Nigel writes: Today was what August days are meant to be like: hot, dry and sunny. The prospect of a lovely day's cycling - and no doubt the expectation of a lovely tea afterwards - brought more than a dozen riders to Brookside for the start of today's all-day ride. Mick was our leader today, and he led us south out of Cambridge, first along the busway cycleway to Addenbrooke's and then along the DNA path to Great Shelford.
We continued along the familar route south through Little Shelford, Whittlesford, Duxford, Ickleton and over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. But I suspect few of us noticed these places: as always, the first couple of hours of today's ride was a very sociable affair, with everyone chatting to everyone else and catching up with each others' news as we rode along.
After Catmere End we dropped down along Chestnut Avenue (below) to Audley End House before climbing back up into Saffron Walden.
In Saffron Walden we turned south once more onto the road to Debden. Just before we reached Debden we turned east to Carver Barracks where we stopped for coffee at the Mace supermarket.
The shop at Carver Barracks has been a regular club coffee stop for some years but today was the first time I had visited it myself. The barracks itself is a small army base and immediately adjacent to it, but outside the security fence, is a cluster of army-related community buildings around a rather bleak paved square. One of these is a Mace supermarket with a coffee machine. We bought coffee and confectionery which we consumed outside in the square. Several other members were already there, including Adrian and Mike S.
This isn't the prettiest of places but it was pleasant and friendly and well-located for a brief rest stop before continuing on our way.
Normally after coffee most of the group return to Cambridge, leaving just a small group to continue on to lunch. However today almost everyone carried on, perhaps sixteen in all, though we soon divided into faster and slower groups .
From Carver Barracks our route took us east to Radwinter and along the B1054 to Steeple Bumpstead. Here we turned off towards Stambourne and along a series of quiet lanes through Ashen, Ovington, Belchamp St Paul and Foxearth to Long Melford. The planned lunch stop was Wally's Cafe in Acton, a mile further east, but I decided to eat at Tiffin's Tea Emporium in Long Melford (which we had visited last month). A few others joined me whilst Mick and the main group continued on to Acton.
After lunch my group rode half a mile north and waited outside Long Melford Hall to wait for the others.
After a few minutes the others arrived and the combined group continued on north. We passed Long Melford Church (below) and turned onto the A1092 which we followed west for half a mile before turning north onto the B1066.
Just beyond Boxted we turned west to Hawkedon (below).
We continued through Denston to the A143 at Stradishall. We rode past Tubby T's cafe and the prisons before turning onto the narrow lane to Little Thurlow.
After Little Thurlow we continued to Carlton Green and Weston Green, arriving a few minutes later in West Wratting. Here we stopped at Peter and Lesley's house for a home tea. It was 4pm.
We sat in the garden drinking squash and tea whilst we waited for Mike K to arrive with the afternoon ride. Several others also arrived having cycled there directly, including George and David S.
After a lovely relaxing tea, with excellent sandwiches, snacks and cakes, we all returned to Cambridge. Most people returned via Wadlow Farm and Six Mile Bottom but I was up for a slightly longer ride so returned on my own via Dullingham and Swaffham Bulbeck. With the wind behind me this extra loop didn't take very long and I arrived back in Cambridge in time to overtake George and David near the airport and catch up with some of the newcomers from the afternoon ride at Hyde Park Corner. After a short loop around Cambridge to push up the total mileage a little more, I arrived home just before 7pm, having cycled 94 miles.
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