Wednesday, 25 July 2018

25 Jul 2018: Old Welwyn

At 25ÂșC it was the hottest evening of the year; supporting evidence came from the first appearance of Mike’s bare legs which simultaneously & disappointingly scotched the rumours of embarrassing tattoos (doubtless spread by riders jealous of his current lead in the MERA competition.) We headed north, through Marshalswick and Woodcock Hill. Touching briefly Coopers Green Lane we turned left along the narrow lane through the idyllic shade of Symondshyde Wood where it occurred to all of us that this was the ideal location for a new Garden Village if only the Enemies of Progress could be overcome. The drought had caused some leaves to fall already, partially covering the abandoned mattresses, sofas and fridges, giving an almost autumnal ambience. Turning towards Coleman Green we picked up Graham swelling our number to double figures; such is his dedication to office work he had been unable to make the start at 7:30. Continuing north through Wheathampstead and Kimpton we turned east along Kimpton Bottom, through Nup End, Codicote and thence to Welwyn. 

At the White Horse the inside of the pub was deserted but the garden, whose existence had been doubted by Phil, was packed; nonetheless we found a free table.  Unfortunately we didn't take a photo of the packed garden, but you can use your imagination! Conversation topics included how Roger was fitted for his new bike by a masseuse, arousing intense interest from other riders, and how the bravado displayed after a few beers some weeks ago for riding the Dunwich Dynamo the coming weekend had now evaporated in the heat of the summer.  We did 19 miles to the pub and about a 12 mile trek home for most of us.
Steve 27th July 2019

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

19 Feb 2014: to East Common, Harpenden

The turnouts had been high over the wettest winter ever recorded; was this a reflection of deteriorating domestic relationships? The pre-ride conversations had been on the usual themes, not suitable for descriptions here, so gave no clues.

The Bright Star
The route had been circulated beforehand and had been devised to avoid roads prone to flooding even in normal winters. Seven of us set off on the back route to Sandridge & then along Coleman Green Way. Flashing red and white lights at the junction with the turn-off to Symondshyde turned out to be another of our regular riders awaiting our approach. It seemed tactful not to inquire the reason for this choice of rendez-vous in the dark depths of the country, especially during a full moon, but we are a diverse club, so on we proceeded to cross Nomansland, now notorious for fall-out from the body-parts murder, & into Wheathampstead, reputedly one of England's richest villages. Then it was up the hill to Gustard Wood & down to Kimpton and along to Peters Green, where the wafting stench of McMullens beer alerted us of our impending approach to The Bright Star. The subsequent steep descent down Farr's Lane tested our bike-handling skills as its resemblance to a muddy bridleway was total; riders without full-length rear mudguards were rapidly identified & justifiably ostracised.

The Engineer
Crossing the Lower Luton Road near the East Hyde sewage works provided yet another negative aromatic experience, and the subsequent ascent along Couters End Lane into Harpenden challenged  those with skinny road-bike tyres; were conditions like these the cause of the invention of the winter bike? We arrived at The Engineer at 9 o'clock promptly, meeting two other regular riders who had made own way. The pub appeared to heaving with participants in an Eric Pickles look-alike competition. However, this turned out to be in the mis-named sports bar which was occupied by those whose only exercise appeared to be raising a pint glass of lager while watching a television showing 22 men running round a field and performing snot rockets (surely the speciality of cyclists). This left the lounge bar comparatively free for the vigorous intellectual conversations that then ensued. Never was so much said about gear ratios; the world would consequently be a better place.

Steve 19th February 2014

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

29 Aug 2012: to The Waggoners at Ayot Green

Nine riders ready for the Wednesday Evening ride from St Albans
The arrival of a mixed-gender couple on a tandem abruptly changed the conversation of the riders assembled at the War Memorial, from the comparison of garments available currently in the LIDL cycling sale and Ann Summers shops, to the weather prospects.  Many legs were concealed from the public gaze; was this really August?

