Sunday, 22 May 2011

22 May: Sunday afternoon ride to Newmarket

Conrad writes: 30 mph headwinds on the return leg? First time ride leader? And with only the prospect of a Wetherspoon pub for a tea stop? Only five riders (Jacob, Steve, Mike, Howard and Peter) fancied their chances as I led them on a scenic and event-filled ride to Newmarket.

From Brookside, we cut across Parker’s Piece and soon engaged in a pitched battle against the usual Sunday afternoon crowd of cars, pedestrians, dogs and cows before emerging at Newmarket P&R. From there, it was the usual route to Six Mile Bottom, but with Jacob on the ride, it was inevitable that a rebel group would take an early off-road option only to rejoin us at the beginning of the gravel road near the windmill.

We then made our way down some quiet country roads to Dullingham, Stetchworth, Woodditton, Saxon Street, Cheveley and finally to Moulton. Along the way, we passed several interesting pubs, including one near the medieval pack-horse bridge in Moulton that Steve recalled visiting as a tea stop several years ago. I could feel the anxiety of the group rise as I ignored sign after sign that pointed to Newmarket.

At Moulton, we decided to visit the Little Chef in Exning instead of the Golden Lion in Newmarket as a tea-stop, given the general distaste that the collective had with Newmarket High Street. Jacob led the way but our progress northwards came to an abrupt halt when we reached the A11.

We decided to cut our losses and make our way to the Golden Lion when Jacob spotted a trail that promised some refuge from the strong headwinds going into Newmarket. This trail looked like the edge of a practice track for horses and, after a long incline, it continued on the opposite side of the B1506. This part of the trail was much more pleasant until the last section when my wheels started to sink into what I quickly learnt was sand. We had to push our bikes back to the B1506 and from there, it was a simple ride downhill to Newmarket.

Suitably fortified with beer and food, we then made our way back to Cambridge via Exning, Burwell, Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham. By this time, the headwind had died down somewhat but still slowed us down considerably. I arrived home at 7pm having cycled 45 miles. Conrad Chua

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