28 October 2018

28 Oct 2018: Hatfield to Wadesmill

The coldest day since April with squally showers and a NE gale from the arctic didn't put everyone off. In fact we welcomed two newcomers, Jean from WGC and Simone from Hatfield, on their first ride with us, hopefully the first of many.  We almost missed them due to slight confusion about which cycle park we used at Asda (it's the one opposite the fuel station). Fortunately, Phil had noticed a cyclist wandering around the car park earlier, so I went to find them.

This was a 'fun' ride, modelled on our successful Saturday rides, and I was aiming to keep the average speed down to around 10 mph. Heading into the teeth of the northeasterly there was certainly no risk of exceeding that on the route out to Stanstead Abbotts. I chose a flat route too, although in high winds it's often the hilly routes that are easier.  The way through Hertford was a novel one for many, taking in Hertford Castle gardens, the town centre and the back streets towards Ware.
Simone, Jean, Phil, Judy and Ronny at Cole Green
The cafe for elevenses (breakfast for some) was quieter than usual and a welcome chance to warm up the chilled extremities during our 30 minute stay. I had promised blue skies by mid morning and sure enough they appeared as we left the cafe and headed for the climb to Hunsdon.  This was the halfway point and it was now much easier with the wind behind us down to Wareside. But it wasn't quite so easy for me when my rear gear shifter let me down, most annoying as it had only lasted 14,000 miles, and I had to do the rest of the ride using the two chainring gears.

The ride through Cold Christmas was particularly pleasant and everyone was enjoying the ride, judging by the chatter behind me. We reached the pub in Wadesmill by 12:30, where Phil had to leave us. Fortunately, that left enough of a group to not only get the 2 for 1 meals, but also a £10 group discount, which gave us a really good lunch at amazing value.
A suitably spooky scene in Hooks Bushes near Tewin
The route back from here took us up to Chapmore End and across to Bramfield and Tewin, then into WGC, where Jean left us, before arriving back in Hatfield via NCN 61 after an enjoyable 40 mile circuit.

Jon 28/10/2018

21 October 2018

21 Oct 2018: Wheathampstead to Streatley

After last Sunday's deluge which saw Richard actually cycle to Hatfield and then be grateful that no-one else turned up, it was a superb forecast for today. The start found nine riders assembled in the sunshine before today's leader Steve H set off towards Ayot St Lawrence and Codicote. I noticed there was a "Road closed" sign on the road to Gustard Wood but didn't give it another thought at the time. We headed along Kimpton Road where Steve managed to miss the tiny lane by the mill, not once but twice! He blamed the unusually low strong sun..... We headed north along Three Houses Lane where the Clarkes joined us with miraculous timing as they had cycled from their home nearby.
The route via Preston, Little Almsloe and Willian took us to Dimples in good time where we enjoyed coffee overlooking the golf course - the name coming from the surface of a golf ball.
Track near Pirton
After coffee, Steve led us through Letchworth then along a mile section of track, the Icknield Way, to rejoin the road South of Pirton. I stopped to take this interesting photo that I shall think of over breakfast although we can't afford branded cereals.

After a now blustery route via Sharpenhoe Clappers we reached the excellent Chequers at Streatley where the riders who stayed indoors were colder than those who sat outside in the sun.  As we left quite early after lunch we got to Whitwell before 3pm so decided to head back for an early finish.

closed road!
At Gustard Wood there was an "access only" sign, which we ignored, and it was only down to some polite workmen allowing us to carry our bikes through a tiny gap where they were doing water-main works, that saved us having to go round a significant detour.

It was good to see 11 people out on a sunny autumn day. The route was about 48 miles.


18 October 2018

13 Oct 2018: St Albans to Markyate

After a torrential downpour and some debate our morning ride started, we welcomed 3 new riders and took to the streets. The route to coffee was a really familiar one for those of us who do Sunday rides, but for the Saturday morning group it was quite a new route. Most had not been through the Childwickbury estate.
We made our way over to Cupid Green Lane and then from there to Gaddesden Row. This involved some climbing but also some nice dips just to wiz up the other side. To coffee in Markyate it was a 15 mile ride, which was taken in a steady and pleasant manner.

Dug’s Mugs is a spacious cafe in an old car showroom with 1970’s d├ęcor (orange paint) and furniture, catering for petrol-heads as well as cyclists. The calorie-laden, hot cheese & tomato croissants were very tasty.  By the time we left Dug’s Mugs the sun had properly come out to do its duty and the journey back home was via Friendless Lane to Flamstead, then down a supposedly quiet lane to Redbourn. This was unusually busy due to cars avoiding the queues on the Redbourn bypass. Once we were at Redbourn we took the St Albans road down to Redbournbury and had a nice little detour past the mill, up the other side and out over to Ayres End.

River Ver at Redbournbury
We went through Sandridge and back up the back alleys to Fleetville. It was a lovely morning’s ride despite the wet start.

Neil 13/10/2018

7 October 2018

7 Oct 2018: St Albans to Hedgerley

Although it was a fine autumn day there were only five of us at the start in St Albans for our  planned excursion south of the M40. It always feels a long way to go to Hedgerley but in fact it's quite a bit nearer than many of our other destinations.
It was good to see two new people joining for their second Sunday ride in recent weeks. We headed along the usual lanes via Bedmond, Abbots Langley and Chandlers Cross before skirting round the edge of Chorleywood to reach Chalfont St Peter and the popular Madeira cafe. While cycling down the hill through the private-housing estate we noticed a road  called "Winkers Close". Later Googling uncovered that there is a rural nightclub nearby called "Winkers" which repeats the same spelling mistake.

At the cafe the owner made an effort to welcome us and showed us into the garden to park our bikes safely. After coffee the others had to get home, so only Steve and I carried on along the planned route to Hedgerley via Burnham Beeches.  We made a circuit through the car-free roads in the wood and enjoyed the autumn sunshine.

Burnham Beeches

The White Horse pub in Hedgerley remains a totally unspoiled example of an old country pub. Simple food and gravity-fed beer. Two rather faded plaques on the front show the pub won the "Wethered's flower competition" in 1985 and 1988. The current owners have maintained the tradition as the photo below shows.

White Horse flowers
After leaving the pub we made a direct route back to St Albans by crossing to the Colne valley and following the Ebury Way back via Rickmansworth and Watford arriving home by 4.30 after about 55 miles.