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22 Sep: St Albans to Flitwick

posted 27 Sep 2013, 01:12 by South Herts   [ updated 11 Jan 2017, 22:07 ]
This ride was planned to visit a new coffee stop and a new pub for the South Herts group. The first leg to coffee was quite a long stretch of 25 miles, and six riders were at the start – Craig, Richard, Roger and Diane together with leaders Carol and Steve.  We took a direct route along the A5183 through Redbourn, then along the old A5 to Markyate, before going up the long haul to the edge of the Chiltern ridge by Whipsnade Zoo.  After passing through Eaton Bray and the edge of Leighton Buzzard, we found the entrance to Rushmere Country Park and climbed up a fairly long tarmaced driveway to find a spanking brand-new cafe.  It has a terrace and beautiful views over the canopy of trees, hence the name ‘Treetops cafe’. 
But it was not cheap.  We all gasped at the extra £1 for jam with a scone, to be told it had ‘strawberry and champagne’ in the ingredients.  It transpired that I incorrectly assumed the Stockgrove Park cafe had been re-badged.  I was unaware this was a new business run by the ‘Greensand Trust’ and Stockgrove Park still exists with its (presumably) cheaper cafe. Anyway the view was worth paying for, but we decided not to pay the £3 charge to ride on their paths.  I looked on the website afterwards and they dress it up as a ‘health and safety’ liability issue.

group arriving at junction
On the way to Whitwell
Trice on busway
Judy takes a wrong turn up the LD Busway

Leaving the park we followed cycling signs for the ‘Greensand Cycle Route’, via Brickhills, Woburn Forest and Aspley Guise, to cross the M1 near Steppingley before arriving at the Blackbirds pub to find Jon and Judy.  They had taken a direct route via NCR 6 and Luton to check out the new Luton-Dunstable Busway – which currently has a poorly surfaced afterthought of a cycle track next to the ultra-smooth bus track.  The pub was cheap and rather down-market by our refined Hertfordshire standards; it was full of men with stratospheric BMI indices watching football on televisions in the “Sport Bar”.  We are not used to sitting in a garden (we were the only occupants) looking at a man bellowing at the kitchen staff through a wall ventilator!  There was even a television in the garden, fortunately not turned on.
Diane and Roger caught the train back home, avoiding our interesting verbal exchange with a member of the lower orders with a limited vocabulary, who overtook us with only microns to spare.  The rest of us climbed the ridge at Sundon before following a well-ridden route home via Whitwell, getting back to St Albans after 72 miles.

Carol 22/09/2013