Conrad writes: There was no designated leader today but still I was surprised to find only Paul and Gerry at Brookside. Steve G joined us just before 9 and after some discussion, we agreed on a route.
Today's coffee stop was Finchingfield which is far as coffee stops go. We went onto the busway to connect with the DNA path and then made the usual way through Great Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxton, where Paul was bitterly disappointed that we did not take the opportunity to visit the ford at Hinxton. But with quite a distance to go, he was overruled and we went over Coploe Hill to Saffron Walden.
Entering Saffron Walden, we turned right towards Debden and onto Thaxted before turning left in the direction of the Bardfields. From there, it was relatively easy to follow the signs to Finchingfield where we saw Vic pushing his bike up the steep hill. There was just enough time for Vic to shout "Where have you been, they're all gone!" It was 11:35 am
After some coffee and, in my case, cake, at Bosworth's Tea Rooms, we set off. There was now only three of us as Gerry had turned back to Royston. We climbed up the steep hill and turned right down the unsignposted back lane to Waltham's Cross and finally to Shalford, where we turned southwards and then left on another un-signposted lane through Rotten End and finally to Beazley End. From here, it was a direct route to Bocking, just outside Braintree, where we turned left, crossed the A131 and made our way to the Tea Room at Stisted. There were already six other riders there. It was here that I learnt the village was pronounced Sty-sted.
After lunch, we split into several groups. Tony made his own way home, while Gareth and Nigel left before us to put in some miles. Adrian, Joseph and Eva joined the three of us as we made our way Northwards. We had only cycled about a mile out of Stisted when Adrian announced that he had to go back to the tea room --- he had forgotten to pay! We waited for Adrian to return and then set off again. I didn't have the right map for this part of the ride so my recollection is not perfect but Joseph led us up to Great Maplestead, where we turned to the Hedinghams and Toppesfield.
By this time, it was clear that we would not be able to reach Ashdon by 4 and there was some discussion about finding a church fete along the way that we could stop at. We soldiered on through Stambourne, the Bumpsteads and Castle Camps where Joseph left us to return to Linton. We turned left through Steventon End and reached the Ashdon Village Museum at 5. I wasn't sure what surprised me more :- a) the good folk at the Museum had not closed and were willing to serve us tea and cake; or 2) that John of Haverhill and Keith of Newmarket were still there! The other riders had of course departed long before us.
We left Ashdon at 5:30 pm and returned to Cambridge via the direct route of Bartlow, Balsham and Fulbourn. I covered 93 miles. Conrad Chua