2 December 2018

2 Dec 2018: Hatfield to Hitchin

Sunday's ride was the first of our later start, shorter winter rides, and so we met at the more leisurely time of 10.00 in Poppins Café, Hatfield for a pre-ride coffee before setting off at 10.30. We were delighted to see Jon and Judy back in business after a substantial lay-off.

We headed through Lemsford and then the centre of Welwyn GC to pass under William Cubitt's magnificent Digswell viaduct, still carrying the main line after 168 years. Avoiding the big hill to Harmer Green we went to Tewin and then through the still autumnal woods to Datchworth. Two large Australian birds – emus - seemed find our appearance very fascinating when we passed their field. They are 6 ft tall and can sprint at over 30 mph, so we were glad they were well fenced in. There was some debate about whether they were rheas or emus, but the blue necks visible in the photo are only found on emus.
Two big birds
It was drizzling on and off, but mild, so rain gear came and went. Dropping down into Stevenage at Bragbury End, Jackie knew how to get to the football ground along the rough cycle paths. After that I knew where I was. Passing through the charmless rest of Stevenage it was a relief to get back into the countryside again.

Finding our intended pub in Gosmore couldn't take us for lunch after all (I had forgotten to phone before hand) we went just up the road to Hitchin, a town competing for the highest density of pubs and cafes in the world. Ignoring this vast choice, we settled on the Wetherspoons pub. There was plenty of room and the usual fare was on offer. So, after a convivial and cheap lunch it was back to our various homes by shorter routes. A great ride of less than 40 miles.

Richard 02/12/2018

25 November 2018

25 Nov 2018: Hatfield to Shepall (Stevenage)

Steve B noticed his front tyre was flat just as we were leaving the house at 8:40 to cycle to the Hatfield start. He decided to stay and fix the puncture while I cycled to the Asda start. We were amazed that he actually turned up just after 9:10 so it had been a fast inner-tube change. We took a wiggly route south and west through Bullen's Green and Brookman's Park to start with before heading to Rose Café via Bayford and Brickendon. Arriving at 10:40 all eight of us ordered and were served within 5 minutes! This must be a record for fast service in a café.

Afterwards we took the park route out of Hertford, then went via Stoneyhills, Stapleford and over to Woolmer Green.

We climbed up and over the A1 motorway through the picturesque Mardleyheath nature reserve, before meandering north, crossing the A1 several times again to reach the edge of Stevenage by the old Roebuck Inn. Remarkably we reached the pub by cycling about 1/4 mile along quiet roads then the old Shepall Lane which is now a pleasant cycle path next to a park, and where we saw a black squirrel, which took us straight to the the old Sheppall village, now surrounded by urban Stevenage.

The Red Lion pub has had a refurbishment since we last visited, and we sat in a room with a bicycle theme. There were many photos and pictures of bikes, and some saddles and handlebars arranged to look like the deer antlers more usually seen in a pub.
Bike trophies!

Unfortunately as we left Steve B had another flat so the group went on ahead and we stayed behind to fix it at the pub. It was easy to find as there was a huge flint sticking through the tyre. As the photo shows, you would not know you are surrounded by modern Stevenage here.
Second one of the day
We ended up getting back at about 3.20 pm just as it was beginning to get dark after covering about 48 miles.


24 November 2018

24 Nov 2018: Hatfield to Hertford

Eight of us met for a morning’s ride over to Hertford, it was an overcast morning and some of us had experienced rain getting here, but we were glad we squeezed another fun ride in before winter. Suitably enough a fun fair was being set up in Hatfield Market Square and they were getting ready for turning on Christmas lights that night, so it all made for a colourful sight.

Dorris and Steve
Jean, John and Julie
This ride was going along some very familiar roads, but riding at this time of year can be tricky, you can never be sure of what the roads are actually like. Silky/rough/icy/full of leaves it’s Hobson’s choice, luckily for us they were OK and quite pleasant to use.

We took a slightly busy A1000 out of Hatfield and quickly left it at the Mill Green turn off to cycle up the path that meets the 414 and then back onto Gypsy Lane through the golf course, navigating the suburbs of WGC to get ourselves to Panshanger. We took the scenic route through the bottom of Tewin and headed out to Bramfield, everywhere looking suitably autumnal, with a lot of colour on show.
Jean leading on the hill to Tewin
Jon and Judy
From Bramfield we took the winding back road into Hertford, this is a nice route that gradually undulates with a drop at the end of it, getting onto the busy main road at Hertford North proved to be problematic, but after some waiting we all made it. Next it was a trip through a park then on to Rose Café.  I needed to check this place out as this café has bravely fought developers and have not been closed like all other shops around them.

After a lovely stop for brunch/snacks we made our way back out of Hertford via the lower Hatfield road for a bit before taking St Mary’s Lane which leads up to Hertingfordbury, a lovely road that has some great views, one of which being a lot of sheep in a wooded area (I think they must have escaped from a neighbouring field). We took our usual route from Hertingfordbury to the Old Coach Road, at Letty Green we said good bye to John and Judy (who headed back to Barnet). We joined The Cole Green Way to get back into WGC then made our way over to Ascots Lane, the A1000 and back to Hatfield.

A really good morning’s ride.
Neil 24/11/2018