With the clocks having gone back in the early morning, we all had an extra hour in bed this morning. This might explain why, despite an overcast sky and a bit of drizzle, we had eleven riders at Brookside for today's ride: Mick, Joseph, Averil, Pete, Brian-from-Beds, Tom, Joseph, me (Nigel), Cheryl, John, Conrad and Adrian, who was our leader today.
Adrian led us south out of Cambridge to Trumpington and from there to Great Shelford, where we turned right for Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford. Along the way we picked up Greta, making a total of a dozen riders. Not bad for a dull, drizzly morning at the end of October!
We continued south and crossed over the A505 to Duxford, Hinxton and Ickleton. Here we left the Cam valley behind and began to climb, first to Elmdon and then via Heydon to Great Chishill, which at 146m was probably the highest point of today's ride.
A steep descent and a series of switchbacks took us quickly down to Shaftenhoe End Normally this is a carefree, exhilarating descent but there was a lot of mud and water on this road today and we were all much more cautious than usual.
A lovely loop via Nuthampstead took us to our morning coffee stop at Barkway Golf Club. Here we found Doug and Vic.
After coffee several riders returned directly back to Cambridge, leaving about eight of us to continue to lunch in Puckeridge. I fancied taking this part of the ride at a slightly faster pace so, after checking the route with Adrian, went ahead via Anstey, Great and Little Hormead, Furneaux Pelham and Braughing, arriving at the Crown and Falcon in Puckeridge at a little after 12.30pm.
I always like having lunch here: this is a comfortable, friendly pub, with a good, inexpensive menu, and the food is served with care and efficiency. I was half-way through my Moussaka when the rest of the group arrived: apparently a punchure had slowed the group down.
After lunch it started to rain, and we all put on our wet-weather gear. Today was turning out to be a duller and wetter day than I had expected. Several riders decided to return directly to Cambridge, leaving Adrian, Averil, Cheryl, Tom, Brian-from-Beds and me to continue on the main ride.
Adrian's route took us north via Westmill to Buntingford and then north-west to Sandon, where we stopped to allow Averil to mend a puncture. Fortunately the rain had stopped by now, and we saw no more rain for the rest of the day.
After a brief discussion about the best way to cross the A505 we headed for Slip End, where the crossing of this fast and busy road is relatively straightforward.
From here we continued north to Ashwell and then east, with steadily darkening skies, through Litlington, Kneesworth and Meldreth. By the time we reached Shepreth at 4.45pm it was quite dark. Two riders headed off home leaving the rest of us to find the Green Man. It turned out that Adrian did not know where this was, so we spent an anxious few minutes riding up and down each road in turn until Adrian stopped a local dogwalker for directions.
The Green Man is in fact on the other side of the A10, just off the road that leads into Melbourn. When we arrived at about 5.10pm we found over a dozen riders already enjoying tea. Fortunately the pub staff made extra sandwiches and there was ample food for everyone.
This was our first visit to The Green Man in Shepreth and I am pleased to report that it was rather good, with interesting sandwiches and an impressive variety of delicious gooey cakes.
After tea we returned back to Cambridge. Instead of the obvious route via Barrington and Chapel Hill we headed in the opposite direction, to Fowlmere, Newton and the Shelfords. I was back in central Cambridge by about 6.45pm, after having cycled 77 miles. As I said, not bad for a dull, drizzly morning at the end of October.
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