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27 Sept: St Albans to Lacey Green

posted 2 Oct 2015, 01:27 by South Herts   [ updated 19 Nov 2015, 00:16 ]
I arrived at the war memorial to see the other riders deep in conversation with a lady vicar (or someone dressed like one). She was interested in the Saturday Saunter rides as she was otherwise engaged on Sundays. This was a shame as she might have raised the usual level of conversation but nonetheless I thought she should be advised to see her trade-union representative about working unsocial hours. Six of us set off north towards Redbourn, avoiding Hogg End Lane as we knew it was blocked at the far end, and instead turned up Punchbowl Lane. This is narrower & steeper and as usual had several mounds of dumped builders’ rubbish near Old Jeromes. On reaching the end we were pleasantly surprised to see that Three Cherry Trees Lane, closed since the Buncefield fire, then opened and closed again last year, was now again open.

Cyclists in the sun
Warm sun after a chilly start

So we could have used Hogg End Lane after all. Continuing through Piccotts End and Frithsden, we overtook the West Herts CTC group at Little Gaddesden, some of whom were riding fixed-wheel bikes. After an exchange of gossip and on the way up to Ivinghoe Beacon we saw a single deer in an adjacent field, which then leapt over a barbed-wire fence before crossing the road just in front of us.

White lion in chalk hillside
The Whipsnade White Lion

On the right hand side I usually like to look over to the white lion carved on the hillside under Whipsnade zoo. It should look like the photo above, but is currently so dirty it was almost impossible to spot. After a fast descent to Ivinghoe village we had a welcome coffee stop in Curiositea cafe in the old school after about 20 miles. Craig left us at this stop and five of us travelled on to lunch in Lacey Green at the Black Horse pub. Rather than climb up and down several times over the Chiltern Hills we took a flatter route through Aston Clinton, Weston Turville, Terrick and Marsh, looping north and west of Princes Risborough before climbing up Wardrobes Hill to reach the pub after 22 miles of fairly easy riding and where I did not change out of my outer chain-ring.

After a very reasonably priced lunch in their garden, but where the aroma of farm animals was evident, we headed back via Great Missenden, Hyde Heath and Chesham Bois. As we climbed up the hill from Latimer to see the head of the Green Dragon peering over the hedge at Flaunden we had done another 18 miles. This pub has had two infamous figures among its former clientele: Joachim von Ribbentrop  and Guy Burgess. However, today we were visiting the church on the opposite side of the road for tea and cakes, where we were blessed by the presence of yet another lady vicar, and also Phil from the midweek riders, who had gone for an afternoon spin. From here it was an easy route back to St Albans for four of us, arriving at 5:15, and a bit further for Judy who was pedalling all the way back to Barnet. A perfect day for this longish ride of about 70 miles.
Carol 27/09/2015