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.