Sunday, 27 November 2011

27 Nov: All-day ride to Newmarket, Lackford and Fordham

Nigel writes: Today started dull, windy, dry, and very mild, but the sun soon came out and bathed us in constant sunshine all day. Quite a contrast to the last Sunday in November last year, when both rides were cancelled due to ice and snow and the pond at Brookside had ice floating on top.

I arrived at Brookside to find a dozen riders waiting to set off. Tom was our leader today, and led us south-east out of Cambridge along Cherry Hinton Road and Fulbourn Road to Fulbourn.

The wind was from the south-west and was quite strong. Fortunately we were heading east, which meant we had a tailwind for most of the morning.

From Fulbourn we took the road to Great Wilbraham and Little Wilbraham.

At Little Wilbraham we turned onto the long road east to Six Mile Bottom.

At Six Mile Bottom we continued up the hill in the direction of Brinkley. This was our first climb of the day, but the tailwind meant that it didn't really feel like climbing at all. When we reached the cross-roads half-way up the hill we turned left towards Dullingham and from there continued to Newmarket. We arrived at our planned coffee stop at the National Horseracing Museum just after 11pm to find quite a few members already there.

The staff at the museum were friendly and welcoming, even inviting some of us to wheel our bikes through the museum so we could park them in an inner courtyard.

Morning coffee on an all-day ride is always a sociable affair, and today was no exception, and everyone sat in animated conversation for over 45 minutes before Tom suggested it was time to move on.

About ten continued on to lunch leaving the others to return back to Cambridge. We left Newmarket on the road to Moulton. This is a gentle climb with horseracing gallops on both sides of the road, and with the sun now shining brightly there were fine views of the town behind us.

With the wind still behind us the climb to Moulton was hardly noticeable. At Moulton Gareth and Rupert cycled over the medieval packhorse bridge, with the rest of us riding through the dry ford alongside.

Since we had spent such a long time over coffee Tom took us a fairly direct route to our lunch stop: east to Gazeley (photo below), north to Kentford where we crossed under the A14, and then north-east to our planned lunch stop at Lackford Lakes. This is a nature reserve run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust. This has a pleasant visitor centre but we were disappointed to discover that it offered little in the way of refreshments beyond tea, coffee and muffins. Most of the group had brought sandwiches and was happy to stay, but five of us was looking for something more substantial and so continued the short distance to Flempton where we stopped for lunch at The Greyhound.

After lunch the two groups reunited once more and continued onwards to our planned tea stop in Fordham. We were now riding west, into the wind, and although the wind had subsided compared to earlier, our pace was significantly slower than before.

We retraced out earlier route to Cavenham and then turned north-west to Tuddenham. From there we continued to Red Lodge. Along the way Gareth suggested a shortcut along a byway, and three of us decided to join him, leaving Tom and the others to continue along the road.

Just beyond Red Lodge we crossed over the A14 on a footbridge.

A short distance further on we were reunited with Tom's group and continued on towards Freckenham from where it was just a short distance further to Fordham.

There seemed to be some confusion about the best way through Fordham to Simpson's Garden Centre and Rupert, who led this section, was apologetic that he had taken us on a roundabout route. However the GPS track shows that route we took was in fact pretty direct. We reached the garden centre at about 3.15pm. This was my first visit to the cafe here, and I found it perfectly pleasant, with a small selection of reasonable quality cakes.

After half an hour we were ready to leave, keen to make as much use of the declining daylight as planned. As we left we saw John F and the afternoon ride arrive.

From Fordham back to Cambridge the most direct route would have been straight down the B1102 all the way to Quy. However no-one was keen on this and we took a longer but much more pleasant route via Burwell and the Lodes Way.

By the time we reached the bridge over Burwell Lode the light was declining fast. There seemed to be a lot of people about with cameras, and on the bridge itself there were several people waiting with tripods. When we asked why they told us they were waiting for bats.

We continued along the Lodes Way, over the new bridges across Reach Lode and Swaffham Bulbeck Lode until we reached Lode itself. We crossed over the B1102 to Bottisham where we joined the cycle path alongside the A1303 to Quy. Our route into Cambridge took us through Fen Ditton and across Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common. I was home before 6pm, having cycled 72 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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