|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.
|8 March 2014
| Morrisons, St Albans
|International Women's Day ride with coffee stop
|Saturday 5 April
| Harpenden Railway Station
||Bike week ride
||Open Studios ride - see www.hvaf.org.uk
||The scrumping ride - bring a bag and grab some apples.
|November|| || Rona|| 9:30|
Last 5MTF of the year - GREEN RING RETURN?
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. We meet by the cycle stands, near the pedestrian crossing of Hatfield Road. 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. That's Chester Fabulous Ladies pictured below.
16 November 2013: Green Ring
Seven riders set off, we were delighted to welcome three
ladies to their first Fabulous ride. The objective was to circumnavigate
the proposed route of the Green Ring, paying special attention to the three
small sections currently out for consultation. http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/planning/Planningpolicy/greenring/Strictly speaking, we failed in our objective, as we did not
actually wiggle past the oak tree at the back of Morrisons. Well, we know
it well, and we had already shifted our meeting spot to the sunny side of
Hatfield Road, so hey! Off we went up Woodstock Road, and our objective
was again modified to accommodate the closure of Jennings Road footbridge, we
diverted via Blenheim Road and Sandpit Lane. Being fabulous, it did not
trouble us to walk the footway up the hill to Lemsford Road, but it was a relief
even so to get a bit further away from the horrible traffic and wend our way
through an autumnal informal path (see right).
Our next opportunity for muddy
trails through trees came on the next consulting section, across Bernards
Heath, firstly from Sandridge Road to Harpenden Road and then through to emerge
on NCN 6 (see left). Those of us with local knowledge opined that
Everlasting Lane would be too muddy even for intrepid explorers such as
ourselves, so we reconnoitred Ladies Grove. Some of us were even bold
enough to ride up through Oysterfields and Temple View to check out the third
consulting section, a link across the park. The picture (right ) is
misleading on two counts – that is not a temple, it’s a lamp post, a hospital chimney and
a litter bin, and that is an existing path, not the proposed one, which is off to the left.
After all this hard work, we were ready for our coffee stop
at the Inn on the Park and thereafter an easy ride through the park and along
the Alban Way back to Morrisons. You have until 12 December to get your
Green Ring three sections comments in. Our coffee stop was an impromptu
planning meeting, so watch out for dates, but expect at least two rides from
Harpenden in 2014 as well as the usual Fleetville rendezvous.
12 October 2013: Apples!
Some rides really are fabulously fabulous – this was one of
them. Apples were advertised and my
goodness, they were delivered on this ride!
We were also keen to take in the resurfaced Alban Way too. And, the weather forecast had changed from
wet to sunny. First we headed east – here are three of the septet gliding smoothly along.
Another remarkable feature of this particular ride – we allowed a chap
to come with us! His local CTC group is
looking at running 5MTF style rides, so this was important outreach opportunity. Our man is also a pomologist, so we benefited
from his expertise as we plundered the windfalls in Highfield Park. In fact, he enjoyed the orchard so much he
asked us to leave him there and carry on without him. The pictured section of orchard is near to
Hixberry Lane, mainly cookers and a few desert trees. This was the orchard of
the Herts County Mental Hospital, built in the late 1890s. Further west we cycled through the old Cell
Barnes Hospital orchard too. Both these
hospitals had farms to provide food and therapeutic work for the patients. Find out more at the Highfield Park Trust website.
Having gathered bagfuls of apples, we meandered through the
autumnal beauty of Highfield Park, picked up the London Road cycle route and in
no time at all, we were ensconced in the Dahlia Coffee House at Ayletts. We recommend the date slice and the availability
of lactose free milk.
Our return route looped round by Sopwell and Cottonmill to
take us to the western end of the Alban Way for more smooth tarmac enjoyment as we returned to Fleetville.
| 7 September 2013: Open Studios
|Time to rest the bike
Three of us convened to peruse the Open Studios listing.
There was a studio only about 100m from Morrisons, but we felt we
could and should go a bit further than that, yes even as far as
Wheatampstead! How could we resist an artist called Bel Bluemel?
Off we went, Alban Way, Oaklands, House Lane and up past Nashe’s Farm, and
round through Symondshyde Woods. We followed a path through the church
yard and out into a lovely little green with a play area. Hmm, leader now
had no idea where she was, but made a good guess, and we popped out at the Open
Studio just as the door opened. And yes, it turned to indeed be that
Bluemel, the cycle accessories manufacturer!
We enjoyed our visit, we
bought artwork and we turned for home. More uphill, bike needed to lean
against a sign to rest after the effort. Back to Sandridge via
Nomansland, and there we parted company to make our separate ways home.
