30 December 2012

30 Dec 2012: Hatfield to Markyate

The last ride of 2012 and, after days of rain, it had finally stopped and the omens were good for a sunny day. So there were ten of us at the start in Hatfield ready to burn off some of our excess Xmas calories. First stop was to be at the Wyevale Garden Centre in Codicote but that is not very far from Hatfield so some detours were necessary. So instead of going directly north we went off in an easterly loop via Panshanger, Tewin and Woolmer Green. By the time we reached the garden centre we had done about 15 miles, time for a refreshment break. Going inside we found two members of our usual group who had gone straight there and were waiting to join us.
Cyclists at 4 tables in cafe
Lunch at Markyate Cafe
Over coffee we discussed the original plan, which was to go on to a pub in Flamstead for lunch, but there were dissenting voices opining that it might be too expensive, judging by the menus on their website. So instead we decided to go to Markyate, which is just beyond Flamstead and look for a pub there.  Failing that we could always come back to Flamstead. Away we went through Kimpton and Peters Green and then down the long hill to the Lower Luton road. Going down this hill one has the joy of anticipating the long slog climbing up the other side of the valley as you have a fine view of the road ahead going straight uphill ahead of you. In due course we arrived in Markyate, which has a nice old-fashioned High St. with quite a number of pubs, of which none, upon enquiry were serving food. However all was not lost as we found the ‘Markyate Village Café’ a very pleasant establishment, which made us welcome with excellent food at a very reasonable price.
After that the group headed south, some to St Albans, others towards the start at Hatfield and others to north London. All told the ride had been just over 40 miles and it had been a fine and bright day; a good end to the year’s cycling.

23 December 2012

23 Dec 2012: St Albans to Hemel

Ten of us gathered at the start awaiting our esteemed leader, when Richard appeared to tell us that he wasn’t really there.  At least, he couldn't lead the ride today.  So up stepped Carol to plan a route in 30 seconds flat and off we went.
Carol leading up Hogg End Lane
First of many floods

With so much rain lately we wondered which lanes would be passable.  We soon found our first flood coming off Gaddesden Row.  Then after dropping down to Trowley Bottom and back to Gaddesden Row, we had to half-crank for about 100 yards for the whole road through Dell Wood was flooded.  Amazingly, we still had dry feet when we arrived at Hudnall Corner for a welcome breakfast roll.
Longest flood on Clements End Lane
Sunshine in Ashridge Park
Then four of our less adventurous members departed for home, while we gallant few took advantage of our lack of Richard’s leadership and headed for a closer destination than was originally planned.  A pleasant ride through Ashridge Park followed in the sunshine, but we were soon back to badly flooded lanes at Frithsden.  The perils of leadership befell Carol on point duty as she kindly pointed out a deep hole hidden under the waters: warning us with a load yelp as she put her foot down to mark the spot.

A direct route to the Wetherspoons in Hemel followed, where we all resisted having another Christmas dinner.  Then it was up Bunkers Lane and a quick dash for home before the next wave of wet weather was able to hit us.
Open map full screen

Jon 23/12/2012

16 December 2012

16 Dec 2012: Christmas lunch ride

Line of cyclists
Carol leads us out of Hertford
Carol did a great job of organising this year's ride to The Admiral Byng in Potters Bar.  At Hertford we had to divide ourselves between two cafes as they were so busy.  We worked up a healthy appetite for our lunch as the route took us up and down some good climbs on the way there, arriving at around 12:30.  The meal was very good and there was plenty of time for some Christmas cheer.

Alt text
Snowman hitching a ride on Judy's Trice

Open map full screen
Judy and Jon won the prize for the best (silliest?) decorated bikes, awarded by Carol.  Fortunately, Jon binned his reindeer antlers before anyone had a chance to photograph them; but Judy's novelty rear light, an illuminated snowman, brought a smile to a few motorists' faces on the way home.

Thanks Carol for all your work again this year!

