Since I started commuting by bike I’ve discovered places and routes I didn’t know existed, I avoided a short stretch of the Alban Way yesterday morning as it was thick with ice and discovered these pretty spectacular 16th century ruins within a couple of miles of where I have been living for the last nine years!
I took a 22 mile round trip from St Albans, through Hemel Hempstead and Harpenden this morning. It was the first time I have used the Nickey Line - a disused railway route, now turned into a seven mile long foot and cycle route linking Hemel Hempstead with Harpenden. It forms part of NCR 57 (National Cycle Route).
The route started from Park Street, in the south of St Albans on NCR 61 (close to the Alban Way) and goes through country lanes in Chiswell Green on pretty much a straight line through to Hemel Hempstead. The entrance to the Nickey Way is on the south side of the B487 and not well marked in my opinion (I would say that as I got a bit lost). Once reaching Harpenden, I more or less followed the main road back through Childwick and then through St Albans city centre.
It was a good ride overall, but the Nickey Line itself, whilst very pretty on a bright Autumn day, is certainly not suitable for road slicks and I was pushing my luck with 700x32c Schwalbe Marathon Supremes, which are not much more. In fact the 700x35c Vittoria Hyper Randonneurs on the Cross Check would have struggled too. Whilst the full suspension mountain bikes I saw on the route were overkill, it would be more fun with the Conti Cyclocross (700x42c knobbies) that I’m going to order for the Surly Cross Check.
A significant portion of the Nickey Line is inch deep leaves on mud at this time of year, other parts are quite rocky, but passable, so probably best reserved for summer on the Bob Jackson tourer - parts were like cycling on ice skates and I only just managed to stay on on a couple of occasions. This was also the first ride I have done with my new Garmin Edge 200 using the “Course” feature - very good but I’ll leave it to others who are better to qualified to review properly.