Oh, Surrey? That's an easy place to ride. You should try proper mountains.

We hear this a lot. That why should people buy 150mm full suspension bikes when they only live in Surrey, which is easy to ride, and yet people that live in the proper mountains of the UK make do with hardtails. Surrey has 300m rolling chalk and sand escarpments, whilst proper mountains for proper cyclists are made of gneiss or slate scree.

It's cobblers isn't it? I've just got back from two weeks in Snowdonia and have come back - again - thinking well, this place is really rather good. For sure we don't have big mountains, big weather or chip on shoulder attitudes. Fair point. But what I found in Wales was a paucity of rideable trails, and trail centres that are a little, I guess, one dimensional and possible slightly over rated. I was in Dolgellau and one of the rides suggested pootling off to Barmouth as a good start point. That was ten miles away. To ride a trail perhaps five miles long. My trusty OS map gave very few clues as to what would be possible, and I eventually mapped out the Pont-Scethin route - which turned out to be pretty much the only route there. You ride that in winter, go on.

Here in Surrey we have an abundance of trails and I have no need to drive ten miles just to find one. They are here on my doorstep, hundreds of them, all up and down hills. I could, if I wished, ride from here to Eastbourne off road. That's probably 150 miles or so. Imagine the possibilities if I included all the side trails.

And the gnar is absent, right? We could all ride girl's bikes and not hurt ourselves falling off into sandy loam. So why is my bike covered in scars from rock strikes? Chalk has in it flint. What were the first cutting implements made of around here? We have descents around here comprised essentially of baby head sized boulders of the stuff. I've seen people get off and walk rather than ride down this stuff. Nasty it is.

Granted we often don't have the big views, or have to face extreme weather. We're in no danger from animals either really. No danger of being eaten by a bear, true. But I'm quite happy with just being able to get my bike and be officially off-road within five minutes. If I want to find reasonably testing trails I can. Indeed there are quite a few I can think of where 95% of riders would look at, then ask who could possibly ride that! For sure it'd be fun to have Coed y Brenin here, and I'd be there every weekend, but it's not that good I miss it.

But the main defence of Surrey is; if it is so easy, then how come when people from around here visit the big mountains, the tough trail centres, we are equipped with the skill sets to be able to ride these places very well indeed? I've ridden in Iceland, some of the Rockies, Scotland, Wales and oddly Belgium. I never feel short changed in riding here, not at all. Funnily enough the only one of my little grouping that I ever go back to are the Ardennen in Belgium. Lovely place; bit like a mix of Surrey and Wales but with better food and beer*.

*with the exception of Welsh Black Beef.