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Mon 26th Oct 2020
Well, what a week. We have so much to write about!
Actually, we don’t. Still under Covid rules, still no Mriding or meeting on a Monday evenings and, with no end in sight, nothing of any note was discussed or decided upon at last week’s committee meeting.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Sunday was a beautiful day and eleven of us went for rides in three groups, originally made up of four but with one dropping to three on the day.
Steve took his group over to West Herts and just into Buckinghamshire, no doubt finding every area of flooding he could. Perhaps we should nickname him Aquaman?
Cider Bob’s group were a little late getting again from Sainsburys. The fourth rider making up the group didn’t turn up but didn’t let them know he wasn’t coming on the Whatsapp group. Can we ask that if you ask to be included but them can’t make it, please let your group leader know.
This is what Cider had to say: “I knew my group were keen to avoid flooding so we stuck, for the most part, to fairly main roads. That said, within moments of leaving Sainsburys, we were riding around huge puddles as we made our way, via Redcoats, to the B656 to get to Codicote and then on to Old Welwyn. Once on the bigger B roads, the riding was great. The roads were drying quickly, the sun came out (albeit straight in our faces) and the temperature was really quite mild. From Welwyn, we took the B197 up the short but fun Digswell Hill and then on to Wheathampstead via the Marford Road. Traffic was fairly light so the three of us made good progress and we were soon exiting Harpenden and on to Redbourn. Although you wouldn’t think it, you can skirt Hemel Hempstead quite nicely on the B487, which gets you to the really nice B440 to Leighton Buzzard. This is a great road for motorcyclists and conveniently takes you past Dunstable Downs, where we stopped for a socially distanced cuppa. After the usual necessities, we were back on the bikes, up to Leighton Buzzard and then over to Sundon and Streatley before taking the ever popular B655 through Barton Le Clay and back to Stevenage for just gone midday. I certainly enjoyed the ride, which had a nice, comfortable pace, and I got the impression Bernie and Jon did too. Thanks for coming along chaps”.
Paul Purple VFR took the third group. Richard Green was also kind enough to offer to lead that group so we hope to take advantage of him in the future but, for now, the literary master was in control and has given us this: "As Liam, Mark and Richard had all arrived at Sainsbury’s before 9am, we were able to set off on time. The weather was nice and sunny, so the only minus was the large amount of rain that had fallen over night resulting in the roads being quite wet. The plan was to head over to a Café in Suffolk near Haverhill and due to the heavy rain of the previous evening, the planned route was (mostly) on A and B roads with perhaps more use of A roads than on a drier day. We set off north on the A1 and then down the A505 to Royston before heading off on the B1039 to Wendens Ambo. I wasn’t sure what this road would be like, but it turned out to be not too bad, with less mud than expected and no road covering “lakes” although there were a few larger puddles to be ridden around. So, I was feeling pleased with myself until we suddenly hit a road closure due to gas repairs just before Wendens Ambo, and a U-Turn was required. The first option offered by my trusty Sat-Nav was the first left when back-tracking, but as we went to turn in, I immediately saw a very large road covering puddle so we carried on back-tracking. The second option was the first right which took us to Littlebury Green and which looked more promising, so we took this route, and I kept my fingers crossed. Just past Littlebury Green my Sat-Nav took me right, down a small lane which was ominous and sure enough we reached another road-wide puddle. This looked less deep, was only about 6ft long and we were running out of options so we (well me really – executive decision!) headed through slowly. After that the road, albeit narrow, was OK and we made it back to the B1039 on the far side of the closure and resumed the planned route which now took us past Audley End, through Saffron Walden and thence north on the B1052. Once past Little Walden, this turned out to be a nice open and consequently dry road and we were able to stretch our legs before arriving at Linton. Now followed a section on the A1037 towards Haverhill before turning off to the left on an admittedly non classified section of roads through Withersfield and Great Thurlow, thereby bypassing Haverhill itself and arriving at the A143. At Great Thurlow there was an ominous looking ford but thankfully there was also a bridge. I did point to the ford offering a chance to my companions to try their luck but strangely, none of them took up the challenge! There then remained a short blast down the A143, past Highpoint prison to Café 33 at Stradishall, our destination. The Café was good, and several other bikers were there so worth a visit. We ordered tea and stayed outside for a chat, at which point I learnt that both Mark and Richard had found the roads to be particularly slippery which I was surprised at as I had kept the pace appropriate to the conditions and hadn’t had a twitch myself, however both were riding Triumphs and both had the stock Diablo Corsa’s fitted which when compared to my trusty Road Pilots looked little more than cut slicks to me (especially Richard’s!) – apparently they are great in the dry, less so on the mud! The return route was back down the A143 then turning left down the B1061 to bypass Haverhill to the east/south and thence on down to Steeple Bumpstead, Hempstead and Great Sampford before heading on to Thaxted and taking the rather excellent B1051 to Stanstead. From there we simply dropped down onto the A120 and took that road all the way back to the A10 where Richard and Mark, by prior arrangement, headed north to Buntingford and the A507 whilst myself and Liam headed down the old A10 to Wadesmill and thence back to Watton-at Stone. The roads were drying out by this stage and so the trip back was, I believe, a little easier however what do I know as I wasn’t running on “cut slicks”! Thanks to Liam Mark and Richard for the company and additional thanks to Mark for bringing up the rear".
Thanks to all that came along but special thanks to the ride leaders who keep on volunteering to take you out.
The Sunday rides are proving to be quite popular so we will continue running them as long as you keep coming.
It’s not just the riding; we have a social gathering (keeping to groups of six) as riders arrive and most of the leaders stop half way round for a social chat with their group.
Mon 19th Oct 2020
As we’ve said, due to Covid-19 restrictions, with no Club meeting at a pub as a destination on a Monday night, we have suspended our Monday evening group rides for the winter. Most riders, even some of the more hardy, are not keen on riding in the dark, wet and cold with nowhere to go!
But the Sunday morning rides continue to be quite popular. This week, we planned two rides of six riders (although one had to drop out) so Ian Harris led one and Steve Vaughan led the other. But we were grateful to Paul Purple VFR and Mark Hollidge for volunteering to be additional ride leader should they be required.
Ian has provided us with this write up:
“With 10 club members interested in this week’s Sunday ride, and with Bob away on tour, the club were short of another ride leader so all could take part. At short notice I stepped in to lead the 2nd group (down to 5 on the day) with a choice of destinations where we may get mid-ride food and drink and the decision was unanimous to do one of our favourite rounds to ‘Winners’ in Finchingfield, although they were under latest Essex Covid-19 restrictions so we couldn’t have a table inside.Heading out towards Buntingford via Walkern and Cottered, we dropped down into Hare Street towards Brent Pelham via Great Hormead before passing through Clavering onto Newport. We then headed towards Thaxted via Howlett End before turning towards Great Sampford, Little Sampford and finally Finchingfield.Unlike the summer, now with the sugar beet harvest in full swing, there was lots of farm traffic on the roads leaving them quite muddy in places, we also had a fair number of horse boxes and transporters but these were soon dispatched with some overtakes. Winners Café was not too busy and we managed to get a few tables outside for a selection of breakfast fare and a good natter about all things bike related. Some were so engrossed in their bikes that they forgot to pay for their snacks, but that was soon resolved over the phone, as luckily, we have a good relationship with ‘Winners’.A slightly different route back through Thaxted and Debden before returning to Newport, through Wicken Bonhunt and back the way we came and we’d decided that we’d all go our separate ways at Cottered. All back safely with no dramas with a fair amount of the day left to spend with family”.
Steves group left Coreys Mill Sainsburys at 9.00 am and and headed for one of his barely known breakfast stops in the depths of the countryside where there weren’t the crowds seen at the better known places like the Super Sausage. They had a great ride and were back by 13:00.
The Sunday rides will continue so let Cider Bob know by 14:00ish each Saturday if you want to be included. You are welcome to lead if you’d like to give it a go or you can just suggest tea/breakfast stops.
There is a Committee meeting this week so let any of the Committee know if you have something you want raised.
Also, don’t forget, you can enter this year’s photo completion by clicking here.
Mon 12th October 2020
The weather for our second “regular” Sunday morning rides was almost perfect this week and, as a result, we had two groups of five turn up at Coreys Mill Sainsburys. Steve Vaughan led one while Cider Bob led the other.
Cider’s group, made up of Darren, Martin, Bernie and Mark, headed over to Danish Camp at Willington. Cider mucked up his time estimates during his route planning, resulting in an early stop for tea so they were supping a brew by 09:45, having only left at 08:55. But a big thanks to Darren for buying the entire round. It was then on to the second “half”, which was more like two thirds as we headed back to Hertfordshire via east Bedfordshire, arriving at Sainsburys at 11:55. Some of the group had to get away but Darren and Mark were enjoying the dry roads and sunshine so much that they carried on for most of the day.
Steve had a longer ride planned, intending to stop off at Jacks Hill café on the A5 north of Towcetser. But as his group passed the Super Sausage, just north of Milton Keynes on the A5, it became apparent to them that the Covid restrictions and guidelines were being completely ignored as the place was heaving with motorcyclist not keeping distance. Concerned Jacks Hill may be the same, while at some traffic lights in Towcester, Steve noticed a local hotel advertising breakfasts so decided to give it a go… and very good it was too.
Our Sunday ride leaders will try to find cafes to stop at for breakfast or just a cuppa but, as a responsible Club, if they look too packed, they will move on in an effort to keep everyone safe. So, if you are worried about Covid, don’t let it stop you joining one of our rides.
If you’d like to come along on a Sunday morning, the rides will be varied, ,leaving between 0800 and 10:00 and returning between 12:00 and 13:00. Contact Cider Bob by 14:00ish each Saturday, letting him know your preferred start and end times and he’ll do his best to fit you in to an appropriate group. Have a look at the “Covid-19 group rides” page of the website for details.
With the autumn weather kicking in, our Monday evening groups have now dwindled to just one, generally made up of four to six riders. Steve led an excellent ride this week, made up of four (a fifth had to cancel) which took us around the East Herts area, with no flood water! The group finished off with an outside pub drink back at Stevenage.
But, even the stalwart ride leaders (and Big Geoff) have now decided that, with little general interest from other members to ride in the poor weather and darkness, and with no Club meet destination, the time has come to suspend the Monday evening rides for the winter and we will concentrate on the Sunday morning rides.
If things change and we start pub meets again, we will restart the group rides but, for now, Mondays evenings can be spent at home, in front of the fire with your pipe and slippers.
Just a reminder of other things of interest:
- Our photo completion is on Facebook. Click here to enter.
- The 60th anniversary Dinner Dance is planned for Saturday 22nd May 2021. Put it in your diary. Click here for details.
- Your Committee will be meeting next Thursday for a socially distanced meeting. If you want anything brought up, message us by clicking here.
Summer returned in a big way this week with temperatures up close to 30°C and beautiful sunshine each day. But even the high temperatures didn’t encourage more than thirty of our members to join the Monday evening group rides. We think now the light is starting to disappear earlier in the evening, some riders are less keen to get out riding.
Mon 5th October 2020
This week we introduced what we hope will be regular Sunday morning rides to help keep the social bond between us all as the winter kicks in and the Monday night rides are less enticing.
Steve was kind enough to lead this week's ride although, for many, the heavy and persistent rain was not too desirable so while some gave it a miss because of the weather and some just because they couldn’t make it, it ended up being Steve and very keen new member (and relatively new motorcyclist) Darren.
They left Coreys Mill Sainsburys at 09.00 and headed over to Whipsnade before continuing through Ivinghoe Beacon, Tring, Wendover woods and Great Missenden to Princes Risborough before turning back and passing through Berkhampstead, Harpenden and Welwyn before arriving back at Stevenage. A 102 mile ride and they were back before 13:00. Steve enjoys riding in virtually any weather but it was great practice for Darren, with some fording to boot.
If you’d like to keep in touch with everyone through this Covid winter, what better way than a Sunday morning ride. Like with the Monday night rides, please let Cider Bob know you want to be included (by 14:00ish on each Saturday). Letting him know your preferred start time would be helpful and he’ll do his best to match you to the right group.
Monday night was forecast to be just as miserable but, none-the-less, six hardy riders braved the predicted elements and met up at Coreys Mill Sainsburys. Again, Steve led, with Kelvin at number 2, Martin at number 3, Paul Purple VFR unusually in the middle of the pack, Alan behind him and Cider Bob bringing up the rear.
All those that hadn’t opted to ride don’t know what they missed. The rain stayed away, the temperature was very mild and the mixture of roads was great, from grotty flooded back lanes to dry twisties and long dry sweepers. Steve’s route took us to Codicote via the B656, then over to Wheathampstead, Sandridge and Hatfield before taking the B158 to Hertford. We returned to Stevenage via Bengeo and the A602 and finally stopped for a drink at the Chequers for what turned out to be a long social chat.
All six thoroughly enjoyed it – thanks Steve.
Normally at this time of year, we’d be hosting a photographic competition at one of our Monday Club nights. This obviously isn’t going to happen this year so we will be having a “virtual” competition, where your entry can be submitted on-line.
Unfortunately, this will be on our Facebook platform so you’ll need to have an account (or use someone else's) if you want to submit a photo. But for those without an FB account, you can see the entries on our website’s front page by clicking here.
To submit your entry, please go to our Facebook page where you will find a Photographic Competition post then simply go the comments below it and add your photo.
The winner will be decided by the Committee based on whatever criteria they feel like but they will take into consideration any positive or negative comments added to each photo.
As always, the Dave Wiley Photographic Trophy will be awarded for the favourite entry. This will be presented at our 60th anniversary Dinner Dance on Saturday 22nd May 2021 (get your tickets from Club Secretary Mick Taylor).
Mon 28th Sept 2020
It’s been a struggle but we finally have the Blog page of the website working again, although from now on, we will have a blog for the current year and a "Blog Archive".
Because we've been off line, please have a read of the last three weeks, which have all been updated at the same time.
This week autumn set in with very chilly weather, although it abated for our Monday evening rides and the conditions were very pleasant.
We had three groups but, with the ever increasing time spent riding in the dark, the numbers are dwindling further and we had a total of sixteen request a group to join. Unfortunately, three of those had to pull out due to other commitments so we were left with Steve’s group from Sainsburys having five, Paul Purple VFRs group from Raceways having three and Ian’s group from Bikestop having five.
Here is what the leaders had to say:
Paul Purple VFR hasn't had a chance to write his ride yet but we know he led new member Darren along with Cider Bob on a great ride over to Dunstable Downs, via Kimpton, then on towards Leighton Buzzard before returning via Sundon and Barton Le Clay. His write ups are very entertaining so, when we get it, we will replace this summary with it.
Ian Harris said "With a nice evening forecasted, another full group of 6 met at the earlier time of 6:30pm for this evening’s planned 1-hour ride so we could take advantage of some ‘twisties’ before dark. The route was planned to finish at BikeStop but we all agreed to make that stop at The Chequers pub in Bragbury End. All arrived before time so we set off away from the low sun towards Walkern then on to the twisty route through Bennington, Burn’s Green and Whempstead before joining the A602. Next on to the popular Anchor Lane to Wadesmill before turning towards Thundridge and Ware and taking the Ware Road to Hertford picking up the North Road through Waterford and Stapleford towards Bragbury End where we finished at The Chequers pub for a socially distanced chat. All arrived safely with no issues on the ride only to be chased by a stray dog in my street trying to bite my left foot as I arrived home, clearly he didn’t like the sound of the Honda”.