9 December 2012

09 Dec 2012: Hatfield to Wareside

Katie joined us again and this time brought along her new bike for its first ride.  She soon had the gleaming white paintwork christened with dirt, although it still had a long way to go to match the shabbiness of Pete’s winter bike with its layer of underseal.   After the recent freezing temperatures and heavy rains it was a relief to be back to more normal December weather, at least for today.  Eleven of us joined the ride and some of us felt a little over-dressed and shed some layers as the sun came out.  We also had a welcome tail wind, all of which made the cycle route along the River Lea from Hertford a very pleasant experience.
Group stopped in country lane
Pausing at Cucumber Lane
Group riding by canal
Along the River Lea to Ware

We crowded into the excellent café in Stanstead Abbotts for a welcome nosh – shame it isn’t open on Sunday afternoons.  With eleven out on the ride I thought I had better phone ahead to the pub, especially as we were getting into the Christmas lunch season.  Just as well – they couldn’t cope with anything other than roast dinners, so a quick change of plan took us on a loop through Widford, Perry Green and Much Hadham into Wareside, where The Chequers came to our rescue.  The Hertfordshire sausage sandwiches were much in demand here.
Following a group riding up hill by stream
Up to Perry Green
Group led by woman in pink
Passing Perry Green church 

Then it was into the strong head wind back to Hertford and through to Hatfield.  Not so bad when you’re in a group taking turns at the front – we really must try that some day!  
It’s back to freezing temperatures this week.  Let’s hope it clears up for our Christmas lunch ride next Sunday – there’s a prize for the best decorated bike.


25 November 2012

25 Nov 2012: Hatfield to Aspenden

We welcomed two somewhat contrasting newcomers, who decided to join us on a blustery day for our ride to Aspenden.  Our first stop was Whitehill Golf Club.  Saving the really hilly route for the return journey, we took the easier and faster option via the tarmaced section of the Cole Green Way, then through Hertford, up Port Hill and through Sacombe Park.
The old main road to Hertford
Sacombe Park
Sacombe Park
Natalie leading through the flood

Natalie, who had borrowed a friend’s bike to ride with us, was more used to the mountains, beaches and warmth of Cape Town, but she was revelling in the experience of exploring Hertfordshire in a colourful English autumn.  Neil, a seasoned CTC member from Chester, also out on his first ride with us, was discovering some routes around his new abode in WGC.

We met Richard as we were turned into the entrance of the golf club together at exactly 11 am.  But disaster had struck.  All was dark inside and we were told that a fallen tree had brought down the power supply.  Nothing daunted, we pressed on to Thundridge Stores instead (sorry Giles – no fry-up for you).

This was already Natalie’s longest ride, but she was enjoying it and keen to press on to lunch, so I took a more direct route up the old A10, through Puckeridge and Westmill, with a strong wind behind us and we reached the pub at 1 pm.  Here we were welcomed warmly and shown to a round table by the roaring fire – the last free table in this deservedly popular establishment.

We took a direct but more hilly route back, which sheltered us from the wind, although this had abated by now.  One last obstacle was a flooded lane before Watton; deep enough to half submerge Judy on her Trice recumbent!   Natalie was starting to struggle and the chunky tyres on her friend’s bike looked a bit soft.  A quick squirt from Giles’ CO2 canister made all the difference and we all made it back to Hatfield just as it was getting dark. It’s amazing was a difference fully inflated tyres can make.

Jon 25/11/2012

18 November 2012

18 Nov 2012: St Albans to Luton

A frosty morning, but a clear blue sky and bright sunshine welcomed us when we met up at the War Memorial in St Albans.  We were soon off heading north across Nomansland Common and then through the back streets of Harpenden.  Soon the lanes towards Luton would have brought us to our morning stop.  So, just when some were beginning to wonder about what they would order in the cafe when we got there, we turned instead to Markyate and along the Whipsnade road, through Kensworth and then into that deep dip, before climbing to the fringes of Dunstable.  Passing the largest chalk pit in the country, where chalk is pumped in solution to Rugby through a 56-mile pipeline!
Largest chalk pit
Cafe 7 in Caddington

A quick stretch on the busy A5 and a short climb brought us to a new cafe stop for us in the centre of Caddington.  An excellent value establishment with a mug of tea at 70p!  Surely this is a record?  Now our route to lunch was blocked by Luton. So no more quiet rural lanes for a while but a bash through some serious traffic and then some back streets to soon pick up Sustrans route 6 following the upper Lea.  Here misfortune struck when Neil hit a bollard in the path and fell off.  He fell heavily and was badly cut.  
Group stands around fallen cyclist
Neil recovering after hitting the post he is leaning on
Group by steel post
Stupid place to stick a post

But after checking nothing was broken and a rest, he gamely wanted to carry on.  We took things a bit easy, and soon in the fringes of Luton we saw a marathon run event.  A first aid post for the run gave Neil a bit of further treatment.  
3 ambulance people around patient
Ambulance crew get some practice
Cycle path
Pleasant route through Luton

But, instead of carrying on with the planned route round the north of Luton, it seemed best to cut things short and head back into the town centre and seek out a convenient stop for lunch.  Jon recommended the Red Lion which turned out to be a pleasant stop and excellent value and good service.
Group outside pub
Town centre pub in Luton
rear view of group riding
New tarmac on NCR 6!

