17 October 2021

17 Oct 2021: Colney Heath to Rye Park

On a warm  but distinctly drizzly morning we met in Colney Heath after deriving the pleasure of holding up the traffic at the lights on the longabout. Eamonn proudly displayed his new purchase: a steel-framed gravel/tourer with a plethora of bolts on the fork blades, supposedly for fixing frames for fork bags, now the latest trend in the era of bike-packing. Noticing an increase in the precipitation, we all donned rain jackets before setting off through Welham Green and Brookmans Park. It turned out to be a wise move, as the drizzle soon morphed into rain. After crossing the A1000 we headed due east through Epping Green and Broxbourne Woods, passing several groups of cyclists coming the other way. After a couple of incidents of overtaking drivers pulling in sharply to avoid oncoming traffic, we arrived safely in Hoddesdon where Carol led us on a devious route towards Rye House avoiding the traffic and large roundabouts. We settled in to the Anatolia's cafe, where Gary's eyes lit up when he saw that liver was on their menu. However, disappointment clouded his face when the waitress informed him that the last piece had been served yesterday, and he substituted a Mediterranean breakfast. Our return journey, now in the dry,  took us along a byway (ideal for Eamonn's gravel bike) to Brickendon, after which Gary noticed that Eamonn;'s rear tyre looked a bit flat, so we turned into a nearby driveway to get off the country road to change its tube. Levering off the 38mm tyre was an unexpected challenge, but eventually we got it off and inspected the inner tube for the hole. Once found, we mapped the hole back to the tyre to find a very sharp flint in the shape of a thorn, which was extracted. Getting the tyre on again with a new tube was an even greater challenge, but Eamonn managed it with difficulty after trying a putting-on tool, which he didn't know how to use, and ensuring the tyre was seated into the well of the rim.

Sartorial elegance!

After inflating the tube to what he thought was about 40 psi he unscrewed his pump only for the valve barrel to come out! Replacing the barrel, he used my push-on pump to re-inflate again to about 40 psi.

A two-puncture day

Passing through Wild Hill Eamonn noticed that his front tyre was going flat, so again we pulled into a property entrance to get off the road. This time the hole in the tyre took some effort to find, and Gary found a tiny slit with nothing in it at the corresponding place on the tyre. Fortunately, Eamonn had a second spare tube, as the rest of us didn't have spare tubes for 38mm tyres. This time he got the tyre off and on slightly more easily, no doubt due to his previous experience half an hour earlier.
Can we hear the air leaking?

When all was done we returned in the sunshine to St Albans via Welham Green, Colney Heath and the Alban Way after a shorter ride of about 31miles from the start point.


3 October 2021

3 Oct 2021: Wheathampstead to Letchworth

The day started coolish as we met outside the toilets in East Lane car park, trying to avoid looking like we were loitering there. This was helped by the absence of Steve Brazier and his 70’s kit, who was checking out the facilities in Portugal. (No photos taken for this report so I though I'd include this one showing Steve approaching the beautiful Douro river valley in North Portugal. Gives a flavour of the glorious two-week tour we just completed: Carol)

Approaching the Rio Diuro

The route supplied by Carol Brazier went straight up to Lower Gustard Wood but we stopped first to show 2 members of the group the old railway station platform by the roundabout at the top of the village. After brief moments of reminiscence and thought of past lives in the slow and local lane we proceeded up to  Lower Gustard Wood slowing to a walking pace due to a deep flood across the road halfway up the road. Luckily only one member of the group didn’t have mudguards so most got through comfortably dry. Looping up to toward Preston and then Charlton way, with only a couple of navigational errors by our stand-in leader Mark K on the way, due to failing to read the route cues in time, we worked our way across to Little and then Great Wymondley passing through tempting smells of cooked breakfasts at Redcoats and on to the Golf Centre in Letchworth. By common assent the bacon at the Golf Centre is pretty special and several of our group had full English artery busting breakfasts. By this time the sun had come out although the wind had strengthened.

Par 3 golf centre café

While thinking about leaving, low and behold,Richard Stubbs turned up having missed the start, so we waited for him to have his coffee and cake and then made our way back. A bright if headwindy passage south with spectacular skies was only marred by two of our group deciding to take their own route home, possibly losing confidence in their leader and heading for home and an early shower.  The foursome they left behind rode the rest of the route down towards Codicote and dropped down into the Kimpton Road by the Mimram and across to the Codicote Road at Kimpton Bottom and up towards Wheathampstead where Peter picked up his car. This left 3 who made their way home into Sandridge and St Albans in glorious sunshine. Great ride and great company!

Mark K

19 September 2021

19 Sept 2021: St Albans to Maple Cross

 We met at the usual start point and after having a brief chat with a young Harley Davidson owner we left the town via Bedmond, where we bumped into Peter S on his way to meet West Herts CTC at Smallford, and down to Kings Langley. Unusually for us, we stayed on the road past the old Ovaltine factory, which still looks a tremendous Art Deco building even though it has been converted into apartments. Ovaltine (a powdered drink added to milk, for those not old enough to remember it) was one of the original examples of food provenance as nearby they had a dairy farm, an egg farm and a barley farm to provide the main ingredients.

Ovaltine apartments
We went through Hunton Bridge then down and up House Lane before heading to Sarrett. As we all had fairly fat tyres we descended to Sarrett Bottom then went along the concrete track to cross the River Chess and used Holloway Lane to climb up to Chenies. We spotted a new outdoor café (Crestyl café) at the Watercress farm by the Chess bridge which is open Friday to Sunday 10am-4pm.

Holloway Lane
Holloway Lane is tarmacked but rather narrow as you can see in the photo above. We dropped down into Chorleywood and climbed to Heronsgate, where we decided to shortcut to Maple Cross by going down past the Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty pub, then riding down the dual carriageway slip-road of the M25 to approach the cafe using a brand-new cycle-path that delivered us to the door.
Liver dinner
After Steve and I ordered our bacon rolls, a svelte Gary shocked us by ordering a low-carb liver dinner, substituting mushrooms for chips. We were also surprised at the enormous bottle of ketchup. It was labelled as 1.3kg and my photo doesn't do it justice
1.3 Kg tomato ketchup
Afterwards we returned via the edge of Rickmansworth and Chorleywood bottom where we encountered traffic hold-ups caused by huge cars being too wide for a narrow lane. An easy run through Chandlers Cross and Abbotts Langley saw us back in St Albans before 2pm after 36 miles. We didn't see any rain really, just a few spots here and there.