20 September 2020

20 Sept 2020: St Albans to Jordans and Chesham

It was forecast to be the last sunny warm Sunday for the foreseeable future, so we decided to have an early start and get back home before the heat of the afternoon. As I write this nearly a week later wearing more clothes than I can remember, now with the central heating on it seems a lifetime ago!

Gary, Steve H and Ronny joined us at the Blacksmith's Arms and we left St Albans along the Ragged Hall Lane and Serge Hill route to Bedmond before heading south west through Chandler's Cross to Chorleywood and The Swillet. As the weather was dry, we followed a bridleway downhill along Old Shire Lane to the back of Newland Park, before climbing again to near Horn Hill. This cut out a long detour around the road, but was a bit scary going downhill on a path that was much stonier and rougher than I remembered. We went through Chalfont St Peter (taking a time-out to use the public toilets which are impressively open 24 hours a day except for Christmas Day) before using Welders Lane to get to Jordans village shop. Unfortunately their coffee machine was out of order, so we had to have cold drinks with our snacks, which we ate on the village green. The shop has been there since the 1920's when the village was built by the Quaker movement.

Jordans village store
After our morning break we retraced our steps and paused to look at the Quaker Burial ground next to the Jordans Quaker meeting house where William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, is buried. We next passed the millionaire's (or maybe billionaire's these days) mansions of Seer Green and the edge of Beaconsfield before travelling along Penn Bottom, then through Holmer Green and Little Missenden before dropping down to Chesham to have picnic lunch in the garden of The Pheasant pub. We sat by the river in the sunshine for a while before making a direct route back via Flaunden (where the newly re-opened Green Dragon was doing a roaring trade) and Chipperfield, getting home at about 2.45 after 53 miles.


16 August 2020

16 Aug 2020: St Albans to Datchworth

 Meeting mid-morning by the War Memorial, St Albans, a stalwart group of five of us decided to dodge the thunder and regular heavy downpours and head off towards Benington. 

The road to Codicote was flooded in places, but not in the spot in the woods, which is usually badly flooded after rain - they must have done something. We passed the picturesque mill on the River Mimram and then through Codicote, Nup End and Rabley Heath. The weather continued to look threatening, and here Eamon & Gary, like two of the Bisto kids, felt the tug of coffee at Spokes, just down the nearby lane. 

Water cress at Kimpton Mill
Water cress at Kimpton Mill

The rest of us carried on for a bit, but at Datchworth we decided it was time to head for home. Sue went on her long trek back to north London, while Ronny and I had a pleasant sandwich in Tewin churchyard. It wasn't a very long ride, around 36 miles for me, but well worth the effort. 

Richard 16/08/2020

9 August 2020

9 Aug 2020: St Albans to Letchworth

As it was a very hot weather forecast for Sunday we decided to do an early ride from St Albans setting off at 9 o'clock so we could get home before the heat of the afternoon. Steve H bravely rode up from Harrow to join us at the start outside the Blacksmiths Arms. We headed north past Sandridge then through Mackerye End before going through Preston towards Gosmore. We travelled  along the unusually named "Half Handkerchief Lane" before passing through St Ibbs (yes there really is a place called St Ibbs) and Titmore Green to reach the Par 3 Golf club cafe at about 11 am.We sat in the shade at an outdoor table where it felt quite cool, a good choice for a hot day.

Shady golf course

Afterwards we took a direct route back, via Crouch Green and Kimpton Mill reaching St Albans at about 1.30. Steve H joined us for a cold drink in our garden before setting off back to Harrow.

