14 January 2018

14 Jan 2018: St Albans to Slip End

The whole point of our rides is to socialise, enjoy the ride and have fun in the countryside; all three things were achieved today. A healthy group of eleven of us met in the cosy surroundings of the Waterend Barn, familiar faces and a face we hadn’t seen for a while. There was lots of catching up to do after the seasonal break.
Map case or biscuit box?

We made a promptish start at 10.30 and headed off to Hogg End Lane and as we were approaching the lane I spied a straggler and slowed up to let the group get back together, but seeing Jon at the back and knowing he doesn’t abandon people I pushed on up the lane. There was a very happy splattering of chat going on behind me, a sign of contented cyclists, but having a quick look back I could still see this straggler so I made the decision to stop at the Old Jerome’s turn off to let them catch up. When they did reach us it turned out to be no one connected with us at all.

It was really pleasant weather out on the ride as we traversed down Holtsmere end then we popped over to Trowley Bottom, this can be quite lumpy and it was along here that two of our number decided to make their own way over to Slip End, we didn’t discover this until we had reached Flamstead but a text message about a minor mechanical problem set things straight. Making a visit to Friendless Lane we were soon emerging at the tip of Markyate, here we decided to do a little loop featuring the delights of Gadsden Row, Jockey End and Cements End and a zip back down to Markyate.

We needed to climb out of here and I chose the lumpiest route I could find, it’s the lane that goes past the gun club and one that we hadn’t used for ages. Everyone had to use all of their gears getting up out of the sharp dips around here. After a lot of huffing and puffing we headed over to Pepperstock and on to Slip End.
Unfortunately Bill escaped before we could get a lock
The pub we had planned to visit decided to be unwelcoming to everyone and referred us to the rather expensive pub across the road, so we decided to decamp to the reliable pub in Woodside (our third visit in as many weeks).
Dressed for winter cycling
After lunch we all made our way home via Harpenden. It was a really pleasant day’s ride and one that boosted my confidence after my fall in the ice.

Neil 14/01/2018

7 January 2018

07 Jan 2018: Hatfield to Gosmore

Well, it was forecast to be cold, but just above freezing and the riding should be safe with some sun and no ice. There were five of us at the start at Poppins in Hatfield. I was pleased to see that two of our relatively new riders had come along; John who in his spare time is a campanologist (look it up!) and Ronny, who does scientific astronomical research.  What a varied crew we are. Anyway our lunch destination was Gosmore just to the south of Hitchin.

Now this isn’t a long way so I took the ride on meanders down back lanes wherever possible; first to Wheathampstead, then Kimpton and Whitwell. On from here towards Preston there was some ice on the sides of the lanes where the sun hadn’t shone, so we had to be careful. At one point out in quite open country we saw a herd of about 14 deer in a field which ran across the lane in front of us and into another field, so we were able to stop and get a very good view of them.  From Preston we went downhill in a big loop to Charlton, which again was just a bit icy before looping back to Gosmore and ‘The Bird in Hand’ pub for lunch.

Bird in Hand, Gosmore
The pub is under relatively new management and does excellent pub grub at a very reasonable price. Whilst we were eating Adrian and Geoff from N. Herts area arrived and joined us for lunch.
After this we decided to take the easy route back straight down the Codicote road and then via Welwyn and Digswell Hill back to the start in Hatfield. So at the finish we had done about 31 miles, not a lot but enough for a slightly icy winter’s day.