Nigel writes: Today started cloudy but dry and very warm from the start. It wasn't long, however, before the clouds burned off and the sun came fully out, causing the temperature to ride steadily to turn today into the hottest day of the year so far.
Our leader on today's all-day ride was Ian, and he led our surprisingly small group from Brookside through the city centre and west out of the city along the Coton path.
We followed the cycle path up Madingley Hill to Hardwick and then along the old A428 through Bourn, Caxton and Great Gransden to Warseley where we stopped at the garden centre for coffee.
Since we had taken such a direct route we arrived there quite early, just before 10.30am. A couple of minutes later the garden centre opened and we went in for coffee and cakes, which we enjoyed sitting outside in the sunshine. Over the following 30 minutes many more members arrived and we became quite a large and convivial group.
Morning coffee at Waresley
By 11.10pm I was ready to move on and rather impatiently set off on my own without waiting for Ian to re-assemble the group. I rode over Lily Hill and down to St Neots where I took the excellent Willow cycle bridge over the River Great Ouse. I continued west out of the town and crossed the A1 into the flat but pleasant countryside to beyond. As I was able to ride at my own pace I decided to put in an extra loop and turned south in the direction of Wyboston before turning west again towards Rootham's Green. The westerly breeze had increased and I made slow progress along these pretty lanes so when I reached the B660 I abandoned my plan for a longer loop and turned north towards our lunch stop. With the wind behind me I speeded up so when I reached Pertenhall I decided there was time for me to turn west for a small loop via Swineshead and Upper Dean to Tilbrook. Just before Upper Dean I caught up with Ian and the rear of the main group. I pressed on and caught up with the front of the group just before Tilbrook. A few moment later we stopped for lunch at the White Horse.
We entered the pub to find a menu consisting of mainly Sunday roasts, and so were relieved to discover that sandwiches and baguettes were also available. We ordered our food and sat outside in the sunshine to enjoy it. We were impressed at the quality of the food and the efficiency of the service (asking for your name when taking an order is always a promising sign).
Lunch at Tilbrook
After lunch we continued north, though Catworth and over the A14. This took us onto OS map 142, the one with Peterborough on it, and a map that I rarely use. I rode ahead of the group up the rather dull hill to Old Weston and waited at the T-junction at the top. A few minutes later the others arrived from an unexpected direction - they had taken a slightly longer route via Brington which I suspect was rather nicer.
We turned east and, with the wind behind us, made good progress through Hamerton and over the A1(M) to Wood Walton. A few minutes later we arrived in Wistow, where we stopped for tea at Sarah and Andy's.
Sarah and Andy had been with us on the ride but had clearly had been very busy earlier and had a wonderful spread of sandwiches, exotic savouries and cakes waiting for us. About half an hour later (but on time) we were joined by John F and the afternoon ride, making a total of about sixteen of us in total.
Tea at Sarah and Andy's, Wistow
I suspect we would have been happy to sit outside in the sunshine all afternoon, but before long it was time to make our way back home.
On the way home from tea
We all went back the same way; south to King's Ripton and past Wyton Airfield to Houghton. Here we joined the Thicket Path back to St Ives and then along the busway cycleway to Cambridge.
When we reached the junction with Park Lane, Histon, four of us turned off the busway to ride back into Cambridge via Girton, Huntingdon Road and then through the City Centre back to Brookside, where I said goodbye to two riders who had driven up from Clavering. I arrived home a few minutes later. It was 7.30pm and I had cycled 90 miles on one of the best rides of the year.
View this GPS track on a larger map