31 January 2016

31 Jan 2016: St Albans to Bovingdon

Jon had gone down with a cold (could have had something to do with the cold I had the previous week), so I (Judy) was deputised to lead the ride to Bovingdon in the Chilterns, using a route Jon had planned.  The forecast was for light rain, followed by proper rain from 9.00 to 13.00, which might be the reason for the eventual poor turn out.

I set off ready for the rain with all my waterproofs on and, sure enough, by 9.15 my hood went up, the proper rain had arrived.  I reached St Albans in good time and Richard turned up just after me, looking a bit bemused as to why he was wet.  He must have seen a different forecast.  Steve then entered looking very wet, considering he lived just around the corner.  Carol had a sick note and Steve had left her coughing at home.  Just as we were thinking of leaving we spotted two yellow jackets and Peter and Bill appeared and joined us.

The five of us took a winding route to Bovingdon looping around the edges of Hemel. Jon had provided detailed directions, but my Trice wasn't happy with the complicated barriers on Old Fishery Lane in Hemel, so I took a road route and rejoined the group on the other side.  Then at the cross roads in Felden, we opted for Bulstode Lane rather than Felden Lane in the hope it would be less mucky.  Fortunately, the rains stopped earlier than forecast, so we reached the pub in the dry and had a dry ride home.  Many thanks to Peter for spotting and rescuing my rear light, when it jumped off my trike on a fast descent.  Bill gets the prize for the strongest bladder.

Cyclists in bright jackets
Four of us at pub table

This was the last of our 10:30 am Sunday starts. They were designed to avoid icy mornings, although this year the winter has turned out to be mild and good for cycling except for the one day when it snowed and the ride was cancelled. Dawn is earlier now and the next Sunday rides start at 9:15 to allow us to venture a bit further.

Judy 31/01/2016

24 January 2016

24 Jan 2016: Hatfield to Great Offley

Last week's ride was cancelled because of snow, so starved of cycling fun, there was an extra strong turn out this week. 

After a reviving coffee in Hatfield, we set off through the fringes of Welwyn, and passing the recently closed Panshanger Aerodrome (soon to be 700 new houses?) we arrived in Tewin. Climbing the hill was hot work and it was a pause for layers off all round. 

Soon on again, past the posh houses in Tewin Wood, to Woolmer Green and Rabley Heath. The lanes round  Knebworth Park were horribly muddy - punishing conditions for those long-suffering winter bikes. We climbed through Hitch Wood to Preston and, overlooking the sunny valley below, we took the top road to Great Offley. 

Outside the pub
Inside the pub

The Red Lion is a busy pub, but it wasn't too crowded this time and service was quick and reasonable. A lingering lunch was followed by a general dispersal towards home, this time taking the easy route down Lilley Bottom. For me anyway, it was then a lengthy bike cleaning session yet again.

Richard 24/01/2016

10 January 2016

10 Jan 2016: Hatfield to Wadesmill

Amazing what a lie-in can do. With our winter later start at 10:30 am, twelve people turned up at Jenny’s in Hatfield for a coffee before the actual cycling bit. 

Sitting at long table in cafe
Anyway the lunch destination was The Anchor pub in Wadesmill, about 12 miles to the east.  In order to make sure we all got enough exercise a more devious route was required. So we started due south to Welham Green and then to the infamous Essendon Hill, although this time we were going down and not up.  Then it was Letty Green and a diversion through the pretty back lanes there, until we emerged onto ‘The Old Coach Road’ to Hertford, where we swung around to Hertford North station. From here we climbed up to Bengeo through its interesting back streets. It was here at Pest House that a Dr Dimsdale developed the smallpox vaccine with which he variolated Empress Catherine of Russia.  At the top it’s a bit of a plateau with an easy run through open countryside towards Sacombe. However here the easy bit finishes with a very steep and difficult climb uphill to High Cross on the old A10. 

The pub is only about a mile away from here and actually downhill into Wadesmill. Now the original plan at this point was to put in a loop to the east of about 6 miles going to Barwick Ford to see the river in spate and then through the beautiful countryside around Cold Christmas and Thundridge. However time was getting on, much energy had been expended climbing the Sacombe hill and the general consensus was enough was enough, we had done about 19 miles and it was time to head straight to the pub. So down the hill we went to The Anchor, passing the spot where, in June 1785, Thomas Clarkson resolved to devote his life to bringing about the abolition of the slave trade.

Outside the pub
The core of the Anchor is very old and the layout is higgledy piggeldy – so very interesting. And they serve good food. After that it was back to Hatfield for most of us by a direct route. It had been a dry but chilly day with some sunshine to lift the spirits, with an overall distance of about 27/28 miles. That is apart from those who had cycled to the start and back to their homes, who had done considerably more. 


PS: An honorable mention must go to Neil and Vish, who ventured out last Sunday and despite the best attempts of the Hertfordshire lanes to block their route with floods, actually reached the pub at Caddington only to find it wasn't doing any food.