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26 June: Sylvia Clifford Ride (aka Herts Hilly 100km)

posted 1 Jul 2011, 14:51 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Oct 2015, 23:43 ]
We couldn't have chosen a better day for a Herts Hilly 100km ride and six of us met at 9.15 at the Bull in Wheathampstead. Today this place was very popular as the Ramblers have an annual walk starting from here.

Bill enjoyed his breakfast
The day started quite cloudy, but very warm and humid and we were glad to be cycling rather than walking today.  This year it was decided that we would do the circuit in an anti-clockwise direction.  Most people do it clockwise so we were expecting to see the others coming towards us as we went around.  I explained to the guys that lunch at Puckeridge, where we had stopped last year doing it clockwise, was too near for our route and we all agreed that Weston would be a good stop today.  With destinations sorted out and without further ado, we all set off on our version of the Sylvia Clifford memorial ride 2011.

As we made our way up towards Codicote via Ayot St Lawrence, the clouds departed and never returned.  Soon the Hertfordshire countryside was basking in glorious sunshine, and equally quickly, the South Herts CTC was roasting in the mid-summer sun. The lanes were great and the ride became a hunt for the shade, as we came into Hertford.  First stop, the ever-wonderful Rose Cafe (those who have an eagle eye will notice that this stop is not on the official route (and nor were any of the others ).  Some had wondered at the closeness of the stop, but it actually turned out to be just right.  Bill loved his grub and there were appreciative murmurs from everyone in the group.

Soon we were off to Weston and the hilly part of the ride began with Bengeo Hill.  We carefully missed Chapmore End (a mistake on my part) and rolled on towards Thundridge. The countryside was stunning; there were lavenders, blues, greens and bright red fields everywhere.  It really did seem that, no matter where you looked, the view would be stunning.  We made our way towards Puckeridge via Cold Christmas and Standon.  Soon there were comments like "here we go again" as we approached each hill on this roller coaster section.

After Puckeridge, the hills began to take their toll on the group and it was evident that maybe this wasn't such a great idea in this heat.  However, we were doing well, as we sweated our way through Great Munden, Woodend and Cromer.  Lunch soon became a topic of conversation as we made our weary way towards Weston.  We happened upon the Rising Sun at Halls Green, and before we knew it, we were having lunch.

Bill took advantage of this timely stop to have a kip and re-charge his batteries. This was a great stop as the ladies were very good to us and stocked us up on water (with ice cubes), so our spirits were lifted as we headed for our next stop at Emily's in Whitwell.  What happened before lunch happened after lunch and the ride, although very pleasant, became a little gruelling and was beginning to wear upon our spirits.  I wanted to stick with the route, but everyone needed a rest, so we missed out Ley Green and headed for Whitwell.

 

We reached the tea stop along with several thousand other cyclists and rather than wait in a queue at the cafe, we decided to visit the local pub instead: The Maidens Head. This was a good idea.  There was a lovely garden, the drinks were very affordable (70p for orange squash) and this was the most relaxing break of the day.  It took a lot of persuasion to get going again.

For here, we made our way back to Wheathampstead via Lilley Bottom, Winch Hill, Darley Hall, Chiltern Green, Peters Green and Gustard Wood.

I really enjoyed the ride, but from the tea stop onwards it became clear that we were a tired bunch as a result of the challenge and I have never been so pleased to roll into Wheathampstead.  A great ride with some great people.


26/06/2011

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