Steve doesn’t give us a weekly summary… as we know, he prefers riding than writing, but he has come up with an excellent suggestion and we like your thoughts:
As winter sets in, we think less of you will want to ride in dark, wet and cold on a Monday evening so, to keep the Club “momentum" going through these horrible times we, as a Club, are going to trial putting on Sunday morning rides in a very similar format to the Monday Covid rides we are currently running.
This is slightly more challenging as less of our ride leaders can regularly commit on a Sunday. But Steve has very kindly volunteered to lead regularly and the others will lead as often as they can. It may be that more of you would be prepared to volunteer to lead the occasional ride?
The Sunday plan will be to ride for an hour or so (maybe up to two hours if desired), have tea and/or breakfast, and then ride back.
Due to the Covid restrictions, it will mean having to let Cider Bob know if you want to ride (probably by 14:00ish on each Saturday). It will be based on groups of six and on a “first come first served” basis, depending on how many leaders we can muster each week. Please include your preferred start time.
The start times will be flexible and arranged by each group but will typically be between 08:00 and 10:00, ending about 12:00 to 13:00 ish.
We will start this coming Sunday but we will message you all on Whatsapp and text to remind you.
Mon 21st Sept 2020
It seems the darker evenings are starting to put a few riders off (although there were a few other reasons this week) so we only had fourteen asking to join the various six person rides.
Stalwarts Cider Bob, Paul Purple VFR and Big Geoff couldn’t make it this week. Nor could Pete Starr, Tony Brown or a number of others who have been regular throughout the summer. But Steve Vaughan, Pete Blackburn and Ian Harris all took up their regular ride leader roles.
On the plus side, we were able to welcome potential new members Darren, who joined Pete’s group, and Fern, who just popped along to say hi to Ian’s group but didn’t join the ride as he’s returning to motorcycling after some years off and his new bike hasn’t yet been delivered.
Starting from Sainsburys, Steve’s group was the first to get away, deciding between themselves to leave at 18:45. They had a great ride which took some of the riders through villages they’ve never been to before. They ended their ride at a pub for a socially distanced chat and a drink.
Next off was Ian’s group with a start time of 19:00 which they had planned between themselves. The group should have been made up of four riders this week but Richard had a family emergency so had to withdraw and Ian’s CRF had an electrical issue resulting in only Dave and Chris riding out together. But they had a good ride and Ian eventually got home, with some assistance from the AA.
Pete Blackburn now works in MK so can’t get back to Stevenage for an earlier start than our standard 19:30. His group left on time, with new member Darren, and it was a nice ride, although, now dark, the speeds have dropped a little.
To help you enjoy the Monday night “Covid” rides even more, if you include your preferred start time when you message Cider Bob to say you’d like to be included each week, he will do his best to accommodate you.
A note for your diary: In the hope that Covid-19 restrictions will be eased significantly by next spring, we now have a date of 22nd May for our 2021 annual dinner dance.
Mon 14th Sept 2020
But for those who are still coming along, wit the new Covid-19 restrictions, we are being strict on groups of no more than six riders.
Cider Bob was away on yet another biking trip this week so couldn’t lead a group but Steve Vaughan, who had been on a biking trip to Wales and the Peak District with some Club members, got back in time to lead a group. Paul Purple VFR led the other Sainsburys group again this week with Ian Harris, Pete Blackburn and Tony Brown leading the others.
Here are the blog inputs we’ve had back from the ride leaders than are happy to put finger to keypad:
Paul Purple VFR composed one of his outstanding descriptions: “This week I was back at Sainsbury’s filling in for Cider. My group consisted of Tom (K), Barry, Nigel, Richard Green, and Big Geoff who kindly volunteered to bring up the rear. We had mutually decided to “aim” for 6:45pm at Sainsbury’s with the promise that I would wait for everyone if they in turn would let me know if they had to drop out at the last moment. Everyone, except Richard, was there before 6:45pm with Richard turning up on a new bike, fashionably late as is traditional, around 18:50, so we got away before 7pm which was great. I would have liked to head west for a change but the clear skies and low sun somewhat precluded that, so instead we headed southeast initially, taking the A602 towards Watton but then, for a bit of variation, we turned off and cut through Aston and Bennington before turning left at Whempstead and passing through Dane End and Levens Green on our way out to the A10 near Standon. Some of these roads are a bit tight but at this point in the ride we had good daylight so not too much of a problem. From here we took the A10 north for one junction before turning on to the B1368 which we rode all the way to Fowlmere. This is one of my favourite local roads. The early bit from Puckeridge is a sequence of villages and is therefore mostly restricted but once you get past Hare Street, there is a good section up to Barkway, then again to Barley, where we had to make a small detour due to the road being closed in the High Street. This was followed by another good section up to Flint Cross and then on to Fowlmere. Overall, we made good progress on this road and it made Barry’s little 400 work really hard! From Fowlmere we rode to Shepreth, crossing the A10 and then turned left and headed through Meldreth and on to Kneesworth. This road is twisty through the villages, but mostly straightens up once you reach the national speed limit section, with a few twists just before arriving at Kneesworth. It was on this road at some point, that an animal shot across the road some yards in front of me. I thought Muntjac but Nigel, riding behind me, thought it might be a fox. Either way it was big enough to potentially spoil my (and their) day. The wildlife must have generally had it in for me as earlier in the ride I had just managed to duck and avoid a pigeon in the face. From Kneesworth we headed south down through the centre of Royston and on to the A10 which we followed to Buckland where Tom, by prior arrangement left the group and continued down the A10. The rest of us turned right and headed out through Sandon and Roe Green then Down through Rushden and Cumberlow Green. Some of this section was quite twisty and it was now quite dark, so riding was a little more difficult, but all seemed to manage well. At Cumberlow Green, Barry headed off, as arranged, on the A507 towards Baldock whilst the rest of us continued south through Cromer and on to Walkern where the ride ended. 53 miles covered, some good open sections and some tighter twisty bits which got more challenging as the light faded. Apparently, Richard reckons he needs to adjust his suspension as he found it rather bumpy – all I can say is he should have come on my ride last week! My thanks to Tom, Nigel, Barry, Richard and Geoff for the company and also to Geoff for being tail man”.
Paul added (not for the blog but we thought it was worth posting…) “By the way, someone (apologies - I didn't get their name) turned up at Sainsbury's hoping to go on a ride. First timer I believe. Unfortunately Steve had just left and my group was full so I had to turn them away but I told them to make contact via the website”. Thank Paul, great write up as always.
Ian Harris’ continues to provide a nice summary and wrote: “Again, due to the night’s drawing in, our group of 6 riders met at BikeStop in good time for a 7pm start. On arrival we were met by Martin, a prospective new member with his VW Beetle powered trike who wanted to know more about the club and our ride arrangements. After explaining the process to join the club, we agreed that we would see how the trike could fit into a group ride in a few weeks’ time. This time the group was dominated by the Royal Enfield brand, 3 in all, and it couldn’t have been a better late summer evening for a ride in the countryside so at the ride briefing, I gave the group the option to extend the ride beyond 1 hour but the unanimous decision was to stick with the hour route. So, setting off east away from the low sun we headed to the A602 towards Watton at Stone then once in the village we took a right on to the Watton Road heading for Datchworth before taking a left towards Bull’s Green. We then took the turn to Burnham Green, where a fox dashed across the road ahead of us, then through Harmer Green down to Digswell. Now the light was fading the route took us through Welwyn to join the Codicote Road for our first route to cover most of the Codicote Road in that direction through Langley and Little Almshoe then taking a right at St. Ibbs. Once through Redcoats Green we headed towards Great Wymondley before heading down Priory Lane down to Little Wymondley and on to our end point at the layby opposite Corey’s Mill Sainsburys, a little ahead of schedule, for a group chit-chat before going our separate ways”. Thanks Ian.
Tony Brown was the only other leader who submitted some text for the blog, although he tends to stick to the facts of the route rather than general comments on the entire event. He wrote “The Screwfix five left at 7.00 on a very pleasant and warm Monday evening. Heading from Stevenage onwards to Walkern,Whempstead and Dane End. Turning left there made our way through Gt.Munden then turned right into Mentley Lane and coming out on to the A10. quick blast to Buntingford on to Hare Street then a pleasant ride along the B1368 to Flint Cross turning left on to the A505 down to Royston. After leaving Royston turned right on to the Royston Road to Littlington then on to Steeple Morden, Ashwell and final port of call Baldock services”.
As a responsible Club, the leaders were asked not to congregate at Baldock Services at the end of the ride, now the restrictions have been tightened (groups of up to thirty outdoors is no longer permitted). One group did end there but we, as a Club, also asked individual riding groups of up to six to stay well away from each other if any other group did happen to end there.
Thanks to all the ride leaders and thanks to all the members who are continuing to abide by the Covid-19 rules to ensure the Club remains morally and legally responsible.
Mon 7th Sept 2020
This week, Cider Bob was away on a trip but was still able to organise the week’s riding groups. Unfortunately, being immersed in Wales, he forgot what day it was and thought he had sorted everything out, only to find it was Saturday, not Sunday, and several riders hadn’t messaged him yet. Fortunately, he was able to get everyone else that messaged him into appropriate groups.
Steve Vaughan led one group from Sainsburys and Tony Brown led the other. Ian Harris led his usual sedate group from Bikestop and Paul Rousell kindly stepped in to lead a group from Screwfix.
Paul continues to be a great choice for ride leader because not only does he plan and lead great rides, but he also submits really entertaining text on his group’s exploits. Here is what he’s said this week:
"So, this week I was asked to lead the Screwfix group ride. Cider’s official reason for asking me was because Pete Blackburn, the normal leader for this ride was unsure on when he would be able to get there having just started a new job, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was a cunning plan to actually get a write-up done for the ride! The group had anyway decided on two things: 1. We would wait for Pete and 2. We would ride it on Monday night and not Sunday as Cider had originally tried to plan! The group consisted of myself, Nigel, Bruno and Pete. Pete arrived by 7:15 so we pushed off around 7:25 as we gave Pete a few minutes to catch his breath. Turning out onto Gunnels Wood Rd, another sports bike was turning in and indicated they were going to join the group. I didn’t find out until the end of the ride that it was Mark (Fruit) who was supposed to be in Ian’s group on his Harley but his number plate had fallen off so he’d managed to nip home and change on to his R1 and get to Screwfix in time to join us (just). Our route took us out through Titmore Green, Great Wymondley and Willian before heading up towards Stotfold and looping through Arlesey and then turning west on the A507. There seemed to be more traffic about than normal for a Monday evening and the group got split several times by various vehicles, but we managed to keep it together. It was also noticeably darker than two weeks ago and by about 8:15 it was essentially dark. We turned off the A507 at Henlow and headed up to Langford and then out towards the A1, crossing it at Edworth and then heading up to Dunton where we passed another group (Steve’s I believe) heading in the opposite direction so we waved and rode on. We carried on through Eyeworth and picked up the B1042 which I had originally planned to take all the way to the roundabout on the A1198 but my Satnav had other ideas and cut off a bit of my intended route by heading down past Wendy and through Shingay to Bassingbourn, A slightly smaller, more twisty and definitely more bumpy road than I had intended and not ideal in the dark – not sure why I followed the Satnav as I knew where I was and it’s not compulsory but it gets to be a habit. From Bassingbourn we rode over to Ashwell and then cut down to cross the A505 at Slip End, following the road, which initially is very wide and not too twisty, through Redhill and on to Cumberlow Green where we picked up the A507 for a final blast to Baldock. I was following a car on this last section who seemed very keen to stay in front and who really put his foot down once we had passed the more twisty bits, so I let him go. The group arrived at the Baldock services just as some of the others were leaving but there were still a few people there. Around 50 miles covered. Thanks to Mark, Nigel Bruno and Pete for their company and a double thanks to Pete for acting as tail man".
Club Chairman, Tony Brown, gave us this piece regarding his ride:
"Sainsbury group 1 ride left at 7.00 on a nice and warm evening heading out to Knebworth and down the Old North Road towards Welwyn, through Lemsford village on to the B653 to Wheathampstead and on to Batsford turning right on to the B652 to Kimpton, should have turned left after Kimpton but leader missed the turning, however ended up in Codicote, along the B656 towards Hitchin taking a lift turn on the B651 to Whitwell. Turned right in Whitwell
Going all the way along Lilley Bottom Road picking up the Hexton road to Hexton, where else. Turned right at the x road on to the Barton Road to Hitchin. Through Hitchin, Ickleford and Letchworth to Norton picking up the A507 to Baldock Services arriving there about 8.30".
Ian summarised his group's evening with:
"Before we even set off from BikeStop, one of our riders had a few dramas heading up the High Street, first his sunglasses fell off in the road and then his rear light and number plate were hanging dangerously close to his final drive belt, those Harleys must vibrate more than we thought. The unlucky rider (AKA Fruit) had to make his way home to collect his other bike to try and meet a later group. With two riders dropping out, our group of four (plus one pillion) set off just before 7pm on a new route of around 90mins and headed towards Todds Green via Fishers Green then through Redcoats Green and on to the Codicote Road towards Hitchin. We then took the Pirton Road where we took a left at Hexton on some really good lanes and road surfaces up to Lilley and on to Whitwell where the group had a ‘thumbs up’ from a local who seemed pleased that we were adhering to the village 30 speed limit. From Whitwell we re-joined the Codicote Road for a short spell before turning towards Old Knebworth and taking the Hertford Road before skirting Stevenage on the east side on our way to Walkern. It was around now that the darkness was closing in and our route to Baldock was via Halls Green and Church End then through Baldock High Street and arriving at Baldock Services at around 8:30pm where we had a brief chat about future rides. After discussion with the group and due to the dark evenings, our plan for future BikeStop group rides is to be around one hour starting at 7pm and now not finishing at Baldock Services due to the new Covid-19 restrictions".
Unfortuanetly, the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions are tightening again this week. As a result, we will still be having group rides of up to six but we are very sorry to say our ride leaders will be asked not to end up in the same place (Baldock Services has become the recent tradition).
But if you’d like to have a small group ride and perhaps just a chat between yourselves at the end, please message Cider Bob by 14:00ish on Sunday. Although he is away again on yet another motorcycling trip this week, he will endeavour not to get his days muddled up!
Mon 30th Aug 2020
Most of the committee met up this week to keep the cogs of the Club turning. We normally like to give a summary of what was discussed at the meetings but with the continued restrictions, even though we chatted for an hour, we haven’t been able to commit to anything so there’s not much to report.
Although, during the meeting, Ian Harris mentioned that he’s received his IAM National Observer qualification from the Institute of the Motor Industry. This enables him to coach Club members to pass the IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider Course.
With it being a Bank Holiday this week, there were no Monday evening group rides. But several members got together for ride outs over Sunday and Monday during the day time. These short notice group rides tend to be organised through our Club WhatsApp page so make sure you are on it if you want to be more involved!
Cider Bob isn't about for the next three Mondays but will still organise the group rides so please let him know if you'd like to be included by 14:00ish on the preceding Sunday. Hopefully there should be enough leaders each week but please let him know if you would be prepared / like to plan and lead a route.
