Nigel writes: One of the many things I like about CTC Cambridge is that almost everybody travels to the start point by bike. We are not one of those cycling clubs whose rides always start with everyone getting bikes out of cars. However although we're not a car-dependent club we do organise occasional car-assisted rides. These are invariably organised by Adrian and involve groups of members travelling by car to a start point away from Cambridge and then cycling around an area which would otherwise be too far to include in a normal ride.
For today's car-assisted ride the rendezvous point was Easton on the Hill near Stamford, the home of longstanding club member George S. I travelled there with Adrian and Conrad. Adrian has a large pickup-style car (below) with a mount for three bikes at the back.
Adrian making sure the bikes are secure before departure
We were the first to arrive at George's house. Right behind us was Steve in his van, and a few minutes later we were joined by Andy and Steve in a rather smart car which looked almost as sporty as their bikes.
The seven of us set off from Easton on the Hill at just before 9.30am. It was clear and sunny but rather cold, and with a blustery wind from the west which was due to bring clouds and showers in the afternoon. After checking whether we were up to a bit of "rough-stuff", George led us west out of the village along what started as a very a pleasant track.
After half a mile the track came to and end and we found ourselves cycling along a public footpath. This was quite difficult to ride along and most of us ended wheeling our bikes. Fortunately we didn't have far to go until we met the road.
After a short delay whilst we scraped the mud from our cleats we crossed the River Welland and crossed from Northamptonshire into Rutland.
The first village we passed through was Ketton, famous for centuries for its quarry which provided lovely honey-coloured limestone. Many Cambridge colleges are faced with stone from Ketton including Downing College and the screen wall in front of King's College.
After about half an hour we reached Edith Weston on the southern shore of Rutland Water. It was just after 10am and we stopped for coffee at an italian restaurant near the edge of the water. As we drank our coffee we made our plans for the rest of the day. It was decided that we would divide into two groups. Adrian and George would go for a shorter ride leaving Conrad, Steve, Andy, Sarah and me to cycle a little further, though as rain was due to arrive in the afternoon we would try to be back at the start by 4pm.
Our route was essentially a clockwise loop around Rutland Water, stopping for lunch at a pub in Burrough on the Hill in Leicestershire. Despite a persistent headwind, and being rather more undulating than we are used to in East Anglia, this was a very pleasant ride.
We reached Burrough on the Hill just before 1pm, an ideal time to stop at Grant's Freehouse for lunch. This pub has been suggested by Adrian and it was a good choice for a relaxed, leisurely meal. The menu options were rather limited but the beer was good (I'm told) and the service was very friendly and obliging.
After lunch we turned east and zoomed along with a tailwind on rather flatter lanes to Langham and then to Stamford. The easy cycling more than compensated for the fact that the predicted rain had began to arrive and by the time we reached Stamford it was drizzling steadily. A signpost reminded me that Stamford was in Lincolnshire, making this a four-county ride. Stamford looks like an interesting place to stop, but on this occasion we were keen to carry on two or three further miles back to Easton on the Hill, which we reached at just after 4pm.
One of many historic signs in George's collection
George welcomed us into his home where Adrian was already relaxing with a cup of tea. Cakes and more tea arrived and we had an enjoyable chat before saying our goodbyes, loading our bikes onto cars and driving back home. I was back home by home at 6.20pm, having cycled 48 miles. I'm grateful to Adrian for the lift and for arranging today's ride.
View this GPS track on a larger map