It was just the wrong kind of mud. Salty sea dog mutiny.

Years ago I got myself a physics degree. It's been of cock all use but as part of it we covered string theory and parallel universes. Just a side order of nonsense, but I figured it all to be rubbish, as did most of us. However, today I had a practical demonstration of parallel universes; it turns out that there are three and they can be seen right here in Surrey.

Myself, Si and KD went out for a spin. KD being allowed out on condition that he eats his greens for the next 18 months and tidies his room, fair one. KD started the moaning off right from the start, before we'd even gotten 100m. His ancient pump broke trying to inflate a flat front, and the hills were too hilly. Si then added to the theme later on in pointing out that the mud was too muddy. He also enquired as to what type of nose candy I was on today as I was riding too fast. I wasn't riding fast at all - it was muddy! Indeed I'd already guessed by mid-way that he wasn't entirely 100% with my route choice; he asked me if I knew why the Headley Cock was called that, as we passed it for a second time within an hour? "Dunno" said I in innocence. "'cause you are one" came the caustic reply. You know you've turned a corner in a relationship when people dare to insult you mid ride and expect fully to get away with it. Fine by me, as I was having a ball. Really enjoyed the ride oddly enough. Think I've been champing at the bit all week to get out. 9 hours faffing with sodding tubeless instead of riding bikes? Huh.

So, three opinions; Two for bad ride, one for good. Which was it? You Dear Reader have only my voice to use as a decision tool. Your call here as to whether it was good, or bad..... I'll help a little here though; it was good.

Where did we go? Well we met atop Reigate Hill. A 2 mile climb for us all, and both Si and KD looked hot and bothered, even though there was a lot of ice around. So, me being me, turned us all around and headed right back down to the bottom again using a nasty little gully that picks up speed real fast and burns brakes at the end as it stops right on the A217 at a pretty busy junction. Certain death if you cock it up. KD hasn't ridden off-road for some time, perhaps 2 years, and was behind me but at the bottom I knew exactly where he was by the sound of a locked up rear brake. That was a good 30ft skid right there. Yes, he'd cocked it up. Anyways, the gully spits us out essentially at the bottom of the chalk path near the Yew Tree; a nasty climb even at the height of a dry summer. Mid winter it is potentially vile. It is always a granny ring, big rear gear climb for me. Just plod, plod, plod and see if getting to the top without stalling is at all possible. Personally I felt the gully drop worth the extra effort, but others disagree. Possibly they are wrong. The climb itself was both muddy one side and studded with little ice boulders the other. No grip on the mud or transient grip on the ice? I took the ice, but the mud would have been an equally bad choice as there was no real call between the two today. KD one third of the way up asked Si if he'd get a move on please. Oooooooo, you can only do that if you are then going to clean the climb without stalling 5m further up. Naturally KD stalled big time 5m further up, just before it gets steep. Re-arrange these words: Mouth. Shut. F*****g. Up. Your.

Of course I wanted to laugh and take the piss but the climb had to be cleaned, even if I didn't want to and was spitting up bits of lung at the time. It was one of those times that I really, really needed to stop and "take in the view" but couldn't as it had been my call to make the climb in the first place. It's a real test of fitness.... cough, cough. Actually it's a test of ignorance. It's also a testament that you can clean uphill stuff on 140mm All Mountain rigs. Just don't expect any finesse. At the top I looked like one of those stupid, ball chasing dogs; tongue lolling about, wide eyed and surrounded by my own frothy dribble. Of course I rode on a bit before the other two got to the top, then composed myself - you know, got a novel out and started reading it with a certain nonchalence. When they got to the top I looked up casually as if I'd been there ages.

From there on we just did a normal golf course blast / slow tour of Headley route. You know it all so I won't bore you with blow by blow details. But what I will say is how very muddy it was. Si wasn't at all keen on a Tour du Headley, but bollocks to that; Muddy was squadron leader so a tour it was. I'll not admit this to Si or KD, just you Dear Reader so don't please tell on me, but it was awfully muddy. Even the horse riders advised against it and they hate us. Just a red flag that isn't it? We did the tour but the mud was dire. Claggy, thick and smelly. As I didn't have any mudguards I got twatted with all and sundry. We rode for hundreds of metres through clag, sometimes up to 15cm deep. All of us ended up walking at some point as bikes stalled in the gloop. What a bunch of rank amateurs.

