25 December 2016

25 Dec 2016: Christmas Day ride to Wildhill

The warmest day in December didn't seem very Christmassy, although it is said that there's a greater chance of snow at Easter, so that's something to look forward to!

Steve H took full advantage of the good weather to test our legs on a very hilly route, which kept us guessing as to what we would be tacking next.  Sure enough, the left turn into Buck's Alley drew some groans, but we were spared the even steeper climbs of West End Lane.

We arrived quite early, but as the pub due to close at 1:30 it was already packed and the charity buckets were filling up fast.  Despite not dressing up as a reindeer or a snowman, we were still given free drinks in exchange for a donation.

Woodman Wild Hill 161225
Customers spilling out of The Woodman

It was a good way to finish off a successful year for our weekend rides.
Jon 25/12/2016

18 December 2016

18 Dec 2016: St Albans to WGC

Thirteen riders assembled in the grand environment of the Waterend Barn in St Albans for coffee and seasonal conversation. The topic of begging letters arose, and there was a look of horror on some faces when it was pointed out they might not have been posted in time to get maximum return by arriving before Christmas. 

We set off heading south past Sopwell and Tyttenhanger for that masterpiece of road-interchange design: the Colney Heath longabout. Fortunately a bridge had been provided for cyclists, albeit with very tight hairpin bends on ascent and descent causing a problem for Judy on her Trice, and after passing through the adjacent village, now with half of its pubs permanently closed, we skimmed Welham Green to cross the A1000 at Bell Bar. 

Passing close by the former houses of those icons of British culture: Samantha Fox and Barbara Cartland, we followed the B158 to Letty Green where we picked up the cycle path to Welwyn Garden City arriving at our destination, one its few pubs, the Attimore Hall. Here, having been joined by one rider’s family members, we enjoyed a sociable but rather slowly delivered Christmas lunch. 

Xmas lunch at Attimore Hall 161218

As a climax, a new trophy (engineered and presented by Jon Crosby), consisting of a well-worn Brooks saddle mounted on a magnificent mahogany plinth was presented to the best South Herts ride leader of the year: Neil.  
Neil wins the 2016 Ride Leader trophy
Neil already holds the Hargreaves Trophy for the best attendance, but this new trophy is awarded to the person who contributes most to leading rides.  That could be for one really interesting ride or tour, or for looking after and encouraging new riders. Neil had led nine Sunday rides and nine Saturday fun rides and the trophy recognised particularly his efforts in building up the Saturday rides over the last few years.

Steve 18/12/2016

11 December 2016

11 Dec 2016: Hatfield to Hoddesdon

We met for a reviving coffee in Jenny's Cafe in Hatfield at 10.00 and, after Saturday's incessant rain, Sunday was a bright, sunny winter’s day, perfect for our ride to Hoddesdon.

The lunch stop was not very far as the crow flies, so a less direct route was called for. We set out through Lemsford and the centre of Welwyn, noticing long queues of traffic coming into the city to do their Christmas shopping.

Pennyfathers Lane 161211

Winter sunshine in Harmer Green

We passed under the magnificent Digswell viaduct. I had led another ride through here in the fog on Tuesday, when we couldn’t see the top as the arches loomed out of the mist. Today we could admire this feat of Victorian engineering in its full glory.  We climbed the following hill with its leafy, posh villas - always some building improvements going on here - then through the woods to Bramfield and on to Hertingfordbury and the Lower Hatfield Road into Hertford.

Here we paused. I had thought of making the route a bit longer, but time was getting on and the mood was to go directly to lunch.  Someone even accused me of using a piece of elastic to plan the route on the map.  So picking up Mangrove Road we took a beeline to The Star in Hoddesdon, a 15th century inn tastefully restored by Wetherspoons and offering their usually fare.

Neil 11/12/2016

4 December 2016

04 Dec 2016: St Albans to Hitchin

Amidst the maddening throngs of jingling Santas gathering for the Jingle Bell Jog and Reindeer Run, the South Herts CTC met at Waterend Barn. As was experimented with last year, meeting in the winter for a 10.30 start proved to be rather popular. This year I think will be no exception as I hadn’t seen John out since last winter and it was good to see him again.

