30 September 2017

30 Sep 2017: St Albans to Dacorum Cycle Hub

A group of 12 riders met at Morrison’s for this morning’s proceedings and we welcomed a new Breeze rider Julia. We took a short but lovely route to The Dacorum Hub, a familiar way through the back streets of Fleetville and the Verulamium Ind. Estate. Then we headed out on Sandridgebury Road and took the farmer’s road leading to Redbourn Road. I always forget that this is a private road and had a polite reminder from the farmer half way down.

It was then just a case of popping through Childwickbury, up the A5 and then up the undulating road that is Hog End Lane. We traversed the whole of this lane, bringing up conversations and memories of the Buncefield explosion. Couldn’t help feeling a little nervous as we cycled between the new fuel tanks, where they want to store petrol again despite previous assurances.

Soon we arrived at The Hub and we were made very welcome. It’s great to see this new facility for cyclists in Hemel and it was a great, chatty atmosphere, which was commented on by one of the ladies. I had a feeling we may have been the first large group to actually use the place as a destination, or maybe just the noisiest. One of them lined us up and took a great photo of us all.
Leaving the Dacorum Cycle Hub
Photo: Tracey Palmer
After our break we headed for the Nicky line. Here we left Jon and Judy as they thought it would be too muddy for the trike. I must say this part of the ride was really enjoyable. The trees were in great form and the going was slightly squidgy. It was also a mostly downhill ride and very pleasant it was too - a real breeze of a ride. We left the old train track at Redbourn to head back to Fleetville via the A5, Hertingfordbury Mill and over to Ayots End Lane.

We crossed Nomansland Common and headed back through the small village of Sandridge and Oaklands College, where we visited the very shaven alpacas. Along the way I tested the water on thoughts of doing an all day Saturday ride, there were some favourable murmurings.

Neil 30/09/2017

24 September 2017

24 Sep 2017: Hertford to Hazel End

Today was " The ride of the road closures!"

We had only returned from a three-week trip to France on Friday evening, so admittedly it was with some dismay we realised the need to get over to Hertford for a 9am start on Sunday morning. Anyway we used the car to get there and met up with Jon, Judy, Tracey, Steve H and a rarely seen Alan from Stevenage. We decided to take a fairly direct route to Old Harlow so used the delightfully quiet route via Goose Green to Hoddesdon where we encountered our first unannounced road closure of the day in Lord Street. We managed to squeeze by on the pavement and reached the edge of Harlow via Rye House and Roydon before picking up the almost rural car-free route through the new town to get to the Cross Keys cafe by 10.45am.

Bob joined us at the coffee stop and Tracey went back so there were still seven of us who headed off to Hazel End. We wiggled around the countryside passing Rod Stewart's house in Lower Sheering, where we paused to admire the football pitch, and made good progress in the warm sunshine until we hit our second road closure in Bishops Stortford due to the construction of a new housing estate. We optimistically ignored the signs and ultimately managed to access the road towards Farnham.
New housing development on the edge of Bishops Stortford
The previously unvisited pub at Hazel End served us food quite quickly in the sunshine in their attractive garden.

Three Horseshoes in Hazel End
A decision was made to go back directly to Hertford and the group ended up splitting as Judy didn't know if her recumbent would get over the narrow bridge over the Ford at Standon.  Steve H was still with us finding another road closure at the end of Anchor Lane near Tonwell, which fortunately we could get through, then we naively went up to Chapmore End to use the quiet road into Hertford. It was only when we had climbed the hill that we saw another road-closed sign blocking our access. This time it was water works and there was a large cage across the entire road width surrounding a hole on only one side of the road. This time the intrepid trio had to climb over a ditch and use a field to bypass the obstruction, so it was just as well that Judy had taken a different route. Shortly afterwards we encountered 3 more cages round holes, but all of these blocked only one side of the road, so why hadn't the first one?
Steves carrying bikes at Chapmore End - look closely!

Finally we regrouped in Hertford for a cup of tea or coffee after a fairly short ride of about 49 miles

Carol & Steve

21 September 2017

17 Sep 2017: St Albans to Silsoe

A small group of courageous travellers met at the war memorial where we welcomed a new rider John (already a member of CTC, or CUK as some would have it).

First off to first break, we took a nice winding route through the lanes around Wheathampstead, Mackerye End and Peter’s Green, climbing up and wending around the countryside. It was a sort of misty, damp affair and rather pleasant if truth be told. New guy John had no trouble in keeping up. At Break we alighted at the Tea Green Golf Club, resplendent with its adverts of Foot Golf and its crazy golf course. This place seemed more like a shack and I can imagine it being very cold in winter, but lovely in summer. The lass who served us was persuaded to do a bit of toast and beans for us, she was very helpful and it turned out we weren’t the only ones who wanted breakfast.
Neil's way of doing the Bedfordshire Knowledge
Now we generally meet a few people at break and today was no exception, Adrian and Geoff joined us as did Peter, who went to the wrong starting point, but he found us so all was well.

