Today I decided to ride part of the route I've got planned for the LBC ride on July 25th. I've ridden the first section numerous times - St Albans, Hatfield and Potters Bar featured heavily on my rides over the past few years as I lived there. However, I'd never really ventured past Hertford and so the second half of the route was a complete blank to me. Not really ideal for leading a ride over in that direction!
As I was doing this ride for the Brompton club and I was going to head into London afterwards for the weekend, I ended up doing the ride on the Brompton, though I really wanted to do it on my Pashley. Maybe I'll do the actual ride on the Pashley as I've now scoped out the route (and by the time of the ride, I may have had the water bottle holder installed on the Pashley so I'd be able to drink).
I left the house and headed out to the Cole Green Way. This would be the start of the ride and would form the part of the route that would get me to Hertford. Most of the ride will be on cycle path and away from traffic and this forms a big section of that.
Getting to Hertford was easy - I'd done this section before so it wasn't to hard to get there. Once I got to Hertford through, I was on new territory.
Leaving Hertford behind, I headed on towards Ware along the canal.
The route was pretty wide and open at this point and it was a pleasure to cycle. The path under the wheels was standard canal path - so not paved but not to bad under the wheels. It wasn't long before I got to Ware.
At this point, I stuck with the canal paths. My initial route finding had me come off the route at Ware and use the roads but before leaving, I thought that sticking to the canal might be the best option. I don't think I was wrong. The canal was a great option.
The ride I'll be leading is loosely themed about the de Haviland Mosquito, a World War 2 bomber that was built and operated locally to Hertforshire. In effect, it's just an excuse to ride around Hertfordshire! So from Stanstead Abbots, I headed towards my destination, the old RAF airfield at Hunsdon. Leaving Stanstead Abbots and cycling around the corner I was greeted with a sign saying prepare for a 1:10 gradient! I wasn't expecting that! However, I was needlessly worried and the route splits to the left avoiding the hill! Good news for those that want to do my ride, but don't like hills!
I arrived at the airfield via a fairly dusty and gritty road, having had to go through a gate. In fact, I thought I'd stumbled upon a private road - I'm still not sure that the route is technically open to the public but I rode along it anyhow and no one mentioned anything - there were people at the airfield itself when I arrived. There were a number of Microlights out and about. I stopped for a photo opportunity and a drink before heading on.
I'd planned to do laps of the airfield and the old runways, but seeing the road surface, this probably isn't the best on a Brompton! It wasn't the nicest surface to be cycling on but it wasn't the worst I've been on (at least it wasn't muddy)! The land around the airfield had some poppies growing alongside the route which I thought was nice. There's still reminders of the original purpose of the airfield around as well - with pillboxes dotted around.
Leaving the airfield behind, I found myself heading back into built up areas and ended up in Harlow. The was a bit of cycling along a busy A road on the pavement here but it wasn't to bad - it might prove to be an issue with a larger supply of Bromptoneers on the ride but might just take some time to cross.
Heading through Harlow was quite pleasant - like Stevenage, it seems to have a good network of bike paths. The views might not be the best, but it is off road and away from traffic so I can't complain.
I left Harlow behind and ended up on a slight hill out of Harlow. Once that was out the way, there was some nice downhill (along some freshly tarmaced road) and then onto a road for the final stretch into Epping to finish. In fact, this last section (unavoidable) was probably the heaviest in terms of traffic, however, it might be a case of cycling down the rudimentary pavement if needed.
The ride ended in Epping - no relation to the Mosquito bomber, just the fact it's the first tube stop you come to along the route! The ride back into London was easily down on the tube, where I jumped out at Liverpool Street and cycled onwards to Wimbledon.
However, it looks like it'll be a cracking ride - I was impressed with how much of it was off road or on cycle paths. If the weather is good, it could be a cracking ride. And it shows the benefits of the Brompton - getting the train to Potters Bar and then heading onwards to Epping and then getting the tube back into London - multi modal travel at it's finest.
I'm looking forward to the ride now that I've ridden it in full - should be a good ride.