27 October 2019

27 Oct 2019: St Albans to Northall

St Albans Start
The sun shone brightly in windless conditions on the 1st day after the clocks went back and everyone had an extra hour’s sleep, so surely there would be a heaving throng of cyclists at the War Memorial eager to get out on the road. But no, we were still well in single figures so why was this? Someone referred to the semi-final of the rugby world cup that morning, a game which provides a spectacle where hulking men place their heads against the thighs of other men and tightly clasp their buttocks. I prefer the elegance of the ladies’ game, particularly when it is played in the rain on a muddy pitch, but each to their own.

We headed north throughSandridge and Peters Green before making the descent to cross the Lower Luton Road by the East Hyde sewage works. We then climbed up through Kinsbourne Green and negotiated some flooded roads before arriving at Pepperstock. Harper’s cafe and farm shop (formerly the Half-Moon pub) was unusually deserted although a group of cyclists was just leaving as we arrived. Was the rugby still on? However, it meant that service was quick and we were soon on our way though Markyate before taking the road towards Whipsnade,  then descending to skirt Dunstable, passing through Totternhoe and arrived at the hamlet of Northall at 12:30. There were only a few cars in the car-park and we were astounded to be told that all tables had been booked and that we would have to sit outside.
Banished to the car-park
Fortunately this was not a problem for us due to the extremely bright sun and a dry day, but otherwise it would have been.
After a sandwich lunch we followed the most direct route back through via Dagnall, up to Studham crossroads and down Gaddesdon Row.

As we approached Dagnall we could see the chalk White Lion below Whipsnade needed a good wash as it was hardly visible. At Redbourn we put our lights on as we encountered some heavy traffic heading south down the A5183 making the last 3 miles rather unpleasant, accentuated by the sun being low in the sky behind the trees of Prae Wood making it seem quite dark. We arrived back in St Albans at about 3:45.

words Steve B

Map below showing ride-length of about 48miles

20 October 2019

20 Oct 2019: Hatfield to Great Hormead

Six of us set off from ASDA car-park on a very bright but cold morning. Taking a familiar route past the QE2 hospital and the cycle path to the Old Coach Road (formerly A414) we turned north at Cole Green to brave the hazard of crossing the new A414 and headed towards Bramfield. At a road junction we encountered a group of about 12 stationary cyclists, one of them sitting on the verge with his head in his hands. We learned that he had hit his head but asserted he was “all right”. Hmm; he didn’t look very happy. The group were from Whetstone where they meet outside Boots every Sunday at 8:30. Continuing through Bramfield we did a mile along the main A119 at Stapleford to enter Watton (unusually for us) from the south. We then took the track to Whempstead and the usual route through Dane End, noticing a cyclist from the distant past wearing the yellow-&-green Herts CTC jersey, and making the ascent to White Hill Golf club. Here we were joined by Steve & Jackie and later by Gary who had made his own route from Hatfield having been late arriving there. By now it had clouded over, and 3 of the riders decided to turn back, as did two more later at Westmill. Narrowly avoiding two Roe deer which leaped across the road, we rode through Buntingford & Anstey before turning south along a very minor road signed only as “Flint Hill” arriving at Great Hormead at about 1 pm.
We saw two like this
The pub was surprisingly quiet and had a log fire so the remaining 4 riders gravitated to the coolest spot, a circular table conveniently located by the toilets. Thick-cut sandwiches came quickly and we were soon on our way again admiring the autumn foliage.
near Great Hormead
We headed east to Cottered and then turned south through Walkern to Bragbury End then used the road past the crematorium near Knebworth, noting that the entrance now appeared to have a modern sculpture but which on closer inspection were numerous  dumped grey cushions. Saying goodbye to 2 riders at Old Knebworth the remaining two continued south through Codicote, pausing briefly here for a coffee & banana before reaching St Albans at about 4.30pm.

58 miles from Hatfield back to St Albans.


13 October 2019

13 Oct 2019: Wheathampstead to Lower Stondon

Five of us us assembled outside Wheathampstead car-park observing a succession of hikers and dog walkers trying the locked door of the public conveniences, which according to the nearby notice should have been open on a Sunday morning for those in need. After the comment that there was still plenty of foliage on bushes we set off up the long steep hill to Gustard Wood. It was impressive that Gary, who today was riding a 1970s’ Falcon with two large chain-rings and a tiny 5-speed block kept up with us during the ascent. At Claggy Croft, just outside Kimpton, we turned towards Breachwood Green, negotiating an extremely large flood, a consequence of the amount of recent weather. It was then through Lilley and the descent to Hexton.

After the hill to Higham Gobion we stopped for a rest and I took the photo showing the beautiful autumn foliage.
Autumn colour at Higham Gobion
Remarkably it didn't rain until we were enjoying good quality sausage and bacon baps for breakfast at the golf club in Lower Stonden. After the break we decided to cut and run back home and we had to cycle for about one hour in the rain into a driving headwind as we came home via Hitchin. We cycled through many flooded areas on the roads, but none so big as the one at the top of the hill between Codicote and Wheathampstead. Ronny took the photos below.

This shows the size of the flood!
Carol and Gary riding through big flood!

38 miles in total, map below,

map here

6 October 2019

06 Oct 2019: St Albans to Amersham

Despite the dire weather forecast, it didn’t rain during the Sunday ride, but there were only three of us.
The ascent from Belsize to Chipperfield.
The other two riders wanted only to go to elevenses and back so that’s what we did. A notable feature of the ride, apart from the lack of rain, was that the cafe in Amersham was unusually crowded; this may not be totally unrelated to the fact that the tables were being served by two attractive young girls.

We returned to St Albans at 1 pm to find the market place occupied by a vegan market.

Steve 06/10/2019