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26 Dec: Hatfield to Wild Hill

posted 3 Jan 2011, 03:13 by South Herts   [ updated 21 Feb 2011, 03:12 ]
The hill from the Essenden Road down to Wild Hill village was a sheet of smooth ice.
Richard at the Woodman in Wild Hill
Richard writes: Our Boxing Day ride to Hertford, followed by Wild Hill for lunch, was planned to have close stops so the ride could be kept short if the conditions were bad.  And the conditions on Sunday were helping to make this December the coldest for 100 years.  Thick snow and below freezing temperatures had been around for days. 

However, encouraging texts from others persuaded me to brave it to the start in Hatfield and the road surfaces on fairly main roads were in fact reasonable, though it was bitterly cold and well below freezing.  I wasn't expecting a great turnout in view of the weather and the holiday, in the event it was just me and Tracey, but others had sent messages that they intended to go to the pub.  It made sense to pick a short route to the Wetherspoons in Hertford and, if it avoided traffic, so much the better.  So off we set for the Cole Green Way.  The surface on the old railway was thick compacted snow with a rougher bit down the middle; we were doubtful about how rideable it would be, but both had off road bikes and decided to give it a go.  The crumbly snow was ok, but a bit of walking was needed on slopes and icy patches.  The view of the smaller lanes, where the track crossed them on bridges, showed they were completely unrideable. 

Arriving at the Six Templars gasping for hot drinks, we found that their equipment was out of order - cold drinks only were to be had.  Thank goodness the food was in order.  Then, once more a mainish direct route to lunch was the only choice, so along the lower Hertford Road to Essendon. Tracey turned off here - she wasn't chicken - she had not intended to go to lunch.  I now planned a quick visit to the Woodman to see who had made it and then home.  It was still early, so there was time for a slight detour down West End Lane and the surface at first seemed ok.  But this is a hilly, damp lane and it wasn't long before I was walking and that with difficulty.

In the end I walked the whole thing, passing five abandoned cars stuck in the lane.  Arriving at the Woodman, I found Jon snugly set up in the back bar.  Judy's brakes had frozen up and she had needed to go home.  So, a record for the smallest participation on a ride yet, but very character strengthening for those who made it.