Sunday, 30 December 2012

30 Dec: Sunday all-day ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today was probably the best day of the Christmas holiday so far: instead of the heavy rain of earlier in the week, today was clear, dry, sunny and mild, with only a south-westerly wind preventing this from being a perfect winter's day. As a Christmas treat today's ride started at 10am, allowing an extra half-hour in bed. I arrived at Brookside to find over a dozen riders waiting to start: the combination of fine weather, the leisurely start time and the opportunity to burn off some Christmnas calories make this one of our largest rides of the year, with over twenty riders at lunch.

Rupert was our leader today. He led us from Brookside, west along Fen Causeway and across Lammas Land to Newnham.

We joined the Barton Road cycle path and followed it out of the city.

We turned onto the B1046 and rode through Comberton, Toft and Comberton to Caxton. With a steady headwind we made slow progress, but it didn't matter: we didn't have far to go today and we could concentrate on what we always do for the first hour or two of a Sunday ride: chatting to the other riders who we knew, and introducing ourselves to those who we didn't.

From Caxton we continued west to Great Gransden where we turned onto the road to Abbotsley, Just before Abbotsley we turned north: the wind was behind us at last, and we made faster progress to Croxton and Graveley. Here we paused to allow the group to reform and to give Rupert a chance to discuss whether we should take a shortcut via Hilton or continue on the planned route via Offord D'Arcy.

With the sun still shining brightly we decided to stick to our original plan, so we all turned west for a few more miles into the wind to Offord D'Arcy. There we turned north once more, and with the wind behind us again I found my speed increasing as we rode through Offod Cluny to Godmanchester. Just beyond Godmanchester we turned onto Eastside Common for the final mile to Hemingford Abbots. This had  probably been flooded earlier in the month but today there were just a few large puddles.

Our lunch stop in Hemingford Abbots was the Axe and Compasses. Rupert had booked a table for ten but several more riders turned up and we were probably over twenty in all. Fortunately there was plenty of room and the pub staff looked after us all splendidly.

This pub is becoming a regular stopping place for the club: we had tea here in May and have stopped here on an evening ride in both September and October. I think we all agreed that we thought it was hightly suitable and I expect we'll be back here several times in 2013.

After lunch we all returned back home, most of us to Cambridge. We had originally planned to ride into St Ives and join the busway cycleway but due to long-term deep flooding between there and Swavesey we took the "old" route instead. This took us along Low Road to Fenstanton. We had heard this was flooded as well, and the signs said "road closed", but we thought we'd ride on and take a look.

The road did turn out to be flooded, but the water wasn't very deep and I watched a couple of cars splash through at speed. Even better, the pavement cycleway - which I normally never bother with - was above the level of the water and we could get past easily. Only for one short section did we need to ride through water, but it was only an inch or so deep and proved no problem.

From Fenstanton we continued through Fen Drayton to Swavesey where we joined the busway cycleway.

Whenever I turn onto the busway towards Cambridge the sudden lack of motor traffic gives me a relaxing "I'm almost home" feeling and today was no exception. It's an understandable feeling but it is rather inappropriate since we still had about ten miles to go, some of it into the wind. Nevertheless the final hour of the ride was pleasant and uneventful. I arrived home at about 3.30pm, the sky still light, having cycled 49 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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