41 miles was quite enough on a hot day,



2 August 2020

2 Aug 2020: St Albans to Eaton Bray

Four people turned up for the start at 10.30 in St Albans at the usual spot outside the Blacksmith's Arms. It was good to see Peter out and about again after a 6-month absence during the lockdown. Ronny said we were expecting Gary to join us, so after phoning him and waiting until 10.35 we set off. My phone rang on Sandridge Road and it was Gary! We had a bizarre conversation whereby he asked me where we were as he was at the War Memorial on time at 10:30. When Gary subsequently joined us on Sandridge Road it turned out his watch was slow, hence the confusion. Even though  hadn't been cycling recently he kept up well as we headed out over Nomansland Common before passing through Harpenden and Pepperstock to reach Markyate. We climbed the easy way to Dunstable Downs, where Ronny and Gary left us to return home, then had a glorious downhill all the way to Totternhoe before a stop in Eaton Bray for our picnic on a green under a shady tree.
Shady spot for our picnic
We took a fairly direct route back through Edlesborough, with good view of the White Lion from the road near Dagnall,
Whipsnade White Lion

then climbing up to Studham and taking the long descent along Gaddesdon Row (passing the new cyclists' cafe at Jockey End) down to Redbourn and along the A5183 back to St Albans.

43 miles on a hot day

19 July 2020

19 July 2020: St Albans to Ley Hill

Three fearless cyclists set out after a rainy early morning on another ride limited to a maximum of 6 booked riders. However, by the time we met at the War Memorial in St Albans the rain had passed. Our destination was Ley Hill and we started heading south using the route through Serge Hill, Bedmond, and Abbots Langley. I followed Old House Lane and found the views around it quite nice (after the M25 crossing). My curiosity as to why I hadn’t come along it during other group rides was answered by the steep downhill and uphill part in the middle. A bit further on, the wind at our backs helped us to follow the small valley along Bottom Lane (and other named lanes) through Belsize and Flaunden. Another valley had to be crossed to get to Ley Hill and I decided Flaunden Bottom, as I couldn’t remember going along Ashridge Lane before. While it was nice to go down the hill by the Green Dragon, the uphill made our lunch well deserved.

We all brought our picnics with us and found some nice benches on the green. Three benches close to each other, but well spaced for social distancing, were ideal, as the grass was still very wet.

After the break we continued heading north through Whelpley Hill, where the sign for the Coronation Hall caught my eye.
Corona - Nation Hall?
From there I thought it would be a nice downhill into Berkhamsted. However, geography didn’t follow my imagination and hence we had another valley to cross before reaching the upper parts of Berkhamsted. From there we followed the usual route along the railway to Hemel Hempstead and Bunkers Lane. With traffic back to pre-lockdown levels, I didn’t stay on the main road for long, but used the diversion through Potters Crouch. Around St Michael's Church in St Albans our paths diverged for our individual ways back home.


12 July 2020

12 July 2020:St Albans to Asheridge with an "e"!

Desperate to escape the blanket coverage in the news of a footballer apparently called Charlton (I thought that was the name of a club), three of us met at St Albans war-memorial. Dodging the heavy traffic apparently caused by the monthly junk market on St Peters Street, we set off via Bedmond and Rucklers Lane, passing Roger and Judith of the 40+ cycling club ( and Wednesday group of Souuth Herts Cyclists) returning from Chipperfield, and unexpectedly picking up Simon of Edgware CTC near Bulstrode. He rode with us all the way to Ashley Green and left us for Berkhamsted whereas we rode on towards the illustriously named Brazier's End, briefly sighting Tony B of the Chiltern Society cycling group on the way.  Making the final ascent to Asheridge at about 12:45, we were surprised to see how quiet the Blue Ball was, as it had previously been very popular with walkers and cyclists. A sign near the entrance announced no dogs, no ball games and no cycling. The implication of this appeared to be no customers! We ordered drinks and ate our picnic sandwiches on the seats on the small green opposite the pub.