Mon 24th August 2020
Disaster for group motorcycling in Stevenage was averted this week when Bike Stop stepped in to oppose Stevenage Borough Council’s Injunction banning any more than one motor vehicle travelling together in the town.
The full story, published by Motorcycle News, can be read by clicking here.
Thank you to all of you that signed the petition but mostly thank you to Bike Stop for getting motorcycles specifically excluded from the injunction.
Hopefully, no more will have to be said on the subject.
Only four groups of six were arranged for this Monday’s group rides. It was probably the weather forecast that put many off and, as it turned out, there were a lot of wet crotches by the end of the night.
“Sainsburys 1” was led by Richard Green, whose smooth riding was commented upon. Hopefully Richard or one of his group will submit a summary of their evening’s ride. If it arrives in our inbox, we will update blog here.
“Sainsburys 2” is almost always led by Steve Vaughan. As we’ve said before, he’s much more one for riding than writing so we don’t get much of a write up describing what they got up to. What we do know if that within their group, they planned to leave early and were away by 19:00. They took an anticlockwise loop over to Safron Waldon, ending up at the Baldock Services for a “no more than thirty in a group” socially distanced chat with the other groups.
Ian Harris, yet again, led the most sedate group, from Bike Stop. Here’s Ian’s input:
“Back to our usual meet at BikeStop, I’d asked the group via WhatsApp if they could arrive a little earlier so we could set off at 19:15. The conditions were cloudy but warm and so far, dry with only one of our planned group held up at work so we set out towards Watton at Stone on time. Another new route this week of around 90mins to take in some countryside and a few good ‘twisties’ we took the lanes towards Bulls Green, through Burnham Green and then on to Tewin (passing Lewis Hamilton’s old family home) before picking up the Hertford Road towards Welwyn. After passing the Herts Police HQ then on to Stanborough, we took the Marford Road towards, and into, Wheathamstead dropping past the Miller & Carter restaurant before heading towards Kimpton. From Kimpton we were treated to some excellent twisty lanes and countryside going through Whitwell and St Paul’s Warden before a short spell on the Codicote Road then turning right at Little Almshoe to take us through Redcoats Green before heading towards Willian via Great Wymondley. From Willian we picked up the A505 towards Baldock where a ‘boy-racer’ thought it was a good idea to try and out-drag the group at the traffic lights although he didn’t seem to understand the limitations of his front wheel drive Corsa and just spun his wheels whilst we set off without any drama. After entering Baldock we picked up the lane to Norton before heading to our destination at Baldock Services ahead of schedule, arriving at 20:40. No other club groups were there and the clouds looked threatening so after a brief chat we went our separate ways”.
The fourth meeting place was Screwfix. Pete Blackburn got a rest again this week as Club Chairman Tony Brown volunteered to take the lead. Nothing is currently know about their exploits but we will update here if we receive anything.
Once again, thanks to all the leaders for taking the time to plan and lead the various groups.
Mon 17th August 2020
It’s been a very interesting week for the motorcyclists of Stevenage this week.
As we mentioned last week, Stevenage Borough Council are attending Court this coming Thursday to instigate an injunction that will stop more than one vehicle travelling together or meeting in the town. You can read the full details by clicking here.
This will, of course, dramatically affect our Club so we have been working, along with Bikestop, to try to have it adjourned and reworded.
There is a petition against the Injunction which we strongly encourage you to sign. Click here to be taken to it.
It has drawn national press coverage in Motorcycle News and they quoted much of the email we sent to the relevant parties. Click here to be taken to the MCN article.
If you want to continue being allowed to ride with others and meet in Stevenage, you really need to get involved.
Back to our Monday night group rides; the weather forecast had been heavy storms so only twenty two of us showed an interest in riding.
But, yet again, an unsubstantiated deity, mother nature or plain old luck (if any of those are what you believe in) intervened and there was no rain for any of the four riding groups.
Because the rain had the potential to put off more riders, all four groups were assigned to meet at Coreys Mill Sainsburys, however, each was directed to one of the four “corners” of the car park. That way, if any one group turned out to be significantly under represented, we could mix and match to create groups of six, making sure we still complied with the Covid-19 guidelines (note; the law is thirty but, as a responsible Club, we are still making every effort to stick to the guidelines).
Ian Harris, leading the most sedate group, from the barber’s hut in the car park, was first away as all his group had arrived early. He had chosen a sensible bike for the weather, being on his very shiny CRF250. Ian has been particularly efficient at getting his summary to us this week:
"Following a day of torrential showers and occasional thunder storms, tonight’s route of around 41 miles was chosen to be rain friendly and to try and avoid roads that could potentially be flooded. All groups met separately at Corey’s Mill Sainsburys to give flexibility in case many riders or a ride leader decided not to turn up due to the conditions. That said, our group only had one rider not turn up and we were able to set off slightly early on our route.
We headed out to Walkern, taking the turn towards Watton at Stone, passing through the village before joining the A119 to Hertford where an ambitious youth tried to join our group on his motorised push-bike at the traffic lights but just got in the way as we were pulling off. From Hertford we headed through Bengeo and High Cross then on to Colliers End then up to the A10, only this time we crossed the A10 to take in the High Street in north Standon and headed into Puckeridge village. Once through Hay Street & Dassels, we turned off into Hare Street and made our way to Buntingford before joining the A507 back to Baldock and the first time we had done that whole stretch of the A507 on our Monday ‘lockdown’ rides.
Arriving in Baldock High Street I saw we were running ahead of plan so added a small detour out to the Norton Road before heading to Baldock Services where we met by our illustrious Club Secretary, Mick Taylor. After a brief chat we all decided to get home as the rain was coming in.
Apart from the odd damp patch our ride route was free from rain and with the roads mostly dried out we were able to push on at a reasonable pace, I’m pretty sure we all caught a shower on the way home though".
Next away was Paul Purple VFR. His group was the most swift this week and they met at the recycling bins (it was just a land mark so no jokes at their expense!!). Paul Purple VFR has taken to submitting very thorough and entertaining write-ups so we’ll leave the rest to him:
"This week, due to uncertain weather, we were instructed to all meet at Sainsbury’s albeit in separate corners of the car park. For some reason my group were assigned to the (recycling) bins – not sure what that was supposed to imply! The group consisted of Bruno, Phil Mayo, Big Geoff, Richard Green and myself. Richard even turned up early, arriving at 7:20pm. He was still last to arrive, but it was a fine effort. As everybody was present and correct, we pushed off early departing the bins at around 7:25pm. The threat of rain was an issue this week and I don’t exactly have a great track record on that front. Richard, who had been on the receiving end of one of my excursions in the rain had wisely packed his waterproofs and informed me that he would be stopping to don them if it started. This time I had taken the weather into account and having done some research, the plan was to head north west-ish (or was that wet-ish!) towards Bedford before heading out towards Cambridge where the weather was supposed to be clearer. There was however some rain forecast for the far side of Bedford. We headed out to Willian via Great Wymondley before skirting round the west of Letchworth up to the 507, followed by a quick blast to Henlow. From there we headed through Clifton, skirting Southhill and then heading towards Cardington. The sky ahead was ominously dark whilst a glance to my right towards Cambridge, showed much clearer skies but also a very large Rainbow – definitely raining somewhere over there. The road to Cardington is quite good but we managed to get stuck behind a white van that decided to drive in the middle of the road making it difficult to pass. The road eventually widened as we approached Cardington which allowed us to all get safely past. Turning left at Cople we hit the A603 which we briefly took to Willington where we forked left towards Great Barford bridge. This is a really nice road to ride – mostly open and with some sweeping bends. At the Lights by the bridge we turned right and rode through Blunham and up to the A1 crossing via the bridge south of Tempsford and then taking the road to Everton. This road has a level crossing over the East coast mainline and the barriers were down, so we had a brief unplanned stop waiting for a train to pass. We headed through Everton, waving to the Thornton Arms as we passed by, then took a left and skirted round the North of Gamlingay and on to the B1040 to Waresley. At Waresley we turned off and took the road to Great Gransden. Approaching Great Gransden we dipped under some trees and I realised that there was a lady walking towards us in the road. She was difficult to spot in the semi-dark but fortunately we were riding in the middle of the lane so no issues, but we did slow down as we passed. At Great Gransden we turned right onto the B1046 which was a nice road to ride, following it all the way out to the A1198 where we turned right. The A1198 is an odd road. Being an A road, it is quite wide and at this point, almost dead straight. There was very little (almost no) traffic at all and most of the section we rode was in open countryside, but it was limited to 50mph all the way which is therefore the speed we rode at. Ironically however, you finally hit national speed limit 400 yards before the roundabout with the A603 and B1042, so you have to slow down anyway – what’s that about? From here we took the B1042 down to Tadlow before carrying on via the Eyeworth Road to Dunton. The B1042 is a lovely road which I haven’t ridden for absolutely ages, so I was somewhat disappointed to discover it is now limited to 50mph for most of its length. We also got stuck behind a camper van which would have been easy to pass but as it was driving at the limit, we simply stayed behind it. From Dunton we headed down to the A1 for a final quick blast to Baldock. 59 miles covered in total, deliberately shorter than last week and using larger roads towards the end as it is now getting ever darker in the evenings! My thanks to all for the company and of course to Big Geoff for being tail-man charley."
Club Chairman, Tony Brown, led the next group away. With a medium pace, they were held up just a smidgen by one of the riders who’d got confused with which group he was in but, in no time, they were off. This is what Tony had to say:
"Having by customery starting point at the Chequers at Bragbury End being made redundant I was honoured to be upgraded to one of the Sainsbury starting points which worked out well.After a day of heavy rain it was nice to have a dry evening, my group were all ready for the off except for Bernie who was nattering elsewhere. All went well we all got out of Sainsbury ok got to the first roundabout 100 yards up the road 2 went the right way one went his own way the other two who knows where. After a hasty round up we got things sorted out and were off in a group. Knowing what the condition of the roads could be like after a days rain tried to avoid the lanes and stuck to the A and B roads, although there was gravel on the roads in some places.Heading out of Gravely we went on to Willian, Hitchin and down the lovely Willbury Hills road and forward to Arlesey, where we picked up the A507 for a short blast to the next roundabout turning right on to the B659 through Henlow to Langford,turning right in Langford down the Edworth road over the A1M ond on to the Sutton road. Just to make sure everyone was paying attention I turned right down a farmers drive there were. Back on the road again to Dunton and Eyeworth turning right on to the Potton Road to Guilden Morden on to Ashwell and Steeple Morden turning right to Littlington and down to the A505 junction. Headed towards Royston where we turned off by the Heath and up the lane to Therfield, Reed End coming out at the A10 junction by the Silver Ball Cafe.From here it was all plain sailing down the A10 to Buntingford right on to the A507 to Cottered and Baldock finishing up at Baldock services about 9.10pm and approximately 55 miles later.Thanks to my team Bernie, Kev, Martin and Pete."
Finally, after waiting until 19:35 for a rider who didn’t turn up but, unfortunately also didn’t message to say he wasn’t coming, Steve Vaughan led the final group away. Pete Starr had highlighted the amount of gravel, mud, huge flooding and general crap over many of the local country roads so Cider Bob had mentioned this to some of the group riders, suggesting they stay more to the main roads. Unfortunately, Steve, who used to be Chairman of the Trail Riders Federation so is used to riding in really naff conditions, decided to lead his group on his Transalp straight into some of the worst hit roads around. After bimbling through Kings Walden at not much more than 20 mph, one of his group quite understandably decided it wasn’t the right place for his previously very immaculate Triumph RS and declined riding through a small lake on the basis the water was just being thrown off his back wheel, straight down his back-side.
Cider Bob had stayed as a “floater” (yes, we can imagine the comments to follow!!) this week so he could pick up any group if a leader dropped out. But he had tacked onto the back of Steve’s group so he volunteered to lead a splinter group of two on some more suitable roads.
Steve carried on with his intrepid riders, through the roads which might almost as well have been green lanes while Cider Bob led on some lovely B roads into Bedfordshire, ending up on the A507 at Steppingley before heading back to Hitchin and then on to Baldock just as it got dark.
Unexpectedly, Steve and his gang also ended at Baldock where, needless to say, there was some teasing of the splinter group but with some good retorts including “I didn’t have my fishing rod”.
The roads stayed dry for all except Steve’s group and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, which is always the aim.
While about twenty of us turned up at Baldock for some socially distanced outdoor chatting, many left soon after and some were faced with a few spots of rain for their ride home but it seems everyone was dry by the time they put their motorcycles to bed.
This Thursday is a big day for us. If the High Court grant the Injunction, apparently relieving the Police of their responsibility to enforce laws that already exist, then we may be forced to meet elsewhere. It’s a shame that after sixty years of responsible motorcycling history without so much as a request to “quieten down a bit”, the local authorities may banish us from the town because of the irresponsible and dangerous actions of a minority and the failure of the local Police to resource enforcement of that minority.
Keep an eye on Facebook and our Whatsapp group for updates... next week we may be meeting elsewhere!
Mon 10th August 2020
It is with great sadness this week that we report the death of a founding member of the S&DMCC, Arnold Hoiles.
Club Vice President Gordon Hallett has given us the following tribute:
Arnold Hoiles 1942-2020
Arnold was one of the original members of our club, being at that very first meeting in May 1961, as well as being a Vice President for many years.
A lifelong motorcyclist, he even took Christine, his new wife, to the IOM for their honeymoon in 1964, on the back of his BSA Super Rocket.
His passion for photography & bikes led him to take the photos of members & their offspring’s’ marriages, as well as shots of Tony Brown & his dad George on their record attempts, at venues across the country.
I spent many a ride with him & his great mate Jim Still, another no longer with us, and the pair of them were true gents.
Arnold road to the Classic TT’s a few times on his beloved air-head BMWs, but this last few months saw him battle with dementia, as well as this horrible Covid19, but I and many of the older members will remember him as simply “The Charmer” - the word he had sign-written on the fairing of his R100 S.
Our thoughts go out to his wife of 56years, his son & twin grandsons.
In other news, it seems Stevenage Borough Council are going to use a sledge hammer to “crack a nut” by getting a Crown Court injunction to stop vehicle meets in Stevenage.
It seems the lack of enforcement of laws that already exist by the Police and the Council may result in our Club rideouts being banned.
Click here for a link to Council article:
We have submitted our objection via email (to the Council, local Councillors, Police, Solicitors, Crown Court and our local MP, Stephen McPartland) which you can read by clicking here. We don’t think this will have any effect (unless the judge is a vehicle enthusiast and happens to live in Stevenage!) so you may want to get involved in an attempt to stop the implementation of these draconian measures.
We also strongly encourage you to add your name to this petition in an attempt to stop this injunction application:
On a happier note, our Covid-19 restricted six rider group rides went ahead again this week from six locations around the town. Since we started organising the Monday rides in this way, the feedback has been really good and it has been the same this week.
Historically, the “webmaster” has "blogged" a few words each week on what’s gone on but, of late, a few of the ride leaders have kindly submitted some text.