Waterend Barn 161204

We found our way out of St Albans with cunning use of some back streets to avoid the jingling red madness that had descended upon the High Street. I made a beeline for Leasey Bridge, going through Sandridge and Nomansland Common. As we approached the off road bridleway that we were going to use, I was asked if I thought it might be too muddy - Nooooo I replied. This earned me a rather doubtful look from one of the riders as we embarked upon a leaf-strewn journey towards Luton.

It was great to see many walkers and dog walkers taking advantage of the good weather and the countryside. But, after asking if it was OK to pass, a group of horses gave Judy a fright when one of them turned and aimed a kick at her head, missing by inches.  We took this route (NCR 6) all the way along to the bridge that crosses the Lower Luton Road. Soon we dropped off the path and took the climb right up towards Someries Castle via Copt Hall Road; this is a lovely climb that really heated everyone up and at the top I took photos of out-of-breath cyclists. We popped around Chiltern Green and made our way to Birch Green via the undulating lanes that surround the back of Luton Airport. I did have to stop to get my bearings as it can get quite confusing up there.

John Edwards 161204


161204 Judy


From Birch Green we headed to Kings Walden, which is a lovely shoot down hill and up quite a steep climb the other side, but this is made easier by the momentum you gather from the downward journey. Soon we made our way to Preston and it was a short trip via Gosmore and then into Hitchin.

At our chosen destination, The Angel Vaults, we found Adrian waiting for us. It was very busy and we found an abandoned cubbyhole at the back, whose previous occupants it seems had been a group of food-fighting children.  One of the staff soon got it cleared up. It’s a really nice building and bit of a rabbit warren.

It was a really enjoyable day’s ride. After lunch we went our separate ways and I copped a puncture as I rode through Old Welwyn.

Neil 04/12/2016

27 November 2016

27 Nov 2016: Hatfield to Mangrove Green

There were seven cyclists at the Hatfield start and we were joined by two more, as we met Steve and Jackie coming in the opposite direction down Green Lanes.  We took a roundabout route to our elevenses stop at Whitwell via Ayot St Lawrence, Codicote and Nup End, arriving at Whitwell at 10.55.  Adrian, Tracey and Geoff were waiting for us there.  Tracey had been living it up in Bracknell the night before, so had not fancied the early start at Hatfield.

Freezing annex at Emily's Whitell 161127

It was cold in that barn

It then became clear that Whitwell might not be the best place for a morning stop on Sunday as it was full of noisy sweaty cyclists inside (not our group of course) and it was too cold to take the outside benches.  Those of us towards the end of the queue were directed to the barn/ bike shop for our tea/coffee.  We were not sure the barn was any warmer than the outside benches, but we did find two heaters to switch on, which improved matters a little, at least for those next to them.

Inevitably, the crowds at Whitwell meant we took longer than usual to be served and finish our refreshments, so we had a delayed start for our lunch destination of Mangrove Green.  We initially headed north to Great Offley and then back south down Lilley Bottom, before turning west towards Mangrove Green via Breachwood Green, where we took a short cut to go direct to the pub.

I was a little worried the pub would grouse about our higher than normal numbers, when we had not phoned to warn them.  However, they did not have many customers and quickly provided us with reasonably priced baguettes.   The King William has recently been refurbished and is now being marketed as more of a hotel (perhaps because of its closeness to Luton airport).  Nevertheless, it remains a good pub destination for cyclists.

Judy 27/11/2016

13 November 2016

13 Nov 2016: Hatfield to Hertford

After a very wet day on Saturday it’s relief all round to find Remembrance Sunday dawns sunny and mild.  Nine of us meet in Hatfield, including David whom we hadn't seen for ages, but missing Neil and Sue who sent in sick notes.

We set off on an anti-clockwise route taking the cycle path down to Welham Green, our only delay being Steve having to pull up his droopy leg warmers to stop his knees getting cold.

