24 November 2013

24 Nov 2013: Panshanger to Green Tye

‘Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.’  John F. Kennedy.  Nine of us met at Panshanger for our jaunt out to The Prince of Wales in Green Tye.  The day had already started off by ignoring what the weatherman said and treating us to a steady and constant drizzle.
cyclists having breakfast
Breakfast at Buntingford
cyclists by their bikes
Green Tye
Lots of cyclists in pub garden
Green Tye

We made our way up through Tewin (where Judy and Jon took an alternative route) to skirt around the wood at Bramfield, looking great in all its wintry yellows and golds.  We made our way over to Vicarage Lane, which is quite a climb up to Stonyhills.  From here it was a quick blast through Sacombe Park then down the hill by the Golf Course. Soon we were heading through Nasty, Cherry Green and Aspenden to find ourselves at the tea stop in Buntingford.  Café Town is a really nice little place that catered for everybody.  It looked like we might not get any seating because the place was packed, but we needn’t have worried and happily we squeezed in where we could.  Stuart, who had ridden out from Stevenage, joined us here.  It was great to see him and it gave us an excuse to linger in the warmth. 
From the café we proceeded to Hare Street and, after a little fiddling about, we found Little Hornmead, Little Hadham and that nutty little crossroads at the A120.  You know, the one that is timed to favour the main road.  It seemed to take forever to get over this, but wait we did then realised the car we were waiting behind was parked. (Doh!)
Soon we were heading our way down to Much Hadham and then up to Green Tye.  The Prince of Wales is what you might call a traditional pub, with a very friendly atmosphere, beer brewed on the premises and great standard pub grub.  Being the biggest group in the pub we were all served with equal efficiency and it seemed that the lass behind the bar was doing everything, so hats off to her.  

After a well-deserved break, we headed our separate ways home with the majority going towards Bengeo and back the way we had come.  It wasn’t until I had got home that I discovered our table had been reserved by Jon and Judy, who had somehow had beaten us to lunch.  It was a great ride and a lovely day out.

Neil 24/11/2013

17 November 2013

17 Nov 2013: St Albans to Mangrove Green

Intrigued by the prospect of finding a more interesting way through Luton, or maybe just out for a ride, I was pleased to see nine people (including four women) on today’s jaunt, as it was a rather grey, drizzly November day.  After a quick dash up the main road to Redbourn, our route to Dunstable followed quiet lanes along Gaddesden Row then a lumpy bit through Kensworth and Beech Road into Dunstable.  The last time we came along Beech Road was last winter, when it was covered in snow and ice, but today it was a pleasant ride. 

Café Latte was soon dishing up refreshments, with some of us opting for the full English (I wish I had), while others saved their appetites for the pub stop (which I never reached).  

Leaving here, we joined NCR 6 briefly, then crossed Grove House Gardens and rode past Central Bedfordshire College to join the new Busway on College Drive.  Those with broad shoulders, and bikes with straight handlebars, got through the narrow barriers with a bit of a struggle and we were off.
Cycle barrier
Tight squeeze
Bus on busway
Way to travel
Built over 3 years at a cost of £91m, the Busway carries standard buses fitted with two small guide-wheels.  The cycle track alongside provides a traffic-free route from Dunstable to the other side of Luton.  However, in contrast to the beautifully smooth, tarmac cycleway on the Cambridge Busway, this one looks like an afterthought and has some coarse gravel stretches, while other parts are smoother crushed limestone.  The argument that smooth blacktop would not be in keeping with the ‘County Wildlife Site’ it passes through is not that convincing when you see the effect of the concrete Busway strips. 

Busway sculpture
Steel sculpture
Eric Morecambe
Steel sculpture
Capability Brown
Steel sculpture
Sea Scout
I can’t tell you much about the rest of the ride (see footnote), but the others reached Mangrove Green at 1:30 pm for a good pub lunch.

Following Sustrans Route 6 and on the first hill out of Luton, overlooking Luton Hoo estate, we found a portrait bench with a group of three characters cut out of thick steel plate.  These are the comedian, Eric Morecambe who became a keen supporter of Luton Town FC when he moved to Harpenden; Capability Brown, who designed the Luton Hoo gardens and a female sea scout from the Luton Sea Scouts, who practice on Luton Hoo lake.

Having mended one Trice rear wheel puncture, caused by a thorn, on the way to the start, it picked up some glass on the Busway and went down again.  This time, the tyre bead had stretched and would not stay on the rim except a very low pressure, so Judy & I had to leave the group, miss lunch and limp home via Route 6.  Just as well as both front wheels picked up flints at the same time in Harpenden – sometimes three spare tubes are not enough! 