Now retired, Ian Harris, who led his group from Bikestop, is starting to get into providing some entertaining detail. Here is what Ian had to say:
"With the prospect of a balmy evening ahead, most of the BikeStop group met on time with one potential new member and one late arrival picking us up in the High Street as we were setting off on time although that didn’t give him the chance to show his creative leg-wear to the group before leaving. I had planned a repeat of a popular route we did back in Week 4, a 90 min loop of approximately 45 miles to finish at Baldock so heading east this week, the sun was a little hazy but not too bad as we made our way to the Codicote Road via Todds Green. At St. Ibbs, whilst waiting to join the Codicote road I saw one of our group waving his arms so we all stopped to find out what the issue was. It appears our distressed rider’s machine had an unexpected fuel deficiency (good job I carry an extra litre for my miniscule tank on the CRF). Once we were away again, we headed towards Hitchin and picked up the road to Barton-le-Clay then on to Harlington on a few stretches of the devil’s unswept surface dressing before reaching Harlington and heading to Flitwick. Conscious of the rider that was only running on fumes, we stopped just before Ampthill to allow him to fill up before our second stint on the best part of the route. Now heading away from the sun, we made our way to Maulden then out to Haynes and Clifton via Ireland on some lovely fast lanes before passing Langford heading to Edworth. Now on the last leg we made our way towards Baldock via Hinxworth, Ashwell then through Newnham to arrive at our destination just after 9pm where a few of our ride groups had already gathered for a socially distanced outdoor natter before dark".
Paul Purple VFR, was happy to lead a group again this week, starting from Raceways Motorcycles. He is proving to be a novelist in the making and has provided us with this amusing description:
"Redemption! Or at least that’s what it felt like as this week I was asked to lead the ride out from Raceways. Maybe it was because Nigel, one of the two first timers I managed to blind and soak two weeks previously, actually came back this week having finally dried his kit out. The five others were Tom, Pete B, Nigel, Bruno and Richard Green. As is now traditional, Richard turned up last, but he was on time, in fact a couple of minutes early even! Having learnt from the master, the general plan was to head east albeit we initially headed out west through Titmore Green to pick up the B656 Codicote road and then head SE towards Codicote. We managed to pull out on the B656 behind a tractor, a move that was repeated more than once throughout the ride but we did get past on the straight at Rush Green before promptly catching up with another tractor at Langley. We continued on to Codicote and then Welwyn with us all managing to pass the second tractor by Codicote. From there we took the B1000 towards Hertford which, once you get through all the restrictions through Digswell, is a good, open road with some nice bends. There were some cars that we passed on the way before slowing as we reached Sele Farm where we turned right and headed down through Hertingfordbury to the B158, slowing right down to creep past a Lady who was leading a horse. We then took the B158 into Hertford and then the A414 up to the A10 roundabout followed by a quick blast down the B5102. This is another nice road albeit with a car on it which all but Richard and Bruno managed to pass before we reached the bends. No matter, the plan was to go through Stanstead Abbotts so the car splitting the group would most likely turn off when we got to the next Roundabout – but it didn’t. OK, after Stanstead Abbotts we were turning off on the B180 towards Hadham so we can lose it there. Nope it turned off with us. Also a sign said the road ahead was closed! Now I knew that the road between Much and Little Hadham was closed but that was literally 6.5 miles further along so maybe something else is closed thought I. Oh well no choice lets go see! We followed the B180 on through Hunsdon, finally passing the car and reached Widford where we joined the B1004 – so no closure on the B180 then! At strategic places however, there were repeated warnings that the road ahead was closed, each more ominous than the last! This is starting to feel like Gandalf on the Bridge of Khazad-dum thought I - “You shall not pass” (apologies for another Lord of the Rings Reference!). On then to Hadham Cross and a growing feeling of confidence that the signs were about the known road closure, before passing a final dire warning, which blocked half the road, and then turning off on the road to Standon – free and clear. At one point along this next road, which was national limit, quite tight and bendy in places, a Hare shot across the road in front of me and then proceeded to race up the field alongside us. He was going faster than we were! From Standon we headed through Puckeridge and then up the B1368 which is one of my favourite roads. There are a number of restrictions up until Hare Street but after that there are some good sections to Barkway and then Barley which are open and sweeping and which allowed us to stretch our legs. From Barley we took the B1039 to Royston where Pete, by prior arrangement peeled off and headed direct to Baldock whilst the remaining five headed up the A1198 through Kneesworth before finally turning left through Wendy and Steeple Morden and on towards Ashwell pulling out on the Ashwell road behind another large tractor. From Ashwell we took the Bygrave road to Baldock. These last roads are good but it was now sadly getting dark which inevitably spoils some of the fun. 68 miles covered – maybe just a little too long for the available light. Thanks to Bruno in his Pink Hi-Viz for acting as Tail Man Charley".
Our Chairman led a smaller group from what has become his customary start point, the Chequers in Bragbury End. He was scheduled to have five in his group but two bombed out as they thought it was just too hot to get togged up in motorcycling gear. Tony provided us with this summary of his route:
"Myself, Bob Voss and Pete Star were the only three on the Chequers ride out heading for Walkern then on to Buntingford, where we took the lovely B1038 road to Newport. On leaving Newport we picked up the B1039 towards Gt.Chiswell and on to Royston. Short ride down the A505 turned off to Littlington through to Steeple Morden Ashwell and on to Baldock".
Not the extensive literary extravaganza that Paul Purple VFR provided but it could give you an idea for a rideout of your own some time.
Pete Blackburn led his group of six from Screwfix and Steve Vaughan led his group of six from Sainsburys. Unfortunately, neither enjoy the challenge of writing something for the blog that people might possibly enjoy reading so the final summary comes from Cider Bob who led his group of six from a different part of Coreys Mill Sainsburys...
"It was a very warm evening but my group of six all arrived on time or before, appropriately dressed for the ride ahead. I had added my planned route to our "Sainsburys 1" Whatsapp group so everyone had a fair idea where we were headed. Following me, Andrea tucked in behind on her beloved Honda CBR650 and experienced rider, but fairly new to the S&DMCC Club, Frank slotted in behind her on his huge BMW GS. We welcomed two more new riders to the Club this week; Kev was riding a lovely Harley (yes, I really did say that!!) Sportster, which is clearly a well used, all year round bike and not the usual gleaming chrome example we tend to expect of a HD. Behind him, Martin was on his very nice Triumph RS. Now retired, Martin has just returned to motorcycling after many years but he's clearly got into the swing of it very quickly as his riding was very nice. Bernie followed on his XSR and, bringing up the rear, it was great to have Alan Perry back with us, who this week treated himself to a KTM 790 (plainly he's a very good plumber!!). We all got out of Sainsburys together and, after being split up slightly as we bimbled through Stevenage, we were all together as we headed out the other side on the A602. In fact, as my group this week was completely different to last week, I decided to do almost the same route as I enjoyed it so much. Anchor lane was as fun as ever and, in no time, we were at the Berwick Ford. Andrea had been a little apprehensive about this as its sometimes quite deep and can be very slippery. But I took a swan neck route to keep the bike upright as we entered and she followed my lead, fording with no bother at all. We headed down to Much Hadham and over to Stortford (as the road to Little Hadham was still shut). Back to the Little Hadham lights and then right through Stocking Pelham and on to Clavering. We returned to Hertfordshire via the B1038 and ended up at Baldock via the universally appreciated A507, just as it started to get dark. Everyone seemed to enjoyed the ride and our new members confirmed they'd be back next week".
Same again next week if those that wield supreme executive power permit.
Mon 3rd August 2020
Yet again, the weather was almost perfect for riding this week, although it's beginning to get dark towards the end for the groups doing longer rides.
Our volunteer ride leaders were Cider Bob and Steve Vaughan from Sainsburys, Ian Harris from Bikestop, Pete Blackburn from Screwfix and the Club Chairman, Tony Brown, from Chequers.
As we try to each week, we mixed up the riders in each group a little bit and the feedback we are getting is that riders are getting to know members they hadn’t really talked to before.
It’s been suggested we keep some sort of smaller group riding format once the Covid restrictions have ended and we can get back to pubs. We are very keen to hear your views so please let us know via any of our social media, including email, Facebook or Whatsapp… or just come and have a chat to any of the Committee.
As for this week, although Cider Bob led Sainsburys 1, Paul Purple VFR, who is really getting his literary juices flowing, volunteered to write up this week’s ride. Here’s his very entertaining description (for which Cider Bob is very grateful for the kind words… and has said "the cheque is in the post"!!):
Last week I led a group of four riders, two of whom were first timers, on an epic adventure involving damp gravelly lanes, blinding sun, and biblical downpours. Neither of the first timers came back this week – hopefully only because their riding kit is still drying out. Retribution for this inappropriate induction was swift and this week I was moved to Cider’s group and made to write up the ride as punishment. Cider’s plan was brilliant – head east and avoid the blinding sun, so our group of six set off bang on time. Cider headed across the car park, Big Geoff as designated tail man waited patiently, whilst me, Tone, Carlos and Bruno looked awkwardly at each other. This won’t do I thought so I followed Cider as number two and the rest fell in behind. Cider had previously provided route details, which I had dutifully programmed into my SatNav and the plan was to head out on the A602 towards Watton. So, we turned right out of Sainsbury’s and Headed into town. At the second roundabout Cider continued straight on towards the Old Town. Now this is quite a sensible route and one which my SatNav would personally have preferred, but it wasn’t the route that Cider had provided. Consequently, I had added a waypoint on Gunnels Wood Road to force it down the pre-supplied route and I now had this woman shouting in my ear, demanding that I “turn around when possible”. This is just like driving in the car with the wife I thought! We proceeded through town and then headed out on the 602 which is restricted most of the way to Watton. We had a brief turn of speed on the bypass but then came back down to 30 due to roadworks. Now the 602 from Watton to Tonwell is a good road and normally national speed limit. The road works however meant a 30mph limit was imposed all the way to Tonwell despite there being no road workers present at that time of an evening and no narrowing of the road. We are however a responsible bunch and we stuck rigidly to the limit – after all we do have the good name of the club to protect. I glanced back and saw a long line of vehicles driving right up Big Geoff’s bottom and it occurred to me that the passengers of those vehicles were also thinking up some “good names” for us. Finally, we were able to get up to speed on the rather excellent Anchor Lane that takes you from the 602 to Wades Mill and then we headed up the old A10, turning off towards Barwick Ford. If you have never been there then this is a pleasant spot and a genuine ford, not one of those dried up river crossings that you often find. It’s a slab of concrete, covered in green slime and at least 4 inches of flowing river water – a good test for the group. Keep it straight and steady on the throttle and you’ll be just fine. All made it across without difficulty. Cider now decided to do another test. He had brand new rubber on his front wheel which he had just washed in a slime ridden ford and he had a nice tight and twisty national speed limit road ahead – why not up the pace? What could possibly go wrong? Off he shot. Well it turns out that if you ride silky smoothly, prudently use all the road to soften the bends, reduce the lean and avoid excessive braking, then the answer is “not a lot”. We then headed through Much Hadham and took a detour out towards Bishop’s Stortford and back down the A120 to Little Hadham as the direct road from Much Hadham is currently closed. Fortunately, Cider had covered this in his pre-supplied route so the lady in my ear demurely concurred. Then followed some nice national speed limit roads, punctuated by the villages of Stocking Pelham and Berden, before joining the B1038 at Wickham Bonhunt which we took to Newport. We then headed north on the B1383 which is a very open road but restricted to 50 for much of its length, before finally turning west along the B1039 at Wenden’s Ambo. This is a great road and one often used on club ride-outs. There are some nice twisty bits and other bits where you have a clear view down the road ahead. We were now heading into the sun but by this time it was very low and not a problem – nice one Cider. At Barley we took the B1368 south through Barkway and on to Hare Street. This is another very good road and more open than the B1039 – a real pleasure to ride. At Hare Street we turned on to the B1038 towards Buntingford. Now this is yet another good road which has a sharp right followed immediately by a sharp left not far out of Hare Street. Now I happen to know that some road planning officer has cunningly decided to put a whacking great manhole in the middle of the left hand side of the road on the second bend, so I made sure to miss this as we rounded the corner. Feeling pleased I approached the next bend with a little more “gusto” and was “rewarded” with a rear end twitch. As I came to the next bend, toping the hill, I realised how Laurence of Arabia (also a biker!) must have felt as a wide vista of rolling dunes came into view with the sun setting majestically over them…… OK I might be exaggerating a little here but I swear that was a significant patch of sand in the middle of the road. Cider deftly steered round it. It was effortless, mesmerising even, or at least that’s my excuse as I hit it and had a “moment” – that feeling you get in the pit of your underpants when your bike unilaterally decides that the patch of tarmac 2ft immediately to the right (or left) of where it currently resides looks so much nicer and decides to emigrate there without further notice. Just down the road, there were some roadworks and the traffic lights were red which gave us a chance to pull up and make sure everyone else had “crossed the dessert” in one piece. Tone, who was riding behind me pulled up alongside gesticulating wildly – he’d also had a “moment”. A quick poll at the end of the ride revealed that pretty much everyone else had “played in the sand” as well. From there it was on through Buntingford and up to the A10 where Cider shot across the roundabout onto the 507 whilst I, and therefore everyone else, stopped to let a car go past southbound on the A10. At the same time another car turned on to the 507 behind Cider so having crossed the roundabout, myself and Tone just managed to get past the car before the bends and we set off after Cider who was now out of sight. We caught up with Cider on the brow of a Hill. He was braking moderately hard (for Cider). Why was that I wondered? Oh, that would be the tractor and trailer that was turning across our path just over the brow – good spot Cider. We then swept on to Cottered where we slowed right down to let some of the others, who had been impeded by the car, catch up. Then it was just a case of a run down the 507 to Buntingford. This is another familiar and favourite road which gave me time to reflect on the ride. I’d personally felt very ragged in places but following Cider is a lesson in itself and I highly recommend it. Tone also commented similarly on What’s App after the ride. So, you can imagine my surprise when after pulling up at the Baldock Services Cider walked up and apologised for being off his game this evening – I’m sorry but that’s just showing off! 63 miles covered, a really well-matched group, great roads and excellent “sun management”. Well done Cider and thanks to Geoff for bringing up the rear.
Ian Harris’ summary is less extensive but, no-the-less, informative:
With another fine evening forecasted, it was perfect for a ride around the lanes of Hertfordshire. A full group of 6 riders met at BikeStop where Chris G. surprised us again with his choice of legwear sporting some homemade zoo animal print trousers and Gary turned up on his brand spanking new Royal Enfield Himalayan (411cc Single) which would suit the twisty route I had planned. To avoid the blinding sun of last week, we set off east towards Cromer via Walkern before taking the turn to Ardeley, then some great lanes to Wood End and Great Munden. Next village was Nasty (but nice) before heading towards Cherry Green and Westmill then on to Aspenden and a quick view of Buntingford High Street before turning off towards Wyddial.
After a short stint on the Barkway road we started our return leg heading towards Buckland (which made Mr Rogers feel at home) before heading to Wallington via Sandon and Roe Green before making our way towards Baldock. After picking up the old Royston Road and a bit of the A507 we all arrived safely and happy at Baldock where we were soon joined by another group but maintaining our social distancing.
