Nigel writes: Today started bright and sunny. The weather forecast said that the best of the weather would be in the morning, so I set off for Brookside keen not to miss the all-day ride. Unfortunately as I turned onto Mill Road I realised that my rear tyre was flat. Simply adding more air afforded respite for a mere 400 yards, forcing me to stop in Lyndewoode Road to effect a proper repair. As a result I missed the start at Brookside and had to ride to the coffee stop in Saffron Walden on my own.
This was a lovely ride. I followed the usual route there: busway to Addenbrooke's, DNA path to Great Shelford, and then Whittlesford, Duxford, Ickleton and over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. The bright sunshine seemed to have put everyone in a good mood and I was greeted repeatedly along the way by both cyclists and walkers. Only a persistent south-westerly headwind prevented this from being a perfect morning. A descent along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End, followed by a short climb into the town brought me to Saffron Walden by about 10.30am. I then spent ten minutes trying to remember where our planned coffee stop was (see GPS track below for details). I knew it was in Cafe Mocha, but it was a long time since my last visit. Eventually I found it; there were four members already there who had made their own way, and about fifteen minutes Conrad arrived with the official ride.This is a nice cafe, with a good range of food on sale, but it always seems to be busy when I visit, and today the queue was out the door. Some members gave up and went to the Temeraire instead.
After coffee the majority of the group headed back to Cambridge, leaving six of us to continue on to lunch in Clare. The whole group set off east out of Saffron Walden along the Ashdon Road, which is a gentle climb of about a mile as far as Redgate Farm where we split: those heading to Cambridge continued to Ashdon whilst my group turned right onto smaller roads.
The route Conrad took was the same as John S took last time we went this way, and was lovely. A succession of empty lanes to Radwinter was followed by a short section along the slightly busier B1053 to Great Sampford.
From Great Sampford we were on quieter roads once more, through Cornish Hall End, Ridgewell and Ashen to Clare, which we reached at about 1.20pm. We stopped for lunch at The Cock Inn, which I think is a very nice pub, with a variety of interesting meals from about £8. However I was the only person eating; others went off to eat packed lunches elsewhere before rejoining me.
After we set off for our afternoon tea stop in West Wratting. Conrad led us north through Poslingfield to Stansfield where we turned west to Denston and Stradishall.
We crossed the A143 and took a loop through Cowlinge and Great Bradley to Little Thurlow. Progress was slow due to the fact that we were now riding into the wind, but it was a pleasant ride, and from Little Thurlow it was just a few more miles through Carlton Green and Weston Green to West Wratting.
We arrived at The Chestnut Tree at about 4.05 to find John F and the afternoon tucking into a very generous spread of sandwiches and cakes. We joined them and had a very pleasant half hour at what I think was our first traditional club tea of the year.
After tea we returned home to Cambridge. Some took the direct route via Balsham but John F (the afternoon leader) led his group on a longer route, and I joined them. This took us north-east along the very nice road that runs past the woodland cemetery to Dullingham.
One of the nicest thing about the way our two Sunday rides meet at tea is the opportunity it offers to meet the people from the "other" ride, and it was nice to meet several people for the first time.
At Dullingham we turned north to Swaffham Bulbeck before returning west through Bottisham and Quy back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 6.30pm, having cycled 79 miles.
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