Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Wednesday 25 August – Wet weather

Posted by Matt | August 26, 2010 | 16 comments so far

Dark shapes move urgently through the forest as if searching for something, their gaze sweeping the ground before them. In the deepening gloom, a heavy mist crawls up the escarpment from the south, shrouding them from watching eyes. Occasionally they stop to sniff the air and as they turn their searching faces back and forth a blinding light shines forth.

Nine riders were abroad tonight.

One of them was DaveW, so that may account for the air sniffing. The rest consisted of MarkJ, Trevor, JohnR, DaveS, Daniel, Tony, Colin and myself, who had all somewhat rashly committed to riding despite the weather warning from the Met Office. It’s riding like this that tests your commitment to the cause and with D2D not far off—and the ever-present worry it will rain there in the back of our minds—it’s a good opportunity for us to get some wet miles in. And boy was it wet.

Not damp. Not a fine summer rain. Not a clearing shower. No, just rain plain and simple, heavy, relentless and persistent. I stood watching it from my front door briefly before stepping out and making my way to the Esso garage, by which time I was already on my way to being wet through and frankly amazed that anyone else had bothered.

That left route choice to worry about. It was worth noting also that MarkJ could see virtually nothing due to his glasses steaming up and being rained on while DaveS was on his first night ride ever. As we joked with him later, there was no chance of him suffering a baptism of fire on this ride!

I finally settled on the idea of another run toward Effingham due to it’s non-technical nature. We set off through Wiggly Wood, splashing through puddles of standing water. Pretty soon we’d learned to stop mincing round them too, another indication of how wet it was. Well, once you’re wet, you’re wet.

Within a half mile I’d stopped to take off my safety glasses as I couldn’t see a thing through them and couldn’t even pick my way along a familiar trail. Even so, I couldn’t help getting a certain amount of enjoyment from our perversity in being out at all. Our spouses it seemed, on chatting to the others, all thought we were nuts but it was starting to feel like fun.

Splish splash through the woods, and on toward the Polesden Estate. Negotiating the right hand turn that we normally take off the descent to Bagden Farm showed a big hole has appeared in the ground, which will cause a crash if you don’t expect it, so watch out down there. It’s hard to say if it’s man-made or not, I really hope not.

By the time we crossed the old Dorking Road the water was streaming down the tarmac and everywhere else too. We ducked into the woods and headed over to pick up the Tanners Climb, it was hard to follow the trail and my cornering skills had escaped me for the time being as I appeared to have donned the Fairy Cape.

The Tanners Climb was dispatched without drama, except for Mark getting cramp in his legs which we missed because he was riding rear gunner anyway! After that it was on to Badger Run and Collarbone, which as I mentioned earlier was made much harder by the heavy mist rolling in from the south. It was so thick that even with my MaXx-D on low setting on my handlebars I had difficulty picking my line, it was real ride-off-the-edge-of-the-hill stuff.

Fortunately after Ranmore we turned north again and found the mist thinning but alas, no let up in the rain. The run down to the Drover’s Road from the reservoir was actually enormous fun as I followed a brisk Tony in and out of the trees. Grip levels were surprisingly good (must be those cheap Specialized Storm tyres I have on the singlespeed!) and with better visibility it was easier to pick your lines.

We carried on to double back on the Drover’s Road and then turned off toward Effingham, picking up the same route we’d taken last week but then taking the shorter option that DaveC and used to get home. It meant a lower mileage for the ride but was the right choice I think.

However, we still had the long run to Horsley to negotiate, I hung back to make sure everyone was clear on the route and then followed DaveS down the trail as we struggled to find the line amongst all the drooping foliage and vegetation.

Once at the A246 we crossed to Dirtham Lane and then continued on, with Colin having a huge tank slapper when he lost the front of the bike riding through what initially appeared to be an innocuous puddle. Fortunately he didn’t quite stack it into the chain link fence but it was close!

We finished, as last week, with a run down Orestan Lane and on to Bookham from there. Arriving home I had 12.5 miles on the clock but at least it was an early finish. I’m going to have to get some old towels for the garage (no Colin, not what you think!) to dry myself off though after rides like this as I squelched into the house afterward…

A fun ride showing our stubborn side and proof positive that the English eccentric is alive and well and riding the Surrey Hills. Tonight we were (very) muddy Moles.

Filed under Rides in August 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 16 comments on ‘Ride report: Wednesday 25 August – Wet weather’

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  1. mtbnomad says:

    Great winter riding write up….in August….

  2. Jez says:

    Much respect for all heading out!

  3. tony says:

    Well it certainly was a little damp. I had to pour the water out of my SealSkinz when I got home.

    The weirdest thing was how difficult and different familar trails were with no vision (collarbone in the mist with lights set to minimum due to the glare) and with the vegitation weighed due with rainwater narrowing the paths (the road down from the reservoir and the end of the down to the A246).

