Passing through Old Warden village I took an incorrect left turn, but not too much trouble ensued; we were soon passing Ireland as intended and crossing the A600. Joining up again at Haynes Church End, we descended Great Lane to Clophill, and then crossed the A6 (near Deadman’s Hill, the site of the infamous 1960 A6 murder) before coming into Maulden and The Dog and Badger, where we re-joined Jon and Judy in the pub garden. It was now 13:10 and we’d ridden about 42 miles in 3.5 hours of cycling since 09:05 - exactly 12mph as advertised on the club’s website. However, after lunch there was a considerable thinning in the ranks of the peloton, with only 4 of us continuing to Dunstable while several others opted for a direct route back via Whitwell.
View map full screen (The blue route was used by most; mauve is Graham's route after lunch and brown is Jon & Judy's short cut to lunch).
On leaving the pub, fortified by a beef sandwich and 2 pints of “waggle-dance”, I continued to Ampthill, and then to Steppingley, turning left just before the M1 and then through Harlington, upper and lower Sundon, up a steep hill over the end of the Chilterns and into Dunstable via Houghton Regis. Café Latte was again excellent value and served us even though we were just past their formal last orders time. Having crossed the Luton-Dunstable guided busway (the other end of the former Hatfield-Leighton Buzzard branch encountered earlier) on the cycle path to the café, we decided to use the cycle path alongside this piece of novel infrastructure to get to Luton, despite the gates to prevent motorcyclists using it being almost too narrow to squeeze a bicycle through. I can’t say I’m a big fan of this form of public transport. Road vehicles running on bits of concrete seems a bit of reverse evolution from steel rails and wheels to me. The similar busway in Cambridgeshire undisputedly cost more to construct than just reinstating the railway it replaced (although it has a fantastically smooth, fast cycle route), and once a bus leaves the busway, which is not available for any other motor vehicle to use, it just gets snarled up in all the town centre traffic as before. As such they combine the worst aspects of both rail and bus travel - surely a tram system would be better?
From Luton we stayed on the old railway path into Harpenden, losing a further rider at Luton station. By the time I got home at 18:00 after 9 hours out of the house, 7 cycling I’d ridden 82 miles, an average speed of less than 12mph in perfect weather and through beautiful countryside.