Saturday, 20 July 2013

20 Jul: Saturday morning ride to the Gog Magog hills

Julia writes: When we left home on Saturday morning, the sky was overcast and it was rather cooler than it had been of late, with temperatures of just under 20 degrees. This actually suited me very well as I had found it rather too hot during the week. We arrived at Brookside with about ten minutes to spare, and we were pleasantly surprised to find a good number of people already assembled there. Next to some familiar faces of regular Saturday riders, there were also quite a few newcomers and guests. As we had a bit of time yet before the ride would start, I took Flo out of his seat to meet and greet some of them. He was especially excited to see another youngster among the group: Yasmin had brought her six-year-old son Oscar along on their Circe Helios Tandem. As Flo and Oscar exchanged smiles and giggles, more riders turned up and just after 10 o'clock we set of with 19 people on 17 bikes - record numbers!

The variety of bikes was also impressive - we had a range of town, hybrid, road and touring bikes, as well as some more specialised machines such as the kiddyback tandem, a full suspension mountain bike, and our own cargo bike. This is something I really like about the Saturday rides - they are suitable for pretty much everyone, regardless of age or type of bike. I was riding my orange hybrid for the first time in six months, while Ian led the ride on the bakfiets. Being used to the heavy cargo bike I had the feeling of positively flying along as we left the city via Barton Road. I stayed at the back of the group most of the time to ensure we did not drop anyone (easily done with such a large group), but I had no trouble getting well ahead to take a photo on the road to Haslingfield. As I was standing on the bridge over the old railway line waiting for the riders to approach, I could see there was a bit of a race going on between the tandem and the cargo bike, with Yasmin and Oscar pedalling hard up the hill to reach the top of the bridge first.

At Haslingfield village green we stopped briefly for a breather and some water. Ian explained about the sundial on the grass, but as the sky was still cloudy, we could not actually demonstrate how it works.

We were soon on our way again, with people happily chatting as we continued the ride through Harston and Newton to Whittlesford. There we turned off the road to take the path towards the church and on to Sawston, crossing the river Cam, the railway line and the A1301. Along the way I got talking to Rod and Karyn, two guests from Australia who had hired road bikes from the Station Cycles shop in Histon. They were approaching the end of a six week tour of Europe and commented on how they enjoyed the English countryside, especially now that numerous colourful wild flowers are adorning the grass verges along many country roads.

From Sawston Ian led us on to Stapleford and then up the hill on Haverhill Road to our coffee destination, the Gog Magog Hill Farm. It was quite busy there, but we all found seats outside the "Canteen" to enjoy our refreshments. It took a little while for us to get our coffees and cakes, but the coffee was excellent and well worth the wait. There are also two shops on the farm where one can find a good selection of fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese and meat - much of it locally sourced - so I stocked up on some onions, kohlrabi and spicy chorizo sausages before we got back on our bikes for the final leg home.

I took the above photo as people were getting ready to set off, but then there was a slight delay as Margaret, one of our guest riders, discovered that she had locked up her bike but did not have the key with her. Fortunately it was not a particularly strong lock, and with the help of the shop owner who kindly supplied a saw it was soon cracked. Ian then led the group down the hill to Addenbrooke's and past the new Rosie Birth Centre. This is where Flo was born just over 6 months ago, so a place of very special memories for me. We did not linger though and continued over the railway bridge on to the busway, past the railway station and back to Brookside via Hills Road. For the last few miles there was a lot of waving hands and calls of "Bye bye", "Cheerio" and "See you next time" as people peeled off along the way where it was convenient for them to get home. We were back in Fen Ditton somewhat later than usual, around 2 pm, having cycled about 22 miles. I very much enjoyed the ride and was happy to see so many new faces. I hope many of them will be back soon on another ride! Julia Hochbach

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