There was no dryness on today's ride. It was just mud or standing water, both smelly. Reports are coming in that Leith Hill was dry. Well the North Downs were anything but dry. In the spectrum of dry to wet, we were firmly in the wet end of things. Indeed had it rained we'd have been better off as it would have washed the mud off our bikes and kit. Character building it is.

Gosh! Almost forgot. KD crashed into the back of Si and had a big off, going over the handlebars. This at walking pace so no harm done. KD did blame Si for this, but who crashed into whom I enquire?

Now far from me to criticise clothing choice. Surely you've seen the way I dress? But come on KD! No gloves, no socks and a knitted t-shirt? 2 degrees C it was at the off. Wonder why he complained of being cold all the time? It's one thing being keen to get out, but it's another spoiling a ride for the sake of £20 worth of cycle specific clothing. Mind his lack of clothing did mean a foreshortened stop at the Headley cafe. Normally myself and Si sit and chat for ages there but KD was visibly cold so we moved on quickly. Pity really; my coffee was OK but Si was really enjoying his tea. Made a change from the crappy duck pond cafe of the past few week's. Naturally Si brought along some out of date mince pies, a true Surrey delicacy; 2009 vintage they were. Lovely.

But folks, seriously, if you want to enjoy your winter ride here's a top tip; socks, gloves and some sort of wicking, windproof top may well help. Nay, some more enlightened people consider such trivialities essential. Otherwise, if the weather does close in, you may die. Or at the very least be very uncomfortable indeed. Naturally I was carrying a lovely spare warm, windproof and waterproof top in my backpack, but KD obviously had a desire to suffer so I let him quite frankly. Not my call to make was it?

It was here at the cafe that the salty sea dogs I'd brought along mutinied.  There are few routes back to Reigate from Headley; long or short. 2 against 1 for the short route back to base. Only three things of note here. The initial descent caught KD out. No idea how, but as we hit the steepish muddy section he must have had a little more speed on than the trail wanted him to have. Just heard a loud exclamation from behind me and the sound of hastily applied brakes. Then Si went and blasted up his nemesis, the little brutal climb on the North Downs Way. Indeed it was as if the whole trip out was to highlight his prowess here as he climbed it really as if it wasn't there. How did he do that? And then near the "thank you" gate my bike got gradually heavier and heavier and was really hard to pedal. It was only Si doing his trademark routine of hanging on to my pack straps. How we laughed!

No idea why I was on it today. I've had the usual complete lack of sleep this week, averaging just over 6 hours per night. I need more than that. Suspect it's the fall out from January being a dry month. What sleep I do get now thanks to no alcohol is proper sleep. I don't drink a lot; perhaps two 300ml beers a week and half a bottle of red on a Saturday night. The wine may well have a detrimental effect on the following days ride. Dunno, just had the legs on the others today. Happens once every thirty rides that, so best make the most of it eh? I'm not one for rubbing salt into wounds. Actually I am. Si and KD were but empty vessels today, whilst I was Zeus himself.

KD and Si didn't think much of my route today, but I think you Dear Reader will agree that they were wrong and I was right. Whingers stay at home please. It was a good ride, and my getting a puncture on the flight down the chalk path* didn't dampen my enthusiasm one little bit. Although saying that it did end up as an almost 4 hour spin out in the mud, so hard going, although I don't fess up to it being so if either Si or KD are around. I'm guessing the mileage wasn't high, perhaps just shy of 30 miles, but the conditions were as tough as any, and the additional climb at the start didn't help. Ice, mud and cold? Bring it on baby!

I'm knackered now. Think I'll treat my bike to a set of some lovely Ritchy carbon fibre bars. It deserves a treat, and I do so like a bit of coal on my bike. Me? No longer a dry month so I'm going to have a beer. Just the one. Honest.

Si is of course AD. Si isn't his real name at all but for today Mathew, thanks to KD, he was. I think it suits him better than his real name, which is of course Bell End. See? No hard feelings for him calling me a cock and dissing my route choice ;¬)

*Literally. Fair play this is AD's forte and he really zips down there. No catching him. Don't know how he does it. But today I managed to almost match his pace, enough to see him do a cheeky jump over a water bar at the end. Looked fun so I did it, on a flat rear tyre no less. Only thing was the landing was ungraceful and a good kg of mud flew up off the frame and tyres when I landed. Big, big smile though. That and the smell of cooked front brake. You REALLY