Frustrated by the weather for weeks, this Sunday was the first opportunity for many to ride for some time and hence a large turnout for the January ‘Little Green’ was to be expected. Even so the group of 18 that assembled was probably a record for the month. Those Londoners who left the train at Knebworth were joined by several local riders and we climbed up Swengleys Lane under blue skies and helped by a useful tailwind. Large patches of snow were still lying in fields on the higher ground but thankfully even the smallest lanes were now free of ice.
Gentle pace is a polite description for some Little Green Rides and we meandered towards lunch at High Cross via the pretty villages of Bennington, Whempstead and Dane End. Even so an ‘autobus’ of stragglers formed, patiently shepharded by my co-leader and partner Rachel. The typically huge plates of food served up at the White Horse in High Cross (very cycle friendly as ever) may have been out of proportion to the 24 km covered by lunchtime.
As expected the roads were in dire condition after the winter weather, with fresh potholes and skip loads of loose stones featuring throughout. This brought the party to a halt soon after lunch as the third puncture of the day was dealt with. Still the duck pond at Chapmore End is probably one of the most scenic places in Hertfordshire to deal with a mechanical and the break was appreciated by the ride.
Then it was back to Knebworth via Waterford and Bramfield (with a brief stop at the latter to point out the 11th century church where Thomas a Beckett once served as priest). With the winter sun setting as we descended into Knebworth to complete a leisurely 43 km, the day felt like an excellent antidote to previous cancelled outings.