Sunday, 5 May 2013

5 May: All-day ride to Newmarket, Cavendish and Horseheath

Nigel writes: Despite it being a bank holiday weekend, the weather today was lovely, with warm sunshine and very little wind all day. Not surprisingly there was a good turnout for today's ride, with eleven riders at Brookside and more joining later. In fact by the end of the day I think I must have seen over thirty members at various stages in the ride. Gareth was our leader today, and led us down Brookside and through the back streets to Hills Road.

Setting off from Brookside. Compare with this photo from the 1930's

We followed Hills Road to Addenbrookes's, where we turned left onto Wort's Causeway for the gentle climb over the Gogs. This is one of my favourite hills. The climb is gentle and not very high but it still allows some fine views over Cambridge and is rewarded by a satisfyingly-long and fast descent down the other side to Fulbourn.

Climbing the Gogs. Addenbrooke's is behind us

After regrouping at Fulbourn, and riding on the flat once more, we continued through Great and Little Wilbraham to Six Mile Bottom. There we started the long climb up to Brinkley.

Going up the hill from Six Mile Bottom toward Brinkley. Photo: Gareth Rees

At Brinkley we turned onto the B1052 for a couple of miles to Dullingham, where we turned right towards Stechworth and Woodditton.

Gareth inspects the Orrery on Woodditton Green

We continued to Saxon Street where we turned for a long and rather bumpy descent into Newmarket, where we stopped at Coffee & Co for (obviously) coffee.

Coffee & Co were very busy. At least half a dozen members were already there, together with another cycling group and lots of locals, which rather overwhelmed the staff and it took a very long time to get our drinks and cakes. This was rather frustrating but when we complained about being forgotten the staff were genuinely apologetic and things were was put right quickly.

The extended coffee stop meant that it was approaching 12 noon when we set off once again for our planned lunch stop in Cavendish.This was rather later than planned, but it didn't matter. It was a lovely day.

Gareth's route was fairly direct and very pleasant, through Kirtling, Cowlinge, Stradishall, Denston, Stansfield and the extremely pretty lane that leads from there to Glemsford.

Between Denston and Stansfield. Photo: Gareth Rees

From Glemsford it was only another couple of miles to Cavendish. Most of us stopped for a picnic on the village green whilst others went off to a cafe or a nearby pub. With few people about, a lovely setting, several pubs, a grocers's shop and a cafe this is an excellent place for a lunch stop and I hope we will return there before long.

After lunch we set off again. We split into two groups led by Rupert and Gareth. Rupert's group took a fairly direct route to the tea stop in Horseheath whilst Gareth took a longer route, riding south-west to Great Yeldham and Finchingfield before turning north-west to Helions Bumpstead and Horseheath.We paused briefly on the green at Finchingfield. This is a pleasant spot, but there were dozens of motorcyclists about and it was nowhere as tranquil as the green at Cavendish.

I stayed with Gareth's group, which arrived at The Old Red Lion in Horseheath a few minutes late at 4.40pm. The breakaway all-day group was already there and a few moments later the afternoon ride arrived led by Peter D, making about twenty at tea in total. Tea was entirely satisfactory, with sandwiches, cakes and some particularly satisfying chocolate fudge cake.

Afterwards we all returned back to Cambridge via West Wickham, Balsham and Fulbourn. After pausing to allow everyone to re-group at Balsham, Gareth set off down the hill towards Fulbourn at a fast pace. I heard XL say "no-one can keep up with Gareth", which was enough to inspire Peter D to set off in hot pursuit. I tagged on behind for a rapid descent to Charterhouse Bridge, where the road crosses the A11 and levels off. The two mile section from there to Fulbourn is flat, completely straight and very boring and I challenged Peter and Gareth to see if we could make it all the way to the Fulbourn city limits without allowing our speed to drop below 20mph. By close drafting and  taking turns at the front we achieved this, just, which was most satisfying. I paused in Fulbourn to wait for the others and to make sure that everyone knew their way home, before setting off into Cambridge via Fulbourn Old Drift and Cherry Hinton. I arrived back home at 6.20pm, having cycled an excellent and most enjoyable 86 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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