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