Monday, 4 September 2017

Saturday 2 September - Silkies out and back

Eight of us assembled after the summer break.  As it was a glorious sunny day and all riders were regulars, it was suggested we stretch a little to check out a new coffee stop.
Over to Jersey Lane and down to Sandridge, and as it has been dry, we ventured to Nomansland using the multi-user path along the Heartwood perimeter.  It was getting plenty of use today, there were lots of runners taking part in an endurance event. Some of them were cheerful, some of them were serious.  We were unanimously cheerful.
The multi-user path is multi-weather, but paths over the common are muddy when wet - they were fine today. Along Ferrers Lane, through to Pipers Lane, a bit of a climb, but a steady one.  A quick blast along the main road, then down to Leasey Bridge and in to Willow Trees cafe at Croft Farm. Rona had been for 'Tea by the Lea' a few years ago, which was outdoor only and only ran for one summer.  It is still possible to venture right down and sit by the river bank.  We were happy enough to sit on the terrace adjoining the converted barn which now houses the cafe. We can report that Willow Trees is best chosen as an afternoon cake stop - the morning is devoted to actually baking the cakes. However, the breakfast menu, which runs from 9am until noon, includes croissants with jam as well as various enticing savoury options.  Willow Trees is only open at weekends.
The silkie hens came over to see us depart, with their dinky balls-of-fluff chicks.  Time was marching on, we opted to return by the outward route, which was actually very nice and could be enjoyed in reverse, although getting back up the hill was a bit of a challenge.  The runners were looking a bit more tired now.  From Sandridge we started splitting off to skedaddle home in various directions.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

2017 Fabulous Cycling latest news

Autumn approaches, we got back in action on Saturday 2 September.  It was not in fact be an Open Studios ride....
Longstanding fabulous riders will know that Rona's ability to use the the Open Studios booklet is a bit hit and miss.  Some years we get to look around an artist's studio.  Other years we turn up at the wrong time or on the wrong day.  This year our illustrious ride planner has surpassed all previous efforts by managing to set a ride date that misses the entire event!
Not to worry, enjoy the ride and plan your own studio visit, the programme is online at or can be picked up locally.  Open Studios runs from 9 September to 1st October.

The Churches Ride, or Bike n Hike as it is known in Beds and Herts, is on Saturday 9 September. You devise your own route and call in at churches.  The event is a fund raiser for the Historic Churches Trust, but you do not need to be a church-goer to join in.  Full details at

Sunday, 20 August 2017

20 Aug 2017: Hatfield to Aspenden

Aspenden or “Shut it you silly cow”.

It was great pleasure to see the return of two regular riders after some unfortunate events and it was nice to see them happy and well. Our ride to Hitchin took in some regular routes, but we had the small task of meeting another rider en-route at Rabley Heath. So I took us through the Ayots and down to Codicote. Here we passed the outskirts of the village and headed up Rabley Heath Lane. Now this ascent starts with a steep dip and a sharp incline and if you’re not ready for it chains can fly off as riders frantically find a lower gear. This happened to one of our number, who blocked another, ending up with both having to walk a while.

But it wasn’t long before we met Jackie at the agreed spot, then we took some quiet lanes: some old, some new, some going up, many going down and ended up approaching The Three Moorhens in Hitchin. The group split into two, as choice of how to get to the pub was divided, but we all got there and had a lovely breakfast. It’s a friendly pub and made a change from our usual choice of a café.

Soon we headed back out on the roads and made our way to Great Wymondley, then headed toward Baldock, but Carol treated us to a crafty short cut that lead us to Lannock Hill, which in turn leads to Weston. Then came a meeting of drivers as one sped past us only to meet another coming in the opposite direction.

“F***ing w***er!” wailed one driver. “Shut it you silly cow!” replied the other as they both jostled for passing rights. Ahhh the frustrations of motorists. We cycled along chuckling to ourselves, thinking this was probably the height of their physical exercise for the month. Once at Weston it was an undulating and familiar route to Aspenden and a nice happy ride, though we thought we had lost Judy in Westmill and I was just about to go out searching for her when she appeared behind us. We were running late so stopped for lunch at the Fox, a lovely little pub.
Lunch at The Fox, Aspenden
After a great lunch, we shot off to Hertford via Westmill, Nasty, Dane End and a ‘wonderful’ experience in Sacombe. The road Sacombe Pound connects to the A602 and we had to navigate this very busy road to take the Stony Hills turn off - no easy task by any means. The traffic here doesn’t care and zips past you close and at quite an alarming rate, someone one day will come unstuck unless a decent cycleway is built.