Tony Brown said:
Five of us headed out on our ride out this evening, heading along the A602 to Watton then the A119 to Hertford.From Hertford we proceeded down the lovely B158 all th way to Essendon,from there we picked the old Great North Road through Hatfield and W.G.C on to the B656 through Codicote till we came to Little Armshoe. Went down to Little Wymondly, on to Great Wymondly and onwards towards William. We then went on to Hitchin and a blast down Wilblbury Hills,through to Letchworth, Stotfold and on to Baldock, a round trip of 50 miles. On our arrival at the services we were greeted by a happy smiling Mr Gary Jones.
If we get an input from Steve or Pete, we will post it immediately, if not sooner.
Thanks to all the ride leaders for planning and leading each week and thank you to those who submit some text (particularly Paul's very lighthearted & entertaining review) for the website.
There’s still no reductions in restriction for the foreseeable future so same again next week… please let Cider Bob know if you’d like to join in the fun by Sunday lunch time.
Mon 27th July 2020
During Monday morning and afternoon, the rain was heavy and, with the forecast, we were down to “only” four full groups, making up twenty four riders.
But those that didn’t want to get wet should have had faith in Mother Nature who, once again, cleared the sky for beautiful sunshine by 19:30 as the rides got under way from their respective starting locations.
Most were home having had a great ride but, for the more adventurous, who like to go a bit further on a Monday evening, Mother Nature changed her mind and there were a few wet crotches by the end of the night.
Cider Bob was working so Paul Purple VFR led “Sainsburys 1”. Steve Vaughan was back this week after what looked like a fantastic motorcycling holiday around the north of England so he was there to lead “Sainsburys 2”. Pete Blackburn led what has become his customary Screwfix group while Ian Harris, as always, led the most sedate group from Bikestop. A fifth group had been planned but the “Chequers” group came to a join decision to avoid the rain… an early decision that meant they missed the sunshine!
Here is what some of our rider leaders had to say...
Paul Purple VFR has given this absolutely superb summary:
“Well that turned out to be a tad more challenging than I had anticipated! The forecast had been for grey clouds and a band of rain passing through by 5pm followed by clearer skies. Right on cue the rain stopped around 5pm and by 7:30pm at Sainsburys, it was sunny with very few clouds and drying roads. Great I thought – then the challenges started. First off Cider, our tireless and talented organiser, had obviously decided to test the communication skills of some of his group leaders with a cunning ruse. He put me in both of the WhatsApp groups for Coreys Mill and had put Steve Vaughn, the other leader, in neither! Consequently Steve received none of the updates to his group, but I did – would we talk to each other? Steve was heading out at 7:30pm with what he believed to be his group of four other riders when I got an update from Richard Green saying he was running late. I managed to flag down a confused Steve, who had no idea Richard was even in his group and after a quick discussion we decided that he would head off and I would wait for Richard as my group was already three down (all of whom had let me know in good time – thank you!) Thus it was about 7:37pm when myself and two first timers, Nigel and Rob headed out with Richard as tail man. We initially headed south west, picking up the B651 through Whitwell and Kimpton and on to Wheathampstead. These are good roads but not overly wide and reasonably sheltered so they were still quite wet. When you couple this with gravel which had been washed on to the road in Saturday’s deluge, progress was “steady” rather than “thrilling”. Another factor was the slowly sinking sun (curse that clear-ish blue sky) but more of that later. We took a right at Nomansland Common and proceeded via Harpendon on to Redbourn. From here we headed out via Gaddesden Lane and then Gaddesden Row towards Dunstable where we planned to stop. We were now heading west, the Sun had sunk lower and was blinding in places, even if you did have a tinted visor and/or sunglasses. There were also sections where you were suddenly plunged under arches of trees and those same visors/sunglasses were now way too dark. What we need I thought, are some more clouds to block the low sun – boy did I regret that later! Gaddesden Row is a long, picturesque and fairly straight road that is unfortunately limited to 40mph for much of it’s length however that was not a problem as getting up to 40mph was proving difficult given the previously described optical challenges. It was therefore with some relief that, towards the end, the sun finally sank below some clouds and we could see. However, as we climbed up to the top of Dunstable Down, we were met with a wide vista and a clear view of those clouds, which were dark, dumping a significant amount of water on Aylesbury and heading our way – Damn! None the less we stopped as planned and had a chat, but as rain was obviously getting closer, we thought we should head off. The next section was the most enjoyable. The roads were now open and dry, and although there were speed restrictions all the way through Totternhoe and Lower End, we then had a brief section on the A505 and A5 before turning off on the wonderful B5120 towards Toddington. Finally we were able to get a bit of pace and get those bikes leaning over. But as we reached Toddington, the skies rapidly darkened with the sort of clouds that would make a resident of Mordor feel right at home. Thus it was, as we crossed the M1, Sauron let loose and skies opened (apologies for the literary references but Lord of the Rings is my favourite book). So we headed back to Barton-le-Clay and turned left through the high street before taking the road towards Shillington. This is another really good road when the conditions are right but as they weren’t, our progress was back to being “steady”. We then headed towards Meppershall joining the A507 at the Airman’s roundabout leading to a final moderate blast to the A1M where Richard, ever the optimist, headed off to the services on the off-chance that some of the other club members might have decided to stand around in the car park in the pouring rain for a chat! Myself, Rob and Nigel headed off down the A1 and bolted for home. So 56 miles covered (Corey’s Mill – Baldock) and not the easiest of club rides but it does improve your skills. My thanks as always to my tail man charley, Richard. Also a warm welcome to Rob and Nigel. Do come again – it’s not usually this grim!”
He tends to tell us his route and let us know if anything particularly interesting happens but doesn’t tend to write much so we don’t have anything from him this week.
Pete Blackburn :
We waited patiently with baited breath for Pete's input and our Screwfix leader came up with... "Ok so team screwfix set off via Hitchin towards Barton le clay then left towards Lilly on to codecote,Digswell then on to Hertford. Through Bengeo then wadesmill up through braughing then though Reed and Therfield through the twists on to the A505 up to Baldock. 61 miles in total enjoyed by all"
“With rain throughout the day and forecast of showers in the evening, a few of our group dropped out so we were down to 5 riders, sadly one was a breakdown just 10 mins from our meeting point at BikeStop where one of our riders gave us all a laugh riding in his homemade ‘teddy bear’ trousers. This week’s route was planned with the conditions in mind for a 90min (40 mile) run initially heading out to Todds Green before joining the Codicote Road towards Hitchin where one of our group decided the damp conditions were not suiting his Harley chopper, so he dropped out. We then headed to Barton-le-Clay then through Sharpenhoe, Harlington and Westoning, the roads were dry but the low sun was ‘blinding’ in places which was less of a problem once we headed to Pulloxhill via Greenfield. Some lovely lanes out to Hanscombe End, Shillington and Lower Stondon before passing RAF Henlow and Henlow itself where there were several Police vehicles and a man being scanned for weapons and arrested as we passed by. From Henlow we headed towards Langford before making our way to Baldock via Edworth, Hinxworth, Ashwell and Newnham. Most of our route was dry with not a single drop of rain and we arrived at Baldock around 20:50 and as no other groups were there, we had a brief chat before heading home and all managed to miss the incoming downpour”.
Still no change to restrictions so same again next week… let Cider Bob know by Sunday lunchtime if you’d like to join a group on the Monday evening.
Mon 20th July 2020
Five almost full groups of six were planned for this week. Unfortunately, there was clearly a lot going on, with some away, including our usual ride leader Steve Vaughan, some with poorly motorcycles and several people at work so, at only twenty eight riders, we were a bit down on the numbers we have had recently.
But those that could make it seemed to have fun… the feedback we are getting on our Whatsapp groups is excellent.
Once again, the weather was great and the roads were dry. In fact, the only down side to any of the rides was having to ride into relatively low sun.
As has become the “new normal”, our five ride leaders were asked to give a summary of their groups’ ride. Some are excellent at this and as time goes on, one or two are becoming quite the authors. But, one or two (well, one actually) still consistently fails to come up with the literary goods but we won’t name and shame him; because he’s probably too busy at his job in Bikestop!
Ian Harris continues to lead a sedate group each week. This is proving very popular and this week welcomed experienced motorcyclist Gary on his 125. Riding a small bike with people on larger bikes can be fun, as it’s challenging (just keep the throttle wide open!!) but if you fancy joining Ian’s group, big bike or small, just let us know. Here is what Ian wrote for us:
“A full group with another ninety minute route planned and a potential new member with us on his 125cc. The ride was ‘book-ended’ by 2 Royal Enfield 500s and we headed out of Stevenage via Todds Green before joining the Codicote Road at Little Almshoe. In Codicote one of our riders experienced a drunken man crossing the road in front of them without looking, but avoiding action ensured that he made it across the road, just. From there we headed into Welwyn then through Digswell to Hertford, Bengeo then on to Anchor lane, heading up the ‘old’ A10 to Puckeridge and Dassels towards Barkway then towards the Silver Ball Café and Buckland. As we headed towards Sandon we had a slight delay with some temporary traffic lights that didn’t seem to detect our group, but after getting through safely we headed to Roe Green then picked up the A505 for a short blast to Baldock”.
Our Chairman, Norbert (Tony Brown) took charge of the Chequers group this week. He said “The old boys group headed to Aston then to Walkern, Cottered and Slip End. Short blast along the A505, down to Steeple And Guilden Morden.On to Eyeworth Dunton over the A1 and on to Langford.Down to Henlow,Lower Stinson, Shillington, Apsley End and Pegsdon.Picking up the B655 through to Hitchin, Ickleford and Letchworth and on to Baldock”.
With Steve Vaughan away on a biking trip to the Lake District, Paul (Purple VFR) kindly good his place as leader of “Sainsburys 2” as it has become known. Paul is a literary genius and has come up with "Our group of five set off from Corey’s Mill and headed towards Hitchin. We were a man down as unfortunately Chris was unable to make it but as he had already let us know well in advance, we were able to get away on time. The plan was to head out towards Woburn where we would take a short break in the park, and then head back towards Baldock. In an effort to try and travel on some different roads we actually headed out through Gosmore and Kings Walden before picking up Lilley Bottom Road and heading towards Lilley. This is quite a good road albeit narrow in places but as we got stuck behind a Tesco’s Delivery truck we moved at a fairly sedate pace. The truck turned off at Lilley and we continued on through the village and then out through Steatley and lower Sundon on some more open and sweeping roads, before Heading up to Toddington. From there we followed more sweeping roads via South End before picking up the B5704 which facilitated a swift blast to Woburn and our stop at a picturesque spot in the park. After a short stop we headed on through the deer park where the herds of deer were in full view, before skirting round most of Ampthill and then picking up the B530 where there were some good views off to the left. We then turned back east via Houghton Conquest and Appley Corner and passed through Ireland which I hope Liam at the back appreciated! From there we went through Broom and Langford before reaching the A1 at Edworth, At this point Pete B split off by prior arrangement and headed off to Baldock - yes I do tend to do longer than average rides! The rest of us took a loop up through Eyeworth, Guilden Morden and Ashwell before finally heading back via Newnham to the Baldock. These last roads are old favourites and I may have got a bit carried away (apologies to Buck) but Carlos did give me a good run for my money which I took as encouragement! Thanks to all for coming out and especially to Liam for acting as tail man Charley. It really helps when you have someone clearly identifiable at the back (He’s got side lights).The route was 65 miles”.
Cider Bob said “I enjoyed throwing my little 250 around the B roads so much last week that, as I had an almost entirely different group this week, I led the same route again (although I did check with Big Geoff first to make sure he didn’t mind). It was another cracking ride and everyone seemed to really enjoy it - over to Codicote, back end of Hertford (via the Essenden road), then Bengeo and Anchor Lane to Ware. Taking the correct turn off this week, we then took the Widford road to Much Haddam road. The closure was still in place but I’d planned to continue up to Bishops Stortford this week so no surprises. Then it was back to Baldock via the A507. There were no hump back bridge incidents this week but just a questioned overtake… “that overtake on Anchor lane was a bit moody?”… no, a good look across the hedges and fields showed the road was clear all the way round so it was a perfect overtake, flying around an apparently blind bend on the wrong side of the road. I love motorcycling!!”
Finally, Pete Blackburn set off from Screwfix with a full group of six. We are told they also had a great ride and he summarised it with this: “ ”. Thanks Pete, very insightful!! :)
It doesn’t look there will be any let up with the six person Covid-19 restrictions in the near future so we will continue with this current way of organising our Monday night rides for the time being. But if you have any suggestions or feedback, please let us know by clicking on this link or Whatsapping us.
This seems to be so popular that there has been chat about keeping something like it going once restrictions are lifted. We’d welcome your views.
As “always”, if you’d like to join a group next Monday evening, please let Cider Bob know with Whatsapp or text by Sunday lunch time. Although, he will be at work next week so won’t be riding (Purple VFR Paul will be leading “Sainsburys 1”).
This coming Sunday should have been the George Brown Memorial Run. Obviously we had to cancel but hopefully it will be back next year with lots of entries. If you'd like to know more, click in this link.
Mon 13th July 2020
Having got five full groups and a couple extra sorted out by Sunday evening, come Monday afternoon, the forecast of heavy rain put a lot of riders off; so it was all change and the numbers dwindled to three almost full groups.
We understand not everyone enjoys riding in the rain, but it can be fun and will definitely make you a better rider.
It’s a shame so many opted out because there were only a few spots up to about 21:15 hours. It was only then that it started to get heavier, by which time two of the rides had already finished and the third was only the 10 miles from its finish point.
Ian Harris led what has become his customary “sedate” paced ride from Bikestop and Pete Blackburn found out his tyre do actually stick in the wet as he led his group from Screwfix.
Steve Vaughan and Cider Bob were both at Sainsburys, not knowing who would turn up but they ended up riding in the same group with Big Geoff and two new potential members, Frank and Adele (welcome to you both).
Unfortunately the author of this weekly drivel is away this week so doesn’t have time to wait for an input from Pete but suffice to say his group had a good ride.
Ian was as swift as ever at getting us a summary of his group's ride:
"Down to a group of 4 (plus 1 pillion) this evening due to potential wet weather so we set out on a slightly reduced (figure of 8) route planned to be around 75mins. We set out towards Great Ashby to take the lanes to Weston and continued on to Baldock before turning on to the Bygrave Road and heading on to Ashwell. From Ashwell we headed out to Hinxworth then Edworth, Millow and Wrestlingworth before getting back to the ‘figure of 8’ crossover in Ashwell. From there we headed Newnham before being the first group to arrive at Baldock (just as the rain started) for a quick natter amongst ourselves then rather than stand around in the rain, we went our separate ways. We were very lucky with the weather this evening, the lanes were mostly dry and was pleasantly surprised how little traffic there was on our route, must have been football on the telly!"
Cider Bob led the third group over to Codicote and then the back end of Hertford, via the Essenden road. Bengeo and Anchor Lane took us to Ware where the road was shut and the diversion route was very poorly signed. So Cider made up a route to Wareside to join the Much Haddam road. Unfortunately, he took a left turn one junction early (for which he apologises again to the rest of the group) which took them down a country lane. It was narrow and there was a bit of gravel but it was still entertaining… particularly for one of the group who mis-judged a hump back bridge and might have thought they were flying an aircraft rather than riding a bike for a moment. There were road closure and road works all over the place so after another detour to Bishops Stortford, they returned via the A507 where they just started to get wet after an otherwise dry and fun ride.
