Weekly ride planner for Surrey mountain bikers.

I've just updated my main site - http://www.muddyground.com/ - with a regular listings update of regular, planned rides around Surrey.

Check it out dude ;¬)

Hello Dear Reader,

I've noticed of late people looking on-line for local riders to hook up with for a spin out into the Surrey Hills. Now I'm perhaps a bit too vague in my planning to post such things on a regular basis, but what I propose is to check the local websites to see what is going on and publish any local 'events' here. This is a fairly lose term, so do please check the actual websites concerned, and I'd suggest make contact with them prior to travelling. Quite a few include almost monthly trips to Swinley.

The area that I'll cover goes from Caterham through to Guildford in the East / West sense, and from Epsom to Leith Hill North to South. Naturally this means nothing if you don't already live here, but this relatively thin strip of the North Downs encompasses all of the very best riding that Surrey has to offer. True we have no big mountains, our biggest being around 400m at most. So the climbs are short, as are the descents. But by heck do we have an awful lot of trails in that area. It would be hard to imagine a place with more local trails within a ten mile radius than Dorking has.

The area is physically split up into four broad geographic zones defined by roads running through valleys; the A22, A23, A24 and the A25. Quite often rides will be contained within these road networks. For instance riders coming from Epsom will not pass the A23, whilst us Reigate based souls often are stumped by the A24. It's a simple matter of physics; the roads run through the bottom of deep valleys and to traverse them often not only means a 400m drop followed by a 400m climb, but also a mile ride through built up areas. The ride from Reigate to Merstham over the A23 is particularly dispiriting, hence why few do it. If you Dear Reader can get over these physcological barriers then the rides open up massively.

Muddy Ground.

Getting on for 50 but still keen. Generally out on a Sunday, starting from the National Trust car park on Reigate Hill at 10:00 hours for a three hour spin with cafe stop half way. Roughly 20 to 25 miles around Headley Heath. Does the odd spin out to Caterham. Contact me via this website if you want a little guided tour one day - I may even buy the tea at headley Heath or Box Hill ;¬)

Redhill Cycling Club.

This is the only formal club here, so you'd have to join properly before you could go out with them. I've spoken to the odd member out on the trails and they seem a friendly bunch. Looking at their website you'll see that they do a variety of not only cycling events, but do the odd social as well.

Lots of stuff on this weekend.

Bookham Cyclists.

Now this group is essentially run by two people, one of whom can't stand me so I'm slightly reluctant to promote them! However, I'm a big boy and realise that they have a huge local appeal and do regular runs out, so are good for Surrey mountain biking. They're keen and do know the trails around Box Hill to Leith Hill pretty well, although get a bit vague East past Redhill. They publish twice weekly spins out, and do include a female only group which is an unusual but excellent idea. Varied mix of bikes with the emphasis being split between single speeds and Orange bikes - whatever modern bike you have should fit in. Website very popular. Meet at Bocketts top car park on a Sunday at 08:30 hours and do a Wednesday evening ride from around 19:30 hours from the petrol station opposite the Northbound train station in Dorking. You'll have to be fairly fit to make the most of them.

Sunday 4th March appears to be a local ride to Reigate to hunt down civic employees. Good guy Karl is doing a Saturday spin from Westcott. You can spot them out and about in their lime green tops.

Dorking Cocks.

I know nothing of this group, but have seen them out and about. Their website seems a bit hit and miss content wise, but I've not heard anything bad about them. Quite possibly - and the name is a hint - to join you'd have to be Dorking based. I'd suggest contacting them or approaching them when seen out and about. They do have a forum where local rides are proposed.

Diary of a Mountain Biker.

A small group based around the town of Ashtead and Dialled Bikes of Epsom chip shop fame. Had the odd chat with them, and they seem a nice bunch. Certainly you'd have to be fit to ride with them - most seem to commute 16 to 20 miles a day into London. Post regular rides via the forum, and have a once yearly trip to the Alps. Website seems very popular. Have sold the odd t-shirt to Huey.

