Sunday, 18 November 2012

18 Nov: All-day ride to St Neots, Hinxworth and Shepreth

Nigel writes: For the second week running we had a glorious Sunday of clear skies, continuous sunshine and hardly any wind. And not surprisingly we had a big turnout for today's all-day ride. Gareth was our leader today, and he led us to our morning coffee stop in St Neots by just about the most direct route possible. From Brookside we rode the short distance into the City Centre before turning west, over the river and through the Backs onto the cycleway to Coton.

At Coton we joined the cycle path alongside the A428 for the short climb to the top of Madingley Hill. It was still quite cold, and remained so all day, but once we had got warmed up it was really rather pleasant in the sunshine. I was wearing my earbags which prompted admiring comments from several other riders.

At the roundabout at the top of Madingley Hill we turned onto the "old" St Neots road. This continues west for six miles. At its end a short length of cycle track brought us to the A1198 just north of Caxton Gibbet.

We followed the busy A1198 north for a mile and a half before turning west once more onto quiet lanes through Telling and Toseland. Just after 11am we arrived in St Neots where we stopped for coffee at the Market Cafe.

With all the shops open and a busy market, St Neots was full of people. The cafe was busy as well with a mixture of cyclists and motorcyclists, and I found myself sitting outside in the sunshine.

After coffee we did the usual swap: several people left the group to return back to Cambridge whilst several others joined us for the next leg south to Lunch at Hinxworth. Once again Gareth didn't have much choice of route and took us directly there via Gamlingay and Potton. When we reached the cafe we found yet more members (Mike S and Barbara in this case) waiting for us.

After lunch we turned east towards Cambridge for the relatively short leg to Shepreth. This took us round the back of Ashwell on some pleasant little lanes and on to Steeple Morden.

We continued to Littlington where we turned left for a short diversion via Abington Piggots before carrying on via Bassingbourn, Kneesworth and Meldreth to Shepreth, where we stopped for tea at Teacake cafe.

Teacake cafe only opened last year but it has quickly become a club favourite. In addition to excellent hot drinks and cakes we are always given a very warm welcome. After a while Ian D arrived with the afternoon ride, and we had a very pleasant and convivial half hour as the sun set outside.

When it was time to set off for home it was completely dark. Ian led his group back via Harston and Trumpington whilst Gareth, me and some others returned via Barrington, Chapel Hill, Haslingfield and Barton. Freed from the burden of leadership, Gareth set a brisk pace. I stayed behind him for a couple of miles but when we reached Chapel Hill I was dropped as Gareth and another rider (unidentified in the dark) sped up the hill.  Soon their rear lights were disappearing into the distance and I completed the final few miles to Cambridge on my own. I arrived home at 5.40pm, having cycled 66 miles.

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