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