It rained all morning, and the forecast was for more rain (including thunderstorms) in the afternoon, so I wasn't sure about whether to go out at all. But my need to get out on the bike was stronger than my desire to stay indoors and listen to the rain on the windows. Due to my indecision, I didn't get to Brookside in time for the start of the ride, but I had a good idea which way they might have gone, and sure enough, I caught the group at the turning in Great Shelford, where they had stopped to fix a puncture.
I offered to lead a breakaway group, and got one taker. We headed south to Ickleton and turned right up the hill toward Elmdon. As we gained height, we saw that the