Today was a gorgeous warm autumn day. The early-morning haze soon disappeared, to be replaced with clear skies and bright sunshine which lasted all day. A perfect day for an all-day cycle ride. When I arrived at Brookside there were six other riders waiting, including Averil, our leader today.
Averil led us south-west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton. Here we met a visiting American professor who was out for a ride on a nice sports bike but wasn't sure where to go, and who joined us for a few miles before turning back. At Haslingfield we picked up Greta before climbing Chapel Hill and then speeding down again to Barrington.
We continued to Shepreth, where Tim had his second puncture of the ride (his first was at home), and on to Fowlmere, where we joined the B1368 which we followed south past Flint Cross to Barley and then on to Barkway.
At Barkway we turned right for the final few miles past the radio transmitters to Reed where we stopped for coffee at the Silver Ball Cafe.
At the cafe we met Doug, Brian-from-Beds and Mike S, and sat outside in the warm sunshine drinking our coffee and nibbling pieces of mass-produced Bakewell Tart and Eccles Cake, whilst the motorcyclists around us tucked into hearty breakfasts.
After coffee several people left the group and returned back to Cambridge, whilst the main group continued south-west towards the lunch stop at Woolmer Green. Averil's route took us along country lanes to Buntingford. From there our route took us though Aspenden and Westmill to Cherry Green and the wonderfully-named hamlet of Nasty.
This part of the ride was a delight. It was now getting quite warm. The mist had cleared and the sun was shining brightly in a clear blue sky. The lanes were narrow, sunken and enclosed in trees for much of the time. And we had a slight tailwind.
We continued through Great Munden and Dale End to Watton at Stone. From there it was only a short distance to Datchworth and Woolmer Green, where we stopped for lunch at The Fox.
After lunch we headed north, and into a gentle but persistent headwind which impeded our progress all the way to our tea stop at Litlington. Although the weather remained warm and sunny I was now having to put in an effort for the first time, and I was relieved we did not have very far to go.
After skirting the edge of Stevenage for a short distance we rode more or less directly north through Walkern, Cromer and across the A505 to Ashwell. A loop through Guilden Morden, Shingay and Abington Piggots brought us to the tea stop at the Crown in Litlington at about 4.50pm. A large group of afternoon riders was already there, making about fourteen or fifteen in total. We therefore required more than the twelve teas that we had booked, but fortunately the landlady took things in her stride and soon conjoured up some extra sandwiches.
After tea we all returned to Cambridge via Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and then by the reverse of the morning's route. I had feared we would have a headwind all the way back, but it seemed to have slackened and there were plenty of other riders to shelter behind whenever I felt a bit tired. At Barton I turned on my bike lights and by the time I arrived back in Cambridge it was dark, reminding me that despite the summery weather it was actually the middle of October. I was home by 6.45pm having cycled 85 miles in glorous sunshine.
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