29 December 2019

29 Dec 2019: Hatfield to Potters Bar

We arrived at Poppins café in Hatfield just before 10am and were grateful to see it was actually open as sometimes they are a bit late unrolling the shutters at Christmas time. By the time it got to the 10.30 departure time there was a pleasing attendance of ten people including new rider Ellie from St Albans. It was a challenge to devise a route to Potters Bar that would use roads different from the usual meander round the lanes of Broxbourne Woods, however we did achieve this by setting off in the St Albans direction along the Alban Way. We skirted Highfield Park before a short off-road and slightly muddy section took us over to Milehouse Lane. We rode through the back of Napsbury Park before heading along the main road up the hill to Shenley. In Ridge we stopped to admire the World War II pillbox before using the horse-bridge to cross the busy A1(M) road. From Barnet we passed through the pretty Hadley Common, then took NCR 12 north to The Admiral Byng pub in Potters Bar where Jon and Judy were already wolfing down lunch.
Admiral Byng 
Afterwards, Peter and Sue made direct tracks home, while the rest of us headed north through Little Heath and Water End before taking the direct route back to St Albans via Colney Heath. The afternoon's cultural highlight was passing one of the Victorian Coal posts in Little Heath of which I took a photo, remarkably the same one this article shows. You might have seen many of these while cycling round south Herts and wondered what they were!
Little Heath coal post
As only Steve H went back to the start in Hatfield I've shown the map below finishing on the Alban Way.


22 December 2019

22 Dec 2019: St Albans to Chesham

The cold dark damp morning on the winter solstice brought out only five riders into the Waterend Barn, including Talia from Barnet Cyclists and Philip from our midweek riders. Observing yet another Christmas Market on St Peter’s Street we set off towards Redbourn, noticing the volume of traffic, which was probably due to the later-than-usual start time. We knew that floods might be a problem due to the recent heavy rainfall and we encountered the first on the Redbourn Road, Turning off along Hogg End Lane as the sun came out, we paused near its end to take a picture of a fly-tip, and cut through Cupid Green and Piccott’s End. and then along the B440 Leighton Buzzard Road and encountering a flood extending over half the left side of the carriageway at the appropriately named Water End. We then turned off for Berkhamsted and crossed the old A41 at the traffic lights in the town centre. Enduring the subsequent long climb out of the town we turned north west to visit the entrance to Champneys before heading south to follow a continuous 5-mile descent into Chesham unfortunately directly into the midday sun. While Philip popped into Sainsbury’s to buy a sandwich, we chatted to a venerable cyclist who was fascinated by his parked chrome-plated 1970’s bike. Then, all suitably equipped with rations, we headed to the  south end of Chesham and the Pheasant pub, which encourages patrons to bring their own picnics.
Pheasant decorations
A by-product of this policy is that the inside of the pub is immaculate. We deposited ourselves by a large round table and consumed our lunches with drinks from the bar before departing at 1.30.  We then took the usual route back via Flaunden where the green-dragon figure-head no longer peers over the hedge at the top of the hill as the pub is currently closed (but rumoured to be re-opening after some building works). We then returned via Ruckler’s Lane and the Hemel Hempstead Road arriving home well before 3pm in broad daylight.

Steve B

15 December 2019

15 Dec 2019: Panshanger to WGC Christmas lunch

Remarkably it was a bright sunny December morning with no frost or ice when we met at the View café at Panshanger Golf Club at 10am for coffee before departing for a morning ride at 10.30. We were a few minutes late leaving as we didn't realise Ronny and Gary were waiting outside in the sunshine while we were indoors finishing our coffees. We set off along the main road towards Hertford before turning north to Tewin then cycled through Bramfield and Stapleford to reach Watton-at-Stone. After heading north to Aston we looped back up the hill from Bragbury End where we had a map stop.
Blue skies all morning
A route along muddy lanes to Datchworth then took us down Queen Hoo Lane back to Tewin where some people rebelled by ignoring the planned short-cut through Tewin Bury farm then up the old lane to the golf club. We reached the pub at 12.35 so were well placed for prompt service at 1pm. It was good to see Neil, Jon, Judy and Craig joining us for lunch.

Attimore Hall Christmas lunch
After a rather slow lunch we all got away by 3pm to cycle home before the dark descended. The morning ride was about 20 miles. Happy Christmas everybody!


8 December 2019

08 Dec 2019: Hatfield to Hoddesdon

Although it was a rather dull and damp day forecast we were pleasantly surprised to see 11 people turn up to the start at Poppins' café in Hatfield for the 10.30 departure. Jon and Judy decided to make their own way to Hoddesdon and see us at the pub, so nine of us left using the usual route up Woods Avenue before heading to Welham Green on the cycle path behind the Industrial Estate. If only Lord Salisbury would allow cycling along the direct tarmac path from Hatfield Station to Woodside!

Steve B had a puncture at the beginning of the path where we also noted we had lost Phil B ( sorry Phil, but I thought you were following us up the hill when we turned off the roundabout). We decided to carry on and leave Steve to fix the puncture and we shortened our route slightly, going via Wild Hill, Essendon and Letty Green before using the tiny road via East End Green to Hertingfordbury. At the bottom of St Mary's Lane the road to Bayford had a police sign closing the access, so we diverted via Brickendon and then took the usual route to The Star arriving at 12.15. Jon, Judy and Steve B were there before us and we managed to find somewhere to sit down. After quick refreshments (disappointing for some, the pub had a problem meaning no cask ales were available) we left again at 1.15 and rode back via White Stubbs lane; near Woodside someone had made an effort with Christmas decorations.
Colourful characters

In Hatfield, Steve B was presented with the Hargreaves trophy in the car-park in a rather low-key ceremony. Not exactly a red-carpet occasion! Nonetheless a magnificent achievement after 35 years with the club. Look out for his name in the New Year's honours list. 
Hargreaves hand-over
We did about a 40-mile round trip and managed to avoid the forecast rain.


1 December 2019

01 Dec 2019: St Albans to Croxley Green

Christmas scooters
On Sunday we were lucky with the clouds. While Saturday morning was frosty, the cloud cover during Saturday night kept the temperatures above 0°C and we didn't need to face the danger of ice on the small country lanes. After breakfast in the Waterend Barn (alongside many Santas assembling for their fun run) we set out towards west. The later start time that we have in winter meant also increased traffic on the main roads, however soon the country lanes provided us with joyful cycling. The sun came through the clouds and the hills out of the Ver valley and the Gate valley warmed us up. The right turn in Chipperfield came earlier than I thought, and so I let all my fellow cyclists stop and then start again while going uphill. In Belsize we took Plough lane and followed the valley downhill, for me this bit was the nicest landscape of the Sunday trip. We then continued into Croxley Green, where I missed the pub on the first time past. However, thanks to experienced fellow riders, we found the planned pub and enjoyed our food.

Scooter club flag

The Croxley Rebels, a local scooter club arrived at the pub later and allowed some chatting from biker to bicycler. They had been on a charity ride raising money for Stoke Mandeville hospital.
The headless puncture mender!

Our departure from the pub got delayed due to Eammon's puncture. Once this was fixed and we were on our way, another puncture ( Steve B) caused another pause just 300 metres later. We continued to the Ebury Way and then followed it into Watford, from where we continued on the Colne Valley Cycle Route. The weather started to cloud over with thicker clouds and before reaching St Albans a few drops fell. After 50km we were back at the starting point at 15:00.

Route below, Ronny