On a dark, damp morning with leaden skies signalling the end of the summer, ten cyclists assembled at the Hart statue in Hertford. The town seemed unusually busy for a Sunday morning, as it was the day of the Hertford Music Festival.
Proceeding alongside the river on the path to Ware, we passed some brave souls performing a competitive wild swim and a bemused bullock, which had strayed onto the path.
We then went up High Oak Road in Ware through the back of Wareside to Much Hadham and then a minor road through Green Tye to rejoin the B1004 for the final descent into Bishops Stortford.
The coffee stop was the usual greasy spoon, but service was quick & efficient; we thought the staff should train their counterparts at the garden-centre cafes we sometimes use.
Losing one of our number here, the remainder headed north, crossing the Stort at Manuden and the M11 near Quendon and then following a dog-leg route through Howlett End into Saffron Walden. Here the lunch stop was at the unusually named Temeraire, where we sat outside in their garden, which was covered entirely by artificial grass. Although this was signed as a no-smoking area, we wondered how the surface coped with the general detritus that would inevitably fall from the tables.
After lunch we headed west to cross again the M11 turning southwest to Brent Pelham, west again towards Hare Street & then south along the B1368 to the village hall at Braughing. Here they had made a special provision for healthy eaters by providing quiches made with wholemeal pastry alongside the mega calorific cakes.
After this we split into two groups, as some riders had come from north London or Welwyn and the rest took the most direct to Ware to retrace our route back to Hertford along the riverbank. One rider was delayed here while he fielded a phone call from his wife whom he had promised in the morning he was only popping out for a pint of milk.
In Hertford the music festival was in full swing, with seemingly all pubs providing free music, and no doubt recouping their costs with extra beer sales.