Mon 6th July 2020
Saturday this week should have seen Club members manning the National Rally checkpoint at Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service Training centre. Unfortunately, being another victim of Covid-19, the Rally has been postponed and will now run on 12th September 2020 but with unmanned, “virtual” checkpoints around the country. It’s a great event that’s been running for 87 years so if you don’t know what it’s and/or want to join the ride, have a look at their website - www.nationalroadrally.co.uk/nrr/index.php
Back to this Monday evening and our numbers swelled further; now with seven groups of six riders. Although two had to drop out, it was still a challenge to get forty members to different start locations around the town, in groups of riders with similar styles of riding.
We are really grateful to our ride leaders. They are great at keeping their groups together, riding at an enjoyable pace and planning some fantastic routes. Most of the ride leaders are Committee members so it’s hardly surprising they are happy to get involved but special thanks goes to Steve Vaughan for his ubiquitous attendance through the year, no matter what the weather, Bob Voss for leading the “old boys” (plus Steve & Carol) and Richard Green, who stepped in this week because other non-committee leader Paul Rousell (“Purple VFR”) was off celebrating his birthday. It’s great to see so many appreciation messages on our Whatsapp group each week while we are struggling with the current Covid-19 restrictions.
Some of our leaders have commented on their rides:
Cider Bob said: I met my group at Coreys Mill Sainsburys. It was great to welcome yet another new member, Joe, who was introduced by Kev. Chris also joined us and it was great to have Jason Holmes return on a rare day off back in the area after working away for so long. We headed into Bedfordshire, into a low sun (although that’s hard to avoid when doing a “loop” as you’ll always be heading into it at some point). From Hitchin it was down to Pirton, Barton-Le-Clay and the A6 to Clophill. We then took some twisties to Haynes and then around the Cardington/Cople/Southill/Old Warden area before taking the A507 to Stotfold. A slight detour into Norton took us into the back of Baldock, where we ended. I’m glad to say there were no incidents and everyone seemed to enjoy the ride.
Steve Vaughan took his group over towards Berkshire, stopping for a break at Wendover.
Bob Voss had this to say: The Chequers group was a little depleted this evening due to one of our numbers leading a 7th group and the other knackered old boy being in the pub. We zoomed off along the Watton bypass turning left to Danes End then right past Whitehills golf course to the A10. Short blast on the A10 to Puckeridge then up the old road through Hare Street toward Barkway village. On to Shepreth and Meldreth and into Bassingbourn passing the Hoops with a wave at the folk having a drink in the garden. Littlington, Steeple Morden, Ashwell and on to Baldock for a chat with other riders. Lovely ride chaps and chapess. Thanks for the company.
Richard Green did a 70 mile routes into Essex while Pete Starr took his group into Bedfordshire.
Pete Blackburn eventually got round to summing up with this: Apologies for no ride report last week but I simply forgot. This week we ventured out through Walkern onto the A507 to Buntingford down Hare Street through Braughing ending up at Flint Cross. Short blast down the A505 then down to Bassingbourn through the villages of Littlington,Steeple Morden ,Ashwell and Newton ending up at Baldock.
Ian Harris had a bit more to say with: A group of 5 this week as one of our rider’s had broken down on route (not him, just his bike) so he went home andswapped bikes. When he then arrived at BikeStop on his Yamaha R1, I suggested he take up the spare space in the ‘Screwfix Group’ which would probably suit his pace better. Sticking to our 90 minute plan for the ride this evening, I gave the group the option of a surprise mid-ride stop which was agreed. Heading out towards Walkern, we took a right taking the lane to Watton at Stone where we had a slight diversion due to road works before getting on the A602 then on to Wadesmill via Anchor Lane. We then headed towards Puckeridge and after a short blast on the A10 took the road towards Church End, Dassels then on to Barley via Barkway then dropping into Royston before heading to Bassingbourne where we stopped at The Hoops pub for refreshments. The pub staff were pleased to welcome us back and the ‘Screwfix Group’ were already seated and socially distanced with their drinks of choice. Following our stop, we headed out to Littlington, Morden Green then on to Ashwell and Newnham before ending in Baldock for a socially distanced chin wag.
This way of organising the Monday night rides seems to be really popular. If you agree or disagree of want to give us any feedback, just send us a message. It may be we continue with something similar once the restrictions are removed so we are keen to hear your views.
The committee are risking getting together this week for the first meeting in months. If there is anything you want brought up, contact us here or contact any of the committee members directly.
Mon 29th June 2020
Six full groups of six riders were planned to meet up at various points around the town for this weeks “C-19” restricted group rides.
Paul Rousell (or “purple VFR” as he signs himself so everyone knows who he is) kindly led the first group from Coreys Mill Sainsburys. He took his group on an excellent ride well into north Bedfordshire which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. He’s written this summary:
“Everybody turned up by 7:20 so we got away slightly early. We headed north via Little Wymondley and Willian and then skirted between Hitchin and Letchworth up to the A507 which we took to Henlow. We then headed north again via Stanford, Upper Caldecote, Blunham and Great Barford, circling Bedford to the north via East End, Bolnhurst, Thurleigh and Milton Ernest before stopping by the Great Ouse at Felmersham which was a really nice spot. We took a 15 minute break and then headed back down via West End, Bromham, Houghton Conquest and then out to the A6 and down to the A507. From there we turned off and made our way back to Hitchin via Apsley End and Pirton. We had agreed at the break that three riders would split off on the way back to head straight to Baldock which they did so it was just myself, Geoff, Robin and Tracy that ended up back at the Corey's Mill roundabout. It turned out to be a really good route with some open and fairly quiet roads that allowed us to get a decent pace between some of the villages. It was also a well matched group which made it even more enjoyable and easy to lead although it's always easier when you have Geoff at the back sweeping up. 68 miles in total”.
As has become the norm, Steve Vaughan led the second group from Coreys Mill. To comply with the restrictions, they meet in a different part of the car park, well away from the first group. Unfortunately, Kelvin was injured so couldn’t ride but his place was taken by “late entry” Liam. Steve also took his group into Bedfordshire, stopping at Woburn to admire the huge herd of deer.
Pete Blackburn led another group from Screwfix but, as usual, he hasn’t found a pen so we don’t have anything to write about their exploits.
Unfortunately, Bob Voss had to drop out this week so Pete Starr took the reigns of the Chequers group. It wasn’t planned but he too headed for Bedfordshire, taking in Barton-Le-Clay, Clophill and Malden, to name just a few villages they passed through, while avoiding main roads as much as possible.
Ian Harris had a more eventful evening with his group and welcomed another new member, Bruno. Ian has described their evening with this literary masterpiece:
“Another planned 90 minute ride this evening from BikeStop so we headed out towards Bennington via Walkern through Whempstead then on to Hertford via Bengeo. Taking the Welwyn Road through Panshanger and on to Welwyn, we picked up the Codicote Road and to add interest a challenging lane route avoiding the centre of Codicote. In hindsight the tracks were quite stoney but all riders made it through safely to Sally Deards Lane. However the same cannot be said for all the bikes with one casualty being the Royal Enfield on the tail. After waiting a while at the next junction, one of our riders went back to see what the delay was and reported back that the Enfield had broken down. After returning to the stranded rider, we set about trying to diagnose the issue which seemed to be fuelling. A few failed attempts to get it running but seemed to improve after cooling down, enough to get bike & rider heading home ahead of us. The rest of the group continued on our route picking up the Codicote Road again then towards Willian via Todds Green through to Letchworth then down Baldock Lane, Baldock and then back to Stevenage where, en-route, we saw the Enfield going into Letchworth and later news reached us that our Enfield rider also made it home ok”.
Having left the main group at Sainsburys with Paul, Cider Bob moved to Raceways where he met his group. Unfortunately, Jon had to drop out but that left a spare space, which was filled by yet another new member, Fiona – a warm welcome to you. Here is what Cider Bob had to say about his ride:
“We were all there by 19:25 so headed straight off. It was a well matched group riding at a nice moderate pace. Bernie has only had his licence for a few months but his years as a learner clearly show as he was keeping up comfortably. Mark is still running in his gorgeous Triumph so the pace also suited him. It was Fiona’s first ride with us so we didn’t know her pace but she was also very much enjoyed it. Gavin and Phil were at the back and also seemed to like the speeds we were riding at. We headed over to Walkern and then Buntingford via the A507. Continuing east, we headed into Essex, all the way to Newport on the lovely B1038 and then turned north onto the B1383. The plan was to return to Hertfordshire via the B1039, another great riding road, but it was closed at Wendens Ambo so, rather than risking possible gravelly unclassified roads to get us back on route, we kept to the diversion which took us to the very dull A505 from Duxford to Flint Cross. Having battled the head on wind for about 6 miles, we finally got back on track by heading north to Melbourne. Then it was Meldreth, Bassingbourn and Litlington before ending up at Baldock via the Newnham road. We’ve done that last couple of miles for the past three weeks but it’s such good fun there’s no reason not too! By coincidence, some of the other groups had ended up at the Services but we all kept our distance”
Under the current restrictions, Cider Bob is organising the groups of six each week. He is a very sad man with a bit of CDO (its like OCD but the letters are in the correct order) and has a colour coded spread sheet which gives an indication of the sort of speeds different riders enjoy. He moves riders around a bit between groups for a bit of variety but tries, as much as possible, to keep everyone in any one group the same colour.
If you want to join any of the group rides each week, so he can help get you the most out of your ride by matching everyone as much as possible (and still stick within the C-19 restrictions) please let him know each Sunday lunchtime if you are intending on riding the following day. This can be by:
Understandably, some of you are a bit rubbish at this as its not much of a priority, so if necessary, why not set yourself an alarm to remind you to tell him you’re coming.
Mon 22nd June 2020
Yesterday was the longest day of the year so we had plenty of daylight for tonight’s various group rides, some of which were almost two hours long.
Once again, Covid-19 restrictions meant we are still running groups of six. This week we added another group as it’s become so popular with both existing and new members.
Cider Bob and Steve Vaughan led two separate groups out from our usual meeting place at Coreys Mill Sainsburys.
Ian Harris led a sedate group from Bikestop, as did Bob Voss from the Chequers, and we had Pete Blackburn leading a more swift group from Screwfix as well as Paul Rousell with a sixth group from Raceways Motorcycles.
Some of the ride leaders have summarised their routes:
It was good to have Kev & Chris back with us after a bit of a break. We all took the B656 down to Codicote and then nipped over to Lilly via Whitwell. It was a good route but the sun was low and slowed the pace a little. From Lilly, we nipped up the A6 but turned right onto the Gravenhurst road, which is great fun, and then joined the A507. Unfortunately, I managed to lose Big Geoff… a random rider out for a very unsafe ride got into the mix. From a distance, I couldn’t tell it wasn’t Geoff but as he blatted past us at well over a ton and into on-coming traffic, it soon became clear it wasn’t Geoff and he was missing. We waited for a bit and then returned to the last junction but he was no-where to be seen. So we carried on, over to Old Warden, then Clifton and Langford before crossing the A1 and taking the right through Hinxworth to Ashwell. Finally, we finished off like last week with a blat through Newnham to Baldock, where we found Geoff who had gone looking for us but looked up the A507 rather than the A600.
Essex route. Two hours and six minutes, taking in Royston, Chishill, Saffron Walden, Great Sampsford, Abbess Roding, Widford and back to Stevenage, stopping at Audley end house on the way.
A full group met at BikeStop for a planned ninety minute loop to end at Baldock Services. On leaving we waved to the 'Presidential Group' meeting outside the High Street Tesco then made our way to the Codicote Road via Todds Green. Heading towards Hitchin, we picked up the road to Barton-le-Clay, Westoning & Sharpenhoe before heading to Flitwick. We then headed to Shefford via Ampthill & Maulden then on to Clifton and Edworth towards Ashwell and Newnham before ending in Baldock.
The usual suspects gathered once again for our Monday evening jaunt around the countryside terrorising the bugs of which there was an abundance splattering our visors. Bounding down the Watton bypass and on to Tonwell we turned right at the roundabout and on to Bengeo and in to Hertford. Keeping to the speed limits a slow section to Ware and over the rail crossing. Passing the Angel with a wave some nice variable speed sections to Little Haddam. Shame about the gravel on this road. Left at the lights and up to Puckeridge. Short fast section of the A10 then back to the lanes passing the Bee Hive to Barkway. Across the A10 to Therfield and down the hill to Royston and on to Littlington. Steeple Morden then Ashwell and back to Stevenage Baldock. Fifty miles of enjoyable varied riding even though our Hon Sec was knackered at the end of it. Anyone wants to buy a head down ass up Aprilia please see Mick.
Paul Rousell’s route went over to Newport, via Hare Street, then up the B1383 all the way to the A603. From there, after a detour through Barrington, it was over to Baldock via Wimpole and Bygrave before returning to Stevenage.
Pete prefers riding that writing so hasn't let us know where he took his group!
Same again for anyone wanting to ride next week please… if you’d like to be included on one of the group rides, please let Cider Bob know by Sunday lunchtime. He will then assign you a start location & ride leader and temporarily add you to that location’s Whatsapp group. If you have a preferred leader or riding style, please let him know, otherwise he will move you around each week to mix it up a bit but will try to keep you with others who like to ride at similar speeds.
Mon 15th June 2020
We were still under Covid-19 restrictions this week so we stuck to the six rider maximum group rides and, again, Cider Bob, Bob Voss, Ian Harris, Steve Vaughan and Pete Blackburn all volunteered to lead a ride out.
More new members joined this week and they were asked to join Cider Bob at our traditional meeting place, Coreys Mill Sainsburys. Welcome to Jonathan and Mark.
Cider took a twisty route over to the other side of the M1 and then back to Hertfordshire via Cambridgeshire. There were a few spots of rain and the odd damp road but it was generally lovely riding weather. They finished off at Baldock Services where some of the others had ended up again, but they all kept a good distance from each other.
Ian Harris led a sedate ride from Bikestop. There was a full compliment for his ride this week and he led them on a fifty mile loop around the countryside, taking about an hour and a half. The route went through Graveley, where they struck light drizzle, before riding to Willian, taking a left to Hitchin and then on to Stotfold via Wilbury Hills. They picked up the A507 before heading towards Ashwell, the Mordens, Littlington and Bassingbourn. After Royston they headed to Barley and Barkway and then all the way through to the A10. There was a short stop so those wanting to go back to Royston could split away and the rest took a short blast south on the A10, the onto the the 'old' A10 to Colliers End before joining the A602 and back to Stevenage via Anchor Lane. We had no other rain but did have a few damp roads out in the countryside. Ian commented that “it was a pleasure to lead a well disciplined group”.
Bob Voss keenly led another group from the Chequers at Bragbury End. As ever, leaving at 19:30, they too suffered a few damp roads on their route. They headed through Knebworth, Old Knebworth, Nup End and then Codicote where they picked up the B656 towards Hitchin, but they turned left on to the B651 to Whitwell. From Whitwell, they carried on to Lilley, then took the B655 Barton Road from Hexton towards Hitchin. Before they got to Hitchin, they turned left on to the Apsley Road, through to Shillington and Lower Stondon before taking the A600 to Ickleford. Finally, they also headed over to Baldock via Letchworth, Norton and the A507.
Steve Vaughan took his crew down to southern Hertfordshire, stopping for a short break at Paradise Wildlife Park (which was obviously closed) and Pete Blackburn did a route similar to Bob’s but in reverse.
