31 March 2019

31 Mar 2019: Wheathampstead to Biggleswade

After a week of nice warm sunny weather, winter returned with a bang on Sunday. So having five of us turn up at the start in Wheathampstead wasn’t too bad. Also it was nice to have Neil join us for his first Sunday ride for some time following an accident last year.

Our first stop was to be Dimples cafe set in a mini golf course in a Letchworth suburb. A reasonable distance so a fairly direct route was taken. Up the valley of the Mimram river to Kimpton Mill, then more back lanes skirting St Pauls Warden, avoiding Preston Hill to get to St. Ippollitts (lovely name), followed by Great Wymondley into Willian. This latter is now virtually a suburb of Letchworth and here we went on an off road cycle path into the  pleasant suburban streets in the south of Letchworth, where, with a bit of luck I actually located the cafe. After coffee and sustenance it was time to move on and Neil went back, as he didn’t want to over-do things.

Now the four of us were off to Biggleswade for lunch. The problem with getting there is that if you are in a car you can go straight up the A1. But on a bicycle you have to loop out miles to the east or west. We decided on east, but first had to get out of Letchworth.  I amazed myself by managing to navigate across the town and out through Norton on the north side of town without getting lost. Then east into the wide open spaces leading to Ashwell. This involved a steady climb up into an annoying and cold headwind. Just before Ashwell we turned west towards Hinxworth and, now we had the wind behind us, the cycling seemed amazingly fast and easy. After a few more easy miles and we were in Biggleswade. Finding the pub, “The Crown” was relatively easy and being a Wetherspoons, the food was quick, fast and cheap.

Coming back from Biggleswade we came down to the west of the A1 through Arlesey, this route is a bit boring but has the virtue of being flat. Then on and through Hitchin to the cyclist friendly haunt of “Emily’s Tearoom” in Whitwell. On from here we dispersed. When I got back to the start I made it about 55 miles in total but some of the others would have had quite a few more miles to do to get to their homes.                                                                                                   

24 March 2019

24 Mar 2019: Hatfield to Shepall

The Hatfield start and fine-weather forecast attracted a group of nine riders for the 9.15 departure form outside Asda. We took a south-east route via Welham Green, then via Newgate street to Bayford. After Brickendon we cut through the byway open to all traffic (BOAT) to Monks Green, before skirting Hertford through the old Balls Park estate which avoided any main roads. We passed Foxholes farm on the left, which is the source of the famous sausages served at the Chequers pub in Wareside. After cycling through the picturesque part of Hertford Heath we free-wheeled down to Ware for our coffee stop. Unfortunately the Esem Express planned café was closed - whether just for the day or permanently I don't know. We went into Café Frappe opposite and it turned out OK.

Jackie spotted Richard wandering past looking for us so the group became 10 for the onward ride towards the edge of Stevenage.

near Burnham Green 
Gareth got a puncture near Rabley Heath, so Jackie lead most of the group through Old Knebworth before taking the cycle path to Shephall Green where the Old Red Lion was busier than usual. Steve, Carol and Gareth arrived a few minutes later. Recycled photo below shows the bike-themed room we sat in.

bicycle trophies
After lunch the group took the usual way back via Codicote where the Hatfield group headed back via  Welwyn. I recorded the route back to St Albans so tweaked the route to be the way I imagined the group took to Hatfield.
An enjoyable day out with plenty of sunshine and not too cold,