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05 Dec: St Albans to Asheridge

posted 10 Dec 2010, 04:34 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 23:22 ]
Would a ride on 5 December be possible? The whole of the previous week had seen cold, ice and snow, traffic chaos, schools closed, etc. The week ahead was due to be just as bad. I was fully expecting to cancel because of the weather, but decided to go to the start, see what the conditions were like, who turned up and take it from there. In the event the morning was much warmer - foggy, but with the feeling that the sun could break through. A gap in the arctic conditions and seven non-wimps were there ready to go. Although there was not much ice around in St Albans, we would have to climb up into the Chilterns where conditions could be worse, so it did seem a good idea to cut the planned route a bit shorter. Instead of heading for the wildlife centre at College Lakes, we aimed for a coffee stop at Berkhamsted. So straight up the A5 to Redbourn, then Gaddesden Row and Water End. Then to get at bit of a loop in, we climbed to Little Gaddesden, doubling back through the Ashridge Estate. It was misty with the sun breaking through - spectacular scenery through the woods. 

Then down into Berkhamsted to a new venue for us - the Olive Tree Cafe in the High Street. After refreshments, Steve, Jacki and Judy headed off back home. I had originally planned to climb out of the valley by way of Dancers End and the Crong from Tring, but we were now too far down the valley for this to be a good route. Getting out of Berko to the southwest is going to be a climb, so we headed off towards Wigginton. After a couple of miles, my narrative of the route comes to an end; for me Tommy the ride is over. A regular noise from my back wheel - have I lost a spoke? No, worse, the rim is bulging and possibly about to go off bang. I had known the rims were well worn and had bought new wheels ready as replacements some while back, but had not quite got round to putting them on. I let the tyre inflation down to just rideable, said goodbye to the others and headed off home. I wondered if there would be a bang any minute and I would be walking. But there wasn't and I cycled back fairly normally. I have now put my new wheels on. Rim wear in winter conditions is a serious problem and a major design fault. Why are rims made of an extremely soft metal - aluminium? If I buy a new bike for winter use, it will certainly have disc brakes. However, it could have been worse and I believe the others got to the Blue Ball at Asheridge and enjoyed the rest of the trip.
47 miles