First pint outside the Blue Ball
While we consumed our wares,  another group of four cyclists arrived and also ordered beers which they also drank on the green. A woman from a passing car then approached us to ask where the National Trust car-park was. Carol patiently explained that she was at Asheridge but needed to be at Ashridge, near Aldbury, and offered to show her an OS map. The woman declined, saying she couldn't read maps, (the consequences of which were all too evident) and she drove off, not doubt again putting her faith into a SatNav. No-one else arrived at the pub by the time we set  off at 1:30 for Chesham and we wiggled our way back through Flaunden.
Green Dragon new sign
We knew from a few weeks ago that the Green Dragon, former drinking haunt of Joachim von Ribbentrop and Guy Burgess, had restored its iconic wooden figure-head in the back garden and now had a new pub sign as well. Its refurbishment looked almost complete and we hoped it would soon be opening. Passing through Belsize, we noted that the garden of the Plough looked very busy, showing that some pubs had a winning formula. After saying goodbye to Steve H as he headed for Harrow, we passed through Chiswell Green to look at the new bike shop on the site of the old Maserati showroom.
Cycle shop in Chiswell Green

It was closed, of course, and the business had been transferred from CTH cycles in Bricket Wood. We arrived back in St Albans at about 3:30.

We did a round trip of just over 42 miles.

Words from Steve, technical stuff from Carol!

5 July 2020

05 Jul 2020: Hatfield to Allens Green

There was was a a very strong west wind as five of  us set off from outside Hatfield ASDA on an otherwise bright day. The pubs could now be open, but as we passed through Little Berkhamsted we noticed that the 5 Horseshoes was shut until Monday and at Epping Green the Beehive was evidently still undergoing a refurbishment. We continued at speed, aided by the wind, through Hoddesdon and the architectural splendour of the edge of Harlow heading for the little village of Allens Green. Ronny left us here as he had to be home early,  and Carol timed our arrival at exactly 1 pm as that was when the Queen's Head opened.
Queens Head garden
Queen's Head garden

We took a shaded round table in the garden, ordered beers from a counter set up outside the pub, and ate the sandwiches we had brought with us (as the pub was not serving food) and felt very smug as we noticed over 25 other cyclists subsequently arrived and had to queue for some time to order drinks. 
Queue at the Queen's Head
Queue at the Queen's Head
Although they didn't all arrive together, they seemed to be mainly from Bishops Stortford road-cycling club.

Barwick ford sign
Sign by Barwick Ford

On the way home, we passed through Barwick Ford, noticing the sign above and surmising that there was either a missing word or Herts County Council (who are responsible for education in Hertfordshire) had been employing greengrocers for signage design.

Stonyhills Road
Stonyhills Road sign

We continued through Colliers End and took the bridleway through Sacombe Park, emerging to easily cross the usually busy A602. We had noticed that the bridleway was peppered with Cyclists' Diversion 
signs, which puzzled us, and as we reached the next junction on the road to Stonyhills we looked back and saw the above sign. Again it used doubtful grammar, but indicated that work was now underway on the A602 improvement scheme, which should result in a new cyclepath under the A602 here, obviating the need to use either the bridleway or perform a right turn from the A602 into Sacombe Pound (the road to Dane End).

Jon peeled off at WGC and we then passed the QEII hospital at 4:30 where a huge crowd had assembled   outside (for the 72nd anniversary of  NHS) and a Spitfire flew overhead, however there was very little evidence of social distancing here.   Richard peeled off after exiting Hatfield Airfield and we arrived home rather tired having battled against the headwind all the way home at 5:15. Route below - we did about 61miles today as a round trip from St Albans

Carol & Steve

28 June 2020

28 June 2020: St Albans to Hitchin

Jon arrived at the War Memorial breathless with excitement. He had just come over the longabout where there were roadworks in evidence; was this the start of the installation of the long-awaited traffic lights to assist all road users heading north from Colney Heath? (Alas, we later subsequently discovered that these were drainage works!) Five of us set off along the Harpenden Road, scorning the cycle-path alongside as being too bumpy and too narrow. Through the edge of Southdown and down Leasey Bridge Lane, we ascended to  Blackmore End and met (by arrangement) Steve and Jackie coming up from Kimpton. Although we were now over the critical mass, we continued almost together with Steve trailing off the back, through Bendish, passing another group of seven cyclists manifestly breaching lockdown rules. After giving them a severe ticking off we took the route through  Ley Green where we spotted the West Herts Section of  Cycling UK heading towards us. We carried on downhill via Charlton, taking the quiet route into Hitchin Market Square. Here we saw a group of 25 vintage-scooters accompanied by riders of commensurate age. We had earlier seen them in a convoy near Ley Green.

