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23 Oct: Wheathampstead to Steeple Morden

posted 26 Oct 2011, 02:47 by South Herts   [ updated 19 Feb 2017, 21:20 ]
I led this ride last year when we had dismal weather and only a handful of riders. A complete contrast this time: a dry bright morning and 15 riders (including 2 new ones)!

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After counting everyone we set off. As the distance to elevenses was fairly long,  I decided to do a direct route and to this end, we took the B651 through Gustard Wood, Kimpton, Whitwell and St Paul’s Walden. 

Cyclists at Stagenhoe
At Stagenhoe near St Paul's Walden

There was quite a bit of climbing to this point, but after this we had a long downhill to Little Almshoe where we turned right to Redcoats Green.  The riding was quite easy as we had a following wind, which we would come to loathe later in the day.  We continued north to Baldock and then Stotfold and Astwick.  Here we had to take our lives in our hands crossing the A1, but we all managed to get across and our elevenses stop was reached.
I had some concerns about whether this venue would cope with our number, but they did so admirably (fortunately there weren't many others there).  After eating and drinking, we set off for our lunch venue at Steeple Morden.  We headed towards Ashwell and then turned north again to Eyeworth up a very long straight narrow lane.  We still had our tailwind and were making good progress, so much so that I decided to stick an extra loop in at Eyeworth by turning left toward Sutton.  Here we headed towards Potton and then turned right to Wrestlingworth. It was here that we realised how strong the wind had been!
A small incline felt like going up the side of a mountain, and then we had to pedal downhill into Wrestlingworth. From here, it was just a short hop to Guilden Morden and then Steeple Morden. The Wagon and Horses pub was very quiet and the chef was off, but they rustled up some baguettes and I reckon they were glad of our custom.
  Farrowbury Farm
  Alpacas neat Steeple Morden
After lunch, we headed back into the wind to Ashwell where we took the steep hill out of the village to cross the A505 at Slip End.  The ride into the wind was tiring and the group was getting quite strung out.  We regrouped at Cumberlow Green and then continued to Luffenhall where we climbed again to Halls Green.  From here, it was a fairly level ride back to the north of Stevenage where I took my usual short cut through the St Nicholas area and then took the cycle track to Fairlands Valley Park, where the cafe did a good trade in ice cream and teas.  It was now nearly 4pm, which is quite late for our tea stops, but fortunately Costello’s stays open until 5pm.
  Steeple Morden
Costello's, Stevenage

We left here and I helped the group navigate the cycle tracks to the Roebuck Inn where I left them to continue back to Wheathampstead/St Albans.  I had 73 miles on the clock when I got home.  Many thanks to those who came on the ride and apologies to those who were worn out at the end of it!

  The Roebuck, Stevenage

Stuart 23/10/2011