25 September 2011

25 Sep 2011: St Albans to Hedgerley

We met at St Albans war memorial on what was a lovely spring like morning.  The leader for today was Carol, stepping in at the last minute to cover for Simon.  However, Simon turned up, his farther is back in good health and so he was able to make the ride.

The five of us headed off to Amersham via Potters Crouch, Bedmond and Abbotts Langley.  When we got to Chenies we took the route through Walk Wood; this is a wonderful route that skirts Little Chalfont and the wood looked in great health.  At various points, we passed the runners who were taking part in the local half-marathon.  All in all it was an extremely pleasant ride to morning break.
After break, we made our way towards lunch: Hedgerley.  This is bit of a treat for me as the destination is in the Taplow area of the world, I used to live there and it always feels like coming home.  

This area is actually quite hilly and we were put to the test as we found a new hill that has been dubbed ‘a bit of a sod’.  The actual name of the hill is Windsor Hill.  I can liken it to the Cronk, but it is twice as long.  It also took Carol by surprise, as she hadn’t had time to look at gradients on the route, so some the ups and downs really were surprises. 

Lunch was at the White Horse, which is a lovely pub quite typical of the area.
After lunch, we headed off to Flaunden and the prospect of cheap Tesco’s cakes. After last week’s rather sumptuous display of cakes, Flaunden really did seem like a letdown.  On reaching said destination a small discussion broke out and we headed off to a nearby garden centre, who’s cakes were also a bit of a letdown.  I reckon we should just hire the Upshire ladies to follow us around on a Sunday and serve us cakes all day.

From Flaunden we took familiar roads back to St Albans, the day’s ride was very pleasant and fortunately didn’t have any of the adverse weather that we have been experiencing.


18 September 2011

18 Sep 2011: Hertford to Secret Nuclear Bunker

The well-signposted ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’ was our destination today and our launch pad was Hertford, as this was in range of the target.  So we set off via Paradise Park and skirted south of Harlow for our morning coffee stop at the Garden Centre, where Carol, Judy & Steve met us.

I then took the group via Greensted, where we made a cultural detour to visit the oldest wooden church in the world.  http://www.greenstedchurch.org.uk/  St Andrews Church, Greensted is also the oldest ‘Stave Built’ wooden building in Europe.  I was fascinated by the small hole fashioned into the north wall.  It is uncertain whether this was a ‘leper’s squint’ or a holy water stoup. 

Greensted Church
Outside Greensted Church

Pressing on, we passed through Chipping Ongar and took the road to Stondon Massey before reaching Kelvedon Hatch and the Secret Bunker. Here we found the back entrance, a long overgrown tunnel into the hillside, leading straight to the canteen.  This offered a good range of hot and cold meals. 

Inside the Nuclear Bunker
Looking out from the rear entrance
Spartan sleeping arrangements
Operations for dummies

A few hills were in order to restore our appetites for tea, so we climbed to Navestock, then Tawney Common and finally Ivy Chimneys, before reaching Upshire Church for another wonderful tea.  Here we found out that High Beach church did similar teas - must try that one next May.

Jon  18/09/2011

11 September 2011

11 Sep 2011: St Albans to Whiteleaf

With most regulars on holiday or otherwise engaged only three made it to the start. I understand the high winds drove them all home after elevenses!

4 September 2011

04 Sep 2011: St Albans to Broom

Blue fields near Codicote

We met at St Albans for the start and after a quick discussion of the weather prospects we decided to crack on with the ride and took a pleasant route to Hitchin. The riding was OK as the wind hadn’t had a chance to get up yet and going through Wheathampstead was quite pleasant.  On our way to Hitchin we made a small detour around St Paul’s Walden then back out to Hitchin.

 We arrived at The Hitchin Kitchen, our tea break. It was here that we met with the rest of the gang and our measly 3 swelled to a handsome 8. It was good to see Tracey and Stuart back out again and the morning chat focused on the weather again. It has to be noted that on the weather maps on T.V the entire south was covered in blue (rain and heavy) there was also a hefty sprinkling of wind bars. This vital information was understood and duly ignored by all of us.

Outside Hitchin Kitchen
After break we pressed on towards Broom, this being the lunch destination seemed like a great idea, but first we had to do a wiggle to Ickford. It was as we were going through Ardeley and Church End the slow realisation that the weather reports had been correct started to dawn on us. As the wind got windier, the rain (not wanting to be out done) got rainier, we got wetter and wetter and soon we all swam into Broom. This was one welcome stop and I have to say the folks in the Cock were very understanding and let us hang our dribbley gear all over the place.

While we were sitting munching and chatting about this and that, the  rain eased off and after sometime seemed to stop. This was a trick planned by Mother Nature (Bob), and we fell for it, seeing the state of the weather we decided to head for Whitwell (next stop on the route). As we left the Cock the heavens opened and one of our party decided that enough was enough and we became THE SODDEN SEVEN. The ride to afternoon tea was more like a water sport than anything else, as we courageously cycled through small puddles posing as miniature lakes and battled ghastly gusts of wind. The route to Whitwell was fairly straightforward and included one hill (I cannot remember where that was, but there was definitely a hill or two).

It was a wet gang that plonked their wet bums on seats at Emily’s tearoom and to be sure, we were very grateful to be there, we were the only customers and were served straight away. All that was left for the day was to head home, which we all did in our various ways.

But as Sod’s law would have it as I got in the SUN came out, that Mrs Nature she’s a fickle cow.