29 December 2013

29 Dec 2013: St Albans to Rye Park

A very frosty morning with a fair amount of ice meant that Peter modified the route he had carefully planned and had to abandon the country lanes for the early part of the day. Six people turned up at the St Albans start including new rider John, who had ridden up from Well End near Borehamwood prior to the actual ride. We went along Coopers Green Lane, then through Lemsford before heading straight up the old Great North Road all the way to Stevenage and a welcome warm stop at Costello's cafe in the park.

After a break we used the Stevenage cycle paths to Bragbury End, then made a direct route via Datchworth and Bramfield to Hertford.  We rode through the new Balls Park estate then pressed the button for the gates to open to allow us to exit onto the road to Hertford Heath and avoid the busy road up the hill from Hertford.


The gates were not in place on this picture I found
 - but you can use your imagination!

Downhill to Hoddesdon then to the Rye House Tavern by the river Lea. The pub was so quiet that at first we thought it was shut, however it wasn't and we all enjoyed good value food served quickly. After lunch we took the usual route back through Broxbourne woods,Welham Green and Colney Heath to get back to St Albans well before dark. The sun shone all day and once we'd warmed up it was a great day ride and the only ice we cam across was at the entrance to the morning cafe.

I managed to use  track logging on my new phone for the last section of the ride so I have loaded a route map and built the first two legs manually. That's why the line colour is different! 

Carol 29/12/2013

22 December 2013

22 Dec 2013: Hatfield to Hoddesdon

A lot of horrible weather recently and a dire forecast for the run up to Christmas - it didn't seem encouraging for Sunday's ride. But in fact Sunday morning brought watery sunshine. What with Christmas round the corner and an iffy forecast, it was only a select band who set off from Hatfield, heading first to Bramfield. We crossed the valley and took the track through Sacombe Park; always nice and the sun was by now doing its best. There was a bit of muddy going and a lot of flooding on the roads. Descending to Barwick ford the river was going full tilt; no takers to do the ford crossing this time. Through Much Hadham we soon came to the golf centre's cafe. There didn't seem to be any golfers around, so we had the place to ourselves, and very reasonable it was. We were a bit late, so a fairly direct route to lunch seemed best. Through Hunsdon and Stanstead Abbotts, we were into the suburban bits leading to Hoddesdon. Hoddesdon is looking up these days as these non-cycling pictures show.

The foodless White Swan
Renovated clock tower

Arriving in our pub stop (The White Swan), we were shocked to see instead of a welcoming menu, a notice saying they had given up doing food (too much local competition). Oh dear, this was a favourite haunt for some. There is a huge new Morrison's nearby with a cafe, so we gave that a try. It was ok, but busy and we had a wait, I don't think I'd go there again. So, back through the woods and up the hills towards Hatfield and then dispersing to our various homes. I had turned in 55 miles when I got back and, amazingly, it didn't rain once.

Words by Richard, loaded by Carol hence no map!

Carol 22/12/2013

15 December 2013

15 Dec 2013: St Albans to New Barnet

For our Christmas lunch this year Carol booked us into The Railway Bell in New Barnet.  We stopped off at The Courtyard Cafe in Forty Hall amidst lakes and cedar trees, then followed part of the new Greenway route, which will soon be completed as a cycle route from one side of Enfield Borough to the other.  The stretch we used crossed from Forty Hall into Hilly Fields, then we went through Trent Park and into Barnet.

inside cafe
Courtyard Cafe in Forty Hall
Georgian Hall
Forty Hall
Avenue of trees
Trent Park
man in Father Christmas costume
Billy Christmas

Twelve of us enjoyed a good meal and great service at this newly refurbished Wetherspoons.  Then it was time to get back home for most (except for Bill who had a second Christmas lunch to go to!).

8 December 2013

08 Dec 2013: St Albans to Chesham

The ride started from St Albans, going via the grey suburban wastelands of Kings Langley, erstwhile home of Ovaltine.  I was never an Ovaltiney myself, more of a hot choccy man, but I did enjoy going to the country & western club there on a Sunday night.  We continued on and up and the route was a tauntingly hilly, winding affair of pleasant autumnal lanes, with a hint of the winter before us.   Reaching Little Chalfont we repaired to Ozzy’s cafĂ© for a much needed cuppa after climbing the steep hill out of Latimer.  Richard appeared for his breakfast, having risen late, to join us for the best bit of the ride.

group in woods
Hodgemoor Woods
narrow lane
No wonder cars don't come down here
fixing a puncture
I wouldn't do it that way.
green dragon
Flaunden dragon

Revitalised, with the sun shining brightly, we ascended the first of many jolly little hills out of Chalfont St Giles up to Hodgemoor Woods, and then on through Penn Street and down the gated lane to Little Missenden.  This was a fantastic little lane that would’ve sent some of our other riders into fits (don't you love GPS gadgets?).  Muddy, slippery, leaf strewn with a huge chunk of rock that Neil discovered on the descent.  Then in glorious sunshine, all of us were dancing gaily on our pedals up and down the hills to Chartridge.  Here, Richard, clearly upset that there were no more hills to climb, decided to have a puncture, before the downhill cruise to Chesham and a picnic lunch inside the pleasant Pheasant.  This is lovely local pub for local people and mad cyclists who like to have a winter's picnic.  Yes, this pub doesn’t do food but they don’t mind if you bring your own - in fact they make you feel very welcome.  Carol joined us for lunch as she was off the bike due to an injury to her hand, hope she gets better soon.

From here it was back up to Flaunden, where the Green Dragon was having a good laugh at our hill climbing efforts, before finishing our 50-mile circuit in St Albans as the sun was going down.

Steve H  8/12/2013

1 December 2013

01 Dec 2013: St Albans to Caddington

December arrived with a crisp, sunny day attracting thirteen of us to take to our bikes.  Even Rebecca found time to descend from her climbing wall at the Sports Centre and give her new rear wheel an outing. 

group photo
Wrapping up after lunch at Caddington
Jon & Judy were making their own way to Berko and, approaching Hemel, the unmistakeable sight of a Trice flag was spotted in the distance.  But there is more than one way through Hemel and while they took the cycle route to the Sainsbury’s bridge, the main group crossed the Grand Union via the curved bridge at Apsley Lock. 

Approaching Berko, some fancied a few more hills and took to Featherbed Lane, doubled back under the A41 and climbed up the other side to Little Heath before finally dropping down to the valley.  That was a good excuse for a Wetherspoons’ breakfast for some as we were all reunited in The Crown.

While a few opted for a slightly easier route to lunch, the main group wanted (or were served even if they didn’t) even more hills.  We climbed up to Potten End, down to Nettleden, up to Great Gaddesden, down to the Gade Valley, up to Gaddesden Row, down to Markyate (where we all met up again by chance), and finally up to Caddington.

The pub was crowded (as all good pubs should be), but we were well looked after and fitted in somehow, then it was quite a short ride back to St Albans in the light after a good day out.