheels.

    If, as seems likely, the shifters are dying you’re welcome to have my old Deore 9 speed shifters if you want (I think I still have them) which will let you move up to 9 speed.

    Cost wise I doubt there’s much, if any, difference.

  3. tony says:


    Next time we meet up I’ll try to bring along my chain checker so that you can check how much life you have left in your drivechain. If you catch a chain before it’s too knackered you can replace it without needing to replace the whole of the drivetrain.

    I enjoyed last night but it was a slog at times!

  4. Lee says:

    Mark, I’m going to be fitting most parts of a new drivechain on Saturday. Merlin currently have some very good offers on components if that helps and free delivery. In parts last night I really struggled when I had to put the power down as I just couldn’t hold a gear in some sprockets.

    Thought last night was a good ride, if a tad heavy on the legs, although not massively muddy – there were signs it’s going to get more churned up though! Alsation was still damn quick though.

    Actually very excited about Sunday. A chance to explore some new trails in daylight!

  5. John says:

    I really enjoyed my first proper night ride – I’ll definitely be along again soon.

  6. Dom says:

    Glad you had a good ride, 12 people is loads of lights and shadows, any shadow puppetry go on??!

    We went to Summer Lightning last night, took 1hr to get there, best I have done is about 35-40 mins so it was sloooowwww out, was good not to have cold feet.

    Matt, missed the gym????



    PS One of our lot has just got the Maxx D light, very very good…

  7. Matt says:

    Yup, I haven’t been to the gym in the past couple of weeks mainly because it’s a bit complicated fitting around my wife and kids.

    But the intention is still there. As I get fitter my recovery time should get less (I hope). The past few rides have been pretty hard and tiring.

    See, I’m full of excuses me…

    Expect I’ll see you soon Dom

  8. mike61 says:

    Hi Matt

    Our weekly evening rides are becoming increasingly popular, with both old faces and newbies turning up. I put it down to Christmas guilt.

    No change on who brings up the rear on the climbs though….I have that sewn up!



Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.