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23 Sept: St Albans to Amersham

posted 23 Sep 2012, 14:17 by South Herts   [ updated 12 Jan 2017, 23:48 ]
River flowing through meadows
River Chess
Through the cafe window of cyclists having coffee
Inside the cafe 
The weather forecast on Saturday was predicting dire conditions for Sunday's ride - heavy rain and wind heading our way, the only question was when it would get here - later in the afternoon or in the morning? But Sunday morning dawned dry, if cloudy and cold. So, setting off from St Albans, we decided to take it to the mid morning stop and then decide whether to go on or call it a day. We were glad to see, Kate a new rider, but she had a heavy chunky bike. Would she be able to keep up? Yes, sailing past me on the first climb, she wasn't even out of breath.

Heading across through Bedmond and then down through Hunton Bridge we crossed the M25 to arrive in Sarratt. Turning here through the woods we dropped down to Sarratt Bottom, then following the delightful track along the River Chess. Lingering by the foot bridge for a bit we eventually emerged onto the road at Chennies. Then along the road to Chesham and soon climbing the awkward hill to Chesham Bois - what a rotten surface! A few drops of rain were felt but we managed to get into the cafe before it really got going.

We enjoyed this excellent cafe stop, but looking out of window, it was now  hammering down. So, it did not need much discussion for us to call it a day and head back for an early bath the quickest way we could think of. A shame the conditions cut short the ride, but at least we had a couple of hours of dry weather to start the day.

Richard 23/09/2012

Neil adds:
The trip down to Amersham was great and without any event to speak of, but for me the trip back became a challenge.

Halfway down the Latimer road and in the pouring rain, my front wheel decided to very helpfully have a puncture; luckily Steve was behind me. We called ahead but no one heard, so Steve shot off to let the group know. Whilst he was doing that I tried to patch my (brand new) tube. Self-adhesive patches are cra…not very good in the rain.

So we resorted to old style patches, worked like a dream, by this time Carol had come back to let us know that the group had gone on, for the best really. The weather wasn't good at all.

All patched up we set off heading for Flaunden, we made fairly decent time but as we were approaching Flaunden hill, I felt that sort of wobbly feeling you get with a flat. Steve pointed out that my back tyre was going down (pants). He suggested a stop at the Green Dragon, good idea, but as we headed up the hill, I discovered that the cable for the front derailleur had come away from my bike; I couldn't change down my gears. At about half way up the hill the chain decided to go onto the small ring, which was great and I made some progress up the hill.

At the pub I told Steve what had happened, he thought he might be able to mend there and then, but that really wasn't an option; we were soaked as it was. Carol suggested going back to theirs and fixing things up in the comfort of a garage. So I pumped up the back tyre, after finding it was a slow puncture.

It was about 10 miles to St Albans and we went via Rucklers Lane and Bunkers Lane. The going was slow as all I had was the lowest gears to use and boy did I pedal. Eventually we made it back to Steve and Carol’s.
Steve very deftly reattached the cable and we found the slow puncture in the back tyre, I have also found the reason for my spate of recent flats. I have the wrong tyres for what I want to do; those things are getting changed.

Whilst the fixing was going on Carol had very kindly made us some sandwiches and a wonderful cup of coffee, it was great to sit down somewhere without rain pouring down.
If it wasn't for Steve and Carol I would’ve given up, at Flaunden I was ready to get a taxi, but they proved to me that you can limp home. Sure it’s going to take long time but you’ll get there. When I thanked Steve for his help, he said not a problem this is what being in a club means.

I would like to thank the Braziers for their time, patience, help and hospitality.

It was an experience - one I don’t want to repeat, but if I do I will be far better prepared for it mentally.