Scooters in Market Place
After unsuccessfully attempting to open the door of the public toilets north of the marketplace, we went to the ones in the open-air market place where we were impressed the facilities were not only open, but were being cleaned after every person used them. Well done Hitchin! 
We all took our picnic lunches in the grounds of St Mary's church among the gravestones

St Mary's churchyard

Ronny left early to make his own way back to St Albans. This turned out to be a wise decision as the rest of us got caught in a downpour near Old Knebworth just a few minutes after Steve and Jackie peeled off. I think they would have made it home in the dry. An enjoyable day out in mainly dry weather - if a bit windy.


21 June 2020

21 Jun 2020: St Albans to Chesham

The longest day saw some rain forecast for the first part of the morning so there were only three of us at the start, Steve, Ronny and me. I'd planned a wiggly route to avoid getting to Chesham too early for our picnic lunch. We took a meandering route via Rucklers Lane then along the rarely used Middle Lane to Bovingdon Green, before using the Whelpley Hill loop where we saw a bright-blue flax field to which my photo does not do justice.

Flax field near Whelpley Hill
Flax field near Whelpley Hill
After passing Peter Southworth of West Herts Cycling UK club, we then headed through Ashley Green out almost to Hawridge, and then enjoyed the long descent to Chesham. After a toilet stop we picnicked in the park just as the sun disappeared and the wind got up. In fact we didn't have any rain all day and enjoyed a tail wind on the way home.
Green Dragon
Green Dragon is home!
Climbing up the hill from Latimer to Flaunden we were delighted to be greeted by the familiar Green Dragon figure-head after an absence of many months. However it was evident the refurbishment  of the pub was not yet quite complete.
Shortly after passing through Belsize, Steve discovered that he could get only two gears as his rear changer would not move. However, by manually setting the chain onto the middle sprocket, he managed to get home to St Albans. We took the least hilly route back so abandoned the planned route. The problem was subsequently found be not a broken gear cable or derailleur spring but excessive friction in the cable housing inside the frame & solved with some oil.

We completed about 42 miles and were home shortly after 3.30.

14 June 2020

14 Jun 2020: St Albans to Dunstable

Today was the first time since March that Steve and I rode (suitably distanced) with other people. I'd planned a route of just over 20 miles to the park in Dunstable using back lanes, then the new cycle path from Caddington into Dunstable, the whole of which was off road on tarmac. Sue, Richard and Jon joined us in St Albans and we set off through Sandridge and across Nomansland Common to Southdown, then up to Kinsbourne Green. The sun shone and it was a glorious day to be outside. Others agreed, as we saw the most model-aeroplane fliers I've ever seen on their little airfield up behind Markyate. We passed Harpers at Pepperstock who were doing a roaring trade at their outside tables, before passing through Slip End and seeing the empty long-term car park for Luton airport. In the park we hastily ate our sandwiches in the shade of the bandstand before trying to find an open public lavatory. No luck, so we all held on until after a circuit of Totternhoe and Eaton Bray we found a suitable hedge, just before crossing the main road between Dunstable and Tring to start the ascent to Dagnall and Studham.

Bottom of Bison Hill
Jon's electric-bike battery held up well and he showed off its power-assist by shooting past me on the hill up to Studham. 

