18 February 2018

18 Feb 2018: Hatfield to Whitewebbs

Richard was unable to lead this ride due to illness - or maybe having seen the cold-weather forecast! We stepped into the breach and planned a route as best we could to take in the paths in the Lea Valley and avoid the busy roads in that area.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a large group of 10 cyclists at the start including a friend from the past, Nick alongside many regulars and newish John.
After a well-used route to Little Berkhamsted we enjoyed the long downhill to the Lower Hatfield Road, before climbing past County Hall and through Balls Park to Hertford Heath, where we stopped to pose outside Haileybury College which was originally founded by the East India Company. It really was a splendid sight in the sunshine.

Haileybury school
The Village Pantry cafe in Stanstead Abbotts did us proud with quick service and one of us had a such a big breakfast he didn't need any lunch later on. Bob joined at the cafe and rode back to Enfield with us.

Big Breakfast
After the coffee stop we went via Roydon and Nazeing to pick up the path through the Lea Valley and went right down to Enfield Lock by the river, before Jon led us through a quiet cycle route all the way to the King & Tinker pub. The path was hard-surfaced mostly but a little busy with walkers and dogs on the bit through Forty Hall Country Park.

The pub had kept us a table and we all had roast-beef sandwiches in the very hot dining room. Afterwards we went back via the busy Crews Hill road, before turning off to Potters Bar and Brookmans Park.

We did about 46 miles on the route below.

Carol & Steve

13 February 2018

11 Feb 2018: St Albans to Rye House

On a cold, bright but windy morning we met at the war memorial and unusually headed south, taking the winding road through Sopwell and Napsbury, skirting London Colney and climbing up Black Lion Hill turning left along Rectory Lane on reaching Shenley village by the new Italian Novita restaurant, formerly the Black Lion pub. We passed the former Pinks Hotel along a very wet and muddy road before coming to what looked like a severe flood in a dip. Surprisingly but fortunately there were four cars waiting to pass through the flood, so we waited to let them through and to assess the depth of the water.

Ronnie then charged through the flood at some speed, while the rest of us, more cautiously, cycled slowly using a see-saw action on the pedals to prevent our feet getting wet. We continued to the old A6 (now B556) to go south a few yards before turning off to head to Ridge  and crossing the A1 on the equestrian bridge with its large volume of deposits.  We then followed Trotters Bottom through Dancers Hill to a cafe new to us, where the tell-tale sign of bikes outside indicated the attendance of Jon & Judy. After some calorific intake we headed east through Cuffley & Goff's Oak, taking a previously unused road through the new estate of Hammond Street and heading north up the strangely named Bread and Cheese Lane.

Taking note of the wooden warning sign alerting us to the steep dip down to Bread and Cheese Bridge we ascended to a junction.

Then turning right along Beaumont Road we passed by Paradise Park to Hoddesdon getting to the Rye House Tavern at about 1 p.m. On entering, it was evident that the pub had had a refurbishment, but where were the customers? It was deserted apart from the staff. We just took advantage of the situation by sitting at a large table by a sunny bay window and ordering lunch, which unsurprisingly did not take long to arrive. Customers were trickling in, presumably for the football match which was due to start at 2:15. By then we were long gone, heading due west with the bright sun in our eyes, through Brickendon, Bayford & Little Berhamstead and turning north along Cucumber Lane. There were only three of us left when we were passing through Colney Heath. I was thinking what a good day it had been when I sensed what felt like pebbles being thrown in my face; we had been caught in a very blustery hailstorm. It wasn't worth stopping to put on rain-jackets so we arrived home a bit wet after about 48 miles.

Steve B

4 February 2018

4 Feb 2018: Hatfield to Wareside

It was forecast to be extremely cold and possible snowy weather so we weren't too surprised to find only four people gathered for the start in Hatfield. Neil lead us along a familiar route through WGC and then Panshanger climbing up through Tewin and an interesting loop through the mansions of Tewin Wood, where Barry Norman (the well known film critic) once lived. From Datchworth we cruised downhill to Watton then climbed up the cycle path to Whempstead, down to Dane End and a steep  ascent to Whitehill and its golf-club. Here we had a panoramic view of the golf course while consuming well-earned refreshments & deciding to change our lunch destination to Wareside as we thought Brent Pelham might be a bit too far out.  Following a route towards Standon, we approached a ford, where a motorist assured us that the footbridge was negotiable, before at the small village green a sculpture swung into view which appeared at first sight to be one of the less grotesque works of Henry Moore.

Henry Moore?

However, on examination of its accompanying plaque, it turned out to be the Standon Puddingstone, a natural example of sedimentary rock.

We continued on to loop round Much Hadham (the location of some of Henry Moore's works) and while climbing a steep hill towards Perry Green my chain jammed solid after some warning clicking of the rear gear cage touching the spokes. Fortunately I was only going at about 4 mph so after dismounting and inspecting the damage I found that the jockey-wheel cage had jammed in the spokes and, with the super-human force of my legs driving the chain, had distorted its angle of dangle so that only one cog of the rear cassette could be used.  With only 3 gears in use controlled from the front changer we limped on, taking the direct route to Wareside.

Chequers baguette

We arrived at about 1 pm and all ordered their sausage baguettes, as we knew the fillings were from Fox Hills Farm from previous visits. Then we took the direct route back through Hertford & WGC and along the old A414, this being flatter than Neil's planned route through Bayford, as my bike desperately needed attention in a workshop.

Altogether we did just under 50 miles on a very cold but dry day.

Steve B