27 September 2015

27 Sep 2015: St Albans to Lacey Green

I arrived at the war memorial to see the other riders deep in conversation with a lady vicar (or someone dressed like one). She was interested in the Saturday Saunter rides as she was otherwise engaged on Sundays. This was a shame as she might have raised the usual level of conversation but nonetheless I thought she should be advised to see her trade-union representative about working unsocial hours. Six of us set off north towards Redbourn, avoiding Hogg End Lane as we knew it was blocked at the far end, and instead turned up Punchbowl Lane. This is narrower & steeper and as usual had several mounds of dumped builders’ rubbish near Old Jeromes. On reaching the end we were pleasantly surprised to see that Three Cherry Trees Lane, closed since the Buncefield fire, then opened and closed again last year, was now again open.

Cyclists in the sun
Warm sun after a chilly start

So we could have used Hogg End Lane after all. Continuing through Piccotts End and Frithsden, we overtook the West Herts CTC group at Little Gaddesden, some of whom were riding fixed-wheel bikes. After an exchange of gossip and on the way up to Ivinghoe Beacon we saw a single deer in an adjacent field, which then leapt over a barbed-wire fence before crossing the road just in front of us.

White lion in chalk hillside
The Whipsnade White Lion

On the right hand side I usually like to look over to the white lion carved on the hillside under Whipsnade zoo. It should look like the photo above, but is currently so dirty it was almost impossible to spot. After a fast descent to Ivinghoe village we had a welcome coffee stop in Curiositea cafe in the old school after about 20 miles. Craig left us at this stop and five of us travelled on to lunch in Lacey Green at the Black Horse pub. Rather than climb up and down several times over the Chiltern Hills we took a flatter route through Aston Clinton, Weston Turville, Terrick and Marsh, looping north and west of Princes Risborough before climbing up Wardrobes Hill to reach the pub after 22 miles of fairly easy riding and where I did not change out of my outer chain-ring.

After a very reasonably priced lunch in their garden, but where the aroma of farm animals was evident, we headed back via Great Missenden, Hyde Heath and Chesham Bois. As we climbed up the hill from Latimer to see the head of the Green Dragon peering over the hedge at Flaunden we had done another 18 miles. This pub has had two infamous figures among its former clientele: Joachim von Ribbentrop  and Guy Burgess. However, today we were visiting the church on the opposite side of the road for tea and cakes, where we were blessed by the presence of yet another lady vicar, and also Phil from the midweek riders, who had gone for an afternoon spin. From here it was an easy route back to St Albans for four of us, arriving at 5:15, and a bit further for Judy who was pedalling all the way back to Barnet. A perfect day for this longish ride of about 70 miles.

Carol 27/09/2015

20 September 2015

20 Sep 2015: Hatfield to Langley Lower Green

At last a fine day was forecast and seven of us turned up at the start at Hatfield, including Mark a newcomer.

First stop was to be Ash Valley Golf Course near Much Hadham. Now this is to the north east of Hatfield so we started off by going to Hertford and then along the river/canal towpath to Ware. From there a climb up through the ‘suburbs’ of Ware to get to the high ground to the north of the town. Here onwards it was fairly flat through lovely open countryside, in the sunshine, through Babbs Green, Rush Green and other such rural sounding places. Then onto a road northwards through Much Hadham itself and out into the countryside again where, in a beautiful location, is the golf club. It has an interesting timber clubhouse, which was virtually empty, but it’s plus point for cyclists being that it does breakfast type goodies at a reasonable price. Whilst there, Stuart a cyclist from Stevenage joined us.

On the road
On the road to Langley Lower Green

Refreshed we moved on north through Little Hadham and then further on, just before Stocking Pelham, we turned east on a very minor lane for a couple of miles to Maggots End (what a charming old English name!)  Now it was north again on a quiet road that runs up the valley of the river Stort. Following river valleys is nice because they tend to be fairly flat and this one was again in lovely open countryside. Then it was into Clavering, a pleasant village where apparently Jamie Oliver’s parents run (ran?) the village pub. However we had a better destination in mind, namely ‘The Bull’ in Langley Lower Green a few miles further on. This is an old village pub, which stands on the green. Food-wise a speciality of this area is ‘huffers’ which are like enormous (bread) baps. Two of our party were man enough (or foolish enough) to take on these monsters and managed to demolish them together with their fillings. The rest of us were more conventional and well satisfied with the normal pub food provided.

After lunch we decided not to go to Stevenage as planned but to cut across more directly to Dane End where there is another golf club that also caters well for us cyclists. So, having partaken of tea (and cake) we headed back towards the start at Hatfield.

On the way some peeled off towards their homes but those who went back had done about 63 miles in all.