Heading home from Luton, it seemed worth checking whether the new Lea cycle path had been completed.  And yes, riding past the sewage works on a new tarmac surface was a pleasure. 

The path is complete (but maybe not yet officially opened).  Quick progress on the new route and we parted on our separate ways.  An eventful trip, and all the best to Neil, who said he got in to work as usual on Monday.  Lesson - bollards in the middle of cycle paths are dangerous especially when riding in a group and they are not well painted.

rear view of group riding
All the way (nearly) to Wheathampstead
Richard 18/11/2012

11 November 2012

11 Nov 2012: Hatfield to Essendon

Essendon or bust!!
Bill, Judy, John, Richard, Steve, Jackie, Steve, Tracy, Craig and Peter all made it to Asda to meet me for the day’s ride out to Essendon via Dobb’s Weir.  I explained to Richard that the ride was fairly straightforward, as I was aware that some may have wanted to attend the AGM that was being held in Colney Heath at 2.30.

9.20 we left and headed out towards Welham Green via the University.  It was here that 2 latecomers joined us for the ride.  Then we headed for the Great North Road and turned off to take Westfield road up to Grubbs Lane.  From there it was straight down Tyler’s Causeway, and up around to White Stubbs Lane.  This is a lovely long whack right into Broxbourne.  Although this route is direct, it is very pleasing to the eye, both sides are lined with trees in all their multi-coloured glory, as well as being popular with cyclists, so we passed a few familiar faces.
Eleven cyclists and bikes
Eleven meet in Hatfield
Two cyclists passing trees
Dappled shade in Tyler's Causeway

In Broxbourne we went down Station Road and took the Old Nazing Road, which lead us onto a road I could’ve stayed on. Then we turned onto Nursery Road and about halfway up headed on to the pathways of the Lee valley Park.  

Back on the Old Nazing Road there is a joining point onto the tow path up to Dobb’s Weir: I didn’t want to take that because it would be very muddy, but I wasn’t familiar with the route to get to Dobb’s.  Fortunately Jon took the lead and led us along National Cycle Route 1 to the café. 

The café did an amazing job, there were 13 of us and as we arrived so did a few bikers.  A very busy little place.
Cycling past a lake and willows
Lakes and willows in the Lea Valley
Group outside pub in sun
Outside The Candlestick

Again I had to rely on the group’s knowledge of the area as we left the café and headed to Hoddesdon.  I needed to get to Cock Lane and didn’t really have a clue, but as the group helped out I found myself riding down very familiar roads.  

We made Cock Lane and from there it was straight up to Brickendon, skirting the Broxbourne nature reserve. From Brickendon to Bayford then down to the Lower Hatfield road, here I stopped to phone the pub of our imminent arrival. 

Essendon hill beckoned the hill of the day, not so much a hill but just a very long ascent that tests will power and stamina more than anything.  In Essendon we took the West End Road to The Candlestick (lunch) and to be honest the hill up to the pub was worse than the hill into Essendon.

The pub was fantastic and very welcoming; they had set aside two tables for us, one very kindly by the fire.  A really pleasant pub, good affordable food, a great pint with a relaxed atmosphere.

From this viewpoint we could see great billows of smoke coming from the Hatfield direction; it could’ve been anything but it turned out the pallets at the back of the nursery in Smallford had caught fire.  We made lunch for 1.00pm giving Jon and Judy plenty of time to get to the AGM to represent us.
Smoke in blue sky
Smoke over Essendon
Blazing fire
Blazing pallets in Smallford

It was a great day and a great ride.  I thank everybody for coming along and I thank you all for your assistance.