Doing a very big Leith Hill based ride from 09:00 on 4th March. I'd say avoid unless you can do an easy 30 miles off road right now with no preperation. If you can, go for it as you'll come away happy.

Most of their promoted rides start in Ashtead town centre.

Astounding Adventures.

Where do I start? These people define the word keen. When you meet them do not make the assumption of thinking..... well you'll see what I mean when you do for the first time. In this instance all initial assumptions will, I guarantee, be massively wide of the mark. Brilliant people who win real respect. Cater for everybody with unlimited patience.

Don't do unpaid for rides as they are a business. However, do a paid ride, get friendly and you may be invited out to their evening spins.

Well worth getting to know. I'm not connected to them in any way, so don't think I'm paid to point you over to them. They are just brilliant people.

On Facebook as well.

Indeed if you are entirely new to mountain biking, or don't fancy lugging your bike down to Surey just for a few hours riding, then these good people will hire you out a fairly decent piece of kit for the day as well.

Nirvana Cycles.

Been here for years. In many ways they are Surrey Cycling in a nutshell. They are a business so in it for the money but don't discount them. Guided rides are not cheap though, so save up before calling. That or wait until a promo day comes along. Most of the trails around Ranmore have been created by them or their friends, so we owe them a lot really.

Evans Cycles.

This one may surprise you but they do wonderful paid for rides all around the country. I did a local one and it was utterly brilliant. Well worth the money. Site regularly updated, so do please check every so often. They even include food half way around. There is a caveat; the rides are of a certain distance. To make the distance the organisers add in there and back loops. The ride we did around Dorking included one such loop and it didn't make for a natural feeling ride, so I added in my own bit at the end ;¬)

Of course you do not have to hook up with other riders at all. There is a theory of biking that suggests you'll come to no end of grief if you venture out alone, and people will happily trot out all manner of warning stories. Yet all of my more alarming rides have been in the company of others, where testostarone kicks in and something stupid happens. You know the score - don't want to lose face in front of your mates. Certainly mountain biking can be dangerous, but for the main part it is nothing more than a ride in the country. Often the worst that will happen is a nasty look from a rambler or a puncture. Although saying this whilst out alone I have broken a few ribs whilst out in the sticks in Belgium, and one very early morning on Snowdon I was a tad over-ambitious and ended up climbing a ridge at 600m with my bike on my shoulder..... That was really, really silly.

I've never hooked up with other groups for guided rides. This wasn't because I didn't want to, but was a factor of where I lived at the time plus mountain biking was very niche when I started. I started with a rough idea that there were trails out there so bought asn Ordnace Survey map of the area. 20 years later I'm on my 4th dog eared copy, and I still look at it pretty much weekly. But these days finding new trails is more than looking at a map; there's Google Earth for a start where you can zoom in on an area and see what's there. Then some of the forums give clues as to ride locations, so I seek those out as well. Indeed for the most part the forums give the hottest tips, although do be wary as over time people tend to do similar rides week in, week out and this may give an incorrect picture of the best places. And these days the magazines sometimes give good local rides, taking a different view of an area - Singletrack this month has an offer on a jolly good guide book for a tenner which is worth having.

No. You can ride alone and for the main this is what happens out there. The groups skew the picture of local rides in their favour simply because they promote them via websites. Looking on the web you'd think you'd have to ride in one of the four or five main groups. But lone riders, or two buddies together make up the vast majority of riders out there. These are people that find two hours spare, get their bike out and go for a spin. These are the Stealth Riders who do not shout their achievements over the web, and some of these people are bloody good at what they do. Personally I love finding these people out and chasing them down; or rather trying to as quite a few just disappear into the distance. There are some fit gits out there, quite often on crappy looking bikes from the 1990's.

If a group ride overcomes your fear of the unknown then go for it, but even these groups require lone individuals to sniff out new rides or challenge the accepted norms. If you want to go for a ride and don't know anybody, don't let it put you off; just get out there.

Phil Jenkins