27 March 2016

27 Mar 2016: Hatfield to Matching Tye

Storm Katie was brewing in the west.  This was the eleventh named storm to hit us this winter, bringing misery to some but merely a small challenge to us seasoned cyclists.  None of them had stopped us so far and we weren’t going to be beaten by this one.  

4 on bridge over water

It was the start of British Summertime.  So eager was one of us that she arrived bleary eyed since the clocks in her house had been put forward twice getting her up at 5 am., whereas another regular was missing as the earlier hour was just too much of a challenge for her.  We had an easy ride via the Lea Valley to Dobbs Weir with the wind at our backs.  It was our first visit to the café there since it was taken over by people who thought it a good idea to rename it “River Palace”.  Despite its grandiose title, the fare was more down to earth, good value and served efficiently.

The storm clouds were gathering as we left and we reached the southern edge of Harlow just in time to find a useful underpass, while the hail lashed down outside.  Our thoughts were with Richard, who had returned earlier and was probably getting hammered by hailstones.

woman in underpass

It being Easter Sunday, we thought the pub could be busy and that was sufficient excuse to find a more direct route and arrive early. Just as well, because we arrived before a group from Bishops Stortford CC and we had the last available table. With four bar staff on duty we were served fast and the sandwiches were really good.

Another brief hailstorm hit us on the way back as we approached Harlow Town Park, but again we were very lucky to find a convenient underpass in which to wait it out.

2 shelter from hail in underpass

Knowing that the Rose Café shuts quite early, we headed instead for The Six Templars in Hertford for tea and cake, or beer.  The wind was getting worse as we left there and headed for home after a fun ride of 56 miles into Essex.

Jon 27/03/2016

13 March 2016

13 Mar 2016: St Albans to Great Missenden

On a freezing cold, dank morning we headed out of St Albans aiming for Hunton Bridge and then Chandler's Cross. Soon a right turn brought us through the old centre of Rickmansworth. Then crossing the canal, we climbed the steep hill to get to Harefield. After crossing the Grand Union Canal/River Colne again at West Hyde, accompanied by a powerful niff of sewage, we climbed steadily on a quiet lane (in a terrible state of repair and strewn with fly tipped rubbish) to eventually reach Chalfont St Peter and the excellent Madeira Cafe.

After 11's some of our party headed for home, so it was only a select group who went on through the pleasant lanes to Beaconsfield, then turning north to ride along Penn Bottom by now in delightful bright sunshine. A bit of a wriggle through Holmer Green soon brought us to Great Missenden.
old petrol pumps
Old petrol pumps in Great Missenden
The pub, in fact the whole village, seemed to be doing a roaring trade with parents and their kids doing the Roald Dahl experience. It didn't take us long to be edged out, and we came back to St Albans through Chesham Bois and Flaunden.

Richard 13/03/2016