Today's all-day ride was quite a long one for the time of year, and I was looking forward to burning off some Christmas and New Year over-indulgence. So I was surprised to find that there were just three of us at Brookside: me, Geoff (the leader) and Bob B. We headed south via the Shelfords, Duxford, Chrishall Grange, Heydon, Great Chishill and Nuthampsted to coffee at Barkway Golf Club where we encountered Mike S, Mick C, Doug and Adrian. It was quite cold: probably only a degree or two above freezing, which made our toes and fingers glow for the first hour or so. However there was very little ice on the ground except along a few sunken lanes which, being constantly wet from water draining off the fields above, were a bit slushy. We passed rather more runners than usual along the way - obviously quite a few people had made a new year resolution to get more exercise.
After coffee Bob returned to Cambridge whilst the rest of us carried on together. I was feeling energetic and so went ahead via Great and Little Hormead, Furneaux Pelham and Braughing to Puckeridge and the comfortable and friendly Crown and Falcon. This is a pleasant pub serving good cheap food. Geoff and Mick arrived shortly after me. They had stopped to allow Mick to mend a puncture and then come by the more direct route, causing them to overtake Mike S, Doug and Adrian who came the same way as me and arrived a bit later.
After lunch we set off south to Standon (really a suburb of Puckeridge) and then crossed the A120 before turning east via Wellpond Green to Little Hadham. Then we turned north, back across the A120 to Stocking Pelham. Somewhere along the way Geoff and I noticed that we had dropped the others, who we presumed had had a mechanical problem of some kind. Attempts to contact Mike and Adrian by radio-telephone proved unsuccessful, and given that we didn't know how far back they were, we decided to carry on to Clavering, Arkesden, Catmere End, Ickleton and back to Cambridge.
I found the the ride back quite hard work. The sun never came out all day and as the light decreased the temperature fell again. By about 3.30pm I was beginning to get not only a bit cold but also rather more tired than usual, probably because this is my longest ride for a month or two. So I was very pleased to get back home just after 5pm and make myself a hot drink, with a very useful 65 miles on the clock.
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