This being the end of July and the first Sunday of the school holidays the weather forecast was for rain all day. So a few brave (daft?) members met at the top of St Peter’s Street in St Albans. I had planned a long route through the Chilterns out to Towersey on the Aylesbury Plain (Plan A). This would have been a challenging route on any day. I had already decided to cut the route short and ride out to Chesham and return after the morning stop (Plan B). Jon advised me that it was the annual get together of the Herts CTC at Vanstones Garden Centre near Codicote. So Plan B was abandoned and we decided to go there instead (Plan C).
We set off out of St Albans towards Sandridge and by the time we had reached the bottom of Valley Road the rain had started. A quick stop at Beech Bottom Dyke and we noted that Verulamium was the name of the settlement before the Romans arrived. We put on wet weather gear and continued along Sandridgebury Lane into Sandridge. Then it was a pleasant, drippy route along Coleman Green Lane, across Nomansland up through the woods skirting Wheathampstead Golf Course to Harpenden Road.
Turning right down Leasey Bridge Lane we crossed the River Lea and headed towards Gustard Wood. The rain was getting heavier as we passed the Cross Keys Pub and turned towards Ayot St Lawrence. A very quick stop allowed us to view Shaw’s Corner and the ruined Church then we headed down Tanyard Lane towards Kimpton Road. Here we came across two horse riders at the bottom of the hill riding a couple of flighty fillies, which were nervous of the flag on Judy’s trike. Half a mile further down Kimpton Road the road was flooded, but we managed to get by taking it easy - turned out the flood was only a few inches deep. We made it to Vanstones around 10.30 and the rain was really meaning business as we listened to it hammering on the café roof.
I was not expecting many cyclists to make it on such a wet day, but a few hardy souls turned up and a pleasant hour was spent catching up with old acquaintances. Afterwards we went home by the most direct route. By this time the rain was very heavy as we headed into a strong head wind down the B656 into Old Welwyn. Then we took the Old A1 over Digswell Hill, through Lemsford and back to Hatfield via Green Lanes. Not the best preparation for my imminent end-to-end ride, or maybe it was?
'Never never give up' (Winston Churchill)