It was generally agreed it had been a perfect day for cycling; warm but not too hot, not much wind and dry with delightful scenery.

peteR 20/09/2015

13 September 2015

13 Sep 2015: St Albans to Towersey

Starting from St Albans our Sunday ride was going to be out into the Chilterns. The first stop was planned for Great Missenden - a bit further out than usual - so some main road towards Hemel to start with, then crossing the canal and up through the lanes to Chesham. We had another climb out of Chesham, picking a small lane then joining the main road we were soon in the coffee stop in Missenden. It had been just over 20 miles.

The way to lunch could now be through the maze of narrow, twisty and up and down hilly lanes of the Chilterns. But we picked the simplest route - following the road to Butler's Cross for a bit, but turning off to Askett. Only one climb and a long descent involved. Then, following the straight and flat Lower Icknield Way towards Chinnor, after a bit we encountered the Phoenix Trail, an old railway, well converted into a cycle/walking track. It runs from Princess Risborough to Thame and the surface is perfect for cycling. After a few miles of easy cycling, Towersey and The Three Horseshoes were spotted just off the track and it was time for lunch at this excellent pub and its pleasant garden.

3 members in front of a sculpture
On the Phoenix trail

After refreshments it was time to head back. But the timetabled route seemed to want to take us back through those Chiltern Hills again. Not fancying this, we picked a route to Tring, including a bit of canal towpath, and then on to Berkhamsted for a cup of afternoon tea at The Crown followed by an easy ride home. It had been a great ride of less than 70 miles and a lot less hilly than I had been expecting.

Richard 13/09/2015

6 September 2015

06 Sep 2015: Hatfield to Tawney Common

The Mole Trap Ride:

6 of us met at ASDA in Hatfield on a crisp dry sunny morning, we welcomed newcomer J who had travelled from Tottenham to be with us today. After brief discussions and how do you do’s a happy little party set off for the Cole Green way, most of us stuck to the rules of the road but one unruly member decided to take the bus route by the hospital (tut, tut).

Cyclists standing around
Tracey getting ready to lead from Hatfield

After the leafy Cole Green Way we headed towards Hertingfordbury and encountered our first group of super deluxe speedsters, there must have been about 20-30 riders and they looked as if they hailed from Watford, a happy group as well. We took the back road to Bayfordbury, as we were approaching the junction you could see a mobile multi-coloured group of cyclists, about 20-30 again, all very happily bombing around the countryside. We took the steady climb up to Bayford and then headed back down and up to Brickendon. At the green they were preparing for a fete, some of the conversation turned to hot dogs, indicating a hungry group. We made our way down through the lovely nature reserve of Broxbourne, which features a fantastic ancient forest and in my opinion one of the best in the county, the road we chose cuts right through the middle of it and it is an extremely pleasant experience.

After a quick jaunt through the suburbia of Hoddesdon we eventually arrived at our chosen (closed) destination, but right next to it was a new establishment called Anatolia, which strangely enough did exactly the same fare, good cheap café food. So we came to the conclusion that the same people owned the new place. We deftly question a waiter and he confirmed that the old establishment was now a Kebab house.

After a break we took a wiggling and meandering route out towards Epping, passing through Roydon without waiting for the train (gasp). In and around Epping seems to be the home of boy racers of every sort and today was no exception, cars and bikes whizzed past us as we made our steady but safe way towards lunch. It does seem a little odd that there is an opinion that Essex is flat, when in fact this part is really quite lumpy, there were quite a few huffs and puffs along the way. At some point we treated our new comer to the traditional CTC strip off as the sun came out to bid us all a hearty hello and it was really nice to see shadows after such a dreary week. Heading to lunch we climbed quite a lot, and the views that we were granted were very good, you can see for miles up there.
Quite quickly we had pinged through Epping upland and then through Epping itself, from there we carried on to a rather aptly named Fiddlers Hatch, home of the Fiddlers arms (a pub I’ve never been in but have past many a time). It was here that the leader got confused by the map, Tracey’s route called for her to go straight on but the road ahead was a dead end, we all looked at the map and right enough it looked like we needed to go straight on. So we did - what can you lose? Well we encountered a dead end, with a chap loading his lorry, so I asked him for directions. He was clueless, as he didn’t come from the area. Time to get the map out again, this time we noticed that that there were 2 pubs on the map we had been looking at the wrong pub. Once we had got our bearings it was just a quick jaunt to The Moletrap, lunch and chocolate eggs.

The pub was great as ever and the vintage motorcycle enthusiasts were out in force, they provide a lovely sight and an even better sound as they roar off, a couple of us love our British bikes.

After lunch it was a simple matter of navigating through everywhere called Theydon, brave some irritable motorists, and some motorcyclists that were trying to break the sound barrier. The route to Upshire was very pleasant but surprisingly lumpy (again), soon we were shooting down the Epping Road and making our way towards a well deserved break and cakes of ‘Bakeoff’ standard. It has been said many a time that the ladies of Upshire make the BEST cakes.

After cakes we all took the familiar route back home. J followed the Lee Navigation back to Tottenham; Bill made his way back to Barnet while the rest of us wiggled our way back to Hatfield and home.

A great day out led by Tracey.    

Neil 06/09/2015