Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride reports: Sunday 16 Feb, and Tuesday 18 Feb

Posted by Dandy | February 18, 2014 | 10 comments so far

Single-speeds 2 – Gears 1

Sunday was always going to have a ‘single-speed heavy’ presence, given the rain that has been falling, as the Moles try to preserve what’s left of their drive chains for the summer (guffaw).

Early morning bike sniffing

Assembling in glorious morning sunshine, we had Elliot, Chris and (fanfare of trumpets) Colin, representing the geared fraternity.  Colin and Elliot represented the extremes of our sport, with Elliot aboard his Salsa Beargrease fat bike, and Colin on his narrow-tyred Whyte cyclo-cross machine.  Manning up were myself (naturally 😉 ), Big Al (who had parked near Coldharbour and ridden over to Bocketts), DaveC, Karl, Kev and Lee.  Leith Hill was our chosen destination and refreshment stop.

Basking in the sunshine

I was again entrusted with route leading, so naturally after ten minutes or so the group had managed to split in two and lose each other.  I felt certain I’d told everyone that we were turning right half way down the descent from Bookham Wood to Bagden Farm, in order to pass Polesden Lacey and arrive at Ranmore Common via the more SS-friendly Yew Trees climb.  The message clearly hadn’t reached everyone, and only five of us made it to the Chapel Lane crossing.  With no phone signals reaching Bagden Farm, for the second week running we slogged up the Tanners Hatch climb on the single-speeds.  Happily the group were reunited at the top.

Land Rover was our route off the ridge; and it was a buttock-clenching, white knuckle ride for me as my cheapo mechanical discs gave up entirely at the back.  The front set were able to slow me down, but there was no way they were going to bring me to a halt should I find a tree across the trail.*  Thankfully everyone made it down in one piece.  Wolverns Lane was next, which meant the Rookery climb to get there.  Kudos to Kev and Lee who made it to the top without a ‘tactical pause’.

We said goodbye to Al at the junction on Wolverns Lane, as we headed through Simon’s Copse and down into the hamlet of Broadmoor.  Our route to Leith Hill was a surprisingly SS-friendly, mud-free route; taking us past the end of ‘Windy Willow’ and up to the tower.  By this time, refreshments were very welcome indeed.  We said goodbye to Chris at this point, as he opted for a more leisurely return to our start point.

Tower stop

Given the work that’s taking place on the Summer Lightning extension, we took the direct route down from the tower, opting for the right hand bridlepath taking us up towards the cricket pitch.  On the way we sampled some of the new trails.  Nice work, trail pixies.  Avoiding the taped off areas, we reached ‘Deliverance’.  Various options were selected, as each rider sought out their preferred route to Waggledance and Summer Lightning.  As ever, the return down Wolverns Lane was great fun, and I selflessly pointed out the best route by blundering into heavy mud created by the churning wheels of the 4 x 4s, while everyone following me headed in the opposite direction.

By this time, the legs of the SS-ers were feeling the effects of the 20-odd miles we’d covered so far.  High Med and Golden Nugget were quickly dispatched, leaving only the final climb to Polesden Lacey and Connicut Lane.  I said my goodbyes and headed down into Bookham, leaving the remainder to tackle the Admirals Track’s puddles.  My final stats were approx. 40k covered with 800m of elevation, all completed in a glorious morning’s sunshine, as the pictures illustrate.

*Thanks to Dave for the advice to buy the Shimano Deore discs from Merlin for £67.50.  They have now been fitted.

The Pen (knife) is mightier than the Saw

Taking advantage of a predicted dry morning, Tony and myself met at 8am for a 90 minute blast around Mickleham and Norbury.  Predictably, I got into an argument with a walker; equally predictably, Alsatian was a ‘dog’ to climb (I suspect that has been cracked before), with the rear wheel scrabbling for grip after the weeks of rain.


A fun blast along Stane Street took us up to the Gallops and we headed off to the ‘Bat Cave’.  On the way up to the Gallops, Tony had been discussing his recent wood chopping purchases, comprising of a large axe (which he’d understandably left at home), and a flexible saw (which he had stashed in his pack).  We were delighted to stumble across a tree blocking the route, and before I could unclip Tony had leapt off his bike and was uncoiling the (Chuck Norris –style) flexible garrotting device (aka saw).

Disappointingly, one of the end handles was missing, and after a while we gave up on the saw approach and reverted to Plan B, the serrated blade of my Swiss Army knife.  After a couple of minutes, by which time I’d worked up a fair sweat, we decided we could now break the branch with our combined weight on the weakened cut.  We both felt like prize plonkers when the branch snapped away from the trunk where it had split from the tree.  Oh well, it gave us a chance to play with our toys.


