Thursday, 15 December 2011

15 Dec: Thursday ride to Hare Street and Puckeridge

Edward writes: When we met at Greta's in Hauxton, it was to nobody's surprise that numbers were down considerably from our usual gatherings. In fact only six of us were ready to face the elements. It's possible, of course, that Christmas shopping had taken priority, or it may even have been the cold, drizzly and windy morning that put people off. Who knows? Anyway, nothing daunted, the six set off into Little Shelford, followed by the turning to Newton. After Newton we turned towards Fowlmere into the teeth of the wind. Fortunately we obtained some respite by taking the turning to Thriplow and gained the protection of the high hedges on this road. After going through Thriplow we went through Fowlmere and took the road to Flint Cross on the A505. This was easily the worst part of our trip. This road offers no protection and the wind was coming at an angle of about two 0'Clock, but this didn't upset Greta's speed. She seemed to be in fine form and led us at a very brisk pace up to Flint Cross. At this point one of our number left us which left us with just five riders.

After Flint Cross it was still into the wind and uphill but at least the hedgerows provided good protection and the ride wasn't too difficult. Once we got to Barley the wind didn't seem quite so vigorous and we made steady progress over this undulating stretch of road to Barkway. It was good to see the appearance of new hedge planting for a long stretch of this road, something to look forward to when it has established itself. From Barkway it didn't take too long before we arrived in Hare Street and the Tortoise cake shop for refreshments.

Unusually we were not joined by any other of our cyclists at coffee, but a group of three who had cycled up from Hertford came in just as were leaving. The next bit of the ride was by far the best of the day. The skies had cleared completely and we had blue sky and sunshine and what a difference it made to the winter scene. After leaving the coffee stop we soon turned right and took the road to Buntingford, but crossing the A10 just before the town itself, followed by the road to Aspenden. From here it was the delightfully rural trip through Westmill and Nasty, and by now we had turned and the wind was now in our favour, plus a sun-drenched countryside, cycling was suddenly a pleasure again.

From Nasty it was just a mile or two to Puckeridge and our lunch stop which became The White Hart rather than the Crown and Falcon. We decided to explore this pub as an experiment and very pleasing it was with a nice menu and very pleasant and welcoming staff.

During lunch the skies had become overcast again so it was decided to go back by staying on the B1368 all the way. With the wind on our backs we made rapid progress, especially the downhill stretch rom Barley to Flint Cross. We soon got back and the ride ended at 3 pm and having covered 47 miles. Despite the morning weather and some misgivings we agreed that the ride out had been worthwhile. As ever thanks to Greta for another good day out. Edward Elmer

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