Nigel writes: With the December snow gone, the temperature back above freezing, and the prospect of sunny intervals, the weather today was quite good for our first ride of 2011. Waiting at Brookside this morning I found Averil, Joseph, Martin, Alasdair and Gareth our leader, all keen to have their first club ride for quite some time.
Morning coffee today was at the Comfort Cafe, Abington, which is quite close to Cambridge and so Gareth took a rather circuitous route to get there. We cycled out of Cambridge along Hills Road. Just beyond Addenbrooke's we turned left onto Wort's Causeway and climbed the hill over the Gogs to Fulbourn.
From Fulbourn we took the long straight road to Balsham. When we got there we continued through the village and out the other side before turning south to Bartlow.
At Bartlow we turned west towards Linton and Little Abington, arriving at the Comfort Cafe a few minutes late at about 11.10am. As we approached the cafe we passed Mick C, who had been at the cafe and was now making his circuitous way home. At the cafe itself we found Adrian and (young) Vic.
After coffee the main group continued on to lunch in Saffron Walden. Gareth had originally planned a route which took us back to Bartlow and then on via Ashdon, but after some discussion we decided it would be less repetitive to go via Babraham and Sawston. This allowed me to try out a new section of off-road cycleway which runs parallel to the road between these villages for a mile or so. This is a perfectly good cycle track, but the road alongside is one of the quieter roads in the area and there are many locations which need a cycle track more than this (such as the nearby A1307).
We continued west through Sawston, across the A1301 bypass and the railway line that runs parallel, before joining the new cycleway to Whittlesford that I first tried out on our ride on 14th November.
From Whittlesford (where Averil and Joseph left us to return home) we continued to Duxford and Ickleton. By now it was about 12.30pm, so after a short route discussion we decided to skip Coploe Hill and instead take the direct route via Great Chesterford. We took the B1383 and then rode through Little Chesterford across to the B184 which runs parallel and which took us all the way into Saffron Walden. At a roundabout along the route I saw a large mound of old snow, the only snow we saw all day.
At the Temeraire (the Wetherspoons Pub in Saffron Walden) we found Greta, Doug and several others already enjoying lunch.
After lunch our group was now four: Gareth, Alasdair, Martin and me. Tea was at 3.30pm in Great Shelford, and to get there we dropped down to Audley End house, across the B1383 and then up the hill to Catmere End. From there we followed the ridge of Coploe Hill down to Ickleton. Just beyond Catmere End we passed the sign to Strethall Church that we had all passed many times, and since we didn't have far to go and had some time in hand I suggested we took a look.
The church is about half a mile from the road down a no-through-road that serves just the church and an adjacent farm. With so few houses that it hardly qualifies as a village, and we speculated that it must have been rather more populous in the middle ages.
The church itself was open (despite vandalism a year ago), and we wandered in for a few minutes to have a look. The church dates back a thousand years, and the interior is dominated by a prominent round arch between the nave and chancel. I had assumed it was Norman but I now read that it is in fact Anglo-Saxon (i.e. earlier than 1066).
After this brief detour we got back on our bikes and continued down Coploe Hill to Ickleton. From there our route continued via Duxford and Whittlesford to Little and Great Shelford.
At Scotsdale's Garden Centre in Great Shelford we found George, Clive, Steve G and Janice, who had gone there directly. After a short while we were joined by Ian D and about half a dozen riders from the afternoon ride.
After tea I returned back to Cambridge, and arrived home at 4.40pm, after having ridden about 55 miles. Quite modest for an all-day ride, but just about right for my first proper ride in almost a month. Let's hope the snow stays away for the remainder of winter.
View this GPS track on a larger map