15 February 2015

15 Feb 2015: St Albans to Mangrove Green

Seven of us met at the war memorial for the day’s excursion, the morning was not too cold despite the thick mist lurking about. I led the group through Sandridgebury and out onto Nomansland, through Ayres End and down to Redbourn Fisheries. This area wasn’t flooded but it had had its fair share of water, the Mill looked great set against a backdrop of fog. We made our way up the path next to the A5 into Redbourn then we followed a familiar route to Gaddesden Row, from here it was a simple task of shooting down the hill to have a break at the garden centre at Great Gaddesden.  Here we met Jon and Judy, with Jon making his first outing on two wheels after a 2-month layoff – they set off separately not wanting to hold us up.  As they left Stuart and David joined us having cycled from Stevenage.
three cyclists
Meeting in St Albans
man fixing wheel
Steve again
Not sure what Carol is describing here

After the break we headed back up the hill and towards Markyate. It was at the junction here that Steve decided to give us an impromptu puncture repair fixing session. Soon enough we were on our way and in Markyate a group of very muddy bikers passed who were out green laning. We crossed over the busy A5 and took a lovely, winding and hilly road that led (eventually) to the Luton Hoo and just after all that climbing we went climbing again as we headed up and down around the back end of the airport, with private jets taking off above us. It really is lovely up here, with some nice little villages dotted about.

Lunch was at Mangrove Green and Jon & Judy had arrived 30 minutes before us and reserved a large table next to the fish tank (the fish looked good but weren't on the menu).  Discussion over lunch turned to what we should do for a summer cycling trip as a club, the preference being for a fixed-centre touring base somewhere ‘up north’.

Just after lunch, as we were all about to go our separate ways, Tracey was struck by the puncture fever and showed that she was a match for Steve in dealing with such a minor inconvenience. It was a great day out, a bit foggy at first, but after morning break the sun had come out and the afternoon was great.  Some went back via Harpenden while I led others on a lovely trek through Lilley Bottom and Whitwell to get home well before dark. 

Neil 15/02/2015

8 February 2015

08 Feb 2015: St Albans to Tring

A hint of morning frost, but otherwise it was a perfect sunny winter's day for our ride to Ivinghoe. Moving smartly along the main road to Redbourn, we were soon on the lane to Gaddesden Row. Here and there, enough icy puddles by the side of the road were seen to make you nervous about those wet looking stretches of road, but with no problems we were through Studham and down to Dagnall. Following the Leighton road for a bit we passed the flank of the beacon, avoiding a hefty climb and the possibility of a bit of ice higher up. We turned in 18 miles to get to the village cafe in Ivinghoe. 

Inside cafe
Warming up in the cafe
Here Jon and Judy joined us, having done far more miles on their two recumbents to get there from north London. It's a nice cafe with welcoming staff. 

From here to lunch wasn't too far, so a loop through Mentmore and Wingrave clocked up another 12 miles. 

The lunch stop was going to be a new one for us - The Hub, Aston Clinton was a bar and café adjacent to the sports ground. Arriving there, from the car park it had a gloomy, closed look.  Perhaps it only opened when the football team was at home – no, it was closed down judging by the repossession notice on the door! Oh dear, never mind, not being far from Tring and Tring being on the way back anyway, we went to the Robin Hood. This turned out to be an excellent choice. After a pleasant and efficient lunch stop we followed a familiar and flat route back through Berkhamsted and Hemel. An excellent day's cycling in perfect weather for a change.

Richard 08/02/2015

1 February 2015

01 Feb 2015: Hatfield to Turnford

It was on a very chilly winter’s morning that three of us met in Hatfield and the first challenge of the day presented itself right there and then. Tracey had a puncture, but it seemed like the tyre was only a bit flat and she had just changed it due to a previous puncture. So with bike flipped over the thing just wouldn't take any air. I thought I was being a bit weak, so we grabbed a longer pump and used Steve who came up with the same results. So it was off with the tyre to get some air into the tube to see where the hole was, but that proved useless and so I checked the tyre while Steve kept pumping. The pair of us not having any luck, we were just about to put it down to a faulty valve and bad luck when Steve found the culprit: a substantial gash near the base of the valve.  Could it be that the tyre had been put on with tyre levers nipping the tube?  
removing tyre
Steve gets cold fingers
Steve proceeded to replace the tube and give an impromptu demo of how to put a tyre on a wheel without levers, despite having frozen fingers.

We were late heading out from Hatfield, and aware that it might be icy. After some discussion we decided to head out to the first stop, Potters Bar via the vet college in Brookmans Park.  We made our way by going past Hertfordshire University and out through the back end of Colney Heath and Bullen’s Green. We were soon pootling down Water End and up Hawkshead Lane to the vet college.

The temperature was a couple of degrees higher than the dire forecast and roads turned out to be clear and useable, which made our progress easy going and quick. So Tracey decided to put a bit extra into the morning ride, and at Brookmans Park we went into the village and made our way towards the A1000, then we took the Cuffley turn and shot (ha!) up that hill towards the Ridgeway. From there it was just a quick little journey and we were in Potters Bar. With that diversion we still arrived at break early after leaving late.

At The Broadway Café a happy chappie called Pete met us and we all decided to have a feed, as the lunch destination was an unfamiliar pub. From elevenses Tracey gave us an unprecedented tour of Northaw and Cuffley, including the delights of Vineyard Hill. Soon we were making our way up towards Goff’s Oak, only to be given another detour as we re-acquainted ourselves with the delights of Bread and Cheese Lane. That’s quite a climb up to the top there, from where we took a direct route into Turnford.

The lunch destination was suitably posh, it had a plate glass door and some of the tables were done up butcher’s blocks, but it was actually a very nice pub with some nice prices. They were very good as they gave the impression that it wasn’t busy although the restaurant was extremely lively. After lunch we planned to make our way back via White Stubbs Lane, which we did but had to back track as there had been an accident, so we popped up the road that runs parallel to it and the back onto White Stubbs Lane. We all managed to avoid the often-icy delights of Tyler’s Causeway.

Tracey had led a great 40 mile ride demonstrating the adaptability of a good ride leader.

Neil 1/2/2015