10 November 2012

10 Nov 2012: Saturday ride to Colney Heath

Super soar away, Scandal free Saturday Smasher
Meeting up at Morrisons
Fantastic cup cakes
Pink interior

3 of us met at Morrisons today, Richard ‘Sturdy’ Stubbs, new rider Sylvia and me.  The weather was threatening dribbles, lots of dribbles so I had decided on a fairly straightforward route to the tea stop.

Sylvia had come along to see if she could manage riding with a group, she had been out with Rona and Rona recommended us, nice one Rona.

Our journey took us straight down the Alban Way, which at this time of year is leaf infested, but apart from that it is gorgeous. The trees were at their multi-coloured best: reds, bronze and golden browns intermingled with the yellows and lush greens.  As we neared the rise up to the Galleria, we noted that the path was covered with leaves which hid the edge of the path: someone could take a tumble there.

From the Alban Way we headed towards Beaconsfield Road and then made our way to The Great North Road. This was great, as the road follows the grounds of Hatfield House and the vegetation was just wonderful.

We then swung round to Welham Green, zipping down Dixon’s Hill Road, over the big motorway and up Tollgate Road, a quick detour to Bullen’s Green then round to the Haley Jane Café in Colney Heath.

This café is small and furnished with a sofa that could fit 3 people in, some tall seats and standing room.  They had a lush array of cupcakes for sale, and the coffee was very good.  A very pleasant café, which had a kitchen attached, so I think there was a lot of home cooking going on there. The owner was also a great chap.  Recommended for small parties of no more than 4.

It was at the stop we found out that Sylvia had come up from Barnet; now that’s dedication.   I was chuffed with that.  From Colney Heath we headed off to Colney Heath Lane, then shot along Barley Mow Lane into Tyttenhanger, where the dreaded dribbles threatened to turn into rain, but it held off.  From here it was a quick plod through High Fields, over to Camp Road and through the back streets to Morrisons.

A great scandal free ride.

Neil 10/11/2012

21 October 2012

21 Oct 2012: Hertford to Croydon (Cambridgeshire)

Meeting in Hertford for a change, we had a slightly longer than usual first leg ride to the coffee stop to do, so a reasonably direct route seemed called for.  Heading through Stony Hills and Sacombe Park we continued through the villages to Buntingford.  Then passing through Wyddial, a slow climb brought us to Barkway and a turn along the ridge to Reed and its ever popular, and very cheap, Silver Ball cafe – the bikers' favourite.  Tea is 80p and there's a special shelf for patrons' helmets.  The lady looked askance when I asked for brown bread, they don't do that poncey stuff. 

We fleetingly bumped into the Stort Valley CTC group also seeking cheap and cheerful refreshment.  Continuing on our way, we passed through the pleasant village of Therfield, for those of a certain generation - the manor house was once the home of a member of the Pink Floyd.  Then we descended to cross, with care, the A505.  A series of quiet and flat lanes brought us to our pub stop at Croydon, a nice venue in a very off-the-beaten-track Cambridgeshire village.  

The return leg took us along the flat route to Ashwell and then a long climb to re-cross the A505 and on to Cromer.  Here, turning past the windmill, we were soon in Ardeley and the cafe at Church Farm.  How different, how very different, to our morning stop this was.  Vases of pleasing herbs and fresh flowers adorned the tablecloths (tablecloths!).  Still that sort of thing does not come cheap!  An enjoyable stop though.  Now it was just a matter of taking the quiet lanes through Dane End to either get back to cars left in Hertford or head back to Welwyn and Hatfield.


14 October 2012

14 Oct 2012: St Albans to Great Missenden

As I actually live in Barnet and, being idle, have a tendency to drive to the start of our rides I was a little perturbed to find early that morning my car was iced up. Still duty called and I was soon in St. Albans. Onto the bike and a short ride to the start reinforced my view that it was pretty cold, but the sun was shining and it looked to be a nice day. So eight of us started out heading for our first stop at Pitstone Wharf just beyond Ivinghoe. One of our party was a visitor from Australia who had been lent a bike for the ride. Our route skirted around Hemel Hempstead and about here we noticed a guy on a mountain bike riding the same route as us. After a while when we were stopped just before Nettleden he asked if he could join us and of course we said we would be delighted. So after the long climb up to Ivinghoe Beacon (where our two new friends were nearly outpacing us) we hurtled down the other side into Ivinghoe and on to the canal-side café at Pitstone Wharf. There we performed our good deed for the day by noticing that someone else’s bike that was parked there amazingly had its front forks fitted facing backwards! (Admittedly the forks were pretty straight ones with disc brakes but there was no doubt that they were back to front). So we managed to ruin the owners day by pointing out to them that their forks were wrong and dangerous to boot. 