Theobalds Park 161113

It’s a lovely ride down Coopers Lane Road with autumn leaves falling thick and fast, past the numerous garden centres at Crews Hill and up Whitewebbs Road. We avoid the traffic in Waltham Cross by taking the bridle path through Theobalds Estate and find our way over the A10 cyclists’ bridge to the railway at Trinity Lane.  Here a dire notice greets us pointing out the number of near misses crossing the railway line. A footbridge is under construction and we hope we’ll still be able to get our bikes across.

Trinity Lane Crossing 161113

Dodging the dog walkers on the River Lea towpath we arrive at the Abbey Café. It’s our first visit here and it looks tiny, but goes back a long way inside so there’s plenty of room.  The food is good. 

Waltham Abbey 161113

Now for the most pleasant part of the route: up National Cycle Route 1 beside the river, past the farm and hundreds of Barnacle Geese, then over Clayton Hill. This gives extensive views over the valley and provides a tricky descent with several hairpin bends.

At Nazeing Mead, Steve gets a flat tyre and stops behind with Carol while we press on via Hoddesdon and Goose Green, arriving at The Six Templars at 1:15.  We find a cosy corner and enjoy a pleasant lunch, accompanied by a lively discussion on Brexit and Trump. Our missing pair arrives just before 2 pm, having found two punctures to fix.

It’s an easy ride back to Hatfield to complete the circuit.

Jon 13/11/2016

6 November 2016

06 Nov 2016: Hatfield to Wadesmill

We met at Hatfield for a lovely morning’s trip to Wadesmill, the weather was chilly and the wind was brisk but have no fear I had plans to warm everybody up really quickly. I took a new route leaving Hatfield, going up through the estates and down to Oxlease via Hillcrest and Briars Lane.

Bayford 161106

We made a nice steady pace to Wild Hill beginning to heat up nicely on the small climbs. Making our way through Little Berkhamsted, Bayford and Brickendon, very familiar routes but lovely all the same. The Woods in Broxbourne in autumn look absolutely spectacular, with leaves of all colours: golds, browns, yellows and fire reds all vying for the opportunity of catching your eye on such a pleasant part of the ride.

Brickendon 161106

We soon made Hoddesdon and the Morrison’s cafe there. After a relaxed break we headed towards Rye Park and went past the caravan park and sewage works. Soon we were looking for Kitten Lane to take us onto the road that leads to Hunsdon and right through to Widford. Just after this quaint village we took a detour to Perry Green then back around to Much Hadham. It was just a case of going up past Babb’s Green and through Cold Christmas and we were at lunch.

Lunch was a really nice affair with lots of chat and banter. Richard had to deal with a puncture (pesky thorn). But then we had the ride home to contend with. At first I was thinking of a nice jaunt out to Tewin and back through Panshanger, that didn’t happen as a light drizzle quite quickly turned Into steady rain, so we hot footed it to Hertford via Bengeo and sought out the more direct route through Letty Green, Cole Green Way and the outskirts of WGC.

Arriving back in Hatfield was a rather dribbley affair, but arrive we did. It was a lovely autumn ride on a rather windy day.

Neil 06/11/2016

23 October 2016

23 Oct 2016: St Albans to Leighton Buzzard

A beautiful bright autumn day for our Sunday ride. First stop Cheddington - a slightly longer stretch than usual. We wriggled through the housing estates on the fringes of Hemel to descend Dodds Lane and then along passing Ringshall and through the woods of the Ashridge Estate. Down Tom's Hill we were soon heading north through Aldbury to Ivinghoe. A left in Cheddington
Jackie's Cafe Cheddington
brought us to the not easy to find mini industrial estate where Jackie's cafe is tucked away. It might not be in the most obvious location, but it seems to do a roaring trade with locals and it's easy to see why - that home made baking looked good. Cheap too. Highly recommended. 

Time was getting on when we left refreshed, so a shorter route to lunch seemed a good idea. Going north through Wing and Soulbury we encountered new roads not shown on my 20-year-old map. But we were soon in the pleasing old centre of Leighton Buzzard and the Swan Inn.  From here we headed back through Dagnal and Studham to a pause at the Hub in Redbourn. An enjoyable ride in perfect sunny weather.

