Five Miles to Fabulous Rides
Five Miles to Fabulous was initiated by the CTC as a weekend of rides in June 2007. Some CTC local groups have incorporated 5MTF rides into their programme, and South Herts is one such group. The rides are for women who want to cycle, but are put off by the state of the roads and the traffic and the lack of suitable group rides. The format is an easy ride incorporating a coffee stop, using quieter roads and traffic free-routes. The ride thus gives an opportunity both to gain confidence in traffic and discover routes that avoid busy roads.
Bring a guest entry form if not a CTC member. Experienced riders are also very welcome on these rides, your support and advice is appreciated! Exact route to be determined on the whim of the leader taking into account the coffee morning listings in that week's local news and the preferences of those present. Our motto is 'Style before speed', which you may recognise as the slogan of the De Laune CC in the 1920s.
*Most rides start at Morrisons Supermarket, Hatfield Road, St Albans. Morrisons, St Albans We meet by the cycle stands, near the pedestrian crossing of Hatfield Road. For rides from Harpenden, meet by the cycle stands just past the station building Harpenden Railway Station. You do not need to be a CTC member to try these rides. Please fill in the Contact Us form if you would like to be added to the list and mention 5MTF. Thank you
Chester Fabulous Ladies have a very similar approach to our group. Their leader, Sue, runs an excellent blog which I recommend to you Sue's blog; it has lots of useful advice.
Saturday 17 October - This Girl Can in Herts
Nine of us gathered at Morrisons, and it was nice to say hello to gathering Saunterers. It was grey and a bit chilly, we soon sped off up Woodstock Road and Homewood Road then down to Jersey Lane, which we followed out to Sandridge.
We looped around the lanes, up Coleman Green Lane, across Tower Hill Lane and down through Symondshyde Great Woods. We rode in a block a short way along Coopers Green Lane, then turned off and were soon ensconced at Osprey. They had been forewarned that lots of women cyclists would be arriving, as the Harpenden Breeze ride was also coming here,
and we were to meet up. Being a canny and experienced ride leader, I made sure that my group got there first to plunder the splendid array of cakes. The Saddlery Café at Osprey has some really huge tables, so all nine of us could sit round. The comestibles are served up on proper crockery too, and with dainty dessert forks. We can confirm it is all delicious.
Breeze were slightly behind schedule, but it worked well - the staff had time to draw breath before the next horde of women arrived, and the two groups had time to greet each other in the yard as they headed in and we headed out.
We took a fairly direct route back, along past Nashe's Farm. Delightfully, Neil's Sauntering group caught up with us on their way back from Wheatampstead, and we rode through Oaklands together, and so back to Morrisons along the Alban Way. We covered 10.5 miles today.
Saturday 19 September - Open Studios
A beautiful late-summer morning, six of us turned out for a ride to Wheathampstead.
We set off eastward along the Alban Way, then we turned north and went by way of Oaklands College and Jersey
Lane (where a tree stump has been sculpted) to Sandridge. Coleman Green Lane and Beech Hyde Lane got us to
Wheathampstead, and our destination, Rachel Jeffrey Jewellery, based in the old
mill building. Beautiful jewellery in the showroom, and a warm
welcome. We couldn’t go into the studio as there was an enamelling
session in progress, but we could peer in from the outside window.
A little bit of post-ride research on Wheathampstead led to this charming silent film of a postie cycling round the village and surrounding hamlets. I did recognise quite a few of the locations, not necessarily from today’s ride. Perhaps we’ll need to plan a heritage ride for 2016 – more heritage here.
We took our refreshments in the sunshine outside Ushers
bakery, lots of vintage motorcycles kept coming past, which was interesting but
not very tranquil. So we took ourselves off to visit the Crinkle-Crankle
Our homeward route was by way of Brewhouse Hill and Ferrers
Lane. We bypassed Sandridge by cutting the corner through Heartwood
Forest, admiring the rebuilt road and tussling with the kissing gate onto the
bridleway. Then back to St Albans along Sandridgebury Lane. The
round trip to the start point was 14 miles.
Saturday 18 July - Ride Like Billie DayIt was nice to say hello to the Saunterers - and we thank Nick for the photo as we set off to Ride Like Billie to Shenley. More about Billie Fleming in the pink news column to the right. We were being rather brave, setting out on a 12 mile ride, with a big hill, but we had a really good route, making use of cycle routes and bridleways and tracks, so only about a third of the mileage was on road. Lots of interest, we went through four former hospital sites - Hill End, Cell Barnes, Napsbury and Porters Park. We dallied long enough over our scones and coffee for the Saunterers to reach Shenley after their longer ride round. On the way back we took out some busy B road and substituted bridleway, so in the end we did a 14 mile ride. This time we mended the puncture in the sunshine, well, in the shade actually. A massive thorn.
Saturday 13 June - Bike Week in the RainThe magnificent seven gathered by the covered bike racks at Morrisons, undeterred by poor forecast and actual rain. The intention had been to explore Ellenbrook Fields, but we postponed that for a drier day. Set off east along the Alban Way to see where we might get to. Early excitement was riding around the Green Ring into Sutton Road instead of dodging the shoppers through Morrisons Car Park. We rode steadily to Ellenbrook where the Nast Hyde Halt station has been getting some TLC. Decided to continue to Hatfield then duck into the Sports Village café for refreshment, which we duly did.There was some interest in a good route to Hatfield House, so we carried on east along the Alban Way, right to the end. We had just started along the A1000 route when - pssssss - a very flat tyre. You'll never guess what had caused the flat.... a butterfly! A butterfly stud earring. That is a pretty fabulous puncture, you have to admit. With no problem in locating the hole the repair was swiftly completed, and we carried on, crossing over to NCN12 through Old Hatfield, then boldly up through newer Hatfield, riding en bloc, and back to the Alban Way. An eleven mile ride when I measured off the map once I had got home and dried off. My legs are saying they were long miles!
