Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride Summary: 15 – 22 May – another collarbone!

Posted by DaveC | May 22, 2011 | 17 comments so far

Heres a summary report of a few rides we have had during this timeframe.

DaveC on Barry Knows Best

Sunday 15 May – Big Al’s loop to Holmbury and Leith Hill

This was a great ride where I spent much of the time wondering where the hell I was. Now considering how much time I’ve spent riding round here I was amazed. Briefly we crossed a road near Abinger Bottom and I got my bearings a bit there! It was a hard 30 mile loop in total but extremely enjoyable. We did break a couple of riders though through exhaustion.

Also last Sunday Dandy and DaveW hit Swinley. Luckily Dandy has provided a short and concise summary fo the ride!

Crunch time again at Swinley

Having entertained a couple of ‘Swinley/Tunnel Hill’ locals in our Leith Hill backyard back in March, it was time for the favour to be returned. So at 8am last Sunday, D-Dub and myself joined Dave & Tom over at Tunnel Hill. The plan was to make a decent XC ride over to Swinley, via Porridge Pot Hill and under the M3, and check out the effect of the recent forest fires on one of the South-East’s favourite riding spots.

From the start, we soon found ourselves looking up a pretty steep fire-road climb to the top of the first hill. However, the local mtb’ers have shown a little more imagination than the road builders, and we soon darted off to the side of the uphill track. The trail wound itself serpent-like across the track, gaining height in a series of singletrack switchbacks, that was both more fun and kinder on the legs and lungs. Once at the top, we got to sample some classic Surrey Heath singletrack; think Swinley with fewer riders.

It’s not just flowing singletrack, there’s a few drops and doubles to keep the more adventurous rider entertained. The Daves were soon sampling a five foot drop, though the sloping landing area meant they’d dropped another foot or more by the time they regained contact with terra firma.

Although the weather was sunny but cool, ideal riding conditions in fact, I was finding the pace quite hot as we tracked back and forth and slowly headed Northwards. I got the chance of a breather when my back brake disappeared. The retaining pin had dropped out, and both pads had disappeared! It was at this point that I was cursing my choice of three different brakes on three different bikes. My On-One has Hope Minis, my Pace 405 has Hope X2s, and the Pace 506 has V2s. All three take different shaped pads. I had one set of pads on me, but they weren’t Hope Minis :(

Using D-Dub’s superior eyes (I can’t tackle close work with my lenses in), we managed to insert my X2 pads and secure them with a zip-tie. They weren’t brilliant, but they did offer some stopping power and gave me a semblance of control. The ride resumed, with a steady pace being maintained as we tracked across the heath land and under the M3.

This was a newish route even for the locals, and we had a few ‘off trail’ moments as we vainly sought out a rideable connecting route. These were interspersed with a few familiar comedy moments as Tom practised not being able to unclip from his new SPDs as we came to a halt. Hands up who hasn’t experienced that ‘Oh ****’ feeling as you slowly topple sideways? He was showing great perseverance though. When I first used SPDs, I spent a pleasant hour in my back garden riding for 5-10 metres then toppling sideways onto the floor, much to the amusement and bemusement of my wife and children.

After a bit more climbing, much of it on singletrack, we crossed the A30 and reached the edge of Swinley Forest. We passed quite a bit of blackened scrubland, before entering the main forest near the Labyrinth. Despite the fact that the fires were only a couple of weeks ago, there was already a lot of bright green bracken shoots poking out of the scorched earth. It also confirms that the main mtb areas have been largely unaffected by the fires.

First off we tackled Deerstalker, then rather than exiting or moving onto the Labyrinth, we snuck up the side of Babymaker to session the tabletops. We all had a great time tackling this 4 or 5 times. I felt the On-One leaving the ground, though I wasn’t able to land it completely on the down slope. Unlike TH Dave, who executed a perfect leap which Tom and I admired as we pushed back up. Unfortunately for Dave, on the following (much smaller) jump, it appeared that he may have landed at an angle and the front wheel washed out dumping him in the dirt.

It was clear he was in a bit of pain, but as he got his breath back he was thinking he might have dislocated his shoulder. Although not a medical man, Tom knows a thing or two about dislocated shoulders having experienced it a couple of times, and he volunteered to put Dave’s back in for him. However, from the way Dave was moving his arm up, down and around, it was pretty clear that it wasn’t dislocated.