Richard 23/10/2016    

9 October 2016

09 Oct 2016: Hatfield to Broom

It's Sunday 9 October and Bill is due to lead the ride, but unfortunately he is sick. So I (Peter) have volunteered to do it. At the start in Hatfield there are only three of us so it's going to be an easy ride to lead. Our first stop is Hitchin, so away we go via St Paul's Walden and country lanes. It is a little chilly, but the sun is shining and the countryside looks stunningly beautiful, especially when we go through woods with sunlight dappling through the trees. Near Preston the spell is broken somewhat by Easyjet planes from Luton roaring overhead. Then it's downhill all the way to "The Hitchin Kitchen” an excellent and very popular cafe run by East Europeans (this remark can be interpreted how you wish depending on your views on Brexit).

The Cock at Broom 161009
Well I say it is popular as nine further cyclists associated with our group are already there, so now we are eleven. Off we go again threading our way through the back streets of Hitchin and out into the countryside. From now on it's relatively flat for the eleven miles to 'The Cock' at Broom, our lunch stop. Now we have been there before without any problems, and one of us orders a sandwich without question, but once more of us in the queue start to order the landlord panics and decides there are too many of us, we haven’t booked and he can’t do us sandwiches for 45 minutes. As some of us already have our drinks we decide to down these while debating what to do. We decide we wouldn't go to a different pub as this could all take too long and instead we’ll go to Shefford and buy sandwiches in the Morrisons supermarket there. This works out well (much cheaper than a pub) and we sit outside on a wall to eat our lunch. On the way there we spotted a well-preserved traction engine and trailer.

Traction engine near Shefford 161009
Three of our party had left so now eight of us continue south. We go through Hexton and then up the steep and almost never ending Gravel Hill to cross the Icknield Way. Then it’s through Lilley before joining Lilley Bottom for an easy run with the wind behind to Emily's tearoom in Whitwell. Our timing is pretty good as just before getting there it starts to rain and then, when we get inside, it hammers down. So we delay our departure by eking out our tea and cakes until the rain stops. From here on the group breaks up, going their separate ways home. Some, including me go back to the start, completing about 60 miles in all from start to finish.

PeterR 09/10/2016

8 October 2016

08 Oct 2016: Saturday fun ride to Chipperfield

This is a slightly more challenging ride to end the season as it involves going uphill to reach the edge of The Chiltern Hills.  A small group of eager cyclists meet outside Morrisons ready for a relaxed but challenging climb up to Chipperfield, the weather is quite crisp and some are thinking they might not have enough layers on. Our route takes us the opposite way around to normal to the garden centre, taking in Kings Langley before Chipperfield. We make our way via Serge Hill and Toms lane and once in Kings Langley it is no small task to climb right up to Chipperfield; this is the whole point of the ride and everybody copes very well. A slight drizzly mist starts, but soon gives up and we get some sunshine.

Fun riders at Chipperfield 161009

At the garden centre we meet Geoff and Sue who have driven out greet us.  Geoff has just had an op so won’t be out cycling for a while, but it is good to see them. The route back involves the descent down Bulstrode Lane and Rucklers Lane, but before we can commence someone asks how long it will take to get back.  I give a rough estimate and then quite promptly Caz (new rider) finds herself the victim of a puncture, which we deal with quite deftly, but also find no puncture. We change the inner tube just in case. This highlights why I don’t like to give out times as you never know what can happen, 10 minutes can turn into half an hour so quickly.

Whilst we mend the phantom puncture, Tracey shoots off to investigate a rather large gathering of farmers and learns that there is a sale of farming equipment in the fields opposite the garden centre. Not wishing to exchange a bike for a tractor, we are soon on our way and belt down the roads towards Nash Mills, then we make our way up Bunkers Lane and everybody copes with that very well indeed. Not long after it’s a quick trip through the park and back to the beginning of the ride. For the last Saturday Fun Ride of the year we had a very pleasant time and I look forward to doing it all again next year.

Neil 08/10/2016

2 October 2016

02 Oct 2016: St Albans to Lacey Green

It’s a really nice ride out today courtesy of Carol, to begin with though we are attracted by a curiosity. It’s the St Albans food fair and Oaklands College are showing a sow and her 7-day-old piglets. We have a lovely meandering route to first break, which is the Masterchef in Amersham for bacon sandwiches. The morning is quite chilly, reminding us it is October and we are worried it is going to rain, but after break it soon heats up and some brilliant sunshine makes its appearance. 