After this two of the party had to return whilst the rest of us pressed on to Great Missenden our lunch stop. The route took us up (with emphasis on the up) through Wendover Woods with fantastic views across the plain to the north. Then it was up and down through a myriad of small lanes until we reached the “Black Horse” just outside Great Missenden. Despite the fact that there were only a few of us the virtually empty pub declared that they couldn’t do sandwiches as they were too busy. So we went on into the village and found a far better pub, which despite being very busy, did very good sandwiches remarkably quickly. Top marks to “The Cross Keys”, on the list for a future visit. 

Now it was time to start the return journey. Great Missenden’s current claim to fame is as the home to the childrens’ author Roald Dahl and our route took us through the churchyard where he is buried. Almost a secular place of pilgrimage for families with children. Then it was up and down through different myriad small lanes until we reached the community café in Chipperfield for our afternoon tea stop. 

After a suitable break we summoned up the strength to mount our bikes for the last leg back to St. Albans. In summary it had been an ideal day, despite the chill the sun had shone, an Australian had seen some of the best of English scenery in the Chilterns, and a passing cyclist who had joined the group appeared to enjoy his ride with us. Total distance about 55 miles in easy stages.


7 October 2012

07 Oct 2012: Hatfield to Barkway

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…

John Keats' poem Autumn came to mind as eight of us set off on a cold misty morning.  A fairly direct route took us on the cycle track from Mill Green (thankfully now cleared of overhanging vegetation following my report to the Council) and along the tarmac section of the Cole Green Way.  Then it was over the A414 to Bramfield.  Ascending the hill out of Stapleford we were overtaken by an emergency water company van.  We found him at the top of the hill puzzling over how to fix a broken water main, while we half-cranked it through the flood and Judy on the recumbent had to lift her bags clear of the water.  Unfortunately no-one fell in (I had my camera ready), so we carried on past the duck pond at Chapmore End, swooped down the hill and sped along Anchor Lane to The Village Stores at Thundridge.

Tracey emerges from the flood
Judy trying not to get wet

It was our first visit to this newly opened café.  We found Paul sitting in the bay window and the rest of us were soon provided with fine coffee or tea and a good choice of cakes.  Let’s hope the shop and café keeps going, as it’s just the right distance out for us.  

At Chapmore End
Thundridge Stores

The sun was creeping out as we headed north up the deserted old main road to Puckeridge and followed the old coaching route towards Cambridge.  Here we caught a glimpse of John flashing by in the opposite direction on (or in) his Quest velomobile.  A scenic diversion via Great Hornmead and Anstey brought us to the Tally Ho in Barkway.  Greeted by a fading photo of Gordon Brown, and seeing no-one having Sunday lunch in the large restaurant, the conversation soon turned to the economy and the relative merits of the theories of Keynes, Hayek and Marx for solving the current economic slump.  The log fire was making us dozy and no conclusion was reached, so we decided it was time to move on.

Making good progress and as the sun was out, I decided to put in an extra loop after Great Munden along an unfrequented lane to Colliers End.  This justified consuming large slices of chocolate cake when we arrived at the golf club.  It fortified us nicely while the temperature dropped rapidly on the journey home.

Cup Cake advert

Jon 7/10/2012

30 September 2012

30 Sep 2012: Hatfield to Broom

The 9 o’clock start from Asda was nice and bright but a bit chilly.  Great to see Simon again and Katie whose first ride with us was a rain drenched affair.  Talia I hadn’t met before, but she had also been out on a previous ride.
A brief pause for breath
Inside Hitchin Kitchen
We headed out to the Ayots via Lemsford and once there we took the lane down to Old Welwyn, zipped up through Codicote and made our way to Whitwell where we took the road up to St Paul’s Walden.  I was going to go around by Preston, but we had done that very recently so I pootled up to the Hitchin road and we blasted our way to elevenses from there.   On our way we met up with Graham who had just missed us at the start.

The Hitchin Kitchen is a great café; there we encountered the rest of the group.  It ended up being 13 riders strong.  Heading out of Hitchin was a bit of a puzzle, which Jon helped me out with.  I don’t think I would’ve made that without help.  From Hitchin we made our way through Ickleford, Arlesley and Henlow.  One of the great things about being dyslexic is you read things wrong, I was certain we had to go to Heplow, but all was well and we were on the right track. 

