Nigel writes: We awoke today to bright sunshine. The weather forecast was for "sunshine and showers", and although we did get both, there was definitely more sunshine than rain. However, despite the sun, a moderate but cold northerly wind reminded us that it was still February. When I arrived at Brookside for today's ride I found six other riders waiting: Averil (today's leader), Mick, Bob, Peter D, John and Joseph. Averil led us south-west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton.
At Barton we turned left for Hasingfield where we climbed Chapel Hill. There was a fine view back over Cambridge from the top - a big improvement on last Sunday when there was no view from the top at all. We then dropped back down to Barrington.
From Barrington we continued south to Shepreth and Fowlmere, before crossing the A505 to Chrishall Grange. Here we began to climb up again, up to the ridge that marks the southern edge of the county.
We followed this ridge through Heydon and Great Chishill before sweeping back down again to Shaftenhoe End (along one of my favourite switchback descents).
A final pretty loop through Nuthampstead brought us to our coffee stop at Barkway Golf Club. Here we found Greta, Adrian, Doug and Mike St. It was now well after 11, so after a coffee and Kit-Kat we were soon back on our way.
We continued south to Anstey, where I spotted this enamel sign on the side of a cottage:
The final section of the morning tooks us through all the Pelhams (Brent, Stocking and Furneux). This corner of Hertfordshire is rather less hilly than the border regions to the north, and offers some very pleasant quiet lanes.
Our lunch stop today was the Brown Bear in Braughing, which we reached almost exactly on time at 1pm. As we approached Braughing the weather started to change. The sky began to cloud over and by the time we arrived at the pub a heavy drizzle had begun to fall.
Already in the pub were David and Joan who had made their own way there, and before long we were joined by Bob and Myrtle and one or two others, making about a dozen at lunch in total.
When we emerged from the pub about an hour later it was still raining and we feared we were in for a damp afternoon. As a result we decided we'd skip the planned tea stop in Saffron Walden and return back to Cambridge, but still by a pleasant route.
We retraced our steps back to Furneux Pelham and Stocking Pelham, where we left our morning route and branched off to the east to Berden and Ricking before finally turning north towards Cambridge. After about half an hour the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and the sun emerged again, and although we were now riding into a cold headwind it was a nice day again.
The final part of our route home took us through Wicken Bonhunt and Arkesden. When we reached the B1039 just north of Arkesden we met a lone cyclist wheeling her bike along the road. She had a puncture and was walking home whilst contemplating the relative attractions of fixing the puncture compared to a five-mile walk. Fortunately Mick and Averil solved her dilemma by generously offering to mend her puncture.
After this short pause we continued along the B1039 for a few hundred yards before turning left onto what everyone seems to refer to as the "road over the little hill with the radio masts". A further climb took us up to Catmere End and the three-mile switchback (another favourite of mine) down to Ickleton.
At Ickleton we were now back in the Cam Valley and a level, and very familiar, route through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. I was back home at 5.10pm after having cycled 65 miles.
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