Posted on Monday 8 January 2018 by Charles Harvey
This ride with an espionage theme was led under Spokes’ auspices but was also put on the CLCTC rides list as a one star ride. It’s a ride I’ve led many times before and, since many people have already ridden it and it was very cold, I wasn’t expecting large numbers. Rather to my surprise, 16 people turned up at our rendezvous point at the Cha Café in Cassiobury Park.
Almost at once, we hit our first problem. Jiten had a puncture within a minute of starting. As we were just outside Watford Metropolitan Line Station and he could get home easily, he decided to turn back rather than let the rest of us get very cold while it was fixed. This self-sacrifice is much appreciated and I look forward to seeing him again on future rides.
From Watford, the ride went up through Whippendell Wood to Chandlers Cross and then to Belsize and Flaunden. All the time we were climbing gradually to the top of this part of the Chilterns. It was sunny and the wooded landscape looked attractive. We arrived at The Green Dragon at Flaunden at 12.00 just as it opened. The Green Dragon used to serve mainly Thai food but nowadays serves traditional pub grub and, this being Sunday, Sunday roast.
In the early 1950s, Guy Burgess often stayed in Flaunden and was a regular drinker at this pub. One day the landlord noticed Burgess in deep conversation with another man he did not recognise. Days later, the papers were full of details of the defection of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to Moscow complete with photos and the landlord recognised who the other man was. More details here.
After lunch, we returned to Watford via Sarratt, which is the home of the Circus’s training school for agents in John Le Carre’s spy novels. We were going mainly downhill now and made it back to Watford about 15.00. The ride didn’t so much finish as disintegrate as riders peeled off to go to their homes. We planned to visit the Cha Café again, but with a queue stretching back to the entrance, we decided it wasn’t worth waiting and headed to Watford Junction station.