Nine of us set off down Harpenden Road and along Sandridgebury Lane, where we collected two late arrivals, refugees from the relatively dry (thanks to Ebenezer Howard) Welwyn Garden City.  We stormed through Wheathampstead and up the hill towards Gustard Wood, passing the former Japanese golf course where an overtaking 4x4 driver hooted (was it a friendly greeting or a curse?). Then it was down the hill to Kimpton Bottom where, under the glare of the full moon, the beards of some of the riders, not the ladies, appeared fuller than usual.  The sharp left at the almost-concealed turning by Kimpton Mill took us up a sharp incline before we descended into Codicote and another descent back into Kimpton Bottom to wade our way through the floods into the village of Welwyn (this was evidently not dry as pubs proliferated), then up White Hill to Ayot Green. 

The subdued atmosphere of the Waggoners was soon enlivened by a table of eleven cyclists recounting past exploits on and off the bike.  We couldn’t understand why we soon had the pub to ourselves.



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

21 Sep 2011: to Ayot St Lawrence

The sinking sun of the autumn equinox saw 16 riders assembled at the War Memorial for the literary-flavoured ride to the former home village of George Bernard Shaw, Ayot St Lawrence.  Would the recognition of a trip to the residence of the celebrated wit & playwright raise the tone of the conversation, which had lately sunk to the level of George Osborne at the GQ awards?  Initial indications were not promising; there was even a rider from the banking industry who had misheard the Chancellor’s speech & taken offence.

There was safety in numbers, but with so many riders present, would motorists interpret the peloton as a critical-mass ride? We set off in the twilight down Harpenden Road, past the symbols of progress in the form of mock-Georgian pillars in the former ground of the rugby club to Sandridgebury Lane, then towards Coleman Green with a left turn to the crossroads at Nomansland Common, location of exhibit B of the “body-parts” murder. Then onward to Harpenden, up Station Road turning left at the railway bridge, past the BUPA hospital & following the road until the crossing at the Lower Luton Road near the sewage farm.  The aroma indicated that the local curry houses had been doing good business the previous week. We ascended the hill the other side, the riders now strung out in a quivering ribbon of red & white lights (mainly from LIDL at a bargain £10 a set).

We turned off Kimpton Bottom towards Peters Green & thence to Ansells End towards Kimpton’s beginning. The final ascent (10% incline) towards Gustard Wood saw one rider temporarily become a member of the Ramblers, and then it was just a level run to The Brocket Arms for some well-deserved beers. 
George Bernard Shaw
As to whether Shavian witticisms were ingrained to the pub timbers & had permeated the talk of the riders, there was no evidence.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

14 Sep 2011: to The Three Tuns Hemel Hempstead

We had a pleasant evening for riding, returning home under clear sky with near full moon and no wind.

As to the pub, well I thought it was rather spartan and although it did have one real ale, there was no atmosphere and I wouldn't put it on the return to list in the near future. There were about 4 other customers apart from us.

On the ride, which went through Abbots Langley, Hunton Bridge and Chipperfield, were Graham, Moray, Brian, Roger, Philip, Mark S, Mark K, Mike J, Mike R and Charles.

Philip punctured twice (different wheels).  He also told me about plans for a new bike, I dare say even more likely after the punctures!  Mark K must have been thinking about the weight of carrying all those inner tubes that you have got him, Ian, as he fell off his bike when starting off on one occasion - fortunately only hurting his pride.  Meanwhile Mike J put in an extra mile or two having dropped a glove.

An email from Lauren apologised for not being out for a while, and then last week she fell from her bike and suffered a broken collarbone! So won't be out with us again for some time.

Talking of which, having departed from all others as I went home up Toms Lane, I had a close encounter with Moray's favourite animal, a badger! I was lucky in that being uphill I was going slowly when it ran across the road about 6 feet in front and so it didn't get my tyre marks on it. Oh and just for Moray's interest, I think it was the same one that caused his broken collarbone. Why? 'cos it had black and white stripes!!

