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01 March: Hatfield to Great Offley

posted 4 Mar 2015, 05:19 by South Herts   [ updated 24 Nov 2015, 23:41 ]
A Windy Day

The weather was predicted to be windy with a late afternoon shower. A group of nine set off from Asda in Hatfield headed for Hitchin and to avoid the main road into WGC we took Green Lane to Lemsford Village and then Valley Road into Welwyn. There was little traffic as we sped down the long straight hill to Digswell and crawled up the other side of the Mimram valley to Harmer Green, Burnham Green and Datchworth Green.
Top of the hill in Harmer Green
Billy Smart's Circus
Heading north along Bury Lane there are pleasant views across the rolling Hertfordshire countryside. Another long descent to Bragbury End took us onto the cycle path through Stevenage, following the A602 into Stevenage town centre then along Six Hills Way, Gunnels Wood Road and Clovelly Way to head out of town.  It’s great that you can cycle right through Stevenage on a flat route without mixing with traffic at all and the glimpse of Billy Smart’s circus as we emerged from one of the underpasses was a distraction from the bumpy nature of these elderly cycle paths. After that it was nice to get back onto country lanes through Little Wymondley to the Hitchin Kitchen Cafe for Elevenses. This is a always a busy cafe on Sunday mornings and two more riders joined us here.

The wind had been blowing more or less on the left shoulder most of the morning and I knew we were in for some hard work on the next stage. We headed north to Ickleford and along the A600. Then turning west through Holwell the strong westerly wind made very hard work for the next few miles. The slog continued through Pirton and along the Shillington Road. Then we headed south again to Pegsdon with wind on the right shoulder now trying to blow our bikes into the ditch, but those who had taken the No 6 breakfast on board earlier had plenty of ballast to stabilise themselves. Taking the Hexton Road towards Lilley we seem to have got a bit of shelter from the wind so the climb was not too bad. Through Lilley, across the A505 and left turn along Luton White Hill the wind was behind us now so we were blown up the hill into Great Offley for lunch at the Red Lion. When the waitress delivered three pavlovas covered in cream to nearby customers the puddings tempted us all, especially Steve C who had just joined us having already ridden 80 miles via Reed to lunch without any food.

Mindful of the predicted showers we headed back along the familiar Lilley Bottom Road through Whitwell to Codicote. Riders made their own way home from here. The wind seemed to have switched to a more southerly direction so it was quite hard work again.  By all accounts every one got back suitably knackered before the heavy rain arrived around 5 pm.

Mike 1/3/2015