Phoning ahead to make sure the pub could accommodate us was a good idea from Jon.  It took us a little over an hour to get to Broom and it seemed that we were the only ones at the Fox.  A lovely country pub.

Here Steve and Carol left us, we had a leisurely lunch and discussed all things about everything.  The ride to lunch was surprisingly quick as we had the benefit of a wind behind us.  That was soon to change.
The route to tea stop took us via Shefford, Upper Gravenhurst and Shillington, and we battled a head wind all the way; seriously it was really blowing.  At Apsley End we came across some familiar riders, and a junction that had me confused.  It led to everywhere but Peter was on hand to give guidance (via the experience of going in the wrong direction the last time he was there). 
The pub at Broom
Near Upper Gravenhurst

From here it was a quick trek to the strangely named Higham Gobion and then a straight blast down to Lilly, up Butts Hill and then down to Whitwell.  Graham’s wife and son met us there, along with their pony and trap; I have to say Graham has a nice Pony.  After a welcome cuppa, we made our ways back to home, a group going to St Albans and another going to Hatfield.

This was a great day out and a very successful ride for me, it was the biggest group I had led (I lost no-one), and at no point in the ride was I completely stumped.  Thank you to everybody for coming along I hope you all had a great time as I did.

23 September 2012

23 Sep 2012: St Albans to Amersham

River flowing through meadows
River Chess
Through the cafe window of cyclists having coffee
Inside the cafe 
The weather forecast on Saturday was predicting dire conditions for Sunday's ride - heavy rain and wind heading our way, the only question was when it would get here - later in the afternoon or in the morning? But Sunday morning dawned dry, if cloudy and cold. So, setting off from St Albans, we decided to take it to the mid morning stop and then decide whether to go on or call it a day. We were glad to see, Kate a new rider, but she had a heavy chunky bike. Would she be able to keep up? Yes, sailing past me on the first climb, she wasn't even out of breath.

Heading across through Bedmond and then down through Hunton Bridge we crossed the M25 to arrive in Sarratt. Turning here through the woods we dropped down to Sarratt Bottom, then following the delightful track along the River Chess. Lingering by the foot bridge for a bit we eventually emerged onto the road at Chennies. Then along the road to Chesham and soon climbing the awkward hill to Chesham Bois - what a rotten surface! A few drops of rain were felt but we managed to get into the cafe before it really got going.

We enjoyed this excellent cafe stop, but looking out of window, it was now  hammering down. So, it did not need much discussion for us to call it a day and head back for an early bath the quickest way we could think of. A shame the conditions cut short the ride, but at least we had a couple of hours of dry weather to start the day.

Richard 23/09/2012

Neil adds:
The trip down to Amersham was great and without any event to speak of, but for me the trip back became a challenge.

Halfway down the Latimer road and in the pouring rain, my front wheel decided to very helpfully have a puncture; luckily Steve was behind me. We called ahead but no one heard, so Steve shot off to let the group know. Whilst he was doing that I tried to patch my (brand new) tube. Self-adhesive patches are cra…not very good in the rain.

So we resorted to old style patches, worked like a dream, by this time Carol had come back to let us know that the group had gone on, for the best really. The weather wasn't good at all.

All patched up we set off heading for Flaunden, we made fairly decent time but as we were approaching Flaunden hill, I felt that sort of wobbly feeling you get with a flat. Steve pointed out that my back tyre was going down (pants). He suggested a stop at the Green Dragon, good idea, but as we headed up the hill, I discovered that the cable for the front derailleur had come away from my bike; I couldn't change down my gears. At about half way up the hill the chain decided to go onto the small ring, which was great and I made some progress up the hill.

At the pub I told Steve what had happened, he thought he might be able to mend there and then, but that really wasn't an option; we were soaked as it was. Carol suggested going back to theirs and fixing things up in the comfort of a garage. So I pumped up the back tyre, after finding it was a slow puncture.

It was about 10 miles to St Albans and we went via Rucklers Lane and Bunkers Lane. The going was slow as all I had was the lowest gears to use and boy did I pedal. Eventually we made it back to Steve and Carol’s.
Steve very deftly reattached the cable and we found the slow puncture in the back tyre, I have also found the reason for my spate of recent flats. I have the wrong tyres for what I want to do; those things are getting changed.