    I did have a grin on my face all evening though!

  4. John R says:

    I am certainly enjoying this ride more in retrospect.

    Last night I found that it doesn’t matter how completely sodden you get, as long as you are not wet AND cold.

  5. Andy661 says:

    Well gents, its official. I’m in a pair for D2D so time to get down the Co-op and buy a can of Man Up i think 😉

    In a strange army kinda way i did look whistfully out the window last night wondering how my tyres would have coped.

    Sportstracker on my phone seems to be working pretty well so far so with an under the radar purchase of a Polar hrm i should be ok!

    I’ll put it on the forum but read somewhere you can upload routes INTO your phone. Anyone any experience? PaulM?

  6. Mark J says:

    Really enjoyed last night in a perverse way.

    As Matt and Tony have mentioned, riding the trails when you can barely see 6 feet in front of the bike is an exciting experience. I have ridden with wet glasses before, but last night it was if they were a rain magnet.

    Mind you, I still think Lee’s apprach of a nice glass of red wine in front of the telly was a far better way of spending the evening!

  7. jamesPro says:

    Well done guys, I couldn’t be bothered to fit the mud guards or deciding to get wet or boil in my phantom so just watched telly instead. Should be out Friday night.

  8. John R says:

    jamesPro’s comment reminds me that 100% of the Orange 5 riders last night had no mudguards.

    Is that an Orange 5 design thing, or just the sort of rough tough people who ride Orange 5’s?

  9. tony says:

    The Orange 5 in my garage (the wife’s ) has mudguard and looks fine with them to my mind.

    I was pretty mud free on my back after yesterdays ride due to the mudguard. If only I’d remembered my front inner tube fork brace guard 🙁

  10. DaveS says:

    It was a bit damp I suppose. Definitely a proper Muddy baptism, my trakky bottoms were very soggy and very muddy indeed though I was more or less mud free on top (something to do with mudgards + the cleasing effect of bucketfulls of rain?).

  11. Dave says:

    JohnR, My 5 always used to run with mud guards but the dropper post makes a rear one tricky. I think mine has the front one fitted though.

  12. DaveW says:

    I don’t recall Wednesday being a particularly severe night for flatulation – in fact I think I was a little cautious due to the amount of fresh plums I’ve been eating lately. Thankfully no need for any ‘bear in the woods’ antics though given the conditions.

    I did have a Crud front mudguard on mine, which cuts out most of the face spray (from my bike at least). I don’t bother with a down tube one. The Crud offering expects a rounded downtube, so doesn’t fit the 5. Matt has an alternative one that fits though I think. I don’t recall which brand. Matt?

    Regarding rear mudguards, I have tried a number of variations, but with the Gravity Dropper I have not been able to make anything work. The only feasible purchase point seems to be near the seatpost clamp, which means the mudguard ends up too low to clear the back wheel when the rear suspension is nearing full compression.

    Any ideas anyone?

  13. Matt says:

    Dave I use a Cycraguard ‘crud style’ catcher on the downtube, it fits but it’s a bit tight.

    The design has rubber bushings to step it away from the frame (to allow for cables on some bikes), these seem to help in the case of the Orange’s more squared off profile.

    It’s not perfect but it does work, I also include the Fender Bender as the two designs in combination are very effective.

  14. StevenD says:

    @DaveW, by Crud front I take it you mean the Fast Fender ? If so glad to hear it works on its own.

    I must admit I am concerned about how the crud catcher will fit my Trek ex6 with its square shaped down tube. Do any Ex8 owners use the crud catcher ?

  15. tony says:

    I have a crud catcher on my EX8 and I have no problems. The other type of mudguard that works really well is the type that attaches to the bottom of the steerer tube via a bung. we have a couple of bikes with SKS shockguards. These work very welll in keeping you free of front wheel mud, plus they are very quick to take on/off.

  16. DaveW says:

    Yes Steven, Crud Fast Fender. I have one on my Prince Albert and one on my Orange 5.

    I used this on its own on the 5 in the Forest of Dean 661 Mini Downhill race in deep mud, mostly without eye protection and got by fine.

    You still get muck on your body unless you have a guard on your downtube, but for me the key thing is keeping it out of my eyes and mouth.

    I use a Neoguard on my Simple. It is more discrete (the Fast Fender looks a bit odd with the long (for me at 90mm) stem and flat bars). However, it is not quite as effective as the Fast Fender.

    I think water and mud splashes off the back of the Neogard and back at you.

    This is reduced if you use a guard on your down tube.

    Also, with a neo-guard some water and mud flys under the fork-lowers bridge and back at yeh.

    Hence why I think the Fast Fender is more effective.

    I have a Shockguard on my station bike and it works fine, but seems a bit wobbly over the bumps and I never fancied using one off road. Some folks swear by them though.

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