Sunday, 23 September 2012

23 Sep: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Clare and Fen Ditton

(Updated) Nigel writes: Despite the forecast of heavy rain for later in the day there were eleven riders at Brookside for today's all-day ride, though only two intended to stay on for lunch. The intrepid all-day riders were John S (leader) and Daniel, whilst the fair-weather riders were me, Tracy, Phil, Linda, John, Pete, Conrad, Ian and Julia. Since lunch was a fair distance away John S took a fairly direct route to the coffee stop in Saffron Walden.

We set off south along Trumpington Road to Long Road and then through Addenbrooke's to join the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we took the road to Little Shelford.

We continued south through Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton.

Up until this point the route had been completely flat. However beyond Ickleton the landscape becomes more undulating and interesting. We then climbed Coploe Hill - surely one of the easiest and most pleasant hills on the area - and passed into Essex.

Resting on the Cambridgeshire - Essex border

We continued along a lovely single-track road to Catmere End before dropping back down again along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House. A short final climb brought us into Saffron Walden and our coffee stop at The Temeraire.

In the pub we were soon joined by Edward, Adrian, Mick and Doug, though they were here just for the coffee and not to join the ride.

After coffee John S and Daniel continued on towards the lunch stop in Clare whilst most of the others turned back towards Cambridge, either to avoid the promised rain or to do something else with their day. Tracy and I stayed with the "official" ride as far as Radwinter and then turned off for lunch in Hempstead and a car-assisted lift home. Nigel Deakin

John continues the report: Daniel and I left Saffron Walden and took the quiet route to Radwinter accompanied by Nigel and Tracy, setting off towards Ashdon before turning right onto Redgates Lane and left onto Wills Ayley Lane. At Radwinter, the day ride realised it had no idea where the home tea stop was, having left all details behind, so it took a dedicated team effort to read and transfer a phone number in the absence of reading glasses.

From Radwinter we went through Great Sampford, and then along near-empty lanes towards Cornish Hall End, and Ridgwell, feeling rather smug because the anticipated rain that had clearly frightened the other riders had not arrived. This feeling continued as a few spots started to fall, and then was finally washed away as the rains started in earnest around Ashen, and we stopped to “cape up”.

We arrived in Clare just as the church clock struck 1.00, and adjourned to The Cock for lunch. An unintended benefit of the recent smoking ban meant there was a handy lean-to to keep our bikes dry. Once inside we were told the “specials” on the board were not available and were offered a Sunday roast from a limited menu. Pub Sunday roasts are often a bit like school dinners, with shoe leather meat, over-cooked floppy vegetables and glutinous gravy. This Sunday lunch was quite different, with braised carrots, perfectly cooked lamb and proper gravy.

After waiting to make sure the rain really had set in, we proceeded through the puddles to Kedington, Great Wratting and Thurlow. We then took the agonising decision to shorten the planned ride and stay out in the rain for fewer miles, cutting out Dullingham and Swaffham, so we instead headed to Brinkley and Six Mile Bottom and on to Fen Ditton via Quy. As always, the road past the Wilbrahams brought out some admirable demonstrations of straight line speed from car drivers, in spite of the 20mph recommended limit because of the recent surface dressing.

Once we got to Fen Ditton, we were about to call to find out where tea was, when Daniel was spotted in his fluorescent cape and we were welcomed in to Julia’s house. Here we met the afternoon riders and others, and were offered some fantastic food. I could tell I was in a thoroughly civilised house, as there was a bicycle standing in the kitchen! Leaving was hard, as it involved donning cold wet shoes and colder wetter gloves. Thanks to Julia for the wonderful spread she laid on for us all!

Arriving home I had cycled 120km (74 miles) in all. I was pleased I was down to lead the ride, as it got me out of the house, whereas common sense would otherwise have led me to stay at home by the fire. John Seton

View John's GPS track on a larger map

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