Nigel writes: Spring has arrived at last, and to celebrate this event we were rewarded with a very pleasant day of sunshine and mild temperatures, with the cold north wind of recent weeks replaced with a very light breeze from the south-east. By coincidence today also marked the day when our Sunday rides change their start time from 9.30am to 9am, but fortunately the sunshine outside my bedroom window meant that getting up half an hour earlier this morning was not difficult.
Our leader today was Gareth, so I knew we were in for an interesting and enjoyably-paced ride. Also at Brookside I found Jim, Rupert, David, Neil and Steve. We set off east across Midsummer Common and through the meadows beside the Cam to Fen Ditton.
From Fen Ditton we continued east along High Ditch Road and through the Quy Mill tunnel to Quy Church, after which we turned south-east onto the road to Little Wilbraham and Six Mile Bottom. There we turned right and left onto the hill that climbs up to Wadlow Farm, where a row of wind turbines on our right dominated the landscape.
At Wadlow Farm we forked left and continued to climb up Chilly Hill to Weston Colville. By the top of the hill we were far from chilly and several of us realised that that we were somewhat overdressed for the ride and stopped to remove layers.
From Weston Colville we continued east along a succession of quiet lanes through Weston Green, Carlton Green and Little Thurlow, eventually joining the A143 near the prisons. Along the way we encountered the first of several groups of riders on the "Wiggle Spring Saddle Sportive", three circular rides starting and ending in Newmarket and extending south into Essex.
A short distance along the A143 brought us to Tubby T's cafe, where we stopped for coffee, though most of us actually ended up having breakfast. Already at the cafe were several other club members. This cafe has been a club favourite for many years, and although it's the kind of place you share with motorcyclists eating huge plates of fried food, it's very friendly (I was called darlin' several times), and very good value, with my generously-sized beans on toast and large cafe latte costing less than £5.
After "breakfast" we did the usual split, with some members returning to Cambridge and others continuing on to lunch in Risby by various routes. I stayed with Gareth's group which took a very pleasant route east through Denston to Hawkedon before turning north to Rede, Chedburg, Chevington, Little Saxham and eventually Risby. Here we stopped for lunch at Lizzy's Cafe. Whilst we were eating, several more members turned up making a total of about ten or eleven.
After lunch the group fragmented again, with just me and Keith following Gareth south through Frizzeler's Green and Hargrave to Wickhambrook. Along the way we noticed patches of snow still surviving in the ditches, a reminder not only of the snow two weeks ago but of the freezing days and nights since then.
At Wickhambrook we turned north onto the B1063 towards Newmarket. With a gentle tailwind, and a typically enthusiastic leader we made rapid progress, and despite a loop via Cheveley we arrived at the planned coffee stop quite early at about 3.30pm. This was Coffee and Co. in Newmarket, who once again had kindly stayed open especially for us. We ordered coffee and cakes and over the following half hour various other individuals and groups of riders from the club turned up, including the afternoon ride, making about 14 in total.
Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge. Almost the whole group decided to follow Gareth north to Exning and Burwell.
At Burwell we split once more, with one group taking the direct route west and another group led by Gareth continuing north towards Wicken Fen. When we met the Lodes Way we turned west and followed it all the way to Lode. Along the way we stopped to admire some recent Sustrans artwork.
From Lode it was just a few more miles back to Cambridge through Bottisham and Quy, the last leg into Cambridge retracing our route from the morning. I arrived back home at 6.40pm after an excellent day's cycling during which I rode 84 miles.
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