I offered the riders two choices for how to get to Waterbeach: out to Swavesey along the guided busway and back via Cottenham, or out to Burwell along NCN51 and back through the fens. Mike said that he had done the fens last week and it was muddy; Jacob scoffed and said it would be fine, so I offered the casting vote to new rider Maria, and she chose the busway. Which was an excellent choice. The northern section of the busway, from Milton Road for about nine miles to Swavesey, is a joy to cycle on: the tarmac is smooth as a nectarine and the path is wide and straight. Ride it now, before the snows of winter break up the surface and the brambles overgrow it, to experience what all cycle paths should be!
The path is very popular: there were families out for a ride with the children, club cyclists working hard into the wind, commuters heading home to the villages, rollerbladers, joggers, walkers. Where did all these people come from? It's clear that there's suppressed demand for a safe, enjoyable place to ride.
At Swavesey we turned north to Over, and followed the fenland roads through Willingham, Rampton, Cottenham, and Landbeach. In Waterbeach I took a wrong turning—a whole new housing estate has been built since my map was printed!—but we found Tony's house in the end by following the smell of barbecueing sausages. Tony did us proud with steak, sausages, onions, coleslaw, baked potatoes, and Aussie rules football on the television.
We came back along the towpath beside the river Cam. It's only six miles, but it always seems like a long way in the dark, as you strain your eyes to make sure that you are riding on the path and not heading for the river. 30 miles in all. Thanks to everyone who came along, and thanks especially to Tony for his fine hospitality.