Carol checking the map 161002
We cycle through some wonderful countryside taking in Little Kings Hill, Great Kings Hill, Bryant’s Bottom and Speen. This is prime Midsomer Murders country; we also go past an ice cream factory. Lacey Green seems to be really high up, which could explain why there’s a windmill here, and the skies around are a nice clear blue with great fluffy white clouds.

After lunch we make our way to tea break via Great Missenden and the Lee; here Steve decides to miss a turning and we have to chase after him, then one of us gets a puncture, but it is in a lovely sunny spot, so everyone has a nice relaxing break.

The Mediterranean Nursery is closed when we get there, and we are too late for Wyevale, so we use our fail-safe Blackwell’s in Chipperfield.

After tea it’s just a case of getting home via Kings Langley and Toms Lane, thinking what a great day out many riders have missed.

Neil 02/10/2016

25 September 2016

25 Sep 2016: Hatfield to Stansted

Graham led this ride, which marks the end of our year as far as awarding the Hargreaves Trophy is concerned.  This is awarded each year to the South Herts CTC rider with the best attendance on Sunday rides.  No prizes for guessing who won it again this year.

18 September 2016

18 Sep 2016: Wheathampstead to Maulden

Nine of us met at Wheathampstead for a jaunt into the Bedfordshire countryside and we welcomed new rider Virginia and a Wednesday evening rider Mark. We set off for Kimpton via Gustard Wood and once there we made our way over to Whitwell via the small network of lanes that side of Kimpton. Whilst doing this we had a lovely 20 min.

break as Bill copped a puncture near the Holt farm. I led the group on a lovely meandering route across to Great Offley, where I planned a small bit of off road, but the previous Friday’s rain had put paid to that idea. So we headed for Lilley and did Gravel Hill instead.

It wasn’t that far to Stondon but it did seem a long way and we got there 15 mins late, not bad really. Going towards lunch was a nice route that took in Henlow (didn’t realise the RAF base was so big), Ireland, Chicksands and Clophill. At first break we picked up Adrian and another rider called Geoff, who helped out as I casually rode past a turning I needed to take. It turned out that the road we were on led to the same place so all was not lost.

Lunch at the Dog and Badger was very pleasant and after lunch we headed to Emily’s in Whitwell for tea, with this route I had help from Carol who navigated us down the A6 cycle path, some of this I recognised as we went through Barton-le-Clay then down the A6 again to Streatley, from here it was a small case of everybody enjoying themselves as we traversed the whole of Lilley Bottom to tea break. It was great to see all riders staying out all day and picking up some new riders along the way.

Neil 18/09/2016

17 September 2016

17 Sep 2016: Saturday ride to Codicote

First off this weekend we had a Saturday morning jaunt from Hatfield to Codicote that took in the quiet lanes in and around Old Welwyn. Four of us attended this ride and we got a very nice comment from Geoff Reason, who thanked us for showing him how great cycling could be. I hadn’t seen him or Sue for about a year and in that time they had completed London-Brighton, a coast ride from Manchester to Blackpool and they had also done London – Paris. It was lovely hearing all about their adventures as we pootled about the lanes. 

The garden centre in Codicote is a nice little place that offers the usual fare at quite a nice price and was also playing host to a group from Ickleford.

The route back to Hatfield took in the farmer’s road between Whitwell and Kimpton; using this road gives a great view across the county and both fields that flanked either side of the road were jammed packed with cows basking in the sunshine. We headed over to Ballslough Hill and through Wheathampstead, then it a quick navigation of the lanes between Wheathampstead and Hatfield, taking in the lovely lane by Symondshyde Woods and we were back in great time after doing 21 miles.

Neil 17/09/2016

11 September 2016

11 Sep 2016: St Albans to Ivinghoe

After all day rain on Saturday, it was a bright start to Sunday morning, but with a bit of a chilly and damp touch of autumn, when we headed north from St Albans along the old A5. We turned off soon to twist through the lanes behind Hemel and eventually came out on Gaddesden Row and on to Studham. The weather was warming up in a big way.

