“Is this a new club record?” asks Nick Hickman.
Let’s face it I’m very unlikely to beat any of the existing club records. So what to do? Well the opportunity arose a few weeks back when we had all that snow.
The Sunday club run was never going to happen on the road but I, Neil JJ Fraser and a couple of non-members (Simon and Kieran) met up at the usual time and place on mountain bikes. We set off carefully down Sun Street with the traditional, naughty right-turn at the end, then headed out on the Barton Road. At the brow of the hill we made a right turn along Crow Furlong.
A record attempt had begun.
Near the Lavender Barn there was a cyclist being towed through the snow by his three dogs. Mush! Lots of sliding about and falling off on the way down to Oughton Head. On finding himself lying in a foot of snow Neil remarked that it had seemed like a comfortable place for a rest. Then on road for a bit to Pirton. Another strange person pulling a wheelie on the ice for 100yds or so at Punch’s Cross. Impressive. We decided an assault on the North Face of Telegraph Hill was in order and started up to Base Camp (pictured) at the top of Wood Lane. After pausing there for photos we pushed on through waist deep snow drifts, crossed the Barton Road and up the Icknield Way. This was actually a bit easier than expected because a few walkers had been through. Although the rider that piled on through very aggressively without so much as an “on your right” was an odd moment. The tobogganists coming down from Deacon Hill looked like they were having fun. We soon reached the summit of Telegraph Hill and pedalled onwards across Lilley Hoo, through the wood that I and my MTB friends have always known as P*ncture Wood and towards Little Offley. We stopped soon as the Wood had lived up to its name as usual. Simon gave a superb illustration of the need to thoroughly check a p*nctured tyre all the way round and not assume that removal of two obvious and large thorns was all that was required. A couple of inner tubes later we were on our way again, feeling very cold now in the fog and after the long stop.
Through Little Offley to Great Offley and down Chalk Hill rather slowly but still falling off a time or two more. Back into Hitchin with grins from ear to ear and an agreement that we “must do this again” the next time an opportunity arises. So, Neil and I achieved 14 miles in something over three hours. That’s the benchmark for slowest 2-up time trial in the snow.
We claim a new club record and will be pleased to defend it next Winter if the weather makes it possible. For the avoidance of doubt, to beat the record the snow must be deeper and the time slower!