Posted on Tuesday 19 January 2016 by Charles Harvey
I’d never been on a Little Green Ride (LGR) before. Knebworth and Stevenage are not on a convenient railway line for me and the 3rd Sunday of the month clashes with Barnet Cyclists rides. Yet last Sunday I found myself leading a LGR. I’d responded to an appeal by John Silvertown to take over a ride he was no longer able to lead. I said I’d do it but I didn’t know the Knebworth / Stevenage area well enough to lead a ride from there without prior reconnaissance. I could however lead a ride from Welwyn Garden City (WGC) “off the map” so, unusually, this LGR started from there.
It had snowed during the night and as I drove up the A1(M) to the start point I saw snow covering the fields and wondered if the minor roads would be safe to ride on. In the event I needn’t have worried. The temperature was 2 degrees so the so the roads were ice free but the countryside was picturesque with the fields still covered with snow.
I don’t seem to have much luck with WGC. The last ride I led from there didn’t start until lunchtime due to problems with the trains. This time the five riders coming up from London were dumped off a faulty train at Finsbury Park. They got on to another, slower train and arrived about half an hour late. WGC is a slow station to get bikes out of and we didn’t get going until about 11.30.
Then things began to go more smoothly. We exited WGC through Sherrardspark Wood and went along country lanes though Ayot Green and Ayot St Peter and made better time to Wheathampstead than I’d expected. We stopped in the village at Charlie’s tea room where we’d booked a CTC (coffee, tea and cakes) table in advance.
I’d included a loop in the ride through Ayot St Lawrence and Lower Gustard Wood which could be left out if the weather was bad or we were well behind time. We did have time to ride it and have a quick look at various sites of historical interest, including the grave of Aplsey Cherry- Garrard, the Antarctic explorer, the old Wheathampstead railway station and Shaw’s Corner, home of playwright and CTC member George Bernard Shaw.
After lunch, back in Wheathampstead at The Swan, we headed towards Hatfield via Symondshyde Great Wood, Hatfield Business Park, once the De Havilland airfield, and the Alban Way to Hatfield Station for the journey home.
I’d like to thank Paul Krebs for acting as backstop throughout the ride and for wearing such a conspicuous hi-vis jacket that made it easy for me to spot him from the front of the ride.