Doing a left before the village we descended the steep hill overlooking the Gade valley with eerie cries coming from Whipsnade on the right. North from Dagnal to Edlesborough we avoided climbing Ivinghoe Beacon, just skirting round the edge we were soon refreshing ourselves pleasantly in the village tearoom, a very highly recommended venue.

Here our party split up. Domestic circs meant I had to head back for home and some others needed to get home too. But a valiant few, excited by the great weather decided to press on to lunch. What became of them I don't know - I haven't seen them since, but the rest of us headed back very pleasantly by way of Aldbury and Redbourn.

Richard 11/09/2016

28 August 2016

28 Aug 2016: St Albans to Wilstone

It’s bank holiday Sunday, a long ride is planned and the light rain forecast for the afternoon should not be a problem. So six of us set off from St Albans heading for elevenses at Wendover Woods.

steve on knitted bike
Needless to say the forecast was wrong and the light rain started at 9.30, which was a little depressing. By the time we got near to Chesham, which was still a long way from the woods, it started to rain hard. Prudently we decided to forego the pleasure of cycling to the woods in the rain and instead went to a nice café in Chesham, where we reconsidered our route. Just round the corner from the café we saw what appeared to be a knitted bike. In fact it was a real bike with a knitted cover - even the lock had a cover too! Steve took the photo opportunity.

We abandoned the original plan of going to Towersey (a long way to the west) and instead headed for Tring, via a roundabout route that ended up with us going into a pub in Wilstone to the north of Tring for lunch.

From there we headed back via Dagnall and Gaddesden Row to St Albans. By now the weather was better, but we decided to omit a tea stop and press on to get back in good time.  Overall we had done about 50 miles, much less than planned but it had made it enjoyable rather than an ordeal in the wet

Peter 28/08/2016

21 August 2016

21 Aug 2016: Hertford to Saffron Walden

It was a hot dry day as six people left the Stag statue in Hertford on the Sunday ride. After leaving Hertford using the Balls Park bridleway, it was an easy wind assisted cycle to Bishops Stortford for coffee. En-route we stopped for a culture break to examine the Henry Moore sculpture near Perry Green, conveniently situated on a public footpath in a field adjacent to the road so no trespassing was necessary. There was lively debate about what it was meant to represent. As we were ahead of schedule we approached Bishops Stortford from the south after putting in a loop via Little Hallingbury, which allowed us to cycle up the High street for a change.


After a quick coffee stop we took small roads via Manuden and Newport before reaching our destination pub (The Temeraire) in Saffron Walden. This branch of the JD Wetherspoon empire seemed quite quiet for Sunday lunchtime and the staff intimated that they have reduced custom since the roast dinners were stopped. They said the reason the roasts were stopped was because they didn’t make any profit on the deal. I wonder whether they should have just put up the price a bit instead.

We looped around north Herts into a strong headwind to put in 20 miles or so to Braughing church hall for a tea stop before those with cars went back to Hertford while the WGC/Hatfield trio peeled off at High Cross to get back via Sacombe. We welcomed new rider Leon who had no trouble keeping up and I hope we will see him again on a Sunday ride.

Carol 21/08/2016

14 August 2016

14 Aug 2016: St Albans to Wooburn Common

Last Sunday, 5 of us took a great little trip down to Maple Cross via Bricketwood and various off road parks in Watford.  We hit the Ebury Way and took that to Rickmansworth and then the main road from there to Maple Cross.  This route took in several different styles of road from quiet country lanes, a short portion of off road and some rather busy road riding.

After a break, we headed to Chalfont St Peter via the rather busy Welders Lane: this lane cuts through to just below Jordans, which is ideal for getting across to Beaconsfield.  Once there, it’s a case of finding the bridge that spans the huge motorway type road thing that dominates the area.  After crossing that, it’s a bit of jiggery pokery by another huge roundabout, down some very nice country lanes and Bob’s your uncle and we were there.

at pub

Outside The Royal Standard

The Royal Standard was a lovely pub and very accommodating; we shall be visiting again.  I was surprised we got to the pub so quickly: when I was working out this route it seemed a long way but, in practice, it was only just over 10 miles.