Near Studham
We carried on along Gaddesden Row then cut back into the edge of Hemel Hempstead and crossed the main road on Breakspear Way where we  were disappointed to see the the recent road works had only inserted two dropped kerbs and there was no more sign of the proposed push-button crossing to help pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road. After Westwick Row, Richard carried on along the main road home while Steve and I went to Potters Crouch where we said goodbye to Jon and Sue. We did about 52 miles  and Jon let me know later he'd done over 70 miles on his round trip. The power of electricity, and in Sue's case - legs! Next week I'll make sure I plan a route where I know there will be an open public-toilet. We found one in Chesham and another in Wendover this week. Both were very clean and respectable. 

Great to ride with other people again and have a chat,


8 May 2020

8 May 2020: VE Day ride to Buntingford

Unusual Coronavirus conditions found Steve and me cycling out alone on a glorious day last Friday.
We initially cycled east to Hertford via Essendon.
Would you believe Essendon?
Hertingfordbury had also made an effort with their decorations.
We carried on via the roads to Ware where we'd heard Simmons had opened up some of their shops again. I queued up for coffee and cake, and as you can see it was a popular place. I'm about sixth in the queue in the photo next to the red arrow.
Queuing in Ware
As we'd bought coffee in a take-away cup we were pleased to find a seat at the back of Barclay's car park opposite, near the river, just a short wheel away.
Rickety seat
We left Ware using Poles Lane bridleway and road behind Hanbury Manor hotel to get to Thundridge, then used the bridleway though Youngsbury from Wadesmill to High Cross which is all tarmac road apart from the first 50 yards or so; glorious parkland to meander through. Just before Puckeridge, on the cycle route to avoid the A10/A120 roundabout, we found several slag-heap sized piles of chippings ready for Herts Highways to spread on the roads.
There were several piles like this!
Taking advantage of the lack of traffic we ventured north of Puckeridge north alongside the A10 to turn left to Westmill near Hamels Park golf club. In fact we could ride on a pavement all the way to the junction and there was a refuge to cross the A10 so we could use this route in busier times too. We saw a huge queue at Pearce's farm shop even though the cafe is currently closed. Our destination for picnic lunch was a church on the edge of Buntingford and Steve rode into the churchyard of Layston church looking for a seat before a passer-by told me it was a private residence now. It had been a ruin and was recently renovated at great expense. The "journal" pages of the link above show the most interesting pictures.
Private residence now
We found a seat in the adjacent still-used graveyard and when we left we were delighted to see lots of Alpacas some of whom had had a lockdown haircut. The owner of Herts Alpacas said he had about 100 and bred them for export to Europe
See the clipper markings!
We took a route back via Throcking, Cromer, Walkern, Bragbury End and had a banana stop in Datchworth, passing many VE Day parties on the driveways and pavements en-route. We got back home at about 5pm and joined several neighbours sitting 2m apart on the road in our quiet cul-de-sac for our VE Day celebrations.
Map below of our route - about 58 miles.

Carol B

5 May 2020

Exploring Panshanger Park

Panshanger Park is being transformed into a retreat for wildlife and people now that Tarmac have finished extracting tons of gravel from this 1000 acre site to the west of Hertford. It's somewhere I've bypassed many times but never been in. So, thanks to a tip from Adam of WelHat Cycling, I decided to explore some of the bridleways and a new cycleway in the park. 

Thanks are due to the Friends of Panshanger Park for working on these new routes.

West-East Route

The main cycleable route runs right across the park, between Panshanger Lane and Thieves Lane. Download PDF map.

Entrance to West-East bridleway off Panshanger Lane
A short length of new bridleway leads from Panshanger Lane down an easy slope through woodland. This is still quite new and not fully consolidated, but quite rideable.

15 March 2020

15 Mar 2020: Wheathampstead to Wadesmill

Who would have known this was to be the final formal South Herts ride for the foreseeable future! Coronavirus spreading has now enforced the end of our official Sunday rides.

