Edward writes: If you could devise the perfect day for cycling you probably wouldn't come up with anything better than this day. The temperature was about 22 or 23C, there was virtually no wind and we enjoyed mainly blue skies with a degree of cloud cover. It was therefore no surprise that there were twenty-one riders assembled on Haslingfield Green for today's ride out to Ardley Farm near Stevenage.
This week we welcomed three riders new to our Thursday rides: Roger and Liz who were riding their tandem and also Peter. This week's ride was under the guidance of John F who helped matters along by providing a route schedule with the aim of keeping everybody, as far as possible, together.
With every expectation of a good day's riding we set off towards Harston and then over to Newton and then along the B1368 up to Fowlmere before running up to the A505 at Flint Cross. Once over Flint Cross we turned left and made the couple of miles or so up to the county’s highest village at Great Chishill.
Along the way we saw a field of oats which we don't see too often in this area where barley and wheat are so dominant. As there was no wind this climb didn't present any problems and this left us to enjoy the down hill swoop to Shaftenhoe End and at the same time to enjoy the fabulous views over the countryside.
This soon brought us to Barkway with its stiff little climb before turning to enjoy the last mile or so into Reed and the Silver Ball transport cafe for our first break of the day.
After coffee we left Reed to go via Reed End, Dane End and headed up to Sandon, but not before a sudden slowing on a sharp bend caused a minor collision but no harm was done and we soon got going again. We were now in nice rural and open country, going through Redhill and Rushden before coming to Cromer where we found our way blocked by a collision between a tractor with a trailer and a van where the van had tried to pass by going up the embankment but had toppled over to rest against the tractor. We either had to turn back or manhandle the bikes up the embankment and walk past the accident, so we chose the latter thus adding to the variety in a day on the bike. From Cromer we took a small detour to go past a post mill before arriving at Ardley Farm at about 12.50pm.
At lunch some ate sandwiches outside and others ate at the Farm and probably roasted as the sun was very hot by now and the outside seating offers little protection.
After an hour we set off again (Mick C had a puncture which took but a few minutes to fix) and we made our way towards Luffenhall where we lost contact with nearly half of the group as they went ahead and missed the turning to Weston. By the use of the mobile phone (and some were switched on!) we made contact and we were all able to reunite in Baldock. We threaded our way through the town past the railway station and then took the road to Bygrave. Here there was more evidence of harvesting as it all appears a bit late this year, probably due to the very cold spring. This road took us to Ashwell and about half the group decided on a cup of tea at Day’s whilst the other half pushed on for home. This was, of course, through Steeple Morden, Litlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth, the final climb of the day over Barrington Hill and down into Haslingfield where the ride finished with a regulation 52 miles behind us.
Our particular thanks are due to John for a wonderful day out and at times quite a difficult ride to lead. Large numbers present their own problems for the leader but John's route map went a long way to mitigate difficulties. Edward Elmer
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