Graham writes: I was first to arrive at Brookside for this Sunday's all-day ride which was good since I'd volunteered to lead it. Iain, who was trying his first ride with the group, arrived soon after me with a completed guest form. Then regulars Zhiqing, Gareth, Klaas all arrived in due course. Steve called me back at 9.01am just as we were heading off and quite rightly suggested we should pause for just a couple more minutes. Hence our little loop within Newtown on the GPS track!
We Headed directly out of town along Hills Road (to test the new tarmac) and reached Fulbourn by using the road that crosses Limepit Hill. As a result we were soon warmed up despite the cool morning. Gareth had overtaken us again after his repeat of the hill and that was the last we saw of him until coffee. Following a fairly short route via the Wilbrahams, Six Mile Bottom and West Wratting we were in good time for the coffee stop at the Old Red Lion Inn at Horseheath. Here we met Joseph and Geoff.
Amply fed with cakes we set off again at about 11.30am losing Gareth in the process as he needed to head back. Crossing the main road at the southern end of Howard's Lane (via a short footpath) we rode up the slope to Cardinal's Green. The nature of the ride began to change at this point, on the plus side the sun had come out and the day was becoming very pleasant indeed, on the minus side one of our group was clearly struggling with the "hills" and the fickle wind that seemed to blow from a variety of directions.
Shortening the route to lunch was the only sensible option so we headed SE to Steeple Bumpstead then South to Finchingfield where we encountered many cyclists participating in the Essex 100. There was also a gathering of motorcyclists in the village most of whom were well behaved but one or two were using the B1057 as a racetrack.
Soon after 1pm we were in Thaxted for lunch; Parrishes is a popular eatery so we had a very leisurely meal and discussed options for the afternoon. The pace had dropped to the point where even a direct route to Hare Street for tea would have still left a long haul home for our struggling rider. After some research we decided the best choice was to go directly to Ickleton and have our afternoon stop at the 'Barns' instead.
Geoff and Joseph had left us already and so we headed to Saffron Walden via Debden. The views were particularly fine between Debden and the town with stacks of hay being seen dotted around the fields in the distance.
After Saffron Walden we endured the B184 for a time before dropping down to Great Chesterford and arriving for tea at 3.30pm at the Riverside Barns at Ickleton. In a way it was good to give this resurrected establishment our custom and we enjoyed tea, cake, and an interesting chat by the waterside.
Soon after 4pm we left Zhiqing to make her own way back. The remaining four of us took the scenic route through Hinxton and the ford. After this we followed the familiar set of roads back up through Duxford, Whittlesford, the Shelfords, and the NCN11 to get to the cycle-way to Cambridge railway station. In total we had managed a slightly shorter but very enjoyable 66 miles. Graham Hughes
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