Anyway five stalwarts turned up for the start in Wheathampstead, and we headed on a fairly direct route north through Ayot St Lawrence, Whitwell and Willian before reaching Dimples cafe at the small golf club on the edge of Letchworth. The seating had been replaced with some rather stylish fifties-style chairs and somehow the conversation turned away from the usual chain rings and sprockets to soft furnishings. I remarked we were getting some new curtains made and suddenly Steve H astounded us with tales of his own haberdashery efforts to make his own! I questioned the quality of the result and you can see below the comparison of John Lewis' pinch pleats vs Steve H's "pencil" pleats achieved with rufflette tape. I must admit I'd describe Steve's as a panel when the curtain is closed, certainly not the minimum two and a half widths of fabric!
John Lewis left, Steve H right
After coffee we headed east through Weston then south via Walkern (where we saw Richard out alone for a short ride heading north) to Benington where we stopped to admire the spring daffodils.
Benington daffodils
It didn't take long to get to the Anchor pub via Whempstead then after a stiff climb up to Sacombe we descended to Wadesmill. Ronny had peeled off near Dane End as he needed to get home early. A wise move as after lunch Katy had a puncture in the pub garden which meant by the time we left the rain had started. We ended up taking the most direct route back to St Albans via Hertford and Steve H left us at Stony Hills to take a more northerly route back to Wheathampstead. I got noticed soft tyre near WGC but Steve pumped it up and it lasted till we arrived home.
Thanks to Steve H for a good route and let's hope we can keep in touch over the next few months and all keep healthy.

We did just under 60 miles door to door - route below

8 March 2020

08 Mar 2020: Hatfield to Old Stevenage (not Streatley)

At last there was a reasonable weather forecast for a Sunday ride - it was warmer than it had been recently and only light rain showers were predicted in the afternoon. Steve and I cycled over to the Hatfield start along the Alban Way. We picked up new rider Katie in Fleetville and guided her to the start location in the Asda car park. There was a person in the cycle shelter at the car park but I didn't think he would join us as he was flat out, sleeping on some trollies and didn't appear to have a bicycle.
Spot the rough sleeper!
Six of us set off on the planned route, while Jon and Judy took a more direct way to join us at the coffee stop in Hitchin. All went well until Katie had a puncture in Ayot Green which was quickly dealt with by Steve. After this we carried on through the country lanes via Kimpton Mill,
Ronny's photo near Kimpton Mill
until we came across a group of cyclists contemplating a significant flood in a lane in Shilley Green. It included a pair of Chiltern Society riders we know out doing a reconnoitre of a planned ride for April. All agreed the flood was too deep to risk going through, so we diverted to the main B656 Codicote-to-Hitchin road where we passed the CS riders and followed the fairly flat route to the café where we found Jon alongside Steve and Jackie who had ridden there directly. Judy subsequently joined us among the fairly crowded tables.

After good coffee and very reasonably priced food, and as we were running late, we abandoned the scheduled destination of Streatley and took a re-planned route to Old Stevenage via Baldock, Clothall and Weston. I got a puncture climbing up to Clothall,
Dressed for puncture repair
so while Steve again fixed it, we told the others to go on and we caught up with them at the Standing Order (formerly a bank) after passing the childhood home of the novelist E.M. Forster. It's called the Rook's Nest
and the house in the novel Howard's End is based on it. I found this link to the EM Forster country website which describes a campaign to prevent the land north of Stevenage being developed and gives history of his links to the area.

After lunch we waited for a heavy rain shower to almost finish before making bee-lines to our various homes. It was about a 53-mile round trip for the St Albans' riders on a largely quiet Spring day.


23 February 2020

23 Feb 2020: Hatfield to Hatfield!

Well, after Ciara and Dennis we had a storm-free Sunday, but it seems all the regular riders wimped out today. Steve and I cycled to Poppins but no-one else turned up. Jackie and Steve Whatsapped to say they might join us at the planned lunch stop at the edge of Letchworth. This meant we would actually do the planned ride so we set off at 10:30 into the stiff south westerly breeze. Cycling along to cross the A1(M) we were nearly knocked off by the wind as we passed gaps between the houses, so as we reached the crossing we decided to abandon the ride and return home. Proof below.