We don’t know if there will be any changes to the restrictions this coming week so we plan to do something similar next Monday evening.
As has become the norm, please let Cider Bob know by Sunday lunchtime if you plan to come along so he can put groups of six riders together who share similar riding styles.
Mon 8th June 2020
Five separate groups were organised this week with four supposed to be made up of six riders and one of three.
Steve Vaughan left Sainsburys early, at 19:15 and took his riders over the Wendover for a cultural tour of Hertfordshire and Berkshire.
Bob Voss led his group of “the old boys” with Steve & Carol. This is what Bob has reported:
"19:30 and all our intrepid riders are gathered at Bradbury End ready for the off. With Scooter Bob spinning his rear wheel followed by Tony, Mick, Steve, Carol and Pete making their way toward Watton at Stone. Galloping along the Watton bypass through to Hertford North. Turning right along and past Panshanger Park through Digswell to Welwyn. Lovely ride with some nice fast bends through Codicote, waving to the Goat to Hitchin then turning right toward Stevenage and into Little Wymondley. Up to Great Wymondley to Willian. Along the lane to Wilbury Hills and a blast down the hill turning left and along to Arlesey. Quick wave to the Vicars Inn and on to Baldock where we ending up meeting with Pete Blackburns group. Quick chat before going our separate ways. Bit colder tonight but invigorating all the same".
Ian Harris led a group for Bikestop and he sent us this:
"Down to five riders tonight due to illness but we set out ahead of time towards the Codicote Road via Todd’s Green then headed to Welwyn then on to Hertford, Wadesmill and Colliers End to pick up the A10 for a quick burst before heading to Barkway via Hare Street then on to Reed then Therfield, Kelshall where there was a sign saying ‘local honey £5’ but we were all enjoying the ride too much to stop for her. Then through Sandon for a little blast down the A10 to pick up the A507. The group stopped in Cottered to part ways with just two of us returning via Walkern to Stevenage arriving just after 21:00".
Pete Blackburn took a group from Screwfix, with potential new member Tone and ended up at Baldock Services for a socially distanced chat. This is how Pete described the evening:
"So a nice 48 miles route taking in the Hertfordshire country side. Myself Kelvin,Carlos, Richard and new member Tone went out towards Ware down anchor lane up the A10 then through the back roads to Braughing ending up at flint cross. Short blast down the A505 then down the B1198 to Bassingbourn through Steeple Morden Ashwell Newton ending up at Baldock for a chat".
Cider Bob led another group of five from Sainsburys, where they were joined by another potential new member, Pete “Buck” Rogers. We were also contacted, via Facebook, by another potential new member but unfortunately he didn’t turn up.
Cider’s group took the A507 to Buntingford, then the A120 to the Haddens and then over to Ware before returning to Stevenage.
They too chose to wander over to Baldock Services for a cuppa (although it turned out to be closed) where they were surprised to find Pete and his group along with some of Bob’s group. It meant there were about fifteen of us in the car park. We have been discouraging groups over six but, as we were there by coincidence, we stayed - just well apart.
Next week, we will be planning groups of six again, leave from Sainsburys, Bikestop, Bragbury End and Screwfix (plus other locations if required).
If you’d like to come along, contact Cider Bob by any of the usual media, although the Club Whatsapp Group is preferred.
Mon 1st June 2020
The Club continues to abide by the rules so there are still no planned Monday night meetings for the foreseeable future. But the Covid-19 lock-down rules relaxed more this week and groups of up to six were allowed to meet up in public.
With this new found freedom, all-be-it quite restricted, the Club arranged a number of six member group rides.
To maintain social distancing and to ensure we continue to be seen as a responsible motorcycle Club, we planned three different start locations and the groups didn’t meet up.
Leading the group who met up at our usual start point, Coreys Mill Sainsburys, Pete Blackburn reported:
“We had a good ride out from Sainsbury’s Corey’s Mill. We had a total of eight in the end, taking in Walkern, Cottered and the A507. Through Buntingford and Hare Street, then all the way up to Flint Cross. A short blast down the A505, then the A1198 into Bassingbourn, past the Hoops pub, through Steeple Morden, Ashwell, Newton and then finished at Baldock for a socially distanced chat”.
Bob Voss kindly volunteered to lead one group and this is what he reported:
“Five good men and a rather splendid Lady sent off from the lay-by opposite the Chequers pub at Bradbury End dead on the arranged time of 19.30. With me (Scooter Bob) leading, we set of at a gentle pace through Hooks Cross, taking the Watton bypass and on the A602 to Tonwell. Turning left at the roundabout, a nice country lane to Wadesmill gave us the chance to experience some fast sweeping bends. From there we went straight through to the A10 at Puckeridge. A short stretch on the A10, turning onto the B1368 at the north end of Puckeridge, gave everyone the chance to experience my favorite road. Slow 30mph parts and fast National limit stretches all the way to Barkway. Turning left at Barkway and crossing the A10 by the Silver Ball saw us blinded by the sun through Therfield and down the hill to the A505. A short section of the A505, then right to Littlington and on to Steeple Morden, Guilden Morden and Ashwell. Left in Ashwell and more lanes back to cross the A505 again, on to Walkern and back to Stevenage. A great ride of about an hour and a quarter covering about fifty miles was enjoyed by all.
A third group left from Bikestop in Stevenage old town. This one was led by Ian Harris, who reported:
“We managed to get away before 19:30 with a police escort out of the High Street. (Lucky they couldn’t count). We headed out to Buntingford via Walkern and Cottered, then Hare Street, through Barkway and Barley and into Royston. Next through Bassingbourne, Littlington, Steeple Morden then a little blast on the A505 before heading towards Wallington and picking up the A507 towards Baldock, then Graveley before a brief chin-wag back at BikeStop. All returned safely with no incidents. Our seventh rider dropped off near Baldock”.
Each ride leader independently planned there own rides, which just goes to show how popular the A507 and B1368 as, as well as the faster country roads around the Mordens.
If the lock-down rules still allow, we will arrange something similar next Monday. If you’d like to lead a group or just join one for the ride, let us know. You can contact us via this website, or email, or our Facebook page, or via the Whatsapp group.
Mon 25th May 2020
Still in semi-lockdown this week but it was another Bank Holiday so there wouldn't have been a meeting anyway.
But a few pairs met up yesterday for a Sunday rideout and, by coincidence, several members ended up meeting at Finchingfield for brunch.
There were a reasonable numbers of bikers there. All were well behaved and most (all the S&DMCC members) maintained good social distancing.
The Winners cafe was open for takeaways (the breakfast baps were absolutely superb) and the sports field toilets were open for use.
We are not encouraging group gatherings yet but you can get out there riding for fun (and your sanity). But remember, when you stop, if you meet others, use common sense and keep at least two metres (preferably a bit more) between you.
Ride safe and stay well.
Mon 19th May 2020
Wednesday last week did indeed see an easing of lock-down restrictions.
As a result, lots of Club members have been out and about on their bikes, sometimes with one other.
The weather has been superb so many members have been day tripping to the coast.
But, as a responsible Club, we are not having larger gatherings yet.
Please let us know of any good routes you've come up with for a blast out on the bike so we can share them.
Ride safe, stay well and avoid close proximity with others.
Mon 11th May 2020
The "Corona Lock-Down" continued this week but there may be a "light at the end of the tunnel".
Due to copyright we won't duplicate it but if you click on this link to Motorcycle News, you'll find some information telling us that, as of Wednesday, we will be allowed to ride our motorcycles again socially (a bit!).
But there are restrictions (although quite unclear as to what is mandatory and what is a recommendation).
Trying to summarise it with common sense, it seems:
- you can ride as much as you like on your own or with anyone you live with
- you can ride with one or two others but you MUST keep your social distance (particularly when you're off the bike!)
- if you chose to ride somewhere nice, like the coast, the likelihood is nothing will be open
This is almost experimental at this stage so if the virus starts to spread too quickly again, we will be put back in full lock-down. So its important you still do your bit.
Get out there and have fun on your bikes but:
- don't ride like a ****
- don't crash
- don't go out in big groups
- don't put yourself or others at risk of infection.
Ride safe, stay safe
Mon 4th May 2020
This week would normally have been a Bank Holiday so we generally wouldn't have had a Club meeting anyway. But this year is special as it's the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe so the Bank Holiday has been changed to Friday the 8th for that momentous commemorations.
With gatherings still banned, we didn't meet but there will be lots of socially distanced street parties this Friday so get out there and be distantly sociable.
Don't forget, we have posted a little motorcycle quiz so if you find yourself at a loose end, have a go and then click on the link and we'll send you the answers.
This lock-down seems hard but don't forget all those who gave everything to protect our way of life. Not riding a motorcycle for a few weeks pales into insignificance against their sacrifices.
Mon 27th April 2020
Still not allowed out on our motorcycles for fun. Although you wouldn't think it with the number of bikers tearing about at stupid speeds. Unfortunately, those ****s give the rest of us a bad name.
If you are using your bike for essentials journeys, ride sensibly. There have been a lot of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured in Hertfordshire since the lock-down started.
If you haven't seen our Facebook message, have a look at our new "Covid-19 Lock-Down Quiz" page. We aren't supposed to be riding motorcycles at the moment but we can think about them!!
Mon 20th Apr 2020
It was Easter Bank Holiday last week so no Club meeting.
Not that we could have met up anyway... just like this week.
The "lock down" continues and we remain in generally good spirits, like most of the Nation, but frustrated at not being able to get out on our bikes.
But spare a thought for our friend and long time Club member Jim Carmichael who was laid to rest this week. A true gent; may he rest in peace.
Mon 6th Apr 2020
Even worse this week: Still confined to home - still no riding - but the weather has been gorgeous.
Mon 30th Mar 2020
Confined to home - no riding.
Mon 23rd Mar 2020
With the widespread disruption resulting from the Covid-19 Coronavirus, several members got out in the glorious spring sunshine during the day which meant only three turned up for the planned evening ride.
A zip over to Barton Le Clay, up to Clophill, then the A507 to Shefford and we then joined the back roads to Shuttleworth and then down to Stanford, Clifton and Henlow before taking the A507 to Baldock, where we said goodbye and split up.
On getting home, the news of a complete ban on all social activities outside the home became evident.
So for the foreseeable future Monday Club night meetings have been cancelled.
But stay in touch via our Whatsapp group and Facebook page and hopefully we will all be back on the road soon.
Mon 17th March 2020
Wild fire in Australia, plague of locusts in the middle east and now a world wide "killer" virus… makes us wonder if the four horsemen of the apocalypse will be arriving soon – perhaps on motorcycles?
We were surprised to see sixteen riders out for the group ride this week. Having thought members might stay at home, it was far from the case and there was a very good turnout at the pub too.
At Coreys Mill Sainsburys, we offered two rides like we do in the summer – the reasonably swift (but still legal) ride and the more sedate ride for those who are less experienced or have a style of bike that suits a more relaxed pace.
Steve Vaughan had a route plan for the main ride and Ian Harris had a route for the second ride. But as we set off, it was clear everyone was up for Steve’s ride so Ian merged into that one.
Big Geoff was going to be at the back as usual, but with this dynamic change of plan, unusually Cider Bob took up Tail End Charlie (TEC).
It was an excellent ride at a really nice pace and, with hardly any traffic and the traffic lights on our side, it stayed together really well.
The route was similar to the Bikestop Sunday rideout route we did a couple of weeks ago with a few modifications including a great country road between Reed and Royston.
At the pub, due to the Corona Virus (Covid-9), there was concern there would be too much food for the number of members coming along but, as it turned out, hardly anyone was put off and the lovely hot sandwiches and chips were devoured in no time.
Due to the unusual circumstances, there was an impromptu committee meeting. We had a chat about what the Club’s approach to the Corona virus should be.
We decided that we will assess it each week but, for the time being, we will carry on as normal.
If there are any updates, such as pubs being forced to close, we will update you via text message, Whatsapp, Facebook and our website so please check any of our social media before each Monday meeting.
So we don’t waste Club funds on excessive food each week during the outbreak, we would be very grateful if you could let us know if you decide not to come along. Thank you.
So, at this stage, our plan for next week is still be to at the Hen & Chickens in Baldock.
Mon 9th March 2020
This week we returned to the Goat in Codicote which, as always, was a popular destination with the members as Graham and his team look after us really well.
The pub was packed with both riders and the “old boys” who’d arrived in cars.
If you read the About Us page of the website, you’ll see we are a very eclectic motorcycle Club that caters for a huge array of motorcycling interests. So while we have youngsters who’ve only just passed their test, we also welcome those who have retired from riding and just want to come along to be sociable.
So if you are not a Club member but are reading this, perhaps for the first time, just out of interest, why not come along and join us on any Monday night and introduce yourself.
Getting to the pub, many riders go by themselves or in small groups of two or three but quite a few usually join the main group ride, which leaves from Coreys Mill Sainsburys at 19:30. Unfortunately, this week there were only a couple of riders being led by Steve. Cider Bob was away again, Paul’s VFR had a puncture, big Geoff’s tyre was on the limit and Pete Blackburn hasn’t got his bike out yet on a Monday night since the winter because the temperature hasn’t reached 30° and the humidity is above 1%
Steve’s route was shorter than normal as the weather was a tad poor and there were so few riders, so they arrived at the pub in good time.
Next week we are at the Cock in Baldock.
But another date for your diary has been suggested by Club members Steve & Carol at Raceways Motorcycles. You might have seen this on our Facebook page but, just in case you missed it, they are recommending a track day for those that would like to give it a go but are put off by the wannabe racers who think they have something to prove on the track. Have a look at this advert and if you’d like to find out more, pop in to Raceways Motorcycles (back of the Old Town) where Steve & Carol can fill you in.
Mon 2nd March 2020
Yesterday, members from the Club marshalled the first Bikestop “1st Sunday of the Month” ride of 2020.
After three named storms in quick succession, we though it might be rained off but the weather broke and we had dry bright blue skies, only a moderate breeze and mild temperature.
Led by Cider Bob with Pete Blackburn and Steve Vaughan bringing up the rear and with Ian, Andrea, Pete and Carlos also in the group in our distinctive S&DMCC hi-vis vests, it went fairly well but not perfectly.
After a briefing from Martin at Bikestop and then from Cider Bob, about sixty riders set off from the old town.
The principal is really easy… the leader points at a spot for the rider behind him to stop. That rider points the way to everyone else and then rejoins the pack in front of the tail ender in the distinctive blue.
It only works if everyone stays put until the tail ender arrives. Unfortunately, whoever was marking the Royston Road junction in Barkway decided to move off before the blue hi-vis arrived, which meant the next one through just went straight on and everyone else followed.
Fortunately, Steve was able to get to the front of the sub pack and bring them back to the route.
The rest of the route went well and, back at Bikestop, lots of the riders thanked us for a great ride. We also seemed to drum up a lot of interest in the Club with lots of “business” cards being handed out. Lets hope we see them at the Club soon.
This Monday evening, Cider was away so Steve Vaughan took up the lead. The route took the group to the Stag in Stotfold.
At the pub, there were nearly fifty of us to tuck into a lovely spread of food with more than enough for everyone. The pub staff made us very welcome and it was a great evening.