What was worrying was the large lump appearing on the collarbone. After the initial ‘natural anaesthetic’ that the body provides after a serious injury had worn off, it was clear that Dave was definitely ‘extremely uncomfortable’. We wheeled the bikes out and regrouped on the fire track, and we decided it was time to call the ranger. Dave managed to find the number via a smart phone, and I have added the number at the end of this ride report. While we waited, we cheered Dave up with a selection of horror stories gained from all our past experiences of broken limbs!

I also thought this was an opportunity to make a ridiculously low offer for his new Cube Stereo, on the grounds that he was probably falling out of love with mtb’ing at this point and I fancy a lighter bouncer than my ‘burly’ Pace 506, for more trail-oriented rides. Unfortunately the other 2 prevented me from taking advantage of a man in distress, doh!

Dave also remembered he had a triangular bandage in his pack, as by this time his shoulder was really starting to hurt and his arm needed supporting. It seemed like the Camelback goblins must have eaten the bandage, as there was no sign of it. Luckily for Dave, my aged and fading brain synapses are still firing sufficiently that I was able to dredge up a piece of advice offered by Danielle of Astounding Adventures. I recalled from a one day session with her and Jess in early 2010, that she suggested a buff was always a handy item of clothing to keep in the backpack. Not only will it keep your neck warm and can be turned into a hat (or a fetching pirate-style bandana if you have my origami skills); but more importantly, it also makes a handy improvised sling for shoulder injuries.

The bad news for Dave was that the only buff we had was the one tied in a fetching pirate-style bandana under my helmet. As we had been riding for over 2 hours, this item was now soaked with perspiration (only horses sweat). Clearly he was in considerable pain, as he was very happy to drape this sodden item of clothing around his neck and place his arm in a more comfortable position. Top tip, Danielle; and Moles will be pleased to know that a spare is now permanently kept in my back pack, so should the worst happen you won’t have to suffer quite as much as Dave.

The ranger appeared after 20 minutes or so, and from the copy of MBUK lurking in the back of his truck, it was clear he was likely to be sympathetic to Dave’s plight. We decided it was easier to call an ambulance to the Look-Out, where the ranger was taking Dave and his bike, rather than trying to organise family to collect him and get him to the hospital. The ranger took all the required details, including Tom’s so that he could collect Dave’s bike later with the minimum of hassle.

Unfortunately for us, Dave was the guide for the day, with Tom confessing to have little more than a vague idea of our route back. Luckily, D-Dub had been sneakily recording the route on his Satmap, so we took advantage of its ‘reverse route’ functionality, and, err, reversed the route.

Although some of the descents could not be ridden in reverse, what were climbs on the way out were now great little descents as we headed back to Tunnel Hill. Tom also provided us with some more SPD-related comedy moments; I made it 4 in total, plus a fine ‘save’ courtesy of a panicky grab at my saddle as we stopped to consider the route home. We’d been out for around 4 hours, and we covered about 20 miles, with 1250m of climbing. We’d had a fair amount of stoppage time courtesy of missing brake pads, injury, and scratching of heads as we worked our way back.

Finally, when I got home I made sure I got a set of pads for each of my brakes and stowed them in my backpack (along with the spare bandana).

Good luck, Dave, and I hope it’s not too painful and that you get mobile soon.

Injury update – D-Dub tells me that Dave had his collarbone break confirmed, and unfortunately the Doc said it’s quite a bad one, as we suspected after seeing a knuckle of sharp bone pushing against his skin! He is being seen again on Thursday, when they should know whether he will need a plate :(

Swinley Accidents

The protocol for calling the ranger out is to call the Lookout Discovery Centre on 01344 354 409, give them your location and mobile number and they call the ranger. Don’t phone 999 as they won’t know where you are, how to get to you or which hospital’s area you are in.

Monday Evening

A very unusual event where the three founding Molefathers actually got out for a ride together. Tarmac and 700c tyres were involved though, so we can’t dwell on that here!!

Sunday 22 May

10 Moles hit the trails again for a loop to Holmbury. This was more direct but we still covered some 28-30 miles so maybe not quite as direct as it was intended or maybe I just got the wrong idea. Ian joined us for the first time this year and left a destroyed man, exhausted and cramped up. Eeeek.

Secret Squirrel, whatever the trail to the left of Yoghurt Pots is called and Barry Knows Best all were in excellent condition, much improved by the damping shower early that morning. The interconnecting trails also made for great riding. JamesS briefly joined us and Jem roared over to meet us for tea. Some discussion outside the Peaslake Village store about not holding another man’s cheese straw is probably best forgotten.