Jon 17/11/2013

10 November 2013

10 Nov 2013: St Albans to Tyttenhanger Green

Let’s just go for a ride.

Ducks in road
Ducks in road
Camel and donkey
Nativity scene at Emily's in Whitwell
This report starts on the Saturday beforehand as I thought it might be a good idea to check out the lanes we would be using.  Some were waterlogged but quite passable and the amount of debris about was minimal.  The ducks were really enjoying themselves, no knowing which was their pond and which was a big puddle on the road.  Then I got to Ley Green, our scheduled tea stop, and discovered our chosen watering hole would be closed on the morning of our ride.  No problem, after a quick call Wetherspoons in Stevenage was suggested.  I pootled back home, made another quick call and an e-mail was fired around the members.

Sunday morning arrived with a warning that it was Remembrance Sunday and Stevenage would be very busy; again Whitwell or Codicote would suffice just as well.  In fact I chose Whitwell.  Nine of us met at the War Memorial in St Albans.  It’s good to see Mike becoming a regular rider having only joined the CTC three weeks prior.  My route was a familiar mix of lanes that we had all been down.

We set off towards Wheathampstead via Sandridgebury.  This little area was flooded and we all had to share the road as horses, cyclists and motorists navigated around a HUGE puddle with not an angry word between us.  Just goes to show what can what can be achieved with a polite smile and spot of patience.

Soon we were sploshing our way down towards Nomansland Common, and over to Leasey Bridge Lane.  I have to say that happily some of the rather larger puddles I encountered the previous day had shrunk.  From this point we made our way up and over to Shaw’s Corner, a lovely little spot in the Ayots.  Kimpton Mill, Codicote road, Three Houses Lane, Bullock’s Hill and the B651 all fell victim to the relentless turning of our wheels.

The countryside had out done itself in the array of colours it was presenting to us to view, picturesque doesn’t seem to be a fair description of the scenery, and soon we made it to Emily’s Tea Shop in Whitwell.  As we arrived though it was plain to see they were already swamped with cyclists from Herts Wheelers, so after a brief discussion we made our way to the garden centre in Codicote (not Vanstone’s I hasten to add).

After a welcome break we took a rather linear route to lunch, via Ayot St Peter, Lemsford, Coopers Green Lane and up through Oakland’s College.  From here it was an easy wobble along Colney Heath lane to Tyttenhanger Green and the Plough.  Lunch was a rather nice affair in a cozy village pub.

Along the way we had lost Jon and Judy, due to two punctures: one each respectively.  It was a short ride, as we had to be at the AGM for 2 o’clock.  But I have to say a very enjoyable morning’s ride.

Neil 10/11/2013

3 November 2013

03 Nov 2013: Hatfield to Puckeridge

We have had some rough weather recently featuring strong winds and plenty of rain.  A couple of recent Sundays have been washed out because of heavy rain.  Today it was just windy, blowing from the SW, so all right for our route today going out, but probably a struggle coming home.  A good-sized group set off from Hatfield heading for Stanstead Abbotts in the Lee Valley.  We did a southerly loop through Brookmans Park passing the station (surprisingly for a pretty ordinary suburban station, the scene of an historic meeting in 1942 between Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, and Anthony Eden following the German invasion of the Soviet Union).  Then on to Cuffley and Goff's Oak - this part of Hertfordshire is far from flat! 
Group stopped at top of hill
Re-grouping at the top of Bread and Cheese Lane

After the suburban bits there were some rural hills through the woods to Hoddesdon.  Here Jon lead us through the back streets to St Margaret's and so to our morning stop at the Village Cafe.  This is my kind of place - good value and doing a brisk trade.  Some headed back for home from here, but for the rest of us it was a route north through Much Hadham to Furneux Pelham.  I had been thinking of heading a bit further north from here and going though Little Hornmead, but we were a bit late, so we headed directly to Braughing.  

The Golden Fleece pub was a new stop for us, but when we arrived there was a long wait for food and no seating, so we decided to find somewhere else in the homeward direction.  Fortunately the first pub we came to in Puckeridge, The White Hart, were only too pleased to serve the quick sandwiches most people wanted.  From lunch the route back to St Albans or Hatfield took us through Dane End and Datchworth. A great day out and it didn't rain once!

(55 miles)

Richard  3/11/2013