As an aside, we’ve had an email from a local special school asking if any members can attend their “summer ball” to show the children their bikes. If you’d like to get involved, please let us know by clicking here.
Next Monday, we return to the Goat in Codicote.
Mon 24th February 2020
This coming weekend will see the first of the 2020 Bikestop Sunday Rideouts and S&DMCC will be organising it.
So, on Monday, in light rain, three of the committee (Pete Blackburn, Cider Bob & Ian Harris) rode the planned route to check it was suitable.
For those interest, it will be:
- Out of the Old Town and right onto Martins Way.
- Straight on to the Walkern roundabout and then left to Walkern and on to Cottered.
- Right onto the A507 through Buntingford to Hare Street.
- Then up the B1368 to Barkway and turn left onto Royston Road to the A10, past Reed.
- North to Royston, around the bypass to the Tesco roundabout and then up the A1198 to Kneesworth.
- Left through Bassingbourn & Litlington to Steeple Morden and then left up to the A505.
- Short trek down the dual carriageway and then left opposite Slip End, through Rushden to Cumberlow Green.
- Turn right on the A507 to Baldock and then back to Bikestop via the B197 old Graveley road.
You can view the map by clicking here.
With a pit stop at the Silver Ball for breakfast, about half way round, the second half of the check ride was a bit wetter but still an enjoyable ride.
It was agreed Cider Bob will leave the ride with Pete Blackburn being TEC (“Tail End Charlie”) in a distinctive blue hi-vis to help recognition for the “drop off” system. Ian will take a position in the pack just in case things go array or will lead a second group if there are too many riders for one.
Three other members, Pete, Carlos and Paul have also shown an interest in coming along. From a Club perspective, the more the merrier. If you’d like to join us, please come along. No need to tell us in advance but please where your Club hi-vis if you have one (if you don’t you can get one from the Club Secretary, Mick Taylor).
After drying out a bit, at about 19:00, now in quite nice weather, the group riders started assembling.
Unfortunately, it was a committee meeting this week so Cider Bob left alone to be there for 20:00 while Paul took up the lead rider role as Steve wasn’t about. It was a good ride over to Barton Le Clay, up to the Clophill and then over to the Hen & Chickens in Baldock.
By the time the group arrived, the Committee meeting was in full swing. Being the first of the new Club year, and after welcoming Dave Chapman to the team, it was more of a general chat about various ideas and options on everything that will be coming up throughout the year. There was a lot of discussion over the 2021 Dinner Dance and how to make it special as it’s our 60th.
Once the Committee had finished, the food was uncovered and a there was a good go at demolishing the huge feast that had been put on by Tally but there was so much, it beat us. That might be because it wasn’t as busy as normal. Unusually, there were only about twenty five members chatting away – it’s always hard to predict how many will turn up but that’s the lowest we’ve seen for some time. Never-the-less, the newer members keep coming back so we must be doing something right.
Next week we are at the Stag in Stotfold but don’t forget the Bikestop ride on Sunday.
Mon 17th February 2020
This week was the 2020 AGM, which started at 20:30. This gave the group that met up at Sainsburys about fifty minutes for a ride in what turned out to be nice conditions after the weekend’s Storm Dennis had wandered through. It was still slightly breezy but no rain and almost dry roads.
With the destination, the Cromwell Hotel, being less than a mile away, the group took a wide “circle” to the west and south of Stevenage, initially heading over to Hitchin, then the B656 through Codicote and onto the B1000 to Hertford. Finally it was back up the A602 into Stevenage and arrival in time for a cuppa before the formalities began.
By far the majority of our Club meets are very informal and sociable but as the name suggests, once a year we have to go through the drudgery of an annual general meeting. But it didn't put off over fifty members from coming along.
The point is really to summarise the past year, get an update on finances, make sure the membership are happy with the way the Club is being run and to elect committee members.
But before proceedings got under way, a couple of trophies, which couldn't be presented at the Dinner Dance, were presented by the Chairman. One was the Jan Hallet Trophy for an achievement by a Club member which went to Ian Harris for his excellent work with the IAM. He has qualified as an IAM Observer and has worked to create a collaboration between the Club and the IAM so members can achieve an advanced riding qualification without joining the local IAM group.
If you'd like to improve your riding and possibly get cheaper insurance, have a look at our IAM Collaboration page.
Mick Taylor was first up but before he read out the minutes of last year’s AGM, he was thanked for his 40 years as Club Secretary, so far, with a bottle of whiskey.
Mick subsequently emailed the Club with the following:
I would just like to say a big thank you for the bottle of whisky given to me for my 40 years of being secretary of the club.
I joined the club in about 1966/7 and seen it grow into what it is now a very successful club.
As secretary I have enjoyed organising every Monday club night, arranging with the Cromwell Hotel for the dinner dance, AGM and the George Brown run.
Last year for the first time the national rally checkpoint with Cider Bob .
Again a very big thank you.
Mick Taylor, Secretary.
After last year's minutes, it was the Chairman, Tony Brown who went through the activities of the 2019/2020 year with a number of thank yous to various Club members. If you'd like to read his full report, click here.
Next up was Pete Star, the Treasurer. He’s been trying to spend money for several years with all sorts of expenditure, such as additional socials (we now have Spring, Summer, Autumn and Christmas socials, all with some free drinks and food), charity donations and better raffle prizes at our events but he’s failed miserably and we ended the year with slightly more money than we started!
Nothing was proposed from the membership and it was generally accepted that the Club is being run how everyone wants. So the final part of the meeting was to elect some of the new Committee. The “Officers” positions are for three years and were elected last year so this year it was just the four additional members.
Unfortunately Jim Carmichael is not in the best of health so was unable to continue on the Committee. We'd like to thank him for over seven years input helping to run the Club and wish him a return to better health.
Four proposals were put forward with no contests and three continue in post from last year so the new Committee members are Cider Bob, Ian Harris, Pete Blackburn and new to the team, Dave Chapman.
The evening finished with social chats and a queue to pay up the annual subscription which is still, after more than thirty years, only a fiver.
Next week we are back to the Hen & Chickens, which will include the first meeting of the new Committee.
Mon 10th February 2020
Saturday night was this year’s annual Dinner Dance and what a night. With over a hundred members and guests, it was well attended and everyone seemed to have a great night.
Click on this link for a review of this year’s event.
After Storm Ciara over the weekend it was looking like far from ideal riding conditions for the Monday Club night group ride.
But, although it was still a bit windy, it had died down and the rain had stopped so the conditions weren’t too bad at all.
Unfortunately Cider Bob couldn’t leave work in time so missed this week’s group ride but Steve Vaughan was on hand to lead the group which was tail ended by big Geoff.
The route was short and simple but one of the old favourites… A602 to the Bengeo roundabout, the short but superb Anchor Lane to Wadesmill, the old A10 to Buntingford and A507 to Baldock.
The Cock in Baldock was the destination this week. It was rammed with Club members so, unexpectedly, although the Landlord had put on loads of sandwiches and chips, the food ran out and it looked like just a few of us may go hungry. But the Landlord wasn’t going to let that happen so, within minutes of Pete mentioning it, more delicious chips and chicken nuggets appeared. Thank you to all who initially had a bit of restraint and didn’t take mountains – it meant almost everyone got more than just a handful of chips and then there was seconds for those who’d hadn’t taken much the first time round.
It was a really good night with lots of chatter including talk of how everyone had enjoyed the dinner dance.
Next week is this year’s Annual General Meeting.
It’s your chance to have your say and to elect some of the committee so please come along if you can. You might even choose to step up yourself?
We know it’s a bit boring because it’s not riding or talking about motorcycles but it has to be done!
It’s at the Cromwell Hotel, starting at 20:30. There’s no food, although it’s become tradition that Gary very kindly brings along a pile of biscuits! Tea and coffee are compliments of the Club.
Don’t forget to bring your £5 subscription and, if you haven’t already done so (ie. last year), your “GDPR” membership form (yes, you are yawning but it’s now a legal requirement!).
There will still be a group ride from Coreys Mill Sainsburys which will get to the AGM for 20:20.
Mon 3rd February 2020
It was like a spring evening for this weeks group ride. The roads were dry and the temperature was mild so the five of us that met up at Corey’s Mill Sainsburys had a great ride. Rather than explain the route, have a look at the map:
When we arrived, it was great to see eight motorcycles already parked up, including Andrea, who’d come on her CB650F – she’s not so much of a fan of riding in the dark but with her new heated jacket, she was warm as toast!
Inside the pub, the main bar was so full of Club members that those of us on the group ride, and some others, had to overflow into the other bar.
As always, the Vicars Inn put on a superb spread with more than enough for everyone and plenty for seconds. The variety is also very much appreciated, with choices of various sandwiches, different juicy meats on sticks, buffet snacks including mini scotch eggs and spiced chicken nuggets and all sorts. There was a cheese board (the very best we see between the pubs) and cakes for desert. They really do look after us!
We choose pubs that are keen to have us join them on a Monday night and show it by being friendly and providing good food. But, as you’d expect, while they are all good, some are just brilliant and the Vicars is among them.
This coming Saturday is our 59th annual dinner dance. It’s going to be very well attended this year but if you haven’t booked your place, it’s now too late. You can book the day for next year which will be our 60th!!!
Next week we will be at the Cock in Baldock. It’s a relatively new pub on the Calendar but has proven to be very popular. Join us for the group ride or meet us there.
Mon 28th January 2020
Chilly and damp but with heavy rain throughout the day, the previously greasy roads had been washed clean. Cider Bob normally plans a route in advance but, at this time of year, no knowing if anyone will turn up, its often made up on the spot!
The five who met up at Coreys Mill for the group ride set off at 19:30 with a hastily planned route to the A507 via Willian, the ‘longabout’ and Norton. But, en-route, Cider was mulling over the options and decided there were too many unmarked roads, for this time of year, so, on the hoof, decided passing Fairfield Park would be a better option.
Once on the A507, we were held up by slow-ish moving cars and, again, Cider was mulling over the options as they approached the A600 and the Airman pub. But, he plumped for the A600 and almost immediately regretted it as they were held up by more cars. The better option would have been to continue to the A6 and come back via the B655, although we’d have arrived a little later than normal for the winter months.
On the plus side, having had a fair trek down the B656 to Codicote, shortly after arriving at the Goat, the hot food was served so, although there was plenty, some on the ride might have grumbled at it being cold if we had ridden the longer route.
The turnouts continue to be excellent for this time of year. The pub was heaving and we estimate nearly forty members were chatting away.
It’s always a bonus to see Graham, the landlord of the Goat, milling around the pub. So often we turn up and he’s away on one of his many well deserved bike trips in sunny Spain.
The general chatter was as varied as ever but, as you’d expect, the forthcoming Dinner Dance and AGM were high on the list of topics.
Some of the members who "braved" the chill in their cars started leaving from about 21:30 with the last of us, including some of the riders, finally getting away about 22:30.
Next week we return to another old favourite, the Vicars Inn in Arlesey, where Theresa and Hazel always do an excellent job of looking after us.
Mon 20th January 2020
After last week’s storm, the weather had turned a little wintery again this week, but the usual four met up at Sainsburys for the group ride. It was great to be joined by another hardy biker, prepared to brave the winter chill - welcome to Michael on his BMW F750GS.
Unfortunately, due to a committee meeting, Cider Bob had to be at the Hen & Chickens by 20:00 so the others went for a longer ride, via the A602, A10 and A507. Although Michael only passed his test a few months ago, he showed he’s already a very competent rider in the fairly challenging conditions.
We won’t bore you with the mundane drudgery of the fairly typical committee meeting but, in summary, we dealt with a number of things including the up coming dinner and dance. If you haven’t got your tickets, you are running out of time but can still get them from the Club Secretary, Mick Taylor.
We also chatted about the agenda of the AGM, which will be at the Cromwell Hotel on 17th February. Please make an effort to attend – it’s your Club and you should have your say. Not only that, there are four committee positions up for election so if you want to give it a go, put your name forward. We’d also like to remind you that if you want to add something to the agenda, please let Mick Taylor know in writing at least two weeks before.
The 2020 Calendar was agreed and the website page has been updated. But please remember to keep an eye on it throughout the year as we occasionally have to make changes for reasons beyond our control. We also have a second calendar with suggestions of events members may be interested in.
Another item discussed was the implementation of “in-house” Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists training by Ian and Pete. We will be giving full details on our Facebook Page and on the website in the spring but if you’d like to find out more now, talk to Ian Harris.
By the time the committee meeting ended, the pub was heaving with members – we estimate well over forty. The food was served up shortly after and Tally had put on huge amounts with more than enough for everyone to have seconds.
With all the chatter, it was almost closing time before everyone had left.
Next week we are back at the Goat in Codicote. See you there.
Mon 13th January 2020
It was good to see the very high winds and heavy rain didn’t put off the usual suspects to be found at Coreys Mill for the group ride on most Monday nights. Cider Bob was away this week so Steve led the trio to the Plume of Feathers in Ickleford on a challenging ride.
But the really poor weather didn’t put off those who tend to use their cars at this time of year either so there were well over thirty members packing out the pub.
There was loads of food to go round so everyone was happy and the atmosphere was great.
With such a sociable night, lots of members stayed through ‘til closing time before braving the storm for their journey home.
Next week we return to the Hen & Chickens in Baldock. For those who spend much of their time running the Club, it’s a committee meeting (so, for the rest, don’t eat all the food before we are done!! :) ).
Mon 6th January 2020
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
After a break for the festive season, the first group ride of the year from Coreys Mill Sainsburys was attended by five riders with Cider Bob leading and Steve Vaughan at the back.
VFR Paul and K1200 Geoff were there and it was great to have Ray join us for the first time since the weather had turned poor for the winter. Fortunately it was a mild night and the rain pretty much held off so it was a nice ride out.
Unusually, Cider Bob hadn’t planned a route but, after a short discussion, it was decided he’d just make it up as he went along but with the initial plan being to turn right out of Sainsbury.
We headed down London Road to Knebworth but with temporary traffic lights creating a small queue, we cut the corner via Deards Lane and on to Old Knebworth.
From there, it was onto the old favourite; the B656 to Hitchin.
After taking the A600 to Ickleford, we head to the back side of Letchworth via Arlesey New Road.
We then crossed the A505 and headed over to Willian via Willian Road. Normally we tend to take this road in the other direction so it made a nice change to be eastbound towards Baldock.
From there, we negotiated the the Letchworth longabout and then took Baldock Lane into Baldock before arriving at The Cock pub.
The great thing about having Steve at the back is that his immensely bright trio of lamps really stand out so keeping the group together was easy.
Ours were the only bikes out at the pub but both bars were heaving with Club members. In fact, we took over the pub with only one table occupied by anyone else.
There was a really good atmosphere and lots of New Year good wishes. To add to the positivity, piles of bacon sarnies were served up to keep everyone fueled up.
Conversations were as varied as ever but there was, obviously, lots of talked over what everyone had got up to since we last met and what motorcycling goodies everyone had got for Christmas.
Such was the atmosphere that the last few members didn’t leave until almost closing time.
Next week we are back to Plume of Feather (or, according to the website, the Plumb of Feather - as Paul pointed out!) in Ickleford and Steve will be leading the group ride.
The Dinner Dance is getting close so don’t forget to get your tickets from Mick Taylor… and please feel free to continue bullying Steve and Carol into getting theirs!