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15 March: St Albans to Chesham

posted 20 Mar 2015, 05:42 by South Herts   [ updated 5 Jan 2017, 22:48 ]
A quick exit from St Albans was called for, as was obvious from the synchronised shuffling from one foot to another exhibited by some riders gathered at the start.  A cold tail wind had blown the London contingent there early and left them hanging around for 20 minutes getting cold. The skill of having clothing for the varying temperatures and levels of exercise during the day is not an easy one to acquire, but surely our ‘wimps in lycra’ would have more layers after last week’s slating? No such problems for the two locals who caught up just as we were leaving the city, looking as if they had just got out of a warm bed.
group standing
At the start
group riding towards dog walker
Ebury Way
group riding
Craig leading
Hanging monkey

Craig’s route was a surprise for a winter ride.  Instead of the lumpy lanes via Kings Langley, we headed through Verulamium Park to pick up Route 61 in Chiswell Green and followed it all the way through Bricket Wood, Garston, Bushey and Ricky to Maple Cross.  So after climbing past the remnants of the Roman wall it was virtually downhill all the way.

This was a really pleasant route and any worries about mud on the off-road Ebury Way and Grand Union towpath were unfounded.  In fact the off road bits were smoother than the tarmac through Bricket Wood, but that’s not so unusual.  We paused when Neil noticed a monkey hanging from the girders of a derelict canal-side building.  I’d never spotted it before, although judging by its coating of mildew it had been there a long time.

The climb out of the Colne Valley at Maple Cross wasn’t pretty, with more opportunities for Steve to report dumped rubbish ahead of Community Clear Up Day (Saturday 21 March). If only a fraction of the £850M a year spent on clearing up litter could be used to repair potholes instead we would be very happy.   It wasn’t a hard climb and we were soon relaxing and placing our orders in The Madeira Café, which was busy but had plenty of room. 

Leaving Chalfont St Peter, rather than a direct route of about 9 miles to Chesham, Craig took us across to Beaconsfield before heading north towards Winchmore Hill and down to Amersham.  Here we picked up The Milton cycle route, which included a short and very steep climb, to Amersham-on-the Hill and Chesham Bois, then down to The Pheasant in Chesham.  We had chosen this pub as it was Mother’s Day and they don’t serve food on Sundays, so we found a large table we could all get around and ate our sandwiches in the warm.

The route back was an easy bash along the Chess Valley, followed by a stiff climb to Flaunden, where we paused outside the Green Dragon, aka “Von Ribbentrop Arms”. Then we were on autopilot back home completing 50 miles and 3,500 ft of climbing on the bikes.

Jon 15/03/2015