As far as we got!
Afterwards we spent a while in the Galleria looking for a new windshell jacket for Steve before getting home and stripping a 30-year-old wallpaper border in the afternoon. Total 15 miles I think! Better luck next week I hope.

2 February 2020

02 Feb 2020: St Albans to Asheridge

Seven of us came out on a blustery day and, after a good breakfast, set off from St Albans to Asheridge, just outside Chesham.
A grey breezy day
The route went though some lovely lanes via Potters Crouch, Abbotts Langley, Belsize, Flaunden and Ley Hill, although, thanks to the heavy rain last night, we met with substantial puddles along the way!
National Air Traffic Control "mast"!
The big "golf ball' we saw was actually a relatively new Air Traffic Control "mast" built sometime after 2010 when the locals of Bovingdon objected to it. From Langleybury towards Flaunden the lanes were closed for a marathon event but the marshalls kindly let us through and we cheered the runners on as we made our way to our lunch stop at the Blue Ball and a good meal . It was a long climb up to Asheridge so we were pleased to head downhill on the way back and, with a tailwind, followed the river Chess via Waterside to Latimer and back to Flaunden, where we went our separate ways home. Thanks to everyone for coming and I look forward to another ride soon.

Note from Carol: Thanks to Talia for volunteering to lead a ride for the first time for our group and choosing an interesting route out and back. Also welcome to new rider Jules ( or is it Jools?) from Gaddesdon Row.
Route here, about 40 miles out and back from St Albans:

26 January 2020

26 Jan 2020: Hatfield to Hertford

The ride today was planned to go to Rye House near Hoddesdon, but events got in the way. Jon and Judy had coffee with us before returning home, so it was only Richard, Steve and I who set off to do the planned route of about 23.5 miles looping north-west first before skirting north of Welwyn Garden City to head for our destination in the Lea Valley. As there were only a few of us we took the opportunity to explore a bit and took a shortcut to Welwyn village through the new executive housing estate now called Wilshere Park, built on the site of the old stately home The Frythe. I knew this building when it was used as the research centre for the Smith, Kline and French pharmaceutical company before it eventually merged with Glaxo and moved the research centre to Harlow. The old house is now luxury apartments.
The Frythe,Welwyn
After Welwyn, we went through Oaklands, Bulls Green and Bramfield where I saw my first snowdrops of the year (I've been away if you were wondering......)
First snowdrops
We climbed out of the Beane valley then went to Wadesmill via Crouch End, then into Ware where we used a useful cut-through route avoiding the town centre. Unfortunately Steve had a puncture then afterwards noticed the tyre wasn't seated correctly so had to refit the tyre. As we lost a lot of time we re-routed to Hertford, and guess where? The Six Templars, of course, where we had cheap quick food before heading back through Hatfield on the usual route along the Old Coach Road, just getting home before the rain started. I did 45 miles in total so I think the route from coffee was about 35 miles.


19 January 2020

19 Jan 2020: St Albans to Woodside

We gathered in the Waterend Barn for a welcome pre-ride coffee (full breakfast for some) on one of the coldest mornings for ages. There had been a sharp overnight frost after days or was it weeks of rain. We set off wondering what the roads would be like - flooded, icy or both? Caution was definitely required. We noticed ice in some of the roadside puddles, but the lanes themselves seemed OK.
Flooding on Bridle Hall Lane near Wheathampstead

We passed through Wheathampstead.  A long stretch of the next lane to Ayot St Lawrence was underwater, but could have been deeper, I suppose. Then along the shaded lane towards Kimpton, I was suddenly aware that the surface was black ice with a film of melted water on top. A clatter from behind said that three of our party had fallen off. Thank goodness there was no serious harm to riders or bikes. We walked the rest of the lane and pondered whether to continue or not. We decided to go on, but stick to well-used roads.
Roads drying out in the sunshine
From Peters Green we took the route past Someries Castle then the cycle path through the fringes of Luton (recently identified as the UK's pollution capital). Managing to navigate through Stockwell Park we were soon in the very obliging and pleasant local - The Plough, Woodside. We'd seen flooding, ice and bright sun - all in a day's mid-winter cycling. After lunch it was a straightforward and incident free route back through Kinsbourne Green and Harpenden.

