Rupert writes: Only seven riders gathered for the ride today because half of the usual massed ranks are away on a Suffolk cycling holiday that appears happily timed to coincide with some of the first good weather of the year.
Richard was our leader today having left Suffolk early in order to join today's ride.
Today's elite group limbering up at the start
Possibly having some sixth sense about the elite nature of today's small group of riders - or maybe it was just the sunny weather - something had tempted new rider Carol to join us for the first time today. Carol tells us she is training for a LeJog adventure later this year, and as usual there was no shortage of advice on offer. And I suspect there's plenty more advice waiting for her next ride when we are back to our usual larger group? After brief introductions it was off over "la colline de la chapelle" en route to our coffee stop at Wimpole, with Michael arriving just in time to join the ride but too late to be in the start photo. Just a few miles to coffee via Orwell I was guessing, but perhaps sensing my laziness or perhaps sensing the pent up energy in the rest of today's group, Richard turned left in Barrington and led us on a longer route via Foxton, Fowlmere, Melbourn and Meldreth. We arrived at the LazyDay cafe to find Ian D and David waiting. Ian bravely managed to force down another cup of tea just to be sociable before continuing on his separate way.
Coffee in the sunshine
After a pleasant coffee outside, marred somewhat by the noisy traffic, we headed west past Wendy and Shingay into a surprising strong and steady headwind. It was only over lunch that Brian remembered the word "echelon" by which time it was too late to be useful. But we got a little respite from the wind as we turned towards Wrestlingworth and could start to relax and enjoy the views a bit more. The fields are showing some signs of spring at last - some of the rape is now starting to flower round here, but to my inexpert eyes it all looks rather stunted so I'm guessing a low harvest will follow. After Wrestlingworth, with the help of a slightly better wind direction we sped over one of my favourite bits of road climbing the hill past Cockayne Hatley then down again into Potton.
Decision point in Eversden
On into Everton where we decided to split with a few going straight to lunch in Sandy and the others taking the longer loop down Warden Hill to Tempsford. David played a "cunning trick" on Network Rail by betting that the level crossing would be closed again ("it's always closed!"). Sure enough, when we arrived at the crossing it was wide open with not a train in sight. I'm not sure this technique will always work, but definitely worth trying again next time. Then it was over the Al to Blunham and back into Sandy along the NCN51 cyclepath.
Lunch at Gunns cafe.
After lunch, with most legs still feeling the effects of that morning headwind, we were happy to take the fairly direct ride home. My fears that the wind direction would have shifted proved unfounded and we had the benfit of a warm tailwind to help sail home quickly via Waresley, Gransden, Bourn and Toft. A great ride for may turn out to be last warm day of spring. I cycled a total of 67 miles which includes 7 miles or so to the start at Haslingfield. My thanks to Richard for a good lead and to David for taking the photos, with David and myself agreeing to act "in loco Edwardus" for todays ride report. Rupert Goodings
Photos by David Marsh