Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Road and mud mix and match commuting

Posted by Matt | January 17, 2018 | 1 comment so far

South of Box Hill in January, near Brockham
At this time of year, commuting by bike starts to get more complicated. There are just too many days when the weather is against you; but today wasn’t one of them.

My brother-in-law Mark and I have been able to commute together for nearly a year (albeit largely only once a week). At this time of year it becomes a bit more tricky and there are noticeably fewer bikes around as we ride in to Reigate.

Normally we’re on road bikes but occasionally we do the route on MTB, in the summer up on the North Downs Way.

With frosty mornings, dark evenings and a lot of traffic, it has been harder to pick a day when the weather conditions are benign enough to ride in to work. I’m not a fan of riding road bikes on freezing back roads which are often untreated and icy, and I’m not a fan of riding road bikes when rain and dark can make it hard to see cyclists in all the glare. Maybe it’s because around this time last year I had my second collarbone break whilst riding home in heavy rain. MTB-wise, it’s not ideal either (it’s not called B*&tard Glue Mud for nothing!).

So, we’ve started to mix and match things a bit. Taking an MTB instead of the road bike means no worries about clattering through potholes in the dark and lets us string together sections of tarmac and trail as conditions dictate. We’re not shredding the gnarr, just trying to make forward progress with as few vehicles around as possible.

Mark commuting near Brockham

Last week we detoured on the way home over Ranmore, returning via Dearly Beloved and the Polesden estate, other times we’ve taken the classic North Downs Way to Reigate (though it gets pretty boggy in deep winter). Today, we tarmac’ed it along the A24 to Dorking (the roads were good but there was ice on the side roads in the morning), then nipped off-road round Betchworth Park to pick up the Coach Road across the golf course to Brockham. From there we stayed south of the A25 (and off-road) all the way to Betchworh village and then tarmac to Reigate Heath.

It’s a reasonable workout because MTBs don’t really work on tarmac, but on the flipside you have all sorts of route options open to you depending on the road conditions. I quite enjoy it as well and on sunny mornings like today it’s a blessing not to be anywhere near cars.

The obvious thing for this sort of riding is an adventure bike. I would like one, which I think would see a lot of use year-round as a very versatile commuter. It might even become my go-to road bike to be honest. I worry that while it would suit the sort of mix and match riding we’ve been doing very well, as soon as you want to get a bit more involved (say by detouring via Vietcong for example) it would quickly be out of its depth.

All that is for another day though. Come this evening, Mark was delayed by work commitments, leaving me to ride home alone!

Filed under Rides in January 2018


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 is 1 comment on ‘Road and mud mix and match commuting’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

  1. Matt says:

    I’ve just bought a second hand Genesis Fortitude Adventure to do exactly this. I try to ride my morning commute as quickly as possible on road. (I live and work in London)
    On the way home it’s a different matter and I like to ride home via the greenways, or detour through Epping forest.
    I’ve only had the Genesis for a fortnight so it’s very early days but so far I’m liking it.
    I’m a recent convert to panniers and the Genesis ticked the box of an mtb with rack and mudguard mounts.
    Having done a few (very muddy) Epping rides I’m reconsidering the mudguards.
    Tonight was changing the oil in the A11 hub, it feels smoother by hand but that could be a placebo effect.

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