The 30 mile radius from our front door is well mapped in our minds. The roads well ridden and put together, some more often than others but all basically installed in the mind’s eye with almost an encyclopaedic knowledge of local cafes and coffee shops. When the opportunity arises to venture further afield either through sportives or touring or travel it’s always a good idea to snap it up but not always practical. We didn’t plan to write a journal piece about this weekend but it turned out to be so good it couldn’t be ignored. With a busy race calendar approaching a weekend off the bike wasn’t an option but engagements pressed in other parts and so the stars aligned.
Our destination, the humble Hertfordshire market town of Hitchin, and the route was all ours to play with. Our two day adventure was planned on the Garmin which although having the tendency of throwing us, sometimes literally, up the garden path was our only partner. She turned out to be a trusty one at that.
Excitement comes in different forms. Entering the murk on the Cambridgeshire borders.
Our trust in the GPS gave us two days of stunning riding through Essex, Hertfordshire and parts of Cambridgeshire. Across rolling countryside and through tiny villages that the M11 and adjacent arteries of the country just do not touch. Now of course these are all someone’s local route but to us they were virgin and unexplored and as a result absolutely fascinating and probably all the more awe inspiring. On the way in we were at home until just short of Sawbridgeworth but from there it was all new. Passing over canals and past country manors we past through the picturesque Green Tye, Barwick and Sacombe before taking on Stevenage and the new towns on the A1M corridor. Our return route saw us go through a part of Cambridgeshire south of Royston over the undulating fields before looping through Saffron Walden and south to parts more familiar but the route here is not the point. The point here is the journey. Instead of taking the motorway we took the opportunity to explore and arriving anywhere under ones own steam is always satisfying.
Finchingfield. Made all the more famous by the 2014 Tour De France
Bike riding as we’ve discussed before gives you the chance to discover and become closer to what’s around you. Traveling under your own steam to a destination gives you the chance to experience some place new and notice the subtleties of the journey. The changes in land use, the contours of the countryside, the architecture and yes the wildlife (we spotted a Little Owl on the way out which was most exciting!).
The moral of the story. Go and explore. Take the train somewhere and ride home. Go and see a friend you haven’t seen for a while or take the bike instead of the M11. The chances are you won’t regret it. The chances are you’ll discover something you’ll want to return to and the chances are you’ll be inspired.