I almost forgot to mention that Mike R was seen to be using not one, but two new LIDL, LED lights, to great effect. You can really see the colour of the badgers with that set up.

Then a group of us were propositioned by an attractive young lady in a van, just before the pub. Perhaps something to do with the skin tight Lycra many of us wear, but as to the outcome, well it wouldn't be appropriate to say who took up on the offer, now would it!!  Suffice to say Steve missed out on an entertaining evening

Phil S

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

22 Sep 2010: to Welham Green

Taking a welcome break from Christmas shopping, eight of us assembled at the war memorial on the warmest evening of the autumn, the last of the Indian summer (maybe the Commonwealth games should have been moved to England?).  It was a full moon, but no one had sprouted any extra facial hair or was behaving any more bizarrely than usual.  We set off down Hatfield road, suffering inordinate delays at the traffic lights, until we got to the former Mile House on London Road.  After crossing over the A414, we took the cycle path to Napsbury village, then though the back of London Colney, past All Saints Retreat to the bridge over the M25. 

Brian, who was in the lead, stripped off for his favourite ascent, Shenley Hill.  The famous tower came into view as we got to the top & sped straight past the Black Lion (now an Indian restaurant) through Well End, skirting Borehamwood, left at the Mops & Brooms & down to almost touch the A1 at Packhorse Bridge. Then back up to Ridge we paused outside the Old Guinea to regroup. The inside was lit like an operating theatre & it was evident that there were very few customers. Was there any connection there being a For Sale sign outside? We continued into South Mimms where the witty comments of the smokers outside the White Hart (“your wheels are going round”) were mentally recorded for future after-dinner speeches.

We crossed the M25 & headed north up the former A1, turned off at Water End, climbed past the Vets’ College, & noting that the railway bridge at Brookmans Park was closed to traffic (but not pedestrians) arrived at the Hope & Anchor at Welham Green at 9 p.m. Although it was almost empty it soon filled up, the clientele, which included a pit-bull terrier that was obviously not a bitch, attracted either by our presence or the beer at £2.50 a pint.  It seemed worthy of another visit.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

10 Mar 2010: to White Lion, St Albans

Graham writes: Another cold and dry evening, the best weather for riding in my opinion, saw 6 of us spend an hour and a half cycling a loop around the south of St. Albans finishing up in the White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St. Albans. Apart from the usual 4 social derelicts with nothing else to do on a weekday evening (only joking folks!) we were joined by two regulars from last summer.

Steve started by zooming down Holywell Hill. I was ready to turn left and call it a short ride, but we continued past the Abbey station and worked through residential streets to Park Street, turning right into Park Street Lane. Crossing back over the railway, where trams will soon be seen, we went past the Gate pub, which may or may not have draft beer, judging by our last visit, and turned left down Drop Lane. Eventually rejoining the old A5, whatever number it has this week, we worked our way through the well heeled back streets of Radlett, joining Radlett Lane for the climb up to Shenley.

Avoiding sectioning as we passed the entrance to the old mental hospital, we were able to enjoy the unusual experience of descending Black Lion Hill rather than our normal grinding climb up it. We then continued up Shenley Lane to the East of London Colney, then Napsbury Lane and a right turn under the Midland Main Line to come out on London Road near the site of the sadly demolished Mile House. Riding back into St. Albans, Mark demonstrated that a winter laid up with spinal problems had not diminished his pothole avoiding skills (I think!!).

We locked our bikes in the pitch dark back garden of The White Lion, and repaired to the small bar, where the London Pride was in fine form. Conversational topics ranged from the usual cycle-techie subjects to this year's "Dunwich Dynamo".

Everybody left at varying appropriate hours and all got home safely.
This week's ride is to The Gibraltar Castle in Batford, on the north-east(ish) edge of Harpenden.