Nigel writes: Today was a gorgeous winter's day, with clear blue skies and bright sunshine all day. It was still cold, of course, with a gentle north-westerly wind bringing a noticeable chill, and ice still visible on a few sheltered puddles, but in general it was much milder than the icy weather of the previous week.
It was therefore no surprise to find a large turnout at Brookside for today's all-day ride.
Geoff was our leader today, and he led us east out of Cambridge along the river to Quy.
From Quy, Geoff's route took us via Bottisham to Lode and then north into the fens to follow the Lodes Way to Burwell. This took us along a series of cycle paths and quiet farm roads: the absence of motor traffic meant that we could concentrate on chatting, catching up with friends and generally enjoying the morning sun.
We had a couple of punctures along the way: Gareth, somewhat rashly, rode off a kerb in Bottisham and burst a tyre. A short distance further along Jim had a puncture as well. As a result our large group split up into a number of smaller groups.
At about 11.15pm my group reached Fordham where we stopped for coffee at Simpson's Nursery and Garden Centre. There we found Adrian and Vic, who had ridden there directly, and after about ten minutes the remainder of our group arrived.
After coffee most of the group continued on to Lunch in Newmarket. The direct route is only five miles, but Geoff took us a longer and much nicer route via Chippenham, Badlingham Manor, Red Lodge, Kentford, Gazeley and Moulton.
At Moulton, Gareth and Graham couldn't resist the temptation to ride over the steep packhorse bridge whilst the rest of us used the dry ford alongside.
Unfortunately cycling over this bridge involves dropping down a step at one point, which was enough to blow the patch off Gareth's freshly-patched tube and force him to stop and replace the tube completely.
The road from Moulton to Newmarket involves a short climb and then a long, gentle descent. We arrived at "Coffee & Co", our planned lunch stop, at about 1.30pm.
This is located in a quiet lane just south of the High Street. This was our first visit, and I think we were all impressed by both the quality of the sandwiches and the friendly service. We will be back.
It was about 2.15pm when we set off again back towards Cambridge. We took the road to Saxon Street, passing Chevely Park Stud along the way. One of the entrances is named after one of their most famous stallions, which impressed Rupert and Geoff enough for them to want to pose for a photo.
When we reached the village of Saxon Street we turned west towards Woodditton, Stetchworth and Dullingham. From there it was a short distance to Six Mile Bottom and the long road past the Wilbrahams back to Quy.
We reached our planned afternoon tea stop at 4.15pm. This was at Julia's in Fen Ditton, where a beautiful display of interesting and delicious food was waiting for us.
After a short time Peter D arrived with the afternoon rode, making a total of nearly twenty crowding into Julia's lovely little house for a delightful gathering.
After tea we returned back to Cambridge. Although I fitted my bike lights the sun was still shining brightly and I never needed to switch them on. As we rode along the river on Stourbridge Common I couldn't resist one final photo.
It was still light when I reached home at 5.20pm, having cycled 59 miles.
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