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18 Nov: St Albans to Luton

posted 21 Nov 2012, 14:19 by South Herts   [ updated 12 Jan 2017, 23:11 ]
A frosty morning, but a clear blue sky and bright sunshine welcomed us when we met up at the War Memorial in St Albans.  We were soon off heading north across Nomansland Common and then through the back streets of Harpenden.  Soon the lanes towards Luton would have brought us to our morning stop.  So, just when some were beginning to wonder about what they would order in the cafe when we got there, we turned instead to Markyate and along the Whipsnade road, through Kensworth and then into that deep dip, before climbing to the fringes of Dunstable.  Passing the largest chalk pit in the country, where chalk is pumped in solution to Rugby through a 56-mile pipeline!
Largest chalk pit
Cafe 7 in Caddington

A quick stretch on the busy A5 and a short climb brought us to a new cafe stop for us in the centre of Caddington.  An excellent value establishment with a mug of tea at 70p!  Surely this is a record?  Now our route to lunch was blocked by Luton. So no more quiet rural lanes for a while but a bash through some serious traffic and then some back streets to soon pick up Sustrans route 6 following the upper Lea.  Here misfortune struck when Neil hit a bollard in the path and fell off.  He fell heavily and was badly cut.  
Group stands around fallen cyclist
Neil recovering after hitting the post he is leaning on
Group by steel post
Stupid place to stick a post

But after checking nothing was broken and a rest, he gamely wanted to carry on.  We took things a bit easy, and soon in the fringes of Luton we saw a marathon run event.  A first aid post for the run gave Neil a bit of further treatment.  
3 ambulance people around patient
Ambulance crew get some practice
Cycle path
Pleasant route through Luton

But, instead of carrying on with the planned route round the north of Luton, it seemed best to cut things short and head back into the town centre and seek out a convenient stop for lunch.  Jon recommended the Red Lion which turned out to be a pleasant stop and excellent value and good service. 

Group outside pub
Town centre pub in Luton
rear view of group riding
New tarmac on NCR 6!

Heading home from Luton, it seemed worth checking whether the new Lea cycle path had been completed.  And yes, riding past the sewage works on a new tarmac surface was a pleasure.  The path is complete (but maybe not yet officially opened).  Quick progress on the new route and we parted on our separate ways.  An eventful trip, and all the best to Neil, who said he got in to work as usual on Monday.  Lesson - bollards in the middle of cycle paths are dangerous especially when riding in a group and they are not well painted.
rear view of group riding
All the way (nearly) to Wheathampstead

18 Nov 2012

Richard 18/11/2012