Now on to Silsoe, we headed out towards Cockernhoe and took the chalk hill to drop down into Lilley Bottom, from here we traversed a familiar route to Higham Gobion then we made our way to Pulloxhill via the Gravenhurst roads, utilising the local knowledge that Adrian had to offer, in fact he led this part of the ride. Geoff went up the A6 instead of taking the route to Pulloxhill.

The stop at Silsoe is pleasant and they give too much food, so two of us didn’t finish our lunches.
The ride to Emily’s involved re-tracing our route but carrying onto the A6 where we pootled up the side of said road on a path, passed through Barton-le-Clay and then it was back to a path beside the A6. We came off at Streatley and made our way along the length of Lilley Bottom to Emily’s in Whitwell. Along the way Geoff and Adrian peeled off to go home and Peter had to climb up back to Tea Green to collect his car. After break made our various ways back home. A lovely day’s ride.

Neil 17/09/2017

10 September 2017

10 Sep 2017: Hatfield to Tawney Common

Just five of us at the start in Hatfield set off for Roydon in Essex as our first stop. We went on a usual route through Broxbourne Woods, which were as delightful as always. We also skirted ‘Paradise Park’ the zoo near the woods where it seemed more like being in the tropics (not because of the temperature) but rather because the monkeys in the zoo were howling and screeching very loudly. Then more down to earth, after going past historic Rye House, we went past the large sewage works and so after about 17 miles from Hatfield we reached Roydon Marina.

There we used the pleasant timber cafe overlooking all the boats for our elevenses stop.
Lunch was to be at Tawney Common away to the east. Because rain was forecast for later we went by a fairly direct route to Epping and then out through more countryside to ‘The Moletrap’ pub at Tawney Common. Excellent pub, nice setting and as a plus it often has classic cars and motorcycles meeting there.
Then heading back via Upshire and its church, where we often stop for their afternoon teas, but not this time as it was too close to lunch. So on to Cedar Park Cheshunt. There is a cafe here in the interesting grounds of what was an Elizabethan mansion.

After that it was a dash homeward to try to beat the imminent rain.  Two of us went back to the start at Hatfield,  having done about 52 miles in total and just beating the rain, but the other three had further to go so may not have been so lucky.


9 September 2017

09 Sep 2017: Hatfield to Potters Bar

It was a nice crispy morning as five of us met in Hatfield. The route I had planned was a bit windy and nicely undulating. As we set off and just going up Woods Avenue Emma joined us, so we had a crew of six pootling around on the mornings ride. I chose to visit Welham Green and then make our way over to South Mimms via Waterend and up Swanland road. We were soon going through Ridge and heading down towards the A1 where there is a large tri-bridge crossing the major roadway. After that we rode up Trotters Bottom and headed along Dancers Hill. Dali, one of our newer riders, found this quite challenging, but she made it and that really is credit to her. Emma’s confidence is coming along as well, this is a nice thing to see.

We headed into Potters Bar and at the junction took Mutton Lane to get to our café. This road surprised me as I wasn’t expecting it to be a hill with a bend, but hey we all dealt with it. The café (Potters café) was a lovely, well run place which will be getting many more visits from us.
Soon it was time to head off home and we took the rather quicker route of going through town and down through Brookmans Park and then back through Welham Green. It was a lovely 19 mile ride.

3 September 2017

03 Sept 2017: Sandy to St Ives

Arriving by train or car, a smaller group than is probably usual for a Sunday ride gathered in the car park at Sandy railway station for a ride out into the wilds of Cambridgeshire.

We made our way out of Sandy past an ancient hill fort known as Caesar's Camp (though not Roman!) and on to Woodview Farm Shop and Cafe near Gamlingay for elevenses. The route then took us north, with a not inconsiderable tailwind, through the Cambridgeshire countryside and on to lunch at the Wetherspoon’s pub in St Ives, a very pretty riverside market town.

St Ives
After the usual excellent value refreshments, we retraced our path across the pedestrianised river bridge, and on through the Hemingfords. The road petered out into a well-paved cycle path across the water meadows to Godmanchester, where by necessity we picked up a number of 'B' roads out to Perry and our final stop of the day in a pleasant lakeside cafe overlooking Grafham Water. This impressively large reservoir was built in 1965 and we resisted the temptation to cycle around its 10-mile circumference.

Water Meadows

Shortly after leaving Perry the previously encountered tail wind was now in our faces, which made the final leg quite tough going. The route made up for the hard work, being along quiet country lanes for the most part, through Colmworth, Great Barford and Blunham. As time was getting on by this stage, I suggested that the Sandy party would benefit from taking the cycle path back, rather than continuing on to Moggerhanger as originally intended. It was agreed this was a good idea, and we parted company, myself heading on southward towards Shefford and home. It had been a long day out, but most enjoyable nonetheless.

Adrian 03/09/2017