10 April 2011

10 Apr 2011: St Albans to Tring

It was a chilly but clear-blue start to what was to be an unseasonably hot day.  Nine of us started out from the War Memorial (Steve, Carol, Tracey, Esther Luxton on her second week, Peter, Neil, Clive Smith on his first ride with us, Stuart and myself).  It was the first ride I had led and I’d made such careful plans….
Our meeting place in St Albans
Route planning in the Village Cafe, Markyate

We headed out on the Redbourn Road before turning up Hogg End Land to run East of Hemel Hempstead towards Gaddesden Row.  The route took us past Valley Bottom Farm to Cheverell’s Green and on to our coffee stop at the Village Café, Markyate. Spring was really showing off with cherry trees in full blossom and the bluebells starting to show.

The first leg was only 14 miles and we arrived at the café soon after 10.30.  The place wasn’t busy but the chef must have been having an off day and it took three quarters of an hour to get us all served.  Richard and Bill joined us here, so now we were eleven. Outside the breeze was still cool, but we could dispense with the arm-warmers.

The slow service meant we were running late, but a phone call to the lunchtime stop confirmed they were open and would be expecting us.  We took the lane past Dedmansey Wood to Whipsnade, then back to Studham and down to Dagnall.  The fairly busy road up to Ringshall got the legs warmed up before we turned northwest to Ivinghoe Beacon, down to Ivinghoe and on to Aldbury. By now there were lots of walkers and horse riders out enjoying the spring sunshine.
Drinks at the Kings Head, Tring...
...but where's the food?

From Aldbury we went passed Tring Station and straight on to the King’s Arms.  Clive left us at the pub and headed home.  Despite the delay in Markyate, we arrived at 12.50 and ordered various sandwiches and salads.  The last time the club visited this pub it was cold and very wet and all of us on that ride were really impressed with the food.  This time our food took over an hour to arrive!  How difficult can it be to make a cheese and pickle sandwich?!  The general consensus was that this pub probably needs to come off our list unless they seriously improve their service.

By the time we’d finished it was 2.15 pm and my planned route for the afternoon needed rethinking (always good to have a plan B).  Bill, Peter, Stuart and Tracey decided to call it a day and cycled for home.  The remaining six of us mounted up just as Esther discovered she had a puncture – a flint chip had worked its way into the tread of her front tyre.  She’d forgotten her pump and had Schrader valves.  We had a range of mini-pumps all set up for Prestas but finger nails were used to turn an adaptor around.  The various volunteers, who worked in rotation, can report that mini-pumps are even more difficult on Schrader valves than on Prestas.  After half an hour, we’d squeezed enough air in to make the bike rideable but decided on finding a garage with an airline to top it up.  The Total garage in Tring had what we needed (once we’d found 20p) and Esther’s bike was restored.
Tyre wrestling is a team sport


3 pm and we could begin the afternoon part of the ride….

Time to implement plan C.  Carol’s superior knowledge took over and the planned route for that afternoon will have to wait for another time.  We used the lanes South of Berkhamstead to get to Ashley Green then South of Bovingdon to Blackwell’s Café in Chipperfield arriving just before 4 pm.  It was a glorious afternoon with the temperature in the low 20s.  Chipperfield Common was packed with people and there was live music outside at the café.

We went our separate ways by 4.30 pm with about 50 miles on the clock since St Albans. And the moral of the day is … even if your best-laid plans do get obliterated it’s pretty hard to beat a Sunday ride in Hertfordshire with the South Herts CTC in the spring sunshine.

Monday 11 April 2011

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