22 May 2022

22 May 2022: Wheathampstead to Letchworth

 It was good to see Steve & Jackie again as four of us met at Wheathampstead car-park on a bright sunny morning. We headed north to Gustard Wood then turned left along The Slype, skirted Kimpton then went past Breachwood Green. We crossed Lilley Bottom then went up to Preston and down the steep hill towards Charlton. A strange sight en-route to Gosmore was a cyclist sitting on a folding chair at the roadside. How he carried it I do not know. After the steep hill to St Ippolyts, we went north via  Great Wymondley to Letchworth, where we took the off-road cycle path to the golf club (Steve & Jackie declined to use this and took the road). 

At the start
Because the sun was shining, we sat outside and consumed coffees and snacks while admiring the beautiful vista of the 9-hole golf course, which surprisingly didn't appear to have many players that morning.  Carol had a go on Jackie's gravel bike after coffee and was pleasantly surprised by the wide flared drop handlebar. Afterwards we headed south, saying goodbye to Steve & Jackie at Crouch End near Nup End while we descended to Kimpton Mill and returned to St Albans. As it was dry and we are still using our touring bikes,  we used Sheepcote Lane by-way where I noticed that the burnt-out car at its entrance which I had reported two weeks ago had now been removed.
In the sunshine

A great ride and back home by 1.30

Steve B

8 May 2022

08 May 2022: Hatfield to Rushden

 Sunday morning was bright but very chilly to start – the Met Office forecast had said it would feel like 7°C at 8.30am and riding from St Albans to the start point in Hatfield, yes, it did!   But, by 9am layers of clothing were coming off and the sun was beaming down on the six of us as we rode off. 

The route out took us via the Alban Way and A1000 to Ascots Lane and past the QE2 in WGC, to Panshanger and up Archers Green Lane to Tewin. From there the roads were very quiet up to Burnham Green, then we took White Horse Lane, and various quiet lanes between Woolmer Green and Datchworth Green to Bragbury End. 

Closure for repairs of the normally very busy A602 meant we were to enjoy the rare treat of ambling across the empty junction at Bragbury End onto Aston Lane.  

After riding up through Walkern and on to Rushden, we were all ready for what was an enjoyable coffee stop at Mill End Plants and Cafe.  Quite a few riders from other clubs turned up as we sat outside, including from Verulam and Stevenage CC.  

Mill End café

However, the proposed route home did not go down well with the coffee drinkers.   It seems clear, ride leaders just have to be prepared to bend to popular opinion on certain occasions and it was equally clear this was one.  My route back was deemed to be just too long and no fun. Ahem. Anyway, Carol suggested an alternative, shorter route, with the benefit of picking up a new way to get under/over/through Stevenage.  So, the shorter route back was agreed and Carol volunteered to show us the way.

The return initially took us back down the road through Walkern and continuing south into Aston village.

Near Walkern

At this point, just to the west of Aston on Broadwater Lane, the closure of the A602 showed us just what it could do, with this narrow lane now carrying stupid levels of displaced traffic.  Just then, in the midst of the chaos, a flinty stone or errant nail chose this moment as to bury itself in Steve’s front tyre.  So, we stood together just off the road at the entrance to a gated property, making conversation and gazing at the endless stream of cars flying around the lane.  Of course there was also time to make encouraging comments to Steve and Carol, as they fixed his puncture.   

The route then took us along the very useful cycle path/footway along the southern edge of Shephalbury Park, that took us to Stevenage Road and the turn into Old Knebworth Lane. The lane is now a freshly resurfaced, smooth and scenic gentle climb up to Old Knebworth, with the big old house visible through the trees off to the right.  Climbs don’t come much nicer than this.  

From there we headed back to St Albans via Codicote and Wheathampstead. Mark took a different route after that and Philip later preferred Ferrers Lane, while Phil,  Carol, Steve and I rode the new gravel path from the cricket ground to Sandridge.   Home by around 1.40pm, after 46 miles, including the bit to the starting point.  A very nice ride on a lovely Spring Sunday.   Thinking about it, the route I’d had in mind for the return through Weston and the Wymondleys would have been a fair bit too long. Plus it was good to learn a handy new route. 


1 May 2022

01 May 2022: St Albans to Chorleywood

Well it should have been to Chalfont St Peter, but events took over somehow!
On a bright April morning, warm enough for bare legs,  I threaded my way through the gathering of about 50 Verulam riders who seemed to have established the forecourt of the Alban Arena as their meeting point, to the Waterend Barn.   Of course, this was the first time this year we were using our new departure time of 9 a.m. as agreed at our recent AGM, whereas previously we had met half an hour later. Avoiding the junk market in St Peters Street, we headed out through Bedmond, Abbots Langley, Hunton Bridge and Chandlers Cross to go down and up the steep dip to the cross-roads at Chorleywood. Here, instead of going straight on as usual, we turned right along the A404 main road for half a mile                 before turning left onto the common to go down under the railway bridge and past the shops and up the hill towards our destination of The Madeira cafe in Chalfont St Peter where Philip was looking forward to an encounter with a Portuguese tart. But as I slipped onto my small chain-ring to ascend the hill, my chain came off and jammed. I decided that the best way to resolve the situation was to break the chain at the speed link, extract, re-thread and rejoin it. Although I had my chain pliers with me, and so easily break the chain, it took me a while to do the rest (mainly caused by me temporarily losing one of the rollers of the severed links), by which time the others had turned back to look for me.
Chain pliers
Deciding we had lost too much time, we had our elevenses at Rootz café on the nearby parade which appeared very busy but served us quickly. 
Rootz café was next door!
After consuming some of their very good coffee, we returned via the standard route through Flaunden, Rucklers Lane and Bunkers Lane and got back to St Albans  at about 12.30 after only 32 miles. Carol took the photo below to capture the yellow rapeseed and lilac bluebells against a rather grey sky. 
Rucklers lane

Steve B