Sunday, 10 April 2011

10 Apr: Day ride to Saffron Walden, Clare and Horseheath

Nigel writes: After a week of warm, sunny days the forecast promised that, despite a cloudy and chilly start, today would be just the same. And so it turned out: the sun soon came out, my jacket soon went back in my bag, and we had clear skies and warm - no, hot - sunshine all day.

Nine of us set off at 9am from Brookside: Greta, Averil, Jackie, Brian, Ian, Bob, John I, Conrad, another Nigel and me. The first stage of today's ride would take us to Saffron Walden for Coffee. I was the leader today, and took us south out of Cambridge to Addenbrooke's and then along the DNA path to Great Shelford.

Along the road from Great to Little Shelford we were joined by Mick and John S, making twelve. We continued south to Whittlesford where we crossed the A505 to Duxford.

We rode on to Ickleton from where we took the road over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. There were quite a lot of cyclists out this morning, many of them riding quite fast. A race control vehicle half-way along confirmed our suspicion that there was a road race taking place.

From Catmere End we descended again along Chestnut Avenue. This is always a very attractive road but it was particularly nice in today's sunshine, with the trees casting shadows along the road. This took us down to the B1383. We turned left and, chased by a large pelaton of racing cyclists, quickly right again past Audley End house (also looking lovely in the sunshine) and into Saffron Walden. Here we stopped for coffee at The Temeraire. Already at the pub were Adrian and Doug, and after a while Mike St. arrived.

Lunch today was in Clare. Greta, Doug and Adrian decided to make their own way there, whilst Ian, Averil, John S, Conrad, Bob and Brian agreed to come with me, leaving the remainder to return back to Cambridge.

Our route took us east out of Saffron Walden along the B1053 to Radwinter and Great Sampford.

Just beyond Great Sampford we turned off onto quieter roads via Cornish Hall End, Ridgewell and Ashen, arriving in Clare slightly later than planned at about 1.10pm.

The planned stop was in the Cock Inn, but several people had bought sandwiches and most of us decided to have a picnic in Clare Country Park instead. This is a very pleasant town park, dominated by the mound of Clare Castle. After eating my lunch I walked to the top to enjoy the view.

After lunch almost everyone decided to head directly back to Cambridge, leaving just Conrad, Ian and me to continue on to tea in Horseheath. We set off east along the A1092 to Cavendish where we turned off onto a minor road to Glemsford.

The road north from Glemsford to Stansfield is one of my favourite three or four miles of cycling. I'm not sure exactly why I like it, especially as it's relatively hilly. I think I like it because it is very quiet (only one car passed us), and the scenery keeps changing along the way.

From Stansfield we took a fairly direct route on to Horseheath: through Denston, along the A143 past the prisons and then along a very quiet narrow road to Little Thurlow, where Conrad splashed cautiously through the ford.

We continued to Carlton Green and West Wickham and arrived at the Old Red Lion Inn ar Horseheath about 15 minutes early at 4.15pm. A mile or two before Horseheath we were joined by Steve G.

Just after 4.30pm the afternoon ride arrived with 13 riders, making a total of 17 at tea. This was the first time we had had tea here, but the staff seemed pleased to see us and happy to make a few extra sandwickes to accomodate the larger-than-booked numbers.

After tea the whole group returned home to Cambridge via Balsham, apart from Gareth who, still full of energy after riding a 200K the previous day, went off on a slightly longer route.

I had been quite tired on the ride from Clare to Horseheath, but the tea had given me a chance to recover, and after reassuring myself that the newcomers on the afternoon ride were being looked after, sped off from the front with Simon. The descent from Balsham to Fulbourn is always fast, but Simon set a cracking pace, keeping up a speed of between 25mph and 30mph almost all the way to Fulbourn. I was happy to draft from behind.

My route home took me through Cherry Hinton and along the newly-widened Tins path to Mill Road. I was home by 6.10pm, after having cycled a satisfying 80 miles: in both distance, weather and sheer pleasure my best day's ride so far this ride. And yes, it's still only April.

View this GPS track on a larger map

1 comment:

  1. Some nice camera angles there. I like the one of Averil with the tulips.