Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

“Your powers are weak old man” – Welcome to the darkside

Posted by Tony | January 18, 2011 | 17 comments so far

With the trails looking like an episode of Swamp Loggers (Discovery channel and strangely mesmeric), plans were afoot to head out on the Darkside; aka road bikes (btw that’s what roadies call mountain bikers too!). It certainly was darkside and raining as 5 moles met up last week for bit of tarmac riding.

5 MAMIL moles (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) – Paul901, Dandini, Matt, Keith and myself – met at Bocketts Farm, where lycra was mercifully at a mimimum.

It was the sort of dark/windy/rainy night that, if you hadn’t committed to the ride earlier in the day, you wouldn’t have set foot outside.

We headed out of Bocketts, through Bookham/Effingham before heading up to Ranmore. The first half of this road is one of those gradual climbs that goes on forever (or so it seems) and the post-viral Moles, had to take it easy. Then it was down Crocknorth Lane. Brakes were firmly on, with gravel and potholes to catch the unwary this was no time for heroics.

Next it was back up the next long climb to Coombe Bottom. Again it was everyone to their own pace, as parts of Matts lungs that hadn’t seen an oxygen molecule for months were re-woken.

The group sped down the hill to the A246 and crossed over to Clandon. Then it was the Surrey Cycle Race League Hungry Hill course in reverse. Before peeling off and heading through the lanes to Cobham. At the end of the Fairmile Paul901 peeled off for home and the rest of us dragged up the hill into Fetcham.

It was smiles all around as we got back and that self-satisfied feeling of having had a good ride in poor weather.

The appeal of the Darkside seems to be growing!

Filed under Rides in January 2011


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  1. AndyW says:

    I have to confess, I can hide my shame no longer…… I just bought a road bike as well.

  2. kc says:

    Why is it called Coombe BOTTOM since it seems to me to be uphill all the way?

  3. Matt says:

    It’s a whole new world for me and it feels weird being the novice. We forget sometimes how much of our mountain biking is intuitive, having done it for years.

    The road bike experience is quite different. Fewer stops, a more constant workout are the obvious ones but riding at speed on a near silent bike is quite a novelty. I’ve no idea where the grip is or what the brakes can do and riding in close proximity to others is quite unnerving.

    There’s much more that’s familiar though. Same pain when you’re going hard, same, if not greater, attention to the surface in front of you, same backward weight shift on the descents… and the good company and conversation is just the same too.

    It’s a useful alternative to mountain biking and variety is the spice of life. But I’ve a lot to learn about this sort of thing!

  4. timbo says:

    if anyone wants to get out this week perhaps tomorrow eve then let me know. Those lanes are full of holes at the mo so I’d tend to head in toward oxhshot, esher then back through cobham for a short fast flat loop.

  5. Markymark says:

    I think I’m done with the sofa
    I think I’m done with the hall
    I think I’m done with the kitchen table, baby

    Let’s go outside (let’s go outside)
    In the sunshine
    I know you want to, but you can’t say yes
    Let’s go outside
    In the moonshine
    Take me to the places that i love best

    So my angel she says, don’t you worry
    ‘Bout the things they’re saying, yeah
    Got no friends in high places
    And the game that you gave away
    Wasn’t worth playing

    Uh, huh, anyway. I’ve been a ‘closet’ roadie over the year, having purchased a fantastic Boardman Pro Ltd (gritted teeth having had to buy it from Coco the Clown in Halfords) for mainly ‘fitness training’, and having managed to keep that fact quiet from most of the hardcore Moles!

    Thank you thank you thank you. I’m truly relieved to be able to share my outed news.

    It certainly makes a difference to be able to supplement the MTB’ing and knock-out some tarmac mileage around the Downs (Epsom for me), plus looping Richmond Park and taking on some well-seasoned riders en-route has a certain grin-factor about it. Especially when you don’t have the latest carbon dogs-nuts beneath you and yet you find yourself able to burn off a London Dynamo team rider, half-dressed in mountain-bike gear with shorts flapping all over the place.

    I’ll go 80/20 or even 90/10 for MTB’ing. Either way, when your ass is settled in the perch and the feet are clipped in its hard not to thoroughly enjoy the feeling of being outside.

  6. paul901 says:

    Keith, Combe Bottom is on a post on the climb up to that point from the A25, it marks the point at which the gradient starts to become fun. So I believe Combe Bottom is that side of things up rather than the junction at the top (where the Moles gathered to re-group for the descent down to the A246 (towards Send)

  7. Tony says:

    The climb up to the North Downs past the sawmill from the bottom of Crocknorth, is Green Dene and at the top it’s a right turn into Coombe Lane that takes you down to the A246.

    Strangely the hill is just called Coombe Bottom amongst all the roadies I know. Climbed from Shere, gradual rise, hairpin and 1:5 to finish, it’s never forgotten. Maybe its because you feel s**t when you get there?

  8. timbo says:

    Coombe Bottom is the climb from Shere up to the hairpin top, if you keep going toward the A246 thats called Staples Lane.
    Crocknorth for some reason has always been refered to as another word start with ‘C’ – but its not that bad. I reckon the nasty climb is the one in the middle White Down which is 21% (its the road by Abba Zabba). There is another climb further out by Cranleigh called Horseblock hollow which I think is the most evil in the area. Apparently its called that as they used to have to put blocks under the back wheels of horse carts to give the horses a rest part way up it. Happy to do a guided tour 🙂

  9. KevS says:

    Not wanting to get lost in the Surrey swamp lands I stuck some MTB/Hybrid road tyres on the Whyte 19 Hardtail and did a couple of 55k loops in the Surrey hills at the weekend on the road. (yes on the road)!! 🙂
    Does this mean I am partly out of the closet or doesn’t really count until I purchase a proper road machine?

    Need to up my mileage between now and May as am signed up for the Scottish Coast to Coast MTB trip from Aberdeen across the Highlands to the West Coast.
    400k in 7 days, God help me!
    If any other Moles have done this trip I would like to hear their stories, tips etc.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  10. Tony says:

    Well I think that makes you a cross dresser Kevin.

  11. paul901 says:

    Sorry Kev, it ain’t real unless you’re covered in lycra 🙂

    Back in the nineties Lampré was a big sponsor as Tony and Barrie at least will recall. Striking Blue tops with dark pink shoulders on them. I will have worn it with plain blue shorts and the old faithful Sidi Genius 2 shoes I had, Blue Roberts bike at the time. Anyway, I remember one of the climbs out of Farnham towards Hindhead and I got passed by a car with 4 blokes wolf whistling at me, lots of laughs! I had to resign myself to the comfort that at least they saw me instead of the car ploughing into me.

    I still find it funny though at the top of Box Hill watching the Sunday fashion parade, especially covered in Mole dust and grunge gear on a plain grey MTB-thing.

  12. Dandy says:

    Back in the nineties Lampré

    Some of us have slightly newer Lampré gear than that!

    My Specialised Decibel super lightweight helmet in Lampré Fondital team colours (including a fetching pink strap) still gets an occasional outing on the road, and was purchased circa 2005 or 2006. I suspect it was a few years old by then as it had been reduced from £100 to £50.

    Pictorial evidence is visible on old ride reports before I purchased the Met Parachute, e.g.

  13. Bookham Toby says:

    Ooh just popped back here for a look, anyone remember me?! Anyway, I only rode 70 miles on the mtb last year and quite a lot more on the road bike so will keep an eye out for more of your road rides..

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