Lunch over, and we were off to Chenies via Holtspar, Penn, and Winchmore Hill.  This was the hilliest portion of the day, as we skirted the Chilterns and dropped down into Chalfont St Giles.  As we neared our planned tea destination, it was clear that we were going to be very early, so we put on some extra miles and headed to an alternative tea stop - Blackwells in Chipperfield.

Break over and it's back to St Albans via King’s Langley and Tom’s lane.  It was great day out to an area that needs a little more exploring.

Neil 14/08/2016

7 August 2016

07 Aug 2016: Panshanger to Royston

With many away on holidays 4 of us met for the start of Tracey’s ride into Cambridgeshire countryside; Jeff came out with us for the first time in a long time and it was grand to see him. We set of at a great pace and made short work of heading towards Codicote via Old Welwyn, then Tracey gave us a treat and navigated the lanes around the back of the Node, onto Easthall and then up along Hitchwood Lane that leads to Poynders End. From here we headed down the hill and made our way over to Gosmore. We made Hitchin in great time and had a lovely break sat outside the café. As we were munching, a healthy looking Mr Richard Stubbs arrived to bolster our numbers, he ordered the biggest plate of beans on toast I had ever seen, but the apple pie and custard that Jon & Jeff ordered looked even better.

apple pie covered in custard 

Leaving Hitchin was quite urban, but not busy and very enjoyable as we whizzed down the roads towards Letchworth and then onto Baldock. We had a delightful rolling ride as we headed through Ashwell, Litlington and Bassingbourn. Around here we came across a huge combine harvester intent on bringing in the corn, making a turn into a field as it made its manoeuvre we wondered whether the produce would make bread, cereals or BEER.  The half-track monster of a machine had chewed up the freshly laid loose chippings, which coated our tyres with a protective layer of tar and stones: easily brushed off except for my knobbly tyres where they had to be dug out.

combine harvester 
Two cyclists
Coming into Royston Tracey suddenly jammed on her brakes, not for the traffic but because a bee had somehow crept inside her tight-fitting top and stung her. Just as well the pub was around the corner and we had a lovely hour to relax in the shade at the back.  

Upon leaving Royston we took a right turn and traversed a stretch of road that we hadn’t been down before, this was a long, undulating affair of a road which gave us a spectacular view of the countryside. We reached Dane End via Barkway, Wyddial, Buntingford and Nasty. It was a lovely route that Tracey needs to be pleased about. It was also a battle with the side wind and we rewarded ourselves with more drinks at the golf club. Here we discussed bike rides and Richard very nicely agreed to lead a Saturday ride on the 3rd of September.

two cycle under a shady tree 
4 standing outside pub
All that was left to do was go home Via Sacombe Park and Waterford.  

Tracey led another great ride. On that note I must point out that we will soon be adding new rides that need leaders, one of our regular leaders is unable to lead due to other commitments and some of us have already stepped up to fill some gaps, but these are your rides as well. It’s always good to share the fun of planning routes and having lots of different leaders keeps the rides interesting for everyone.

Neil 07/08/2016

6 August 2016

06 Aug 2016: Fun ride to Shenley

A change of destination was made this week as we met for a Saturday saunter, the weather was promising to be really hot and one of our number had just come from the destination, so quick thinking and we pootled off to the tearooms at Shenley.

We took a fairly straightforward and usual route taking in the Alban Way, Chiswell Green, Park Street and Bricket Wood. Going down Drop Lane is always a pleasant, shady treat and leads nicely back onto Smug Oak Lane and access to Watling Street. About half way up the hill here we head onto Hanger Lane and towards Shenley. Getting to the tearooms involves going up the hill. I avoid the worst of it by climbing up past the old hospital, but is still a challenging climb in itself. 

4 of us having a break
So arriving at the tearooms and expecting a well-deserved break, David treated us all to ice-lollies and a customer treated us to a display of stupidity and anger. With queues building up there was a lot of faffing around. It was lovely and hot outside in the sun and very pleasant to see many people out.

