28 March 2010

28 Mar 2010: Sunday ride to Epping and Allens Green

It seemed colder than expected when thirteen of us met in Hertford, but then it was an hour earlier than normal due to the start of summertime.  Encouraged by the concept of summer and an hour's more evening daylight, I was slightly embarrassed to find that everyone except me and Judy had set their alarm clocks really early to ride to the start. 

The climb up to Goose Green warmed us up and, despite heading into Essex, we managed to find several hills to stave off the effects of the cold wind.

Climbing up from the Lea valley

 Approaching Epping

I had planned to use the Verde cafe in Epping, but it was still shut after 11 am, so we piled into a surprisingly salubrious Wimpy instead.

Then it was through part of Epping Forest to Churchgate Street and past the Queens Head (the original lunch stop, until I discovered they only do roast dinners).  We pressed on through Lower Sheering and Sawbridgeworth to the Queens Head at Allens Green for lunch, where it was warm enough for some of us to stay in the pub garden.  Shame we were a week too early for their beer festival.

After lunch Simon, Stuart and Peter took the direct route home, while the rest of us headed south through Gilston and Roydon, with Steve and Carol peeling off via Hertford Heath.  That left Fred, Tracey, John H, Judy, Neal, Craig, Vish and me to carry on to tea at Esem in Ware.  The ride finished with a scenic ride along the river Lea back to Hertford. 
 Cycle path between Ware and Hertford

John supplied some stats from his GPS, showing that we cycled for 4hrs 50mins at an average speed of 10.4 mph.  Total height climbed was 2025 feet over a distance of 49.2 miles.  Putting this on an a vertical profile makes it look like a mountain stage in the Tour de France.  
 Map and vertical route profile.  See 28 Mar 2010 on a larger map. 

21 March 2010

21 March 2010: Sunday ride to Buntingford and Wareside

Stuart writes: After a rainy Saturday, this morning was bright and sunny and I had a wind assisted ride down to the start at Hatfield where I found Simon, Neil and Vish waiting for me. Jon C, Craig, Peter, Richard and Bill then arrived.
We set off on the usual route north from Hatfield doing the customary dodge round the back streets of WGC to drop onto the B1000, Hertford road which we followed for a short while before turning off for Tewin.  We continued to Burnham Green, Datchworth and Watton.
Burnham Green
 Near Watton-at-Stone
I had intended to go via Walkern and Cottered but opted to take the quieter route through Whempstead, Dane End and Gt Munden.
Just before the Gt Munden crossroads Richard's back tyre went flat, the cause of which turned out to be a faulty sidewall on his Continental Top Touring tyre. Fortunately he had a spare folding tyre which Vish fitted as Richard and us all looked on.
 Where's the problem?
 Perhaps it's this!
 Folding tyre & Vish to the rescue
Approaching Westmill we cautiously overtook a team of 4 horses.  They seemed more nervous than us, but the driver had them well under control.
The four horses
I knew we were going to be a bit late for 11's due to the distance, but the puncture had set us back a bit more so by the time we arrived at Buntingford it was 11.25.  Fortunately we were fairly quick to be served at the cafe and were on our way again by just after 12.
 Buntingford Coffee Shop
We retraced our route back to Westmill and continued on the Munden road turning off onto the lane that joins the A10 just north of Puckeridge. At Puckeridge we were joined by two locals who rode with us to the end of the village. We crossed the A120 and continued down to Barwick and the ford where Richard felt deflated again.
Barwick Ford
As time was marching on Vish stayed with Richard and the rest of us carried on to the lunch stop at the Chequers, Wareside.
The pub got quite busy as another group of cyclists (Stort Valley CTC) arrived and a group of ramblers were there. Judy was also there waiting for us.
Richard and Vish arrived at nearly 2pm and after a quick drink we were on our way again by 2.30.
We retraced our steps to Bakers End and continued past Fanhams Hall and into Ware.
I left the group here to turn north back home to Stevenage clocking 63 miles by the time I got back.

Neil adds: When we left Wareside we took a nice steady incline to Ware and at this point Stuart our leader left the ride and headed home.  Just after Ware there was some discussion as to the route to Hertford, Bill and Craig choosing to make their way via the roads, while the rest of us went up the canal path.
This was a lovely way to end a great day’s riding.  We went past a weir which was in full force, just goes to show how much water has actually fallen in the last day or two and the canal itself seemed to be a bit on the high side, but all in all it was a great little jaunt up the path.  Sure it was busy, but what do you expect on a Sunday.  As far as wild life goes all the usual suspects were out and about making the best of what the canal had to offer.
From Hertford we made our way up past Letty Green into Welwyn Garden City, then past the QE2 onto Ascot lane and down into Hatfield.
After the chilly start to the day, it ended up surprisingly warm.  This was a really pleasant ride, which had a great pace in parts.  I'm really hoping that the weather holds up for next week.

