On the way out, the train wasn’t much occupied, so our bikes were not a problem – some got on at St Pancras, but the majority at West Hampstead, arriving at St Albans soon after 11 am.
After about half a mile, we joined the Sustrans Route and set off in an easterly direction. This route is on a disused railway track and provides a very pleasant start for a bike ride. After 3 or 4 miles, we stopped for a photo before leaving the track
We had to ride a couple of miles on the only busy road of the day, but soon turned off into leafy lanes, through Symondshyde Great Wood and then on to Wheathampstead where Steve got his first puncture. This was fixed, but no sooner had we started on the little off road route than his tyre went down a second time. This time we patched and put the tube back. We called the advance party who were resting at Ayot Church and mending someone Joanne’s puncture. We managed to get past Ayot St Lawrence and were making good progress when we heard the sound of air escaping again. This time we did another patch without taking the tube out and seem to have had “third time lucky” as it lasted for the rest of the day.
Eventually we all arrived at Emily’s Tea Room for lunch. This is a very welcoming place for cyclists – they have plenty of room outdoors for fine days as well as good seating inside if it rains. They even sell bike bits (e.g. inner tubes). Map showing location of Emily’s Tea Room
To allow the late comers to finish their lunch, we set off in two groups to continue our ride north. We met up again at Great Offley where we posed for a second group photo.
John took Analia to Luton to catch the train, as she was getting a bit tired. The rest of us pressed on towards Harlington via Lilley bottom and through Lilley with some big climbs as well as some great runs downhill. Then after the last stiff climb (where most people walked), we reached Harlington Station. An advance group caught the 5.30 and the rest of us the 5.50 – good thing we split up as the train was crowded.
We did 50 km and I think all of us were pleasantly tired, but most people said they’d enjoyed the day.