Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Wednesday 2 September – a river runs through it

Posted by Matt | September 3, 2009 | 13 comments so far

Heavy rain
As with Stig recently, I was faced with a number of choices for the title of last night’s ride report, not least of which ‘Badger Baiting’ springs to mind.

But look at that picture. Rain. Lots and lots of it. Either we just had the misfortune to be caught in the first autumn storm of the year or the Almighty is trying to break us in gently for the Dusk til Dawn next month. After last night I just hope that Jez’s ‘crisp trails and starry autumnal skies’ spin on the D2D isn’t just a pipedream.

Within a half mile of leaving the house I was soaked to the skin; admittedly I just had on my old used-to-be-showerproof Aqualite and Embers merino baselayer but as I pulled up to the forecourt at Highlands garage I was conscious of a definite sogginess to my person. But I’d crossed the line – I was out, I was already wet, so I was more than happy to continue.

The rain was coming in sideways onto the forecourt so it was difficult to keep dry even under cover. Shortly afterward I was joined by James on his old skool Cannondale (a lovely machine by the way – they don’t make them like that anymore…) and then, after a few minutes a saturated Stig appeared and eventually AndyC who may or may not have been contemplating the pub in preference.

So, four of us; not a bad turnout considering. After a vain wait til 7:40, off we went.

Oh. My. God! It was very clear very early on that this was no clearing shower. It was torrential! Into Wiggly Wood and there was standing water on the trails through there and cascades coming through the leaf cover overhead. No respite here.

Everywhere we went it seemed the trails were under at least an inch of water as the hard surfaces failed to absorb the moisture. We splished and splashed our way over to Polesden, by now I’d dispensed with the glasses since they kept steaming up and we weren’t going fast enough anyway.

Things didn’t improve once we were up on Ranmore. We decided to traipse over to White Down for the chalky descent (I know, chalk, torrential rain and James on V-brakes was just too good an opportunity to miss!). As we headed on to Badger Run the wind was literally howling about our ears but strangely enough I was really enjoying myself.

A year ago these conditions would have scared me silly after my injury but although cautious I was glad to be out last night. It might have been apocalyptic but it really wasn’t cold and even the water in my shoes was warm. The Revelation forks on my Orange are currently set rather soft so they just soaked up the trail and tracked beautifully even if they’ll need to be properly set up for normal riding before the next ride.

Along Collarbone I picked up a slow puncture on my tubeless rear tyre. Normally I’d have stopped to repair it but not tonight and I couldn’t bung in an inner tube as the inner surface of the tyre is a bit RAF from having about ten tyre cuts repaired over the past 2000 miles. Time for new tyres, to be sure.

Unfortunately this led to me having to stop multiple times to put air in the tyre but everyone’s good spirits held; we’d long gone past the point of trying to stay dry. We headed off down White Down very gingerly as the prospect of a ‘man down’ in these conditions was not great.

The Almighty continued his night of mirth as it was soon clear that our path was strewn with cow-pats from the Devil’s own Satanic Herd. Lots and lots of cow-sh1t, in fact a spectacular dump of bovine excrement was piled up in huge lumps all the way down the descent. You really don’t want to travel at speed with no glasses to protect your eyes over this lot, particularly as the trail-that-has-become-a-riverbed washes all that crap downhill with you!

Once into the field near the railway line it turned out the farmers have been making good use of all the cow poo, having freshly fertilised the whole area. By now we were riding across a freshly turned over and manured field with great balloons of ‘mud’ wrapped around our tyres. It reminded me of the time we rode through slurry with Thomas near Newlands many years ago. How we stank. And how his van stank for months afterward!

On that basis, I started to seek out every puddle I could find to get all that stuff washed off my bike (and me) as much as possible. It wasn’t a hard job as the rain showed no signs of letting up. Avoiding McPhersons we took the long trackway climb up to Ranmore and that’s when it happened.

Rounding the corner to start the climb, James and Stig were briefly out of view when Andy and I heard a terrific commotion and arrived to find Stig sprawling on the ground having just run over a badger! The gristly beast had managed to get into the front triangle of his Pitch in the fuss and had a good snap at Stig by his account although fortunately he’d jumped clear! So no obvious harm done but we need a name for that bend now!

We made it up the rest of the climb without incident, then headed for Denbies. I hope James May had chosen last night to spend in his Lego house as the storm continued without pause. Coming down through the vineyard was almost zero visibility and the lashing rain gave me a stinging pummelling in the face. It was clearly time to call it a day.

Heading back along the A24 cyclepath we hit many long stretches where the standing water was ankle deep. We were wetter and dirtier than contestants at the World Gravy Wrestling Championships I think (work-safe!). Parting from Stig at Leatherhead we eventually climbed back up to Bookham and home for about 10:15 after 18 soggy miles. I even got the hose out and turned it on me and the bike for good measure when I got home. Heaven knows what Andy’s car will be like this morning though!

Despite all that, it was a great fun ride but I’m hoping for better conditions on Sunday!

Filed under Rides in September 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 13 comments on ‘Ride report: Wednesday 2 September – a river runs through it’

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  1. Colin says:

    I woke this morning in a cold sweat, having had visions of my crown jewels being knawed by that badger – quite a scary experience as he was so close to my dearly beloved when he snarled at me.

    However, no teeth marks in me or my frame and I hope he’s ok. Those things are solid and quite large when you’re down at their level !

    Whilst all the excitement and incidents on recent rides makes it more fun(?), I’d quite like the next few to be boring and uneventful.

  2. Jez says:

    Did I say it would be dry at D2D? Ummm, well, you know, I’m not sure that’s legally binding.

  3. Mark says:

    Sounds like you had fun.

    As I was replying to the huge email thread that has been going round, I was listening to the gentle patter of the rain, thinking “Thank the sweet Jesus I am not out in that”. Shortly after I got an email from Tony, saying the same thing, with him giving thanks that his bionic collarbone precluded him from going out last night.

    As to naming the bend where The Stig interacted with the wildlife, how about Badgers Nadgers?

  4. James says:

    Thanks again guys, this was a great ride and it was nice to meet up. A special thanks goes out to AndyC for the lift to and from.

    What can I say, my glasses were fogged up, my new light battery died and v brakes totally failed, never had that happen before. All new trails but I pressed on. Still hit 28mph as my max speed!!

    Wet to the point of stupid but seeing Colin being dropped by a badger was the funniest thing, good job it didn’t bite!

    Nice hot shower was welcome, looking forward to the next ride.

  5. Dave says:

    And just in case some of you have never seen this;


  6. Muddymoles says:

    Ride Report: Sunday 6 September – Newlands Corner and some

    A long ride takes advantage of the late summer conditions to Newlands Corner and back with some variety thrown in.

  7. Muddymoles says:

    Ride report: Wednesday 17 March – Badger badger

    Another fast and furious blast around the North Downs on our regular Wednesday night ride

  8. Muddymoles says:

    Ride report: Wednesday 18 August – Puncture practice

    Plenty of punctures, some serious trail ragging and a badger incident. Classic night ride then.

  9. Related: Ride Report: Sunday 6 September - Newlands Corner and some | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  10. Related: Ride report: Wednesday 9 September - Ranmore/Horsley/Sheepleas loop | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  11. Related: Another Banzai Badger | Mutterings, Lifestyle | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  12. Related: Ride Report - Wednesday 16 September - China Pig beckons | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  13. Related: Ride report: Friday 21 June - another year, another Molestice | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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