Gareth writes: There was a strong south-westerly wind today (the Met Office says it was 23 mph) so with lunch near Bury St Edmunds, it was clear that we were going to have an easy morning followed by a tough afternoon.
There was a good turnout at Brookside, including lots of new riders, but then it became clear that the Cambridge University Cycling Club were holding their first ride of the year. After disentangling the two groups, there were eight of us.
We rode to Stradishall via Fen Ditton, Six Mile Bottom, West Wratting, and Little Thurlow. At Stourbridge Common a sparrowhawk was causing some consternation among the pigeons and crows. At Six Mile Bottom we met lots of cyclists heading east, ushered up the hill towards Brinkley by a reflective-jacketed marshal. It was the Cambridge to Norwich bike ride (organized by Bike Events; £19 entry and £25 coach back). We turned right instead and took the hill to West Wratting, where we watched the wind turbines spinning in the wind.
At Tubby T's the coffee machine was out of order, so we had tea. I lost four riders who were heading back to Cambridge, but gained Geoff, who had cycled over from his home in Cheveley. I chose a hilly route going east via Stansfield, Boxted and Hartest to Shimpling before turning north to Horringer.
This was my first visit to the Six Bells, and I think it is OK. The loose gravel in the parking lot caused Geoff to crash (luckily without injury) but we will know better next time. The staff were busy and took a while to get our orders right, but the food was good.
With the wind now in our faces, making progress was very tiring, so I decided to break the journey into stages with an extra stop for coffee at Lizzy's Coffee Shop in Risby. This café is a favourite with the other club for its huge scones, and it would make a good lunch stop for us in the winter months when we don't want to go so far from Cambridge (at 28 miles it's just a bit too far for the afternoon ride).
From Risby it was a tough 12 miles into the teeth of the wind, but we arrived at the Golden Lion just as the afternoon riders were locking up their bikes.
A windy 83 miles in all.