Sunday, 23 December 2012

23 Dec: All-day ride to Wilburton and Ely

Nigel writes: Today offered a brief respite from all the recent rain. It was dry all day, and although mostly dull and overcast the sun did put in an appearance in the afternoon. It was also remarkably mild - about 10C all day. A perfect opportunity for a little light exercise ahead of the inevitable Christmas over-indulgence. Also at Brookside I found Averil, Rupert and Conrad our leader.

Today was planned to be a short ride: coffee in Wilburton, lunch in Ely and then back home to Cambridge. Conrad led us north through the city centre, past King's College where a BBC outside broadcast van stood ready for the afternoon's carol service.

We continued north up Castle Hill (which we remarked would be the biggest hill of the entire day) and along Huntingdon Road to Girton Corner. From here we took the road to Girton and Oakington where we turned right for Cottenham. At Cottenham we joined the B1049 which we followed north to Wilburton. This is not a particularly nice road but today it was mostly quiet.

At Wilburton we stopped for coffee at the Twenty Pence Garden Centre. This was my first visit. I had wondered whether it would be a cut-price version of Poundland where everything was 20p but, alas, it was just another garden centre selling rather overpriced coffee and cakes.

Already in the cafe were Adrian and young Vic and we were soon joined by Will, Brian, Lynn and Cheryl.

There were few other customers; Santa sat in a shed outside, waiting for visitors. Averil spotted some snow falling outside the window and rushed outside to enjoy it.

After coffee we carried on north to Ely. We were now a somewhat larger group than before. We didn't have far to go and despite going via Coveney and Little Downham we arrived there at about 12.15pm. As we cycled along we passed large areas of flooded fenland, but the road itself was dry.

We had lunch at the Cutter Inn down by the river. Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge. We followed NCR 11 along the Ouse floodbank and then along the unsurfaced farm track further south. We had been worried this might be flooded but the worst we encountered was some mud and a few large puddles.

The ride home via Upware and Lode was surprisingly hard work: the southerly wind which had sped our progress in the morning was now directly against us. Fortunately we didn't have far to go and I arrived back home at about 3.15pm (in time to wash the mud off my bike before it got dark), having cycled 49 miles.

View this route (part GPS, part not) on a larger map

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