Riding notes

There were probably other rides during the week and it’s probably fair to say that the Moles are getting quicker, but if you do fancy joining a ride, probably best to check in advance to we don’t land you with a 30 miler!

Filed under Rides in May 2011


About the author

Dave's been riding seriously since about 1997 and is one of the founding Molefathers — along with Matt and Mark — that came up with the idea of a MTB website for Mole Valley riders.

He's had several different bikes but it's now mainly 29ers in Dave's stable, apart from an Orange 5.

Current Bikes: Orange 5, Salsa Spearfish and Kona Big Unit

There are 17 comments on ‘Ride Summary: 15 – 22 May – another collarbone!’

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. John R says:

    Soory that a few of us had to leave quickly from the top of that last big climb up to the Drover’s Road – but there were a few family commitments. I hope Ian recovered from his cramps and will join us again soon – even though it’s a lng way from Blackheath.

    Here are the pics from my camera – some cracking ones on BKB takne by Mark:

  2. Dandy says:

    Ah, concise you wanted. I will remember for next time. But you know me,Dave; always one to call a spade an agricultural implement 😉

    I think the trail name you’re looking for (to the left of YP) is ‘Doc at the radar station’ (yet another Capt Beefheart based name)

  3. Dandy says:

    Friday 20th May
    One full-time (almost) and one part-time Mole ventured over to Swinley on Friday evening, knowing they would struggle for rides for the rest of the week-end. A beautiful evening, sunny but not too warm. Many of the usual trails, plus a few new ones, were tackled, with Steven leading the way.

    Steven D and myself had a bit of fun in the Jump Gulley, and we both made the drop in from the LHS (as you look down it) a couple of times. We found a few other Dandy-sized drops (i.e. < 2 foot) which we enjoyed playing on.

    Luckily the recent fire has only affected the very western fringe of the forest, so none of the favourite trails have been affected. Watch out for the midges at dusk though. Take insect repellent or cover up.

  4. StevenD says:

    As Andy suggests, if at Swinley keep the number for your Lookout on your mobile. I was unprepared for the midges until I remembered, too late, that I was wearing football socks, doh ! Thanks again for a really nice ride, it is really fun riding similar places but at varying times of the day, it was a lovely evening nicely ended by packing up our gear to the sounds of Black Sabbath echoing around the car park, 🙂

    • Dandy says:

      Yes, I’ve enjoyed revisiting BS Vol 4, I’d forgotten what great, menacing, riffs Tony Iommi used to churn out. Sadly I can no longer ‘head bang’ like I used to.
      1. I no longer have the below shoulder length curly hair
      2. My dodgy back would finally give out if I shook my head too violently 🙁

  5. Matt says:

    Bad luck and commiserations to Dave from Tunnel Hill. Speaking from experience, not a nice injury at any time but oh-so-common for MTB riders anywhere near jumps and tabletops.

    Swinley just draws you in doesn’t it?!

    Hope it gets properly sorted out and you’re back riding in due course.

  6. Ian says:

    Thanks all for a very enjoyable, if utterly knackering ride yesterday – apologies for holding folk up whilst I limped up the last climb, I appreciated your patience – as I did the first aid adminstered by Paul – I’m just glad we were on a quiet country track flanked by tall shrubs when he gave it to me…

  7. Dave says:

    I think the good weather might be making riders over enthusiastic. Last Sunday we ran in to Joe and George on a Cock ride. Apparently several of the Cocks have suffered fractures as well including Charlie.

  8. Ray k says:

    Thanks for a great ride. I’m glad I spoke to Ian re the size/weight of his bag before we left Bocketts

  9. Markymark says:

    Sunday was great chaps. The overnight shower dampened it nicely and made it grippy.

    Sorry we shot off Ian, cramping up is bad enough, let alone seeing some clock-watchers scoot as you approached the end of the C U Next Tuesday II climb!

  10. DaveW says:


    So Ian’s cramp was caused by his swollen sack?

    Also, how much water did you take? I noted you weren’t wearing a pack – did you really cover c50 miles on one bottle of water? I would have thought that was a recipe for cramp…

    (I took 3 litres in my camelback and then bought a bottle at Peaslake to top it up, and didn’t get too badly de-hydrated).


  11. Moeciu Pensiuni

    Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.

    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I am hoping
    you write once more very soon!

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.