Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Wednesday 2 May – Sticky

Posted by Matt | May 3, 2012 | 5 comments so far

Having missed last weeks ride primarily due to apathy (is it just me or has all this rain started to get to you too?), I was determined to get out last night.

Not enthusiastic mind; just determined.

I’d managed a ride on Monday night, solo, shamed into getting out by Tony and MarkyMark’s efforts to ride in Sunday’s deluge. I was expecting it to be a swamp but it wasn’t really too bad, which gave me higher hopes than otherwise for Wednesday.

In the event, there was just a troika of riders out, DannyP, MarkyMark and myself. I couldn’t blame anyone for not being out as the rain started again just as we set off from the garage. It wasn’t heavy, just a misting really but it hung about all ride.

Up to Wiggly Wood and immediately I found myself struggling to keep pace with Danny who disappeared up ahead. I was riding the Inbred and really think it might be time to think about raising the gearing – 32:18 just feels too low to keep a comfortable pace up on level or slightly descending terrain. Of course, if I do up the gearing I will struggle uphill but riding a 32:17 equivalent on the 29er has given me hope!

But even so, last night I felt I had no power at all. I could grind away alright but the punch was lacking. Perhaps I was feeling the effects of sporadic riding in April followed by three nights on the trot this week (we managed a road ride on Tuesday night as well as my Monday effort).

Our route picked up on Lloyd’s suggestion on the forum, through Wiggly Wood, across to Polesden (and disappointment at seeing the bank now featuring a set of cut steps where you enter the estate), then the grind up from Tanners. I was, as expected, hard work as the trails are now sticky with mud; the kind that drags and saps at you all the way.

I was keen to keep the ride rolling so we had only a minimal stop at the top before continuing toward Badger Run and LandRover. Badger Run was pretty squirmy but fun and I rolled straight on down LandRover, again without pause. It was a case of showing it considered respect without mincing and everything felt nicely controlled. I quite like riding this sort of stuff on the hardtail as it ‘reconnects’ me to the trail. I know the Reba is going to track true and then it’s just a case of the back end following, in theory at least. Any thoughts of reconnecting with the trail by coming off and hitting it, hard, can go away though please!

At the bottom of LandRover the mad started to make itself apparant – not as vast puddles or the stuff, but in the fact the top surface was getting increasingly slippery, much more so than Monday night. It was easy to lose first the front end, then the back end is slow slides as we headed down to the railway. We crossed, then a short loop saw us heading back to climb up High Mediterranean.

At the point, Danny took off while I laboured away on the singlespeed with Mark stopping to chat on the long climb. Really, one day I’m going to take out my Muirwoods and see what it’s like to ride with the luxury of gears on a hardtail again!

After cresting the top of Ranmore we turned toward ATTW3 which promised to be a handful after our earlier experiences in the mud. And so it proved to be; after a mince at the top I have to say I rode it pretty badly all the way down. Clay, roots, Nobby Nics and this rider proving to be a sub-optimal combination.

After a few hundred yards on the A24 we turned up to climb Crabtree Lane and then pick up Jem’s Favourite into Norbury Park. By now I could feel the need for a snack coming on which added to my feeling of weariness. Jem’s Favourite was really nice though, the bikes fishtailing in turn as they hit patches of greasy mud as we progressed down the trail with a bit of gravity on our side.

Once in Norbury Park we headed up to the sawmill, then following the tarmac along to pick up the top of Crabtree Lane again along to the cottage. There’s a big tree down as the tarmac morphs into dirt which needed a bit of a climb to get over so watch out for that.

At the cottage pressed on, tyres and wheels bogged in cloying mud and startling an owl from its perch on the way. The singletrack path was slow going as wheels spun effort away breaking traction on each rise of the trail. At the end, we turned up toward Wiggly Wood again but first had to negotiate mud of unwarranted stickiness. It was the last thing I needed and it’s safe to say that although I was leading, I didn’t shake off Mark or Dan one little bit!

The reward was a slither through Wiggly Wood which I’m starting to enjoy in the ‘reverse’ direction. You couldn’t push because the track was if anything more slippery than when we started the ride but it’s a good skills boost to get used to losing and collecting each end of the bike in turn. I really enjoyed that.

I also really enjoyed getting home! It was a relatively short ride, and a relatively early finish as a result but I was glad to have got out. My Orange has been fettled in the gearage department recently (which was why I didn’t want to get it dirty last night) but having the ridden the Inbred it feels in need of a bit of tweaking too in terms of saddle and forks. So the revolving door of bike maintenance looks set to continue for a while yet.

Filed under Rides in May 2012


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 5 comments on ‘Ride report: Wednesday 2 May – Sticky’

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  1. Markymark says:

    A great 15’ish miles blast and home early.

    We’ve been spoilt this winter with the dry conditions so it’s just time to ‘give it up’ and accept the onslaught of a bit of mud for a few more weeks. It was only the last climb before Wiggly Wood when my tyres started to get heavy. It’s not that bad out there really, a bit of sliding to help re-tune the technical skills is all good.

    Again, a good mudguard set up of a MuckyNutz 2.0 and Crud Catchers made it much more pleasant. In fact the bike was plastered but i wasnt.

    Unusually i rode ATTWT pretty nicely and the third section was surreal with the lights on the bluebells which are not out in force everywhere.

    Big up to Danny who is now the proud owner of KOM on the High-Med climb at 3m:57s! Sweet, bro.

  2. MuddyJohn says:

    Every paragraph I read about the mud, the rain and the sliding about made me glad I wasn’t out on Weds night.

    But sub 4mins for Danny up High Med – that’s a real result, you must be super fit now!

    • Matt says:

      I take it John that you are also suffering a certain ennui from all this rain and mud, given you weren’t out Sunday or Wednesday!?

      To be fair, Mark has it right, it’s just a balancing of things after a long time of having it our own way. I don’t want you to think it was miserable, in fact Wiggly Wood on the return was really good fun and LandRover was cool too.

      But a few warm sunny rides would be nice!

  3. Lloyd says:

    I did a similar loop this evening and it is way more muddy than on Monday. On Jem’s favourite I tried it brakes free – there were 2 butt clenching moments of mud planing but big grin factor. I also liked reverse Wiggly Wood, seemed to flow better.
    As Mark said good for the skills and also huge fun.

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