12 November: Quilters
Quilt samples on a wall
Quilt samples on a table
Our last ride of the autumn programme was another longer ride.  The Mead Quilters exhibition in Wheathampstead had caught the eye of more than one of the five riders, and we felt we could go the distance.  It was milder than expected, and even a hint of blue sky.  Out by way of Woodstock Road, Marshals Drive and Sandridgebury Lane.  Through Sandridge and across Nomansland Common, to take Bull Lane over to the Elephant and Castle and on to Wheathampstead.
Our group separated into those that wished to view the exhibition and those to whom needlework did not appeal.  The latter section of the party headed off to Ushers for an enjoyable coffee and cake.  The rest of us joined the throng in the Memorial Hall.  There was in fact a sporting link, a display be Quilts 4 London of some of the pennants that have been made to be presented to each athlete.  Your leader was obviously not looking like a competent sewer, as she was given one of the simple kits.  So, now you know, if you want to participate in the Olympics - join a Five Miles ride!  The website is www.quilts4london.org.uk
We returned to St Albans by way of Beech Hyde Lane and Jersey Lane, riders peeling off for home en route; with a sole representative getting all the way back to Morrisons to do her shopping.

15 October: Parks & Gardens
3 women at a table in the park
Another beautiful autumn morning - but quite chilly in the shade so we left pretty promptly!  We did notice that there is a sunny patch a bit further down, so we may adjust the meeting point by 50 metres another day depending on the weather. 

We went west for a change, along the Alban Way to its end, then by National Cycle Network Route 6 (NCN 6) across to Abbotts Avenue, cut through at the top by the garages and out and around to cross over Watling Street near St Bartholemew's.  Round by Robert Avenue, along towards Chiswell Green and then through the tricky gateway and into Greenwood Park.  Care is required on the bends on the gravel, but it is a lovely ride through the park to Tippendell Lane. 

Off northwards past Butterfly World's bicycle / pedestrian access and the Gardens of the Rose, over the Hemel Road and ah!  the leader is again having difficulty with destination timings.  This time, I was out by a few months, as Gorhambury estate is closed on Saturdays from September through to end of January for shooting.  So we back tracked to Potters Crouch and came back to St Albans by Bedmond Lane.  Our coffee stop at the Inn on the Park was very enjoyable (picture attached) and well-deserved (as we may have done ten miles, oops!)

24 September: Sandridge
Our September ride was on such a glorious morning we felt we should ride as far out into the countryside as we dared.  We headed out by way of Oaklands and Nashes Farm, through Symondshyde Woods, to Hammonds Farm.  The intention had been to visit one of the Open Studios (www.hvaf.org.uk) however, Rona had mis-read the booklet and we were four hours too early.  Plan B worked very well however, we enjoyed an excellent elevenses at the Sandridge Village Stores - real coffee / tea, proper crockery, a good selection of cakes.  Back in by Jersey Lane.

9 July: Fabulous ladies take off. 

For the last ride in the current programme, six ladies were flying.  Sort of.  We headed east along the Alban Way, soaking up the railway heritage.  Then we ventured onto new terrain, when we headed for Ellenbrook Fields. Leader's thanks to Steve Wragg for giving her a map and putting the idea in her head. 

First foray proved to be a dead end, but a bit of re-orientation and a short cut across the grass and we were on the taxiway.  Once you reach the end of the taxiway it gets a bit rough, but if you look around you can see the conning tower in the distance and some of the longhorn cows nearer at hand.  We found a footpath that delivered us to Notcutts and sustenance.

It seemed as if we would again be drenched on leaving, but it was only a few spots of rain, and having successfully negotiated the Hatfield Road and the roundabout we were back on the Alban Way, full steam westward for home.

Autumn rides programme will be published in due course and please keep an eye on the website in case there are any short-notice summer offerings.

18 June: Bike Week Mystery Tour
Six of us ventured forth.  Two of the ladies are group regulars, one of them had brought along a friend.  A local lady who had picked up a Bike Week leaflet, and a lady joining us from North London completed the pack.  As we had got a bit cold hanging around at the meeting point, we simply skedaddled down the Alban Way to Smallford, gacefully negotiated the roundabout and a short stretch of the Hatfield Road, and dived into Notcutts.  It took us some time to park our bikes, as the cycle rack is a butterfly wheel-bender model, and we wished to secure our bikes without bending their wheels.  To the cafe for hot drinks and calories.
Fortified, we ventured forth again under skies that were darkening by the second.  So the next part of our ride was quite short - as far as the service station's generous canopy.  The downpour eased off, but we decided to forego the pleasures of Ellenbrook in favour of getting back before the next cloudburst came along, so simply returned along the Alban Way to Hill End, where we diverted through Highfield Park and thus back to Morrisons.
PS: Fabulous Ladies were represented on the Bike Week Wednesday evening CTC ride to the White Lion - two of us were well led  and looked after by the group on a ride that was a bit faster than our usual pootle pace, and somewhat further than five miles.
Rona Wightman
Happy cycling!
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Rona in a dress!!!!
Just back from a very exciting weekend in Weymouth.  On Saturday evening, 14 May, along with my husband and daughter, I attended the CTC National Dinner and was presented by Magnus Backstedt with a splendid certificate and medal naming me as CTC Volunteer of the Year - East of England - 2010.  You should be able to work out which one is Magnus (tall, handsome) and which one is me (in a dress!!!!)  The venue was the Portland and Weymouth National Sailing Academy, which is where the Olympic sailing events will be held in 2012.  There were about 100 people there, and it was really quite something.

On the Sunday we joined the Wessex CTC on the family ride on a 22 mile course heading west from Weymouth to Fleet and Abbotsbury and back via Portesham.  If you look at the map you will see some arrows, and I am proud to say that I walked several of the hills.  It was a wonderful day out, I love being in hilly country and near the coast.   We were made very welcome, it was great to be riding with people who knew the area and could tell you about the places we passed.  We had a tea stop at the Wishing Well in Upwey, I recommend the Dorset Apple Cake.
5MTF Ride on 16 April to St Albans.
We had our first cake ride, I beg your pardon cycle ride, of 2011 on Saturday 16 April.  Our new destination-determining system of looking in The Advertiser came up trumps!  On a lovely sunny day we pootled east along the Alban Way to Hixberry Lane, we then looped through Highfield Park, Tyttenhanger and Sleapshyde to rejoin the Alban Way and head west to Oaklands.  Through the college grounds, and up through the houses to join Jersey Lane.  Up Marshals Drive, then down Lancaster Road and Battlefield Road, thinking of the fallen of the second battle of St Albans 550 years ago.  This rather roundabout route delivered us to St Saviours Church for the Cystic Fibrosis Easter Cake Sale.  

We can advise you that the baking tasted as good as it looks!  We certainly deserved our refreshment stop after our graceful ascent in the latter part of our route.