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25 April: off-road ride around 'little Switzerland'

posted 27 Apr 2010, 01:38 by South Herts   [ updated 25 Nov 2015, 23:42 ]
Neil writes: Prior to today's ride Jon had advised everybody that it would be off-road and to pack fat tyres and low gears, hahahahaha.

After a long dry spell, the day started off with a brief but heavy bout of rain to settle the dust.  As myself and Vish made the start we found Jon already there and in high spirits.  A newcomer (Ash from Deptford, who had seen our website) joined us and then Carol and Steve arrived.  Four of us had heeded the advice and brought old mountain bikes and chunky tyres: this was going to be a slowish ride.

First port of call for the day was the forest up by North Mymms.  As we left St Marys Church Road, it became plain that some of us were going to have trouble.  It's always the way with off road riding - it takes a minute or two to get into it and then the rest of the ride is full of ‘can I do it?’
Taking a breather in Mymmshall Wood.
Hadley Woods

As a leader Jon is fantastic, he picks the right roads with the right conditions for the ride.  Nothing was too muddy, or chunky.  We had some road riding to do and we also went across a couple of fields.  It became evident to me that this was going to become a very entertaining ride.  The woods and forests had benefited from the earlier down pour of rain and smelt very lush and earthy.  The trees and foliage looked happy and fresh.

Throughout the morning we were followed by a angry cloud that sometimes did its best to make us feel like the heavens were going to open, although what rain we had was light and the sun came out before lunch.  On leaving Trent Park Animal Centre Cafe we took a sharp left at the fish ponds up and through the woods, past the Obelisk on the left (once used as a Dr Who location) and made our way to Whitewebbs Park. 
 Trent Park Animal Centre cafe
 Trent Park has a good network of tracks
 Dodging golf balls in Whitewebbs Park

On leaving the park Ash stopped to fix a puncture (using two of his 20 spare tubes in the process) then we were off on a newly surfaced track past Theobalds Park.  On the way to Goose Green we passed through some lovely countryside and came across some rather distressed bikers on Ermine Street.  Stopping to help them we found one was holding his bike’s left crank in his hand.  They were stranded without the correct Allen key, but at this point super Vish leapt into action and had the bike up and running in no time.
 Two stranded mountain bikers on Ermine Street

 Neil heads for an early bath

While that was going on I decided to wash my bike in a small puddle.

At Goose Green we were surprised to find that the pub wasn’t doing food (supposedly because the new owners hadn’t fired up the kitchen yet).  We sent a rescue party in to grab Steve before he brought any beer and headed off to Hoddesdon.  The White Swan in the town centre was a delight.  The food was very good and we all agreed it would be a good place for a winter ride.  We then took in some easy tracks via Brickendon and Newgate Street.
Neil leads the way to Ponsbourne Park. 

The total distance today was about 42 miles with 37% of this on a dozen stretches of off-road.

 View a larger map

On the way home we found a bridle path through Barbers Lodge Farm that had massive tractor tyre marks all the way along it, that was great fun.  Jon left us after this, then Carol and Steve left at Welham Green and three of us made our way back to Hatfield, making sure Ash got his train back to Kings Cross.

A great day indeed.