Nigel writes: The "first storm of the autumn" was due to hit Britain today, with heavy rain and strong winds expected to move south-east across the country, reaching East Anglia in the afternoon. Despite this the day started cool, dry and fairly still and I rode across to Brookside with the intention of riding to coffee and then returning back home. When I arrived I found Lynn and Gareth already there and a few minutes later we were joined by Neil, making four in total. No doubt the car-assisted ride taking place at the same time also contributed to the low turnout.
Gareth was our leader today, and he led us east out of Cambridge along the river to Fen Ditton and Quy. From there we followed the "old" NCN 51 route via Bottisham, Swaffham Prior, Reach and Burwell to Exning. After a dull start the sun came out and the weather became really rather nice, with a slight tailwind allowing us the four of us to make brisk progress.
We reached Exning soon after 10am, so Gareth added an extra loop via Snailwell before turning back south to Newmarket. We arrived at Coffee & Co at about 10.30am. The cafe was quiet this morning and we were served quickly, and we spent a pleasant half hour enjoying the sunshine whilst we discussed what to do next.
After coffee, Lynn and Neil headed back to Cambridge, leaving Gareth and me to continue on to lunch in Depden.
The weather was already beginning to turn, with the wind increasing and the sky clouding over, so we agreed to take a direct route there and have an early lunch. Gareth's route took us through Moulton, Gazeley, Barrow and Hargrave and we arrived at Depden Farm Cafe at midday.
Our Thursday riders had visited this cafe on 29th August, and were very impressed. This was Gareth's and my first visit, and we too were impressed by the pleasant surroundings and the simple menu. Gareth ordered a baguette whilst I had a panini, and I think we were both entirely satisfied. On our visit we were the only people eating (perhaps because it was still early), though whilst we were there a stream of locals called in to visit the farm shop.
It was probably about 12.40pm when we left the cafe. By now it was raining gently and we agreed we should ride directly home via Saxon Street, Dullingham and Six Mile Bottom. This took us directly into the wind for much of the way, but despite this we made better progress than either of us probably expected, taking less than two hours to get back to Cambridge (which suggests the cafe might make a useful morning coffee stop next summer).
The rain stopped after a while and it stayed dry for most of the way back home. I arrived home at 2.30pm, and despite the very early return I had still cycled 65 miles.
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