This was a fairly arduous ride, October will be shorter, slower and flatter.
|20 July 2013: Ride Report
We took the hint from the Sunday riders and decided on a nice short route in the heat. Although it was actually a bit cooler this morning. Our quartet headed west along the Alban Way for a change, through by Berners Drive, Gorham Drive and Butterfield Lane to New Barnes Mill. A cheery greeting from some fast chaps on lightweight cycles coming along in the other direction. We’d be going faster too if we were going downhill! A bit of a slog up Napsbury Lane and then a scamper down and voila! we are at Ayletts Nurseries. Astonishingly, this is our first 5MTF visit to Ayletts, although we were none of us individually strangers there. We picture for your delight the Devil Cake. We also show you the pink lemonade in the clutches of today’s youngest rider (age 12) who has painted her nails most beautifully.
The Dahlia Café was popular with cyclists today, we met a couple from the Forty Plus. Refreshed by cake and companionship, we allowed ourselves a little shopping time, then headed back to Fleetville using London Road, Highfield Park and Camp cycle routes.
|15 June 2013: Bike Week Ride
We were very cheerful at the start – it was sunny!
|All smiles at the start of the ride
Eleven ladies arrived, including five who had not been out on a 5MTF before. We were waved off by Jon and Neil from the Saturday Saunter, and as if that wasn’t enough male company for one morning, we timed our exit onto the Alban Way to coincide with the departure of a Beaver pack on wheels. They decided we looked faster than them and waved us through ahead!
|Come on it's about to rain!
We headed east to Ellenbrook, and then turned west again along the lanes through Wilkins Green to Smallford. We rode steadily along Station Road and Hatfield Road to get to Notcutts, where we rather swamped the cycle parking. We took up quite a lot of the café too! In fact, we made such an impression that the manager came over to see us…..to ask if she could have some of the Bike Week leaflets that we were waving around!
We did wonder if we would get drenched on departure, but the rain held off, and we got back on the Alban Way, and then went round through Highfield Park and back to Fleetville by the Camp Road Cycle Route. Ride distance was 8 miles.
|11 May 2013: Exploring the Nicky Line
Our first ever ride from Harpenden did not attract any harpies, but we did impress the press. We featured briefly as photographic headline news on the St Albans Review web page on Sunday morning, so perhaps we will also be in the print edition if nothing more momentous happens ere then. We were celebrating Global Women’s Cycling Day, a US-based initiative recognising the importance of bicycles in the emancipation of women. The Day is chosen to coincide with US Mothers’ Day, so we were actually a day ahead. Enough of the chat, lets ride!
Those Harpenden folk get up nice and early to drive in and go shopping, so we were a bit slow through town but were soon rising above it on our way up to the level access to the Nicky Line at Roundwood. Downhill from there to Redbourn, enjoying the scenery, but looking out for the gaps in the old sleepers at the track crossing just before the roundabout. We were soon ensconced in The Hub, a café and cyclists’ refuge. We had enjoyed the Nicky Line so much and were so refreshed at the Hub, that we carried on a bit further along the line, to Three Cherry Trees Lane, then came back along Punch Bowl Lane to the main road. Since the appearance on a TV baking show, Redbournbury Mill has been mobbed, and they now sell only flour at the Mill on Saturdays, bread sales have moved to the Chequers car park where there is easier access by car. Hmm. Good cycle parking. A wet winter means the water was flying over the mill wheel.
As we had no Harpenden-based riders out, we turned for St Albans at the end of Beesonend Lane. We had really enjoyed extending our range however, so may well have another Harpenden start in the future.
|6 April 2013: Frühling, Frühling wird es nun bald.
Six days into British Summertime, and at last the words of this German folk song are believable – soon it will be spring. Four of us made our way east along the Alban Way in sunshine, right through to Hatfield. The bridge over Wellfield Road was tempting – only a mile further to Stanborough - but our way lay along Wellfield Road itself, and we were delighted to find that the footway has been most effectively converted to shared use, with small gabions on the roadward side to enable path-widening. That took us fairly easily to White Lion Square and thus Hatfield Farmers’ Market. We enjoyed browsing the plants and produce. The primulas were very eye-catching.
In spite of the sun, we were keen to find coffee and cake indoors, and duly invaded the relocated Simmons. We totally flummoxed the young trainee, who found four fabulous women all wanting different drinks and pastries on the one order a tad overwhelming. A request for toast was the last straw for the poor lad; his supervisor came to the rescue.
We were in like disarray ourselves however when we stopped on our way back to assist a young couple with a flat tyre. The tyre was one of those very tight fitting ones, and we were sufficiently discombobulated by the effort required to get the wretched rubber off the rim that we forgot to check that the thorn we had removed was the only one before we wrestled the tyre back on again. Oh “bother”.
