Nigel writes: I rode over to Brookside to find a large crowd of cyclists already waiting, and by the time we departed at 2pm there was 13 of us in total, including quite a few new faces who were here on their first or second tide with the club. I was the leader today, so with such a large group I was grateful to be able to appoint Tina to be back marker. We set off from Brookside along Trumpington Road and some quiet back-streets to Long Road. Here we joined the busway which we followed south and then east along the spur to Addenbrooke's.
At Addenbrooke's we turned onto the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we took the familiar route through Little Shelford to Whittlesford. There was quite a variety of speeds within the group, so we became somewhat spread-out along the road, but we made a point of stopping at every junction to allow everyone to catch up. Despite this we still managed to lose Tina and Alison somewhere south of Whittlesford, no doubt due to misleading instructions from me, but we were reunited by the time we got to Duxford.
At Duxford we turned west onto Grange Road which we followed past the airfield to Chrishall Grange. There we turned south once more for the long climb up towards Heydon and Great Chishill. This marked the highest point in the ride, which allowed us to enjoy a fast descent to Shaftenhoe End.
At Shaftenhoe End (on the outskirts of Barley) we turned off onto the lovely quiet lane that leads eventually to Nuthampstead. Along the way I encountered about a hundred pheasants wandering over the road, and who seemed in no hurry to disperse as I approached.
From Nuthampstead we continued on more quiet lanes through Anstey and Great Hormead, from where it was just another mile to Hare Street. We arrived at The Old Swan Tea shop at about 4.20pm. This was rather later than I had hoped but still allowed us plenty of time to order tea and cakes and sit outside in the garden by the duck pond. Already at the tea shop was Daniel, who had missed us at Brookside by two minutes, as well as Jacob, Mike Sl and some other friends who had made their way here by car.
I had been a bit anxious about arriving at the tea shop only 40 minutes before closing with such a large group, but in the event there was no problem and we were served promptly and efficiently, and there was enough cake to keep us all happy. And at £3 for two cups of tea and a cake it was very good value.
After tea we all cycled back to Cambridge, except for four members who headed home to Clavering. Jeremy, Daniel and Alison were keen to take the shortest route, so took the B1368 for a 20 mile journey home. I wasn't keen on the main road, however, so led the main group (about eight of us) on a much quieter 25-mile route via Brent Pelham, Langley, Elmdon and Ickleton and Hinxton. With a smaller group and with less time pressure I felt much more relaxed on the way back than on the way out. I arrived back home in Cambridge at 7.15pm, having cycled a total of 51 miles.
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