Soon we were back on our way again; we headed along Rectory Lane and down to the roads that run alongside the M25 and past both the Watford the Arsenal football club training grounds. We headed into London Colney and up onto the bridge that goes over the North Orbital. Making judicious use of Nightingale Lane brought us to the back of High Field and a short trip back to Morrisons. 

A very pleasant ride.   Neil 06/08/2016

31 July 2016

31 Jul 2016: Hatfield to Tawney Common

It was a perfect day for escaping the urban scene, by heading off to the tranquil settings for our three stops for today. The first of these was the café next to the marina at Roydon.  It was a warm, sunny day, so I opted for the shade provided on the disused railway line that is the Cole Green Way. The only hazard along there was the guy running ahead of us wearing headphones, and no amount of shouting seemed to be getting through to his ears. Safely past him, we made for Hartham Common and the cycle path along the River Lea – the top dressing in the central section, either side of the A10 flyover, is now completely eroded away and it’s really only fit for mountain bikes.  

6 cyclists on disused railway
A stop on the Cole Green Way

We are a pretty tolerant lot generally, but we were being shaken to bits and this cycle path is getting beyond a joke.  Cycling UK is pushing the Space for Cycling campaign, so you can help by writing to Councillor David Andrews, Ware North at Hertfordshire County Council and asking if he can assist in any way.

After a rather scary slope down from the Ware road bridge, the towpath was actually quite smooth and we followed this as far as Stanstead Abbotts. It was now a short stretch on tarmac to the secluded marina, tucked away near the village of Roydon.  Neil and Tracey loved the relaxed atmosphere so much they didn’t want to leave, so we left them there.  We cycled off, passing Ray Winstone’s favourite pub, and found a quiet route through Harlow on NCR 1 and out to the Essex lanes.  

What a pleasant county Essex is for cycling.  Many lanes had been resurfaced recently and looking back I don’t recall seeing a single pothole between Harlow and Epping Forest. It just shows that by contrast Hertfordshire really needs to get its act together.

At the isolated pub in Tawney Common we saw the usual veteran motorcycles had arrived, including a pre-war BSA in fine condition and a wartime despatch bike. 

It wasn’t far to tea at Upshire Church.  This time I arrived in time to grab a piece of their fantastic homemade strawberry gateau. That was worth cycling up Sixteen String Jack hill for. Reluctantly, we headed for home to complete the 62-mile circuit.

Jon 31/07/2016

24 July 2016

24 Jul 2016: St Albans to Silsoe

Large crowds watch Chris Froome as he wins the Tour de France again.  It was the first weekend of the school holidays and no doubt some of us Brits heading for Paris were still stuck on the M2 at the whim of the French customs official vetting their entry. Meanwhile, we met up in St Albans for a lovely ride to Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. 
3 sitting on curved bench
2 approaching on bikes
Away we went along Gaddesden Row and via Studham up onto Dunstable Downs. At the top soaring along the ridge, as well as the unmanned kites, were seven brightly coloured paragliders, almost as acrobatic as the usual birds seen around here and an amazing and a very pretty sight. Then it was a fast descent down into Dunstable itself and the Cafe Latte for elevenses. Just as we were scoffing Jackie arrived to join us. Now we were five.
paragliders  kites
From there we headed northwest towards Sundon. We got a bit snarled up where our route crossed the M1 and the railway. Roads were closed, as they appear to be building a new link road from the A5 onto the M1. From there it was on to Sharpenhoe and down the 'Clappers', a lovely downhill leading into Barton le Clay where Steve joined us making us six.
Cafe Latte 

Steve and Jackie
We went in a large loop approaching Silsoe from the east via an initially rough track that led into and through Wrest Park. Some of us had sandwiches and others went into the Star and Garter for a pub lunch. Whilst there Adrian joined us and now there were seven heading for the tea stop at Whitwell by going to the east of Luton. This involved the steep climb from Hexton up Gravel Hill followed by a quick dash along Lilley Bottom to arrive at Emily's for the traditional tea and cakes. 
Wrest Park
outside at Emily's
From here the group started to split up as people headed towards their homes. When I got back to St Albans I had done about 60 miles and although it had been hot it hadn't been too bad. In summary a nice ride on a warm day.

Peter 24/07/2016