Sunday 10 May - Going Global via Harpenden
Not the usual 5MTF - a Sunday afternoon ride, although a Harpenden start is not a first. Having a lady actually from Harpenden coming on the ride was though! We rolled off in the sunshine and were soon admiring the Ambrose Lane ramp access to the Nickey Line. Having a local with us brought local advice to divert and admire the bluebells in Knott Wood. Stunning.
On to Redbourn and into the Hub, café and cyclists' refuge. The ride today was celebrating and honouring quite a few things. Sunday 10 May is Global Woman's Cycle Day: Ride with us as we Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, Empower the Future of Women in Cycling. 5MTF in a nutshell. Rona shows the logos, at the same time wearing a pink hat (Giro d' Italia) featuring Plowman Craven (former cycling team associated with the Hub, sponsored by Harpenden specialist survey firm).
We completed our loop via Redbournbury Mill, the Ver meadows and Beesonend. The St Albans contingent came through Childwickbury to Batchwood, admiring the rhodedendrons on the way past.
Saturday 25 April - Bluebells at the start of summer
Five of us headed off in search of bluebells, taking advantage of a preceding dry spell to get onto tracks.
Wet roads to start with, but drying in the breeze and occasional sunshine. We went out by Sandridgebury Lane, then took the bridleway that goes across Heartwood Forest to Ayres End Lane. Plenty of bluebells here, visible from the track. And, it must be summer already, because we saw swallows! A bit further on, a kestrel hovered. The reason these write-ups tend to turn from ‘ride report’ into nature notes is that going slowly, as we do, we can easily catch sight of flora and fauna, and stop to admire or investigate. Across East Common and then down Cross Lane into Southdown for coffee at Jay’s.
Our return route was straightforwardly on-road to start with, back out Grove Road and then Pipers Lane and up Ayres End Lane, then down to Nomansland, gorse in flower. We then headed onto Nomansland itself (cycling on paths is permitted) to join the recently enhanced track parallel to the B Road to get to Sandridge. We chose to return to the start point via Jersey Lane (pictured), Oaklands and the Alban Way. The whole loop was just shy of fourteen miles.
Saturday 7 March - Make It Happen - celebrating International Women's Day
The spring was certainly happening on our first ride of our 2015 programme. Two regular Fabs and two new recruits joined the leader on a lovely sunny morning. We headed west along the Alban Way, then up to the Watford Road using the NCN6 route. It was not quite time to stop for coffee so we did a loop along Ragged Hall Lane to Potters Crouch then back in to Chiswell Green Lane. The snowdrops looked great.
This was a try-something-new ride, the new being a café only just opened. Leader did not know exactly where the café was, and hence had a bit of a route malfunction involving unnecessary roundabout revolutions - or roadcraft practice as she terms it. The backmarker had more sense and asked a passing local where the new café was.
Gentle reader, the café is called Bhaker House and is at grid reference TL 133 044, or 339 Watford Road if you prefer. We enjoyed good coffee and cake, and were made to feel very welcome. The café is run by two sisters, so a good choice for an IWD ride.
We varied our return route by using the track through Greenwood Park. Our total mileage was in fact ten miles today. Anyone who suggests that five or even ten miles is not a very long ride..... it's further than nothing.
Bille Fleming Tribute Rides
Women paying tribute to Billie Fleming - by cycling every day of 2015. Details at http://www.tributetobillie.co.uk/ Our ride on 18 July was a Ride Like Billie ride. As the records of Billie's routes for the autumn are mostly lost, and as word about the Billie Fleming Tribute has spread, any ride you wish to dedicate to Billie's ride and ideals can be added, visit the website for how to get involved.
Super article in Cycling Weekly, tells you more about Billie Fleming: "In 1938, then named Billie Dovey, she rode a staggering 29,603.7 miles across the United Kingdom on a mission to promote the health benefits of cycling. She rode every single day of the year in a wide variety of weather conditions to spread the message. Her mammoth tour included many evening engagements that required her to give a talk at the end of a long day’s pedalling. Fleming’s ride attracted a huge amount of interest and press attention as the year progressed." Recommended reading.
Green Ring - Still not fully complete, although most of the work is done and some more signage has been installed recently (November). The last section to be completed is the crossing of Sandpit Lane, as statutory permission was needed and took longer than anticipated to be granted.
St Albans District Council has a web page devoted to the Green Ring, it includes the feasibility report for the ring as a whole.
Gardening news - spotted in North Berwick, East Lothian in August 2015 this pallet garden won a Gold Medal. The given theme was 'recycling' and the gardeners called their pallet Real Cycling. The nifty message is 'leave a pallet's width when passing cyclists'. As you can see, there was an interactive element and you may be sure the bell was rung!
Needlework news - spotted at L'Eroica Britannia festival in June 2014, so old news now, but such a lovely picture is staying put.
Bikes and Bloomers is a project bringing history to life by interweaving archival data with new Victorian cycling garments made from 1890s British patents in collaboration with local craftspeople - the website is fascinating. Lovely film of the bloomer making workshop and subsequent bloomer ride based on Look Mum No Hands cycle café in London.
Over in the Netherlands, cycling and sewing combine, thanks to Marieke Post of the Slow Bicycle Movement for this picture. I don't know if the record player is also cycle-powered.
20s Plenty for St Albans - this campaign has a petition you might like to sign if you support 20mph for residential areas.