Congratulations to CTC Member Group Stevenage and North Hertfordshire which is not only CTC Voluntary Group of the Year, but has just been named as the Sport Stevenage Community Club of the Year. Stevenage organised 153 local rides last year for riders of all levels.
We joined them for a Sunday ride back in July. Iain Dawson wrote:
An interesting change to the calendar – a ride with another CTC Group. Strange roads, cycleways, smooth tarmac, an urban lunchstop – all new experiences for us.
Brian arranged for us to join up with, or more accurately tag along with, the Stevenage CTC group, whom we met by the War Memorial in the middle of Stevenage’s Old Town. Yes, it does have one.
Two minutes after leaving, we seemed to be out in the country and the roads were, in general, very very quiet. Certainly a lot quieter than you get around Northampton on a Sunday! The leaders obviously know their stuff and know which roads are used as rat runs and which are generally avoided by motorists. They also know which bridleways can be ridden on road bikes and which can’t.
The first stop was at a café/stables/second-hand-bike-bits shop/farm in Whitwell, very popular with cyclists, approached alongside the River Mimram and its well-established watercress beds.
The lanes then got a bit lumpy but unlike Northamptonshire the hills seemed quite short so a bit of climbing and then relax before you run out of breath. Paul and Clare provided a running commentary on all the good (and bad) watering holes used by the group as we passed them, and there was the continual presence of jets overhead as we passed within a few hundred metres of Luton airport’s runway. Another thing we’re not used to.
The second stop was in the centre of Harpenden, where there seemed to be a change from our usual practice of all bundling into one café, causing a rush for the staff. After scoping out two cafés and a pub, we all ended-up in the same café anyway. Some things don’t change.
We had a few light showers during the day, the only heavy one during lunch, so – well-timed Alan!
The route back to Stevenage contained more surprises and I’d just been talking to one of the locals about their puncture rates, given the amount of gravel and flint on the roads, when we turned off the tarmac and down a bridleway.
At the other end, there was a hissing sound.
Oh well, it’d been a while since I’d had that tyre off anyway. I was overdue or something.
The final few miles brought us back into Stevenage past Knebworth Park and its deer herd and onto the Stevenage cycleway system. Think “Milton Keynes Redway” but without having to give way so often for local roads, although navigation would have been a challenge without someone who knew where they were going.
I’d like to thank Brian for organising the day out, and AlanB and the rest of the Stevenage group for making us feel so welcome and providing such an enjoyable and entertaining run (and lending me a decent pump after the incident with the flint).
Next time, let’s see if we can gather a larger group as there were only five of us who made the trip (Dave, Rowan, John Cutler, Brian and I).