Wednesday, 3 January 2018

2018 Fabulous Cycling news

Two ride dates now confirmed for 2018.
We open as always with "International Women's Day", the nearest Saturday to 8 March, which this year is Saturday 10 March.
And we are taking part in Sustainable St Albans Week, with a ride on Saturday 21 April.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

2017 Fabulous Cycling latest news

The number of sweeties in Birchwood's jar was 139.

One 2018 ride is already arranged - Saturday 21 April the Sustainable St Albans Week ride.  More in due course.

Our fashion editor advises:
The 'in' colour for shoe laces this season is still red.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Saturday 25 November - Birchwood Christmas Coffee Morning

A cold but beautiful morning.  The bare branches cast shadow patterns on the Alban Way.  Mad squirrels and boys doing wheelies to add to the fun.  Nine of us flew along the Alban Way,  right to the very end at Wrestlers Bridge.  We turned onto the old Great North Road and rolled down and then turned around through Birchwood to the Methodist Church.

We were expected, so our bikes were invited through to the garden and we came in through the kitchen, like all the best parties! The welcome was warm and the coffee and the mince pies were hot! We had a good browse of the crafts and home produce, and purchases were made. We also tried to guess the number of sweeties in the jar.

We cut straight back onto the Alban Way and headed westward.... and uphill. Even with Methodist mince pies to fuel us we had a breather or two along the way, all the better to enjoy the views of amazing back garden statues and winter fields.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Saturday 4 November 2017 - renewal and decay

Forecast was not good, so in the expectation that this might be the only photo opp here is the traditional smiling people in bright garments picture.
We had gathered below the canopy at Morrisons, which is now accessible again.  The renovations are nearly complete, we could see them getting ready to replace the cycle stands.
In view of the poor forecast we were not going out on a long ride, but to add some spice we were going to a coffee stop that we had not been to before.  Off along the Alban Way, admiring new signage. 
Once under the strengthened bridge at Cottonmill Lane we headed onward and upward on NCN6, enjoying shiny new tarmac on Vesta Avenue and Robert Avenue.  The latter is a very welcome improvement as the surface was dreadful, although useful for demonstrating the damage that frost does to roads, as the worst bits were in the frost pockets.
Into Greenwood Park for some late autumn 'forest bathing'.  The Forestry Commission autumn mindfulness is perhaps a more apt description of the benefits of gentle autumn cycling in woodland -  Five Miles to Fabulous covers all the Five Ways to Well Being. The dampness rendered the tree trunks and branches very stark and made the glow of golden leaves still there all the more dramatic.

Over the North Orbital on the footbridge, which had a refurbishment earlier this year, we turned right on Orchard Drive and used a useful footpath to get us through to Burstons Garden Centre.
We returned by more or less the same route, but used the access on North Close to leave Greenwood Park.  It is marginally less aggravating than the access off Watford Road.  By the time we returned to Morrisons the cycle stands were in place.  And we had not had a soaking, in fact, it hardly rained on us at all.  Distance just under nine miles.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Saturday 7 October 2017 - Harvest Festival of Journeys and Adventures

Mists and Mellow fruitfulness was quite close to the mark, as we had drizzle and a harvest festival.  Nine of us out, we split into a threesome riding 10 miles to Sandridge and a half dozen riding 10 kilometres.
The six rode away out west along the Alban Way and through Verulamium Park, continuing eastward along the Green Ring then onto NCN6 to nip up through New Greens to Sandridgebury.  The vibe was very mellow, very little foot or vehicle traffic on our route.  The threesome reached St Leonards first, by a hillier route that took in Nashe's Farm Lane, but not much ahead of the six.
We took our time to enjoy the festival, with flowers and the knitted village and home baking.

The group returned together via Jersey Lane, gradually shedding riders as they peeled off for home.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Saturday 2 September 2017- 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.

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