24 February 2013

24 Feb 2013: Hatfield to Woolmer Green

Ten of us ventured out today calling in at Ley Green Post Office for a welcome break from the NE wind.  Carrying on north all the way to Shillington didn't seem too clever now, so our leader Tracey was easily persuaded to loop around to Woolmer Green instead.  There we found a welcome in The Fox, which was doing a good variety of food for a Sunday lunch.  So a new venue can be added to our list, suitable for winter rides.  
Group outside cafe
Leaving Ley Green Cafe
We had split into three groups going to Woolmer Green, one lot going back home and the other two to the pub.

Judy, on the recumbent, fancied a more direct route and reached a badly flooded lane between Preston and Langley.  Fair enough, they had closed the road, but she ventured through regardless and emerged reasonably dry.  

The next of our groups to arrive here took a different approach.  Not sure of the depth they thought chucking a stone into the water might provide valuable information, but the only thing this proved was that stones sink in water.  Hey, if everyone did that how long would it take to build a causeway?  So they gave up and found another way around the flood.  It just goes to show the ground is still saturated even though it's been fairly dry lately.


17 February 2013

17 Feb 2013: St Albans to Aston Clinton

The best day of the year so far for cycling?  Sunday was all blue skies, bright and sunny, if a touch frosty at first.  Just what a winter Sunday should be like, and a perfect day for cycling without the rain or ice we've had to endure for much of the last few weeks.  We set off across Nomansland Common, where we saw a pair of circling buzzards, and soon passed through the fringes of Harpenden and then along to Redbourn. 
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Crossing Redbourn Common
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Bison on Bison Hill
Taking the small lane to Flamstead we were soon dodging some potholes and a shallow flood in the dip. The minor lanes have taken a hammering this winter and a lot are in poor condition. No one seems to be springing into action yet to do any repairs, although we've been making good use of www.fillthathole.org.uk.  

From Flamstead the next lane into Markyate was also well pitted in places.  

The Village Cafe is an excellent stop and was popular this morning, although we soon got served. Surprisingly considering the weather, ours was a bit of a diminished group today, but those who were out were very glad not to be stuck indoors.  

Here some decided to turn back for the day, while the rest of us continued up the gentle climb to Whipsnade, down Bison Hill with some wonderful views across the Vale of Aylesbury, and then along the foot of the Chilterns through Ivinghoe and around the reservoirs.  Our lunch stop, The Partridge, was a pleasant pub tucked away down a quiet street in Aston Clinton. They don't do food, tea or coffee but are quite happy for you to eat your own sandwiches in the bar. 

After lunch the journey back home is either along the valley towards Hemel, or up the hill at Aldbury towards Redbourn.  Which route suits you best depends on exactly where you live. So, here we did a split.  Since I live north of St Albans, I headed back through Aldbury and Briden’s Camp. I had done 57 miles when I arrived back home for an early bath.  Yes, it had been the best day of the year so far for cycling.


10 February 2013

10 Feb 2013: St Albans to Mangrove Green

As I rode through light rain to St Albans I began to think the worst of the winter weather might be behind us.  I felt warm enough in just 2 layers and dry under my gortex jacket, over trousers and overshoes.  So I was a bit disappointed to find that only one other rider (Roger) had turned out on a bike at the start.  Perhaps others could do with some advice on winter cycling clothes?  

Cyclist on track
Roger on the Ayot Greenway
The elevenses was quite close, so as we both had hybrid bikes we put in a stretch of the Ayot Green way, from Wheathampstead to Ayot St Peter.   Despite the wet weather, this is a well-constructed off-road route, which proved to be rideable throughout and not much muckier than some of the usual lanes.  However, I was glad to have a disc brake to avoid wearing out my rims.

The rain had almost stopped as we arrived at the Garden Centre in Codicote.  Here we were glad to find Judy and Richard, who had gone direct, and we were joined by a dozen or so from our sister club: Stevenage & North Herts CTC.

Roger departed, but the other three of us reckoned the dire warnings of snow were unlikely to affect us.  So we shot along Lilly Bottom with the wind at our backs and took a direct route through Tea Green to the pub hidden away in Mangrove Green.  We found a useful dry area under an awning to park our bikes, but had to dodge being drenched as it shed its load of water whenever the wind caught it.

If it was going to snow anywhere it would be here, so we didn’t want to hang around too long.  It always feels colder when you leave a warm pub, but I’m sure the wind had strengthened and now we were heading straight into it and the driving rain.  At least the extra effort was keeping me warm, although I could really have done with a tea stop as I had an extra 14 miles home from St Albans.  I was wise to press on, as the rain turned to snow just after I reached home after a satisfying 63 miles.

38 mile route: 

10 Feb 2013

3 February 2013

03 Feb 2013: Hatfield to Wareside

Riders by river
Tracy leading along the Stort Valley
It was a return to frosty conditions for the morning start of our ride, but the road surfaces seemed dry and safe enough. Conditions though called for a certain caution. We took a fairly direct route east from Hatfield, soon passing through the hilly and thickly wooded lanes towards Hoddesdon. Then some industrial bits of the Lee valley and we were in the always excellent value Riverside Cafe at Dobbs Weir. 

This is a busy spot and popular with bikers, walkers, fishermen as well as cyclists, and it's easy to see why. From here our lunch stop was fairly close using a direct route, so instead Jon guided us along the Stort path to Roydon (a new bit of cycle path to me).  At Roydon most of us continued along the Stort path, but some, put off this route by the frequent gates, picked up the main road instead. The main group took a delightful route crossing Hunsdon Mead nature reserve and eventually emerged on the fringes of Harlow. The surface of the path was excellent for cycling throughout. Then, following the very quiet and winding back lanes, we passed through Allen's Green and Green Tye, to meet up with our break away group in Wareside. 

The Chequers is the way a pub should be and often isn't these days. We were able to take over the comfortable back parlour. It was so comfortable that dragging ourselves out to cycle back home into the cold wind was postponed several times.  Eventually we were off again, all heading to Ware and Hertford at first and then dispersing in various directions home. It had been a great day out.

3 Feb 2013