Nigel writes: Today the club did something new. In additional to our normal Sunday afternoon ride, we advertised a separate ride for "improvers", which started at the same time and place as our normal ride but which was planned to take a shorter, slower route to the tea stop in Ickleton. The normal ride was to be led by John Ferguson, the improvers' ride by Adrian Lee.
As would be expected on a warm Sunday in July we had a good turnout at Brookside, with a total of thirteen riders including the two leaders. I was pleased to see several not-so-familiar faces. John and Adrian explained that the two rides would proceed together for the first few miles before dividing.
And so John and Adrian led the combined group west out of Cambridge, via Silver Street, Sidgwick Avenue, Grange Road and the Coton cycle path to Coton. It was warm and humid, with a few raindrops in the air, and I put my waterproof jacket on, and then took it off again, twice in the first half hour. Fortunately the rain never amounted to much and after a couple of brief showers we never saw it again.
When we reached Coton, Jacob announced that he would lead an unofficial off-road diversion west along the bridleway from Whitwell Farm to Long Road on the way to Comberton, leaving the rest of the ride to remain on the road. I stuck with the on-road majority, climbing Madingley Hill using the cycle path alongside the A1303.
A few minutes later the two groups were reunited and continued south along Long Road to Comberton. Here we turned onto Swales lane (past the huge sculpture of a face) which took us south, across the A603 and on to Harlton. I remembered the duckpond there and raced ahead for a photo-opportunity.
A few minutes later we arrived in Haslingfield, and the foot of Chapel Hill. Here, amid a little bit of confusion, Adrian and John announced that the group was going to split, with Adrian leading a shorter, slower ride to the tea stop and John leading a faster group. Rather to my surprise, the entire group decided to go with the faster group, leaving Adrian with no-one to lead.
So the whole group climbed Chapel Hill, pausing at the top whilst someone fixed a puncture, and then dropped back down to Barrington.
We continued on to Shepreth, over the A10 to Fowlmere, and then south along the B1368 to Flint Cross, where we crossed the busy A505.
We then turned off the B1368 for the long, straight climb up to Great Chishill, the highest village in Cambridgeshire. Inevitably we strung out along this climb, but we regrouped at the top.
It was now 4.15pm and because of that puncture we were running a little late, so John shortened his route slightly. We followed the ridge through Heydon to Elmdon before dropping down to Ickleton, arriving at the cafe in Ickleton Barns at about 4.45pm. We'd still done 29.5 miles.
Already at the cafe were George and Conrad; Conrad was the sole remnant of the day ride who had passed through earlier. We all ordered our drinks and cakes from the friendly but rather overwhelmed staff and sat down beside the little lake to watch the ducks and admire the WW2 planes passing overhead from Duxford whilst we waited for our food and drinks to arrive.
After a pleasant 45 minutes or so we all returned back to Cambridge via Hinxton, Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords. I was back home at 6.45pm, after having cycled 42 miles.
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