Breaking the Ice
While the roadies were confined to their turbo-trainers by the winter weather, a brave five intermediate mountain bikers were out enjoying the crisp air and frozen puddles of the bridleways south of Shackleford up to the Devil's Punchbowl at Hindhead.
As leader, Julian had the privilege of riding through the puddles first, breaking the ice, on the trails across Shackleford Heath. After reaching Tilford, conditions improved considerably as we crossed Hankley Common and traversed Kettlebury Hill. Here, the soft sand can be unrideable in summer but today it was hard packed and easy riding. We passed a group of teenage army cadets on manoeuvres, carrying what we hoped were dummy weapons.
Any GCSE Physics student knows about the lapse rate, whereby it gets colder as you ascend, and so it was no surprise that we found increasing amounts of snow and ice on the ground as we climbed to Hindhead Common. Traction was not a particular problem until we reached the National Trust car park, which was a skating rink, causing the first involuntary dismount for new rider Alejandro.
After coffee and cake we continued to the view point on Gibbet Hill before descending back below the snow line to return to the start via Ockley Common. 21 miles and a fine winter ride.