Louise Burness – May 2007

Well someone was mad enough to put out an appeal for more newsletter
articles, so never one to leave people in a sticky situation here is
the best I can do. If you think you could do better, then why not try to
prove it to us eager readers!

Oh, and before I go further, I do NOT have the luxury of a spell checker
on this computer!

Each outdoor activity tends to give you a different view of the great
British countryside. Climb and you become expert in rock types, being
able to distinguish your southern sandstone from the harder Northumbrian
kind. Walk and you understand the landscape, the topology of the
countryside, the folds of the rock to build the mountains. Sail and it’s
wind and tides; mountain bike, and you become an expert in mud.

It is amazing how many different types of mud there are, so it is a sad
reflection that given the richness of the English language we have so
few words for it. After all rain, just one vital ingredient for the mud,
can be: mizzle, drizzle, shower, rain, downpour, monsoon, cats and
dogs-and that’s just for starters. However when sitting down over Christmas wine I was stuck trying to come up with many mud types even though, as any (non-seasonal) mountain biker will tell you, there is a huge variety of different types of mud, each
requiring their own unique riding style. So, with the aid of an
on-line thesaurus, I have come up with the following glossary.

Slime This usually exists as a thin but highly mobile surface on top
of a hardcore. It can often be ridden successfully – provided no change
of direction is attempted. This type of mud is particularly good for
practising your ice techniques.

Bog: Often associated with Peat, or did I mean Pete? The old (as in ex)
Pres was so enchanted when he first encountered a true Scottish peat
bog that he was not happy just to place one foot in – oh no, only a two foot
exploration would enable him to discover the true properties of this new
species of mud! I personally was rather aggrieved when, on trying to
effect a rescue, I was accused of pulling his arms from their sockets
and encouraging him to leave his boots behind! This type of mud can only
be ridden if you want to ride straight down into the depths of the

Glop: This is easily recognised as anything dropped into it leaves a
ripple rather like water, but the concentric circles expand at a much
more leisurely pace. It is typically left behind in the tread-lines of
4WD off-road vehicles after their owners have been enjoying the fresh
air, peace and wildlife in the countryside. After much experimentation
we have finally devised a suitable riding technique for the
glop-containing trenches . Firstly lower your seat, position the bike
into one of the tyre runnels, unclip your feet and place them slightly
in front of you, on the raised bollards that run on either side of the
runnel. A running motion will now see you and your bike propelled
through the mud. Occasionally you may come across a small lake formed
where the original byway has been totally destroyed. To negotiate this
requires power as well as skill, as here you will only be able to reach
one of the side bollards.

Goo: (pronounced gloo) You cycle, initially oblivious to the substance,
as it has much the appearance of reasonable earth. Gradually, you slow to
a stop. Puzzled, you dismount, and then, examining your bike to
understand the failure, you realise the danger you are in. The signs on
the bike are easy to spot – you can no longer see various components,
like brakes, wheels, or in extreme cases, the bike itself. Where they
should be, there is just a large mound of the brown stuff. Do not stand
still too long examining this problem – march those feet double-quick,
otherwise you will find yourself completely stuck in the mud. If that
does happen, the easiest way out of the problem is to give in gracefully
– i.e. lie down rather than fall over, and wiggle away to firm ground.
Unfortunately Caroline seems to have lost the pictures that were taken on
her first encounter with the goo.

Quagmire: Often indicated on a map as marshland. Totally un-cycleable.
Patches of hard tussocks of grass will encourage your bike to attempt
unauthorised direction changes, leaving you very wet indeed.

This list is clearly not complete. What for example do you call the good mud?
The sort that can keep children amused for hours at little cost to the parents other than the call-out charge to the washing machine repairman? Or the sort that people pay good money for in health clubs, for use as a face pack, but is in fact freely available – and applied for you courtesy of a good downhill slope? As a footnote to cyclists, I have
noticed that health clubs tend to only apply this stuff to the face or
naked skin. The current habit of cycling with the backside sprayed with
mud, as illustrated in the enclosed photo, is not to be recommended.

Muddy Bum

It is hoped by leaving these questions unanswered I will inspire other
mud experts to come out of camouflage and write their own answer to the

Some muddy photos from Caroline can be found here

and another here.

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