Monday, 17 September 2012

The LGR in Autumn

September's ride was shorter than normal but it was great to be out in the Autumn sunshine, meandering the Herts lanes.

Now that the Olympics are finished the railway engineering works begin again, which meant that our usual train to Knebworth wasn't happening. Our plan, instead was to catch a slightly later train which would take us direct into Stevenage and we could navigate our way through its entanglement of bike lanes and out into the Hertfordshire countryside. Unfortunately the engineering work overran and so the planned train was delayed with, at first no sign of when it would be running. To add to the complications there were riders at Finsbury Park and Kings Cross awaiting the train. And our leader (me) had chosen that Sunday to ride out and was already at Stevenage station waiting for everyone else.

The Little Green Ride knows how to keep calm and carry on, however. After a while (over half an hour) the train sprang into life and we were all re-united at Stevenage and eager to go cycling.

Because we were running late we took a fairly short route for lunch. We headed north out of Stevenage along its cycle tracks. In my opinion these were built more for the benefit of motorists to keep those pesky cyclists out of their way, and less for the cyclists themselves. I have ridden them many a time and I think the Little Green Ride makes up the bulk of the traffic on them! Our route, however, took us through the old heart of Stevenage and past Rooks Nest, once the home of EM Forster and the inspiration for Howards End the eponymous setting for one of his novels.

Lunch was at Church Farm, Ardeley. I am afraid this is one of my favourite lunch stops and if you join the Little Green Ride when I am leading you are likely to end up here where the food miles are measured in yards, the helpings are massive, and the staff are really friendly. And if you fancy a pint you can wander across the road to the Jolly Waggoners run by the same people.

After lunch we managed a little bit more cycling through some of the slightly lumpier parts of Hertfordshire but as usual we stopped at the top of all the hills to admire the view. Autumn was in the air and the clear skies were a paler shade of blue. On the trees the leaves were just beginning to turn. Join us next month and there should be spectacular colours along the roadside. There should also be a wonderful harvest in the hedges as next time it will be perfect for picking sloeberries (if the birds haven't got to them first). There is only use for sloeberries that I can see and that is obviously sloe gin. I will be out next month collecting in preparation.

This month we did encounter other wayside harvests such as honey and eggs. We decided against the eggs as chances are they would end up scrambled before we got home but I did buy a jar of Uncle Tony's honey from Bennington.

We also encountered a wonderful old tractor - a Field Marshall - and I was outed as a bit of a tractor fan.

It was a slightly truncated ride this month because of the late train but enjoyable nonetheless. Hope to see some of you next month usual time, engineering works permitting.


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