18 December 2011

18 Dec 2011: Christmas Lunch

Giles in white jacket
Giles about to get muddy 
We had planned this date to be our Christmas Lunch ride so were a bit disappointed when the weather forecast indicated ice. The Potters Bar pub had been chosen so anyone could get there by public transport if the roads were deemed too icy. As it happened almost everyone made it under 'people power' on the day.
Anyway, we decided if we kept to main roads and tracks then we would be OK on the day.  At the start in St Albans, there were five of us: three on chunky MTB tyres and two on narrower ones. Giles was wearing a pristine white wind jacket, but refused my offer of a white fur and snowflake headband to match. Steve's fairy lights didn't work in the cold and my red headdress soon got a bit bedraggled in the damp morning air. 
We went along the main road through Hatfield and the edge of Welwyn Garden City before diverting along the Cole Green Way all the way to Hertford to the welcoming and warm Rose cafe. (Note; Giles's garment prior to the muddy track on a mudguard-free bike).
Judy, Neil and Tracey joined us and Tracey won the best-effort prize for decoration of both bike and person, with tinsel and a jolly Santa hat. Steve had a half-hearted attempt at the competition with a single reindeer flashing earring on his helmet, but didn't quite make the grade.
Bill and Peter arrived just before we left and later caught us up on the road to Potters Bar. We went a direct route to minimise the risk of ice and arrived early at the Admiral Byng Wetherspoon pub in Potters Bar.
Jackie, Steve and Stuart cycled to join us together with Dawn and Daniel. Jon had walked over 7 miles from Barnet to build up an appetite for the turkey dinner so we ended up with 16 for a very good-value lunch. We even got a couple of free bottles of wine as the pub had messed up the vegetarian orders.
Woman with xmas hat
snowman painted on window
Flashing earing on helmet
Woman wearing Santa hat
Man wearing paper hat
Woman wearing balaclava
Man wearing Santa hat
Man wearing blue paper hat
Empty xmas pud plate

We got back to St Albans just in the daylight and had only done 38 miles - shortest ride of the season, but after all, it was a special day.
Tracey - I'll buy you a drink next time you are out as the prize!

Carol 18/12/2011

11 December 2011

11 Dec 2011: Hatfield to Tonwell

Richard stood in for Peter to lead this ride and he took seven of us on an interesting route, which included some easy off-road along the Lea towpath.  An alternative road route was used by those who were riding skinny tyres, or simply didn't want to wash mud off their bikes. 
Colourful boat on the Lea
Well watered pot plants
Boats on the Lea
More house boats on the Lea
The cafe at Rye House was steamy hot and our feet soon thawed out, as we watched the rain starting outside.  That was enough to persuade Stuart, Steve and Jackie to beat a hasty retreat home, but the rest of us carried on and the rain soon stopped.
Cyclists donning waterproofs
Waterproofs needed after the cafe stop
Cyclists Welcome sign
Pub window in Tonwell

We hadn't used the pub in Tonwell for a while.  The Cyclists Welcome sign in the window said it all.  We really were made welcome with a roaring log fire, good beer and great baguetttes on offer.  A good destination for a winter ride.

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Jon 11/12/2011

4 December 2011

04 Dec 2011: Hatfield to Flamstead

The thermometer has finally started to fall to what are supposed to be seasonal temperatures, although I saw three cyclists sporting shorts on the way to the start in Hatfield.  Our crew of seven was suitably dressed for a CTC ride and we made haste to warm up on Woodcock Hill, on our way to Vanstone’s at Codicote where three more joined us.

If we needed any reminders that Christmas was coming, we had them in abundance at the Garden Centre.  A huge inflatable Santa greeted us as we fought our way through a forest of Xmas trees to the bike stands.  The cafĂ© that day was a Mecca for most of the cycle clubs in Hertfordshire (Verulam, North Road, Watton Wheelers, etc.) and I pitied the ‘normal’ customer wanting a quick coffee.
Re-grouping on Woodcock Hill near Sandridge
Cycle clubs gathering at Vanstones
After fixing Judy’s customary puncture, (her Trice is a magnet for thorns) we headed out across the grain of the hills via Whitwell, Bendish, Peters Green and Kinsbourne Green to Flamstead.
Ready to go
Three Blackbirds at Flamstead

Food at the Three Blackbirds was real cyclists’ winter fare - good portions at reasonable prices.  While waiting for our meals to arrive, Carol passed the time by showed around her photo of a dead stoat, taken earlier that day as a contribution to the national mammal atlas.  http://www.mammal.org.uk/   You’ll be lucky to catch a live mammal on camera, but cyclists are well placed to capture road kill for this survey and all such photos are welcomed. 

Q. What's the difference between a stoat and weasel? 
A. A Weasel is weasily wecognised and a stoat is stoataly different 

Christmas crackered - I’d better finish there!
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