Nigel writes: For the third Sunday running, today was a clear, sunny day. This time, however, we had a very strong south-westerley wind which made today's ride far from idyllic, at least at the start. Despite this there were six of us at Brookside for today's all-day ride including John S, our leader.
Our coffee stop today was to be in Reed. This would mean cycling directly into the wind almost all the way so John took a direct route to Trumpington and Great Shelford where we turned right onto the road to Little Shelford.
Right from the start the wind was a serious obstacle, but there was little to be done about it other than to engage a suitably low gear and plod on slowly.
At Little Shelford we turned onto the road that leads west to the B1368 where we turned south-west towards Newton.
By the time we reached Newton we had already lost two of our riders (who had gone off to do their "own thing") and at Newton we lost one more, with Paul turning back for home. This left just John, Kenny, Peter and me to carry on. Along the road to Fowlmere we caught up with Conrad who was making his own way to Reed.
At Fowlmere John had planned to turn off to take a loop via Great Chishill but since it was so windy and we still had a long way to go he suggested we simply carry on along the B1368. So we carried on to Flint Cross where we crossed over the A505. After another half a mile I announced that I had had enough and wouldn't be carryong on to Reed. Cycling directly into the wind wasn't much fun and in any case the cafe at Reed wasn't one of my favourites. Instead I would make a loop back to Cambridge via Great Chishill and Elmdon, stopping for coffee at Ickleton along the way. Kenny, Peter and Conrad all decided to join me, leaving John to carry on to Reed on his own.
So whilst John continued along the B1368 to Barkway (see below for John's report), the rest of us turned left onto the long straight road which climbs slowly up to Great Chishill. We were still going south but were no longer directly into the wind and the going suddenly became much easier. This allowed me to appreciate for the first time that, apart from the wind, today was a truly beautiful day.
At Great Chishill we turned left towards Heydon and Elmdon. With the wind behind us at last we made rapid progress and we all started to enjoy ourselves at last. A short time later we arrived in Ickleton, where we stopped for coffee at Ickleton Barns. It was about 11.30am. This was actually our planned afternoon stop, so we were simply having tea four and a half hours early...
After a most enjoyable coffee and cake we set off back to Cambridge. Conrad was keen to get home so took the direct road to Duxford, leaving Peter, Kenny and me to take a slightly longer but quieter route via Hinxton.
Just beyond Hinxton we discovered that the ford on the road to Duxford had flooded and the road was impassable.
Although we could reach the footbridge beside the ford fairly easily, the road ahead was completely flooded and it was clear that if we continued we would certainly get wet.
As we stood on the bridge we saw that a car had been swept away earlier and was now submerged a few yards downstream of the ford.
Peter called the police to make sure they knew about this. (The local newspaper later reported that the driver escaped unhurt). We then turned back and returned to Cambridge via Hinxton, Sawston, Stapleford and the DNA path. I arrived back home at about 1.20pm, having cycled a modest 35 miles. Nigel Deakin
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John adds: After parting company with the rest of the ride, I plodded on towards Barley and Barkway and then right towards Reed, in case there were dozens of eager day riders who had made their own way there waiting to be led. While climbing through Barley I was overtaken by a horse, which was sadly neither galloping nor trotting – more strolling. There was some shelter from the wind, and I was rewarded with fantastic clear views to the north from near the navigation masts. The wind was still strong, and I looked forward to being blown home later on.
Arriving at the Silver Ball at around 11.40, I was pleased to find Doug who had been waiting patiently since 11.00 and was about to leave. After tea and Eccles Cake, we proceeded. It was so late by then that we decided that Braughing for lunch was a bit ambitious, so we decided to aim for Buntingford instead. Doug kindly warned me that my planned route through Dane End was flooded, having just seen a wet-footed cyclist who had come that way. So we took a short detour via Hay Green and then on towards Sandon and Buntingford. A stream had burst its banks in Mill End, and the road was under water for about 30m, but was shallow and clear enough so you see it wasn’t deep and could avoid any potholes.
We had lunch a café in Buntingford, admiring the way the main street still has the old shop fronts, and still has active local shops and businesses at its heart. After lunch Doug headed south towards Ware and Stevenage and I turned west towards Hare Street. I had hoped to be blown onwards towards Clavering in the blink of an eye, but sadly the strong wind from the morning had dropped to a light breeze, and so I headed north along the B1368 towards Shelford and was home by 4pm. I had cycled only 80km on a shortened day ride, and learned that feeling smug about all the hard work you had done riding into a headwind is a sure fire way to make it disappear just as soon as you turn around! A lovely day out though, with some great views and cloudscapes. I just hope no one went direct to the Brown Bear at Braughing to find there was no one there! John Seton