Richard 19/01/2020

12 January 2020

12 Jan 2020: Hatfield to Gt Offley

A fairly normal winter’s day, a bit drizzly early on and forecast to get drier later. There were just 6 of us at the start at Poppins cafe in Hatfield with an anticipated start time of 10.30. Unfortunately when I arrived Gary was already outside the cafe struggling with a puncture. To compound his problems he couldn’t get his pump to work and as he had Schrader (car type) valves none of our pumps would fit. He then tried taking the wheel to a nearby garage to inflate it but that didn’t work either. Unsurprisingly at this point he gave up saying he would get a lift home. As it was now later it gave me a good excuse to shorten my planned route to Great Offley.

Away we went to Ayot St. Peter where Jon and Judy, who had already cycled from Barnet turned back as they had planned.  Shortly after Jackie, who had come out for a short ride decided to turn off to her home in Knebworth. So now it was just Richard and myself, going on through Whitwell and then through the small country lanes to the “Red Lion” pub at Great Offley. This is a very popular pub and the landlord must be extremely pleased, as despite there being only two of us the place was so packed we couldn’t get in.

An alternative plan was hatched and we quickly got onto Lilley Bottom for a fast ride back to Whitwell and Emily’s, the cafe much frequented by cyclists, for a light lunch of beans on toast. From there it was an easy ride back to the start for me whilst Richard headed to St Albans. As to how far we travelled I have no idea as my new cycle computer decided to malfunction. However on a more positive note it was dry all day and not too cold and amazingly the wind seemed to be with us both on the way out and back which is a rare occurrence.

peteR 12/01/2020

8 January 2020

05 Jan 2020: St Albans to Lilley

On a slightly misty Sunday morning 14 cyclists headed out from the Waterend Barn. Two of us headed back home as they had already done 16 miles to meet us in Waterend Barn. The others set out north. Keeping an eye on 12 cyclists had its challenges, but once we were on the small country lanes this got easier. I chose a hilly start, going along Waterend Lane to Ayot Little Green. From there on it was a bit flatter, at least until we crossed the River Mimram at Kimpton Mill. Another hill had to be climbed before getting into Preston.

The road from Preston to Great Offley was new to me, and I found it quite enjoyable. Along this part we met quite a few other cyclists. Part of the joy might have also been connected to the weather, as here the roads had stayed dry. The drizzle varied a bit throughout the day. Here it was completely dry, but at other times the drizzle turned to rain and most of the time the roads were wet. This transformed the backs of our riders without mudguards into works of art.

The downhill bit from Great Offley to Lilley was slightly more difficult than expected. Not only were we hungry, but also a westerly wind was causing extra head wind. The Lilley Arms provided enough seating for our big group and after a lengthy ordering process we quickly got our food.

We left the pub at quarter to two, to reach St Albans before the dusk. Our group split into two shortly after lunch, one half wanted to take the expected less hilly way along Lilley Bottom, while the other half followed me passing by the east side of Luton airport. Checking my route-planning website, the latter group might have saved a few metres of ascent. I quite enjoyed the less usual route along the ridges and the view over Lilley Bottom. A few hills were unavoidable, with the longest one after crossing the River Lea going up Leasey Bridge Lane. Around there I got a slow puncture, but gratefully with just two extra pumping ups we managed to continue back to St Albans, where we arrived 15:30, well before sunset.

Ronny 05/02/2020