Sunday, 7 February 2010

7 Feb: Day ride to Saffron Walden and Thaxted

There was a good turnout of ten riders for today's all-day ride, making this probably our biggest ride so far this year. This was despite the weather being dull, indeed dismal. Low cloud filled the sky the whole day but in consequence temperatures were mild. As a result several riders were making their first appearance on a club run since the January freeze.

Coffee today was in Saffron Walden. Joseph took us there on a fairly direct route, via the Shelfords, Ickleton and Coploe Hill. Half-way up Coploe Hill we caught up with the Veterans cycle club with a group of similar size to our own. We greeted each other pleasantly and chatted briefly as we climbed up to Catmere End.

From Catmere End we continued down the hill to Audley End house before making a final short climb into Saffron Walden. On arrival at The Temeraire we found seven or eight club members waiting for us, making a large and convivial group of about seventeen sitting near the open fire drinking coffee and chewing chocolate muffins.

After coffee, most of the people who had ridden there directly rode back home, but Mike S and Adrian joined us to ride to Lunch. They took the direct road to Thaxted, whilst Joseph led the main group a longer route via Radwinter and Great Sampford.

Our speed to lunch along these pleasant, undulating roads was quite high by club standards. This was no doubt partly a result of our splitting into faster and slower groups but I suspect it was also because we were all keen to make up for rides missed due to the weather last month.

At Thaxted the scheduled lunch stop was Poppy's Cafe. However, although Poppy's was open, we decided to visit Parrishes Restaurant instead. I hadn't been here before and can heartily recommend it. The welcome was friendly, the service good, and the menu ideal for a cyclists' lunch stop, allowing me to enjoy the classic cyclists' lunch of baked potatoes with beans and cheese.

After lunch we returned to Cambridge. The weather remained obstinately dull but it was still dry and mild. The most direct route home would have taken us back through Saffron Walden, so instead Joseph took us south-west to Henham and Ugley before turning north to Arkesden. These are delightful lanes but it started to drizzle and our spirits sagged somewhat. After about an hour it dried off and our attention changed from the weather to the fact that we were all getting a bit tired. The final miles via Elmdon, Ickleton and Whittlesford were a bit of a weary plod for all of us, no doubt due to us all being a bit out of practice, so it was a relief to arrive back home in Cambridge at about 5pm, after having ridden a very satisfying 62 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

1 comment:

  1. Four riders turned out for the afternoon ride, but Mike Sleep only got as far as Great Shelford before deciding to turn back.

    The overcast skies were dark enough to cause Jacob's rear light to come on automatically, and the cold drizzle came down unceasingly.

    I took a route through Newton and Thriplow, and then down Gravel Pit Hill to the main road, a kilometre or so along the A505, and then up the hill to Chrishall, Heydon, and Great Chishill. I had meant to cut the ride short by going straight from Barley to Royston, but Mike and Jacob requested a longer ride, so we continued through Shaftenhow End, Barkway, Reed and Therfield as the skies got greyer.

    We skipped the Heath Cafe and went to the Little Chef instead, and then back via Litlington, Bassingbourn and Barrington. It was very cold and damp as we set out into the darkening evening, but I am better prepared these days and have waterproof hat, waterproof socks, and spare gloves.

    I had 52 miles, not bad given the conditions.