25 August 2018

25 Aug 2018: St Albans to Dacorum Cycle Hub

What makes a successful ride? This is a question I keep asking myself as yet again I greet new riders and old, well chuffed that Jon chose my ride to come out after a break due to illness. A real crowd of us met at Morrison’s and set off on our merry way through the back streets of St Albans making a colourful sight as we hit the roads towards Childwickbury. Now some of our riders thought that we couldn’t come in here, but nobody has ever told me not to so in we go. It’s a great little estate that has a nice winding road down to the A5.

With a little hop along the said main road we scooted off up Hog End Lane. This is an undulating climb of a road that leads past the Buncefield Depot (home of the largest explosion in peace time Europe), into the back end of Hemel and the Dacorum Cycle Hub. This is actually a really good fledgling hub for cyclists and it has quite a few good resources there.

Once our break was over we said goodbye to Jon and Judy then headed off to the Nicky Line for a hugely enjoyable dash down to Redbourn. This is a fantastic route and people need to use it more often or they will lose it.

We soon skirted Redbourn and made a stop at the mill where bread and goodies were purchased. The route home was nice little meander through Ayres End and Sandridge.

In all we did about 22 miles (I forgot to put my tracker on for the first part of the ride); everyone had a great time.
Neil 25/08/2018

19 August 2018

19 Aug 2018: St Albans to Leighton Buzzard

A rather gloomy day with slight drizzle greeted the stalwarts at St Albans for the scheduled ride to Eversholt. Five of us set off via Hogg End Lane and passed Buncefield oil depot before picking up Phil near the exit of the Maylands Estate. He'd guessed correctly the route we planned to take. Later in the day we were discussing the 2006 disaster with Ronny who hadn't heard about it even though we thought it had made the European news at the time. We finally made it to Jackie's cafe in Cheddington at about 10.50 only to find it closed for Sundays during the school holidays.

After a quick debate we backtracked to the Waterside cafe at Pitstone Wharf where the service was a bit slow. Ronny and Phil left to go back and the rest carried on towards Eversholt until Steve B called out that he'd left his wallet in the cafe. In a panic he started cycling back to get it, only to turn round again and sheepishly admit it had been in his trouser pocket all the time - apparently the "wrong" pocket. As we'd lost so much time now it was deemed a good idea to still head north, and do a loop through the Brickhills before going to the White Swan in Leighton Buzzard for lunch. We saw several Greensand Ridge walk signs featuring what I used to think was a camel but now know to be a Muntjac deer and indeed later in the afternoon we saw a specimen by the roadside before it ran away to cross the busy dual carriageway leading to the M1 motorway.

Muntjac were brought from China to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in the early 20th century.

After lunch at the JD Wetherspoon establishment where we were surprised to find a bouncer outside at 1pm, we headed for a different tea stop at the Flamstead scarecrow festival as we had seen a poster for the event on our outbound journey.  The village was very busy with families wandering around judging the exhibits and we had a cuppa in the Methodist hall.

Lots of crows!

Not very scary.....

So unusually for the first time in nearly thirty years of riding a Sunday ride did not visit any of the planned stops! We got back to St Albans after 5pm after covering 60 miles on what turned out to be a pleasantly warm day with strong winds that sometimes helped and sometimes hindered our progress.


11 August 2018

11 Aug 2018: Hatfield to Knebworth

11 of us met last Saturday morning, for a great ride into the wilds of Tewin and Datchworth, welcoming new riders, returning riders and two that were making a transition from the women’s group to slightly longer rides.
Hatfield start
The road through Tewin up to Burnham Green proved to be a bit of a challenge to some of us; I know this road can be tiring, but it is worth travelling along. We took ourselves into Datchworth and made a beeline for Rectory Lane. This is a great road that is about the width of a small Mini and we encountered a car, but the driver was very good and made his way past us without too much trouble. This little lane is so nice and windy, but at the cross roads you can easily lose your bearings, but we didn’t. Two of our new riders were a South African couple and they loved the countryside.

The last time we visited Coasters we had seating no problem, but this time it was very full with no seating available and a wait for tables. After break we headed back via Rabley heath and Codicote where the road down to Codicote from the heath has some quite fabulous views. From Codicote we headed to Hatfield via Ayot St Peter. These roads are a steady climb all the way and everyone seemed to deal with them OK. There were a couple of stops, one to take in the arts & crafts church in Ayot and another to give directions on a fast, busy road.

By the time we got back to Hatfield there were smiles all around.

Neil 11/08/2018

5 August 2018

5 Aug 2018: Hertford to Monk Street

Only three of us dared to take on this ride as it was a lovely sunny day but set to get really hot and the afternoon had the potential of being quite uncomfortable.
Bishop's Stortford
I nicked the route to Bishop’s Stortford from Richard as it skirts Ware, then utilises the lanes around Cold Christmas, Baker’s End, Hadham Cross and Green Tye. It was a nice, brisk jaunt to the Bridge CafĂ©. Here, after some great cheesy beans on toast, we left Peter and made our way into the wilds of Essex.

We took the Hazelend Road out of Stortford heading in the direction of Manuden. As a group we’d done this several times this year and there’s a lovely lane that runs from Manuden to Rickling Green. Along this lane were fields of vibrant blue linseed plants and now the fields look very dry and lifeless.

We passed under a BIG blue road, which Richard informed me was the M11, and on the other side we were back into quaint Essex winding lanes, passing through a duck infested Henham and making a lovely climb up to Debden Green just to wiz back down through Thaxted to end up at Monk Street.
Monk Street
The Farmers Inn is a superb walker/cyclist friendly pub that is nestled just off the main road. Great grub and friendly staff.

The homeward journey was a mix of backtracking (keeping off hilly roads in the heat) and some new roads with a village that had a manned level crossing, none of this high tech automated stuff for this sleepy Essex village. Then I wanted to skirt Stanstead Mountfitchet and failed as we found ourselves emerging onto the high street. We soon navigated back to my route and made quick work of Hazelend and Upwick Green, to end up on the Little Hadham road (just below the wonderfully named Clapgate).

We enjoyed a great ginger beer in Hopleys, and then made short work of going home: Babb’s Green, Ware and the river path to Hertford was our chosen route. 64 miles of fun and a great day out.

Neil 05/08/2018