We got to Rose café a good half hour before closing, but they were very reluctant to serve us. I could see why as this usually heaving café was empty. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think the staff could either and they were pushing for an early one, I hope they got it as that they work their nuts off. We decamped to the Six Templars and had a great tea break, so all in all a good day out.

Neil 20/08/2017

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Team Fabulous win the trophy

Team Fabulous win the trophy!

Pictured: half of the team being presented with the Rotary International St Albans Charity Cycle Ride Team Trophy at the presentation evening in early July.  We raised - or rather, our generous supporters donated - a phenomenal total of £780.  Team Fabulous thanks everyone who supported us!

Here is the earlier post about the ride and the charities the 2017 ride money goes to.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Saturday 8 July - Womens Festival of Cycling #WFOC2017

The Women's Festival of Cycling is celebrating ten years since the 5 Miles to Fabulous promotion of cycling for women.  South Herts have organised 5MTF rides since the beginning.
2017 above, 2007 below

We were not sure how many might turn up, as the ride has been well-promoted, so we were prepared to split the ride into more and less experienced groups.  With three leaders and eight participants, we had exactly the right number of goody-bags!  
Two riders opted for a longer, more challenging option - twelve miles out to the farm shop at Pepperstock and eight back  - over the hills and far away!  Sailing along the lanes, the freedom of movement as they flew through the underpass contrasting with the stationary traffic on the M1 overhead.
The rest of us elected to go a wending eight mile pootle around Highfield, the same area as our first ever 5MTF.  Alban Way to Hill End, then through the Hill End and Cell Barnes orchards, a loop down Nightingale Lane and along the A414, back up to Highfield and a loop along Herons Way to drop in to Ayletts Nurseries and the excellent Dahlia coffee house.  Another dive into Highfield, then the Camp Cycle Route got us back to our starting point.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Saturday 10 June 2017 - Fabulous 10th Birthday

10th birthdays are very enjoyable!  The sun shone on ours, and we had a numerically delightful 10 riders out, including two of the original trio who launched Five Miles to Fabulous in 2007.  The third original still rides with us, but was not free today.
In breezy sunshine Rona decided we should go flying, which meant along the Alban Way to Ellenbrook Fields, the country park created from the de Havilland aerodrome.  The park runners had nearly all departed, the tidy-up crew gave us a cheerful greeting.
We went a little loop around and found a nice spot for the group photo.
From here we enjoyed a mixture of surfaces - more of the sub-base track that you see pictures, then grass, then the concrete taxi-way, some rough track and then grass again - Ellenbrook Fields is best enjoyed in dry weather.  Link to lots of information about Ellenbrook Fields, including the map and the heritage boards, click here.
Our re-fuelling point was Notcutts garden centre, to get there we negotiated a little rough track through the woodland boundary strip and a kissing gate.  By the time the tenth rider tackled the gate we had established the best technique - reverse in, pirouette on the back wheel, flip the gate and emerge.
We piled into the cafe and set about depleting the enormous pile of scones.  What a lovely surprise, a tenth birthday cake was presented to Rona, with small cakes for everyone else. The photo shows the ten-year-olds admiring the cakes.

A straightforward run back to St Albans along the Alban Way.  What a FABULOUS morning.
Here is a map of our route of slightly over 8 miles.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sunday 14 May 2017 - St Albans Charity Cycle Ride

Team Fabulous did it again!  Here we are pictured at the finish of the SACCR.  Early rain had cleared by the time we gathered at the start, and we rode the 20 mile route in sunshine.  A series of preparatory training rides meant that while hills were a challenge they could be tackled with aplomb.
Here we are looking cheerful at the top of a hill, looking forward to rolling down the other side. Selfie training needed ......

The SACCR is a very well run and enjoyable event.  Team Fabulous can be sponsored, we are raising funds for the three charities supported by SACCR 2017, they are Herts Action on Disability, Youth Talk and Home Start.  Team Captain Teresa set up our JustGiving page and you can find it here.
By the time we set off on the ride our supporters had overtopped our target of £300 by 50% and at time of writing we are through the £500 mark.  Early June update: over £750!! Thank you to our fabulous riders and fabulous supporters.