From Ellenbrook we made an architectural diversion down Wilkins Green Lane to enjoy a glimpse of ‘Torilla’. Dating from 1935, this house was designed by F.R.S Yorke, who was one of the first British architects to design in the Modernist style. The Hertfordshire Building Preservation Trust later intervened to prevent its demolition. We also enjoyed the much larger and grander and older Great Nast Hyde House. What you see from the lane is actually the back of the house; the proper front entrance to the house is up a drive from St Albans Road.
We rejoined the Alban Way at Smallford and carried on westward and back to Morrisons. It might appear from the sign that by the time we got back we would have ridden at least 12 miles, but bear in mind that we had started from Fleetville, not central St Albans. Although, even allowing for the distance vagaries on Alban Way signs, we did on this occasion go further than the nominal five.
|16 March 2013: Winter still!
Saturday 16 March dawned grey and wet with forecast likewise. Fabulous women know that if they don’t want to go out in the rain, they don’t have to. They also know that waterproofs are pretty effective these days. Two of us took the waterproof option. Regular riders will know we have a flexible approach to routes and destinations, and today we decided to flex in the direction of a short ride and a long coffee stop. Our traditional wet weather destination is Notcutts, but even that seemed a bit far, so the special feature of this ride was a new 5MTF coffee stop, and as the leader had not been before, another special feature was a led leader. The atmospheric photograph of our waterproofs dripping on the balcony at Dunelm Mill did not come out very well, so you will just have to imagine our enjoyment of hot drinks and colourful house wares. It was not raining quite so hard for the return , so we took the indirect route via Oaklands College and Jersey Lane.
We hope for better weather on 6th April.
(*)/ (*) happy cycling!
|27 Oct 2012: Winter already
What a beautiful day for our last programmed 5MTF ride of 2012! Clear blue sky. And, er, some snow on car windscreens. Dashing from the house to the meeting point I was glad I had put on my winter jacket, but regretted that I had not put on warmer layers below. We decided we needed some open country so as to be in the sun, and we headed down the Camp cycle route for Highfield Park, looped along east then turned north through Oaklands College.
We discovered that the disadvantage of open country was exposure to the biting wind. So, some respite on Jersey Lane, and beautiful autumn colour as we emerged at Sandridge. The eagle-eyed may be able to make out the bicycle sign in front of the tree. Then by Nomansland and Amwell to Wheathampstead. Bakery full to overflowing, but space for us at Jack’s for hot drinks and calorific intake. For our return we took the scenic track along the north of the Lee, then up to Beech Hyde Lane and swiftly (wind behind) to Sandridge and back to St Albans via Sandridgebury Lane.
20s Plenty for St Albans - this campaign has a petition you might like to sign if you support 20mph for residential areas.
The Nice Way Code - featuring a fabulous cyclist. 'Treat a cyclist like a horse' Charming - but controversial - the ASA said this advert was unacceptable! Then they announced they would reconsider. Then they started getting difficult again. You can still see the Red Light Runner
This bit is being designed by Herts County Council, so you should also be able find it on their website.
The Women's Tour 'of Britain' takes place 7 - 11 May. Stage 4 on Saturday 10 May is from Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City
Stage 1, May 7: Oundle to Northampton
Stage 2, May 8: Hinckley to Bedford
Stage 3, May 9: Felixstowe to Clacton
Stage 4, May 10: Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City
Stage 5, May 11: Harwich to Bury St Edmunds
St Albans City & District Council have been consulting on three sections of the proposed Green Ring. Find the details, including a feasibility report on the whole ring, at http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/greenring
The three sections are (1) tree narrowing Alban Way at back of Morrisons (2) linking Harpenden Road and Sandridge Road via Bernards Heath and (3) Everlasting Lane to City Hospital link.
See our 16 November ride report!
Older news and general bits and bobs
Our thanks to St Albans District Council Community Safety team for the hi-vis bag covers, available to those who came on the October ride.
An inspiring item from CTC 'Cycle Clips' email: Afghanistan
is not a country one normally associates with cycling and, in particular,
women’s road racing. But 'AfghanCycles', a documentary due to be released next year focuses on the women’s
national team. Despite many obstacles, they are passionate about the sport and
the freedom riding a bike offers. "We tell people it is our right to ride
a bike - then speed off", says one. That's the spirit!
A women-specific cycling quarterly magazine has been launched. Issue 4 came out in December and featured local café and cyclists refuge The Hub. See our May ride report.
Even if you don’t buy the mag there are some good clips on the website: http://womenscyclinguk.co.uk/news/video-acrobatic-girls-on-bike-from-germany-bike-ballet/ is amazing and I also recommend the How To tab.
Rona 01727 836470