Nigel writes: Today was a perfect winter's day: clear and sunny from dawn until dusk. It was therefore no surprise to find about fifteen riders waiting at Brookside for today's all-day ride. Mick was our leader today, so I knew we were in for an interesting and expertly-navigated ride. From Brookside we set of west along The Fen Causeway and turned onto Lammas Land for the short-cut to Barton Road.
We joined the Barton Road cycleway which we followed all the way to Barton.
When we reached Barton we turned off the main road and continued to Haslingfield. By now we were warmed up and ready to tackle Chapel Hill.
With such a large group (and a big hill) we spread out along the road so when we reached Barrington we stopped to wait for everyone to catch up.
This was turning out to be a delightful ride. Sometimes a clear sky means a cold day, but not today: with an almost total lack of wind the sunshine made it feel quite warm. Not bad for the middle of February. From Haslingfield we continued to Orwell where we crossed over the A603 to Wimpole Hall.
After riding through the Wimpole estate past the hall we crossed the A1198 to Arrington and Croydon. This brought us to our second steep hill of the day. Fortunately Croydon Hill is quite short so we were soon at the top and able to cruise the final few miles through the Hatleys to Gamlingay and from there to Waresley Park Garden Centre. Here we stopped for coffee and cakes, after the most enjoyable couple of hours of cycling I had had in many months.
Already in the cafe we found half a dozen more members and when we set off again towards lunch our numbers were almost twenty. We set off towards St Neots, taking the lovely lane that takes you over Lily Hill.
When we reached St Neots we crossed the River Ouse to Riverside Park and then across a smaller bridge towards Eaton Socon.
David W mentioned that this area had been completely flooded earlier in the year. There was still quite a bit of water about and at one place we had to ride though an inch or two of water.
Safely back on dry land in Eaton Socon we continued west, crossing the A1 before turning south for the final two or three miles to Roxton, where we stopped for lunch at Roxton Garden Centre.
In Dakins restaurant I ordered a jacket potato with beans and cheese and sat outside in the sunshine. Sometimes a decision to sit in the sun is a decision you quickly regrest, but not today. It was lovely and warm in the sunshine, and I was surprised that almost everyone else stayed indoors.
After lunch Mick led us south to Great Barfield where we crossed the River Ouse once more.
We continued to Blunham where we turned onto the NCR 51 railway path. This took us east to Sandy. I always get confused by the roads in Sandy, but Mick clearly doesn't and led us expertly through the town and out again through the woods towards Everton.
We continued to Waresley, past the garden centre, and on to Great Gransden, where we turned towards Caxton. From here it was only two or three miles further to our planned tea stop at Morrisons in Cambourne. I was riding ahead of the group and arrived on my own at 3.45pm to find the supermarket bustling but the cafe closed. The only people in the cafe were Ian D and the afternoon ride. They had arrived at 3.30pm just after the cafe had closed, so had purchased food and drinks from the supermarket and gathered in a corner of the empty cafe to enjoy them. I bought a drink and joined then. Outside I saw the rest of the ride arrive and decide not to stop.
Afterwards I rode with a small group back to Cambridge. The sun was still shining brightly but it was now getting low in the sky and a gentle headwind had started up. The wind didn't slow us down very much but it was very cold and the temperature was dropping rapidly, reminding us that it was still mid-February. Fortunately we didn't have far to go and I reached home at 5pm, the sun still shining, having cycled a very enjoyable 64 miles.
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