14 March 2010

14 March 2010: Sunday ride to Goff's Oak & Rye House

Tracey writes: I had to wing the route as Galley Hall Pub could not accommodate us (Carol and I both rang to check on Saturday).  Being Mothers Day, everywhere was fully booked!  At the start it felt like Spring had finally arrived, it was sunny, bright and warm, and nine of us set off from Asda in Hatfield, (George, Stewart, Giles, Steve, Carol, Neil, Richard, Fred and I). 
We cycled out South through the University and under the A1 to Bullens Green, then turned left onto Tollgate road,  right to Water End and left up to the Vet College in Hawkshead.  Then turned right up to Little Heath and on to Potters Bar, then Northaw and turned left at the church.  Here we climbed up a very steep hill...

climbing Hemps Hill
and right onto Cuffley Ridgeway, left into Bradgate and on to Tolmers Road down to Cuffley Station and up hill to In-Ex Garden Centre.
Coffee stop at In-Ex Garden Centre, Goff's Oak
Most of us tucked into cooked breakfast as we weren’t sure if we would get lunch! Stewart left us at breakfast and Bill joined us. We went out to Bread and Cheese Lane down to Wormley West End, then up to Carneles Green and on to Paradise Park. Lenny the lion and his mates were out on their platform basking in the sun.  We then went up past Brickendon golf cub and right towards Hertford. Then we risked going off road along a byway...
Broxbourne Woods
 to the top of Lordship Lane down into Hoddesdon and onto Rye House.  The Tavern was full of karting spectators, but we had noticed a cafe in Rye Road open so went there (Rye Park Cafe).
 Rye Park Cafe
 It was very nice, cheap and substantial, the staff were very friendly and it is open 8am-4pm on Sundays; a useful stop for future reference.

Neil adds: It was a very pleasant surprise to see Giles once again. The weather was bright and sunny, with a strong wind. This made it hard from me to choose what to wear: as soon as I was out of the wind I baked. We got off to a fairly brisk start, heading up the Tollgate road via Bullen's Green, the roads were quiet and it was a very pleasant beginning to the day. Tracey had chosen some lovely quiet lanes for us to wander down, she also chose a bitch of a hill for us to climb (everyone commented on it) and it really did make me wonder about the sanity of smoking.

Climbing that hill was a delight for me though because my chain dropped down onto the small ring with very little complaining and made the climb far less heart busting than it would've been. As the morning wore on so did the weather, it got very windy in parts but also the sun did it's best to heat us. Tea break was at Goff’s Oak, a pleasant if pricey cafe. From Goff’s Oak we made our way through the woods at Broxbourne (saw the lion, with his small harem). All pubs were full so we went to a cafe and it was very good, prices just right and Fred had a roast chicken that was excellent value for money. After lunch we split into three groups and went off back to where we lived.

Tracey chose some nice off-road parts that were very enjoyable and all bikes coped with them very well. All in all a wonderful day’s ride, we got to see lions, lionesses, a muntjac deer, and some alpacas. It was a great portent for the coming months ahead.

7 March 2010

07 March 2010: Sunday ride to Buntingford and Puckeridge

What a contrast to last Sunday!  Today was clear and sunny, with a biting easterly wind.  A good day for Carol to try out her new electrically heated insoles, especially when having to stand around at the start while a flat tyre was sorted out.  

Twelve of us met at Hertford and followed a fairly direct route through Bengeo to Sacombe Park, where we spotted some guinea fowl strutting around.  


Bengeo hill

Sacombe Park
We had given Judy a 15 minute head start, hoping to catch her on the road, but found her waiting outside the Buntingford Coffee Shop for them to open at 11.George joined us here and the cafe coped well with the sudden influx of 13 cyclists, despite us causing some confusion by grabbing cups of tea destined for someone else.  From here we headed across via Wyddial to Anstey, where we encountered some ice, then we followed quiet, open lanes down through the Hormeads and Furneaux Pelham to Puckeridge.

The Crown & Falcon in Puckeridge is an historic pub dating from about 1530 and is said to have been visited by Pepys in 1662, where he bought a new pair of shoes on his way to Cambridge.  As we already had shoes, they offered us a wide range of bar food and real ales.  We found Richard inside, making a total of 14 riders for the day.

Near Braughing
Reluctantly, we headed back out into the cold with half the group riding back home via Dane End and the other half returning to Hertford, to complete a 40 mile circuit on which we had seen very few cars that day.

Photos by Graham 

View 7 Mar 2010 in a larger map