After a fine run down the Bat Cave, we headed back up Stane Street for Snail/TNP.  Again, this was great fun, as much because of the two wheel drifts rather despite them.  We were both lucky not to slide into the gate at the end of the Snail, as we cadence-braked desperately on the chalky slope.  Across the A24 and up to Norbury, before a fine run down Infestation and on to the delights of the Cova Coffee Shop in Bookham.  20k and 400m climbed in 90 minutes of riding time.

Filed under Rides in February 2014


About the author

Having been mountain biking since 1996, you might have expected Dandy to have learnt to ride a bike by now. Several broken bones in the last few years prove the maxim that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

In between hospital visits, Dandy rides a brace of much-blinged Pace RCs, the 'green themed' 405 and the silver & gold 506. His winter hack is the Moles' favourite, an On-One 456 hardtail, now converted to an Alfine hub He also dabbles in 'the dark arts', keeping 2 road bikes in one of his seven sheds.

There are 10 comments on ‘Ride reports: Sunday 16 Feb, and Tuesday 18 Feb’

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. tony says:

    Sadly I was rocking full old skool this morning. 27gears, 26inch wheels and suspension at both ends. So 26gears too many, at least 2 inches too little tyres and far too much squish. Plus not a hub gear nor funny shaped bar in sight. However I was having a ball slipping around in the mud. It was great to be out with the only disappointments being that my Chuck Norris survival flexible saw failed at the first attempt. At least D’Andy didn’t take the mick…. much… Also that I didn’t get a chance to capture the moment when D’Andy disappeared backwards into the shrubbery at Norbury park.

    • Dandy says:

      “the moment when D’Andy disappeared backwards into the shrubbery”
      Only ‘cos you’d slowed down so much spinning away on your tiny gears that I had to move off the grippy line and I span out on the roots. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

  2. KevS says:

    Meanwhile back on planet earth .. Sundays ride sure was a tough one with no gears in the mud n slop, but strangely enjoyable none the less. It was a case of, if you aint got em you cant use em so get on with it.

    Land Rover was an early wake up call if anyone was feeling a little groggy from the night before and all Moles went down it in a variety of ways, some good, some bad and some downright ugly!

    The rookery climb was hellish, especially after a few Moles took a “tactical pause” forcing Lee and myself off line and into the muddy part of the trail that required a bit of track standing and a huge effort to get rolling again! Ouch!!

    D’Andy did a good job of “guiding” us up to the tower via the North west flank after Big Al left us, although he confessed over coffee and cake that there was some luck involved! 🙂

    Colin messed with our minds on his skinny tyred drop bar crosser with a display of bike handling skill and potential disaster avoidance all through the ride. Much Kudos!

    Another great mornings ride in good company, sunshine and mostly happy walkers, amazing.

  3. Colin says:

    Potential disaster avoidance pretty much sums up most of my riding. Must admit, Landrover descent was scary but fun.

    Mucho kudos to Karl whose once broke leg has clearly not kept him off the bike for long or hindered his mojo. Also to the SS brigade, particularly for the Rookery climb, tho disappointed with Dandy for letting you off the Tower climb.

    To Elliott for so effectively turning what looks like about 8kg of 4″ wide rubber (nice bike) and to Chris for giving it a manly go whilst he should really have been tucked up in bed.

    Dave’s bike is indeed as good in the flesh as it does virtual. Finally, thanks to you all for a cracking morning’s entertainment. I won’t leave it 9 months again!

  4. Elliot says:

    Nice pics. We need some of the SSers gurning as they struggle on the accents!

    I was very impressed to see SSKev winching up the Rookery behind me. I stopped to chat to a walker for a few seconds and nearly died trying to catch Colin again. Coming down was actually even less pleasant, without a front mudguard I got plastered…much to the amusement of those who saw the aftermath.

  5. Dave says:

    That was quite tough. I died climbing back up through Polesden but recovered enough to lead the charge back through the Admirals Lakes. Quite enjoyable though overall and seeing so many niches covered in one ride was excellent.

  6. Karl says:

    Quite tough? I actually did die.. well it felt like it. What a gruelling ride!.. Enjoyed it thoroughly tho.

    Twas great to be out with such a variety of characters, and such a variety of bikes. Kudos back to you Colin for doing it all on a skinny tyre’d cross bike.. S’all about the skill and attitude eh? Loved following Elliot’s Fat bike (when I could keep up) as his gargantuan tyres made a very wide traceable track through the mud clearing all obstacles. Fab sound to them too.

    Could not let D’Andy be the only daft bugger to do Deliverance on a rigid so I followed him.. and although I did not have the abject luxury of a semi fat on the front, and only sported a teeny 26er on the back, I did at least have brakes, unlike him.. 🙂

    Thanks for joining me at the back for some of the ride Dave!

  7. Andrew AKAK says:

    Bahco laplander or similar for trail clearing but I think you need to know your rights first.

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.