Whilst the fixing was going on Carol had very kindly made us some sandwiches and a wonderful cup of coffee, it was great to sit down somewhere without rain pouring down.
If it wasn't for Steve and Carol I would’ve given up, at Flaunden I was ready to get a taxi, but they proved to me that you can limp home. Sure it’s going to take long time but you’ll get there. When I thanked Steve for his help, he said not a problem this is what being in a club means.

I would like to thank the Braziers for their time, patience, help and hospitality.

It was an experience - one I don’t want to repeat, but if I do I will be far better prepared for it mentally.

16 September 2012

16 Sep 2012: Hatfield to Hatfield Heath

A last chance for a summer picnic saw us heading for Hatfield Heath.  Four of us (from North London) decided to head straight for the elevenses at Lee Valley Park Farms.  Two of that number were beginning to regret their decision as they went around in circles trying to find the cafe amongst the maze of tracks in the park.  They still arrived before the main ride, who had diverted to have a look at the antics of rafters at the White Water Centre nearby.  
group having picnic on grass
The sun comes out in Hatfield Heath
A fairly direct route took us through the leafy Harlow Town Park and out to Hatfield Heath.  Steve's attempt to get a pint at the nearest pub was unsuccessful as the barmaid didn't have the strength to pull the hand engine, but fortunately there was another pub very close by.

Well it was just about warm enough for shorts and the sun made an appearance at lunch-time, so a picnic was not such a mad idea.  But we wasted no time in heading for tea at Upshire Church for the last time this year, where the bread pudding was superb.  
Three sitting on grass
Now where did I put my egg and cress sandwiches?

View map full screen

Jon 16/09/2012

15 September 2012

15 Sep 2012: Super Saturday Morning Ride

Group outside start
Meeting at Morrisons
At 10 am eight of us met at Morrison’s Fleetville, Graham, Carol, Helen, Jackie, Esther, Cath & Jill.

They were a happy and chatty group of riders ranging from all abilities.  Four of them had already met and were familiar with the CTC, as they had been out with Rona on her Five Miles to Fabulous rides.  Cath and Jill were new for everybody and were new to the idea of riding in a group.

We set off for Valley Road via Marshalswick, and from there we headed out to Childwickbury, down through the small but very lovely estate there and onto the Redbourn road which we pootled along until we found the entrance for Gorhambury park.  It was here that we lost two of our company as they didn’t see us turn in, but after a quick look around we found them and the party was re-united.

We proceeded into the park and as we passed the cows happily munching away in the fields, we were shouted at by an epileptic gentleman (or so he seemed).  I didn’t know that the park was closed for shooting every Saturday until January. So that put paid to the main part of my ride.

We made our way back to the entrance and headed down the Redbourn road to the roundabout then up the Hemel road to St Michaels Street, from there we popped into Inn on the Park for a cuppa.  Then we made our way back to the start via the park and The Alban Way.

Although a short ride, it was very enjoyable and everybody had a great time.  The next time I try this one will be after January as I think Gorhambury is a wonderful place to visit if you’re not being shot at.

Neil 15/09/2012

9 September 2012

09 Sep 2012: Panshanger to Wimpole Hall

We were pleased to meet two new recruits at Panshanger Golf Club, Yen and Fran, who had previously been out on one of Neil’s Saturday rides.

We took a leisurely paced ride out through Welwyn Garden City and out onto quiet, Hertfordshire, shady country lanes to Wyevale Garden Centre in Hitchin.  After our hearty elevenses, Fran and Yen decided to head back to the start, as it was their first longer, yet enjoyable ride, with Peter.
Hill on the Baldock-Ashwell Road
355 Fighter Group memorial at Steeple Morden

 With a warm tail wind behind us, we picked up the pace into South Cambridgeshire. On such a bright sunny day we could see for miles across beautiful open landscape. Having made good time we entered Wimpole Hall Estate, some of us enjoyed a picnic in the grounds and others enjoyed another hearty meal in the café there.
Entrance to Wimpole Hall
Outside the cafe in Baldock

After lunch the tail wind was now a very warm head wind, which made for a challenging ride to Café Plus in Baldock, where I enjoyed a really delicious chocolate milkshake! It was just what I needed to give me the energy to do the last leg home.

Tracey 09/09/2012