16 March 2014

16 Mar 2014: Hatfield to Sawbridgeworth

Another perfect day for cycling, or so it seemed as a dozen off us headed out past the QE2 Hospital, an attractive place which Tracey would not resist returning to later.  There was not a cloud in the sky all day and appeared to be no wind to speak of (funny how you always think that when there’s a strong tail wind).  We made the most of it and arrived quite early for a morning break in Hoddesdon, despite putting a loop in through Bramfield.

group in dappled shade
A pause on the way to Bramfield
at cafe tables
Sainsbury's Cafe in Hoddesdon
The staff in Sainsbury’s Café greeted us warmly and coped cheerily with the sudden influx.  Three of us went home, but Carol & Steve joined the rest of us here and we followed a route through Harlow Town Park, which uses an old preserved lane where you can easily forget you are in the middle of a large conurbation.  Another long loop took us through Matching Tye and Matching Green, then past the ponds to Matching Church.  Apparently isolated, the 12th century church was sited conveniently next to Matching Manor, while the local villagers had a good long walk to get there. 

cyclists in sunny park
Through Harlow Town Park
cycling past a large pond
Matching Pond
Cock pheasant sitting on a log
Tame pheasant
medal presenation
Neil receiving his medal
Luckily we had some mechanical assistance and soon reached Sawbridgeworth for an excellent lunch at The Gate.  The décor consisted largely of flat screens showing people chasing balls around a pitch, but they were easily ignored as the sound was off.  This allowed Steve to wax lyrical about the achievements of the best attending Sunday rider as he presented Neil with a suitably heavy medal to wear around his neck.  Perhaps being the fourth such medal the weight will start to slow him down a bit.

Turning North West into the wind, in a week when physicists were celebrating the discovery of gravitational waves stemming from inflation after the big bang, we were still struggling with Newton’s third law of motion.  The apparent lack of wind had turned out to be a head-on gale as we crossed open farmland towards Green Tye.  Here some headed south for a direct route through Hertford, while we were hoping for an unofficial tea stop at Thundridge Stores.  Not so – someone had scribbled a 1 over the 4 on the Sunday opening hours.  Undaunted, we carried on to Hertford for an excellent coffee and carrot cake at Wetherspoons instead.  Just what Tracey needed to sustain her during a long stint that evening at The QE2: she had ridden all day with a suspected scaphoid fracture after participating in the strange pastime of wrestling with a frisky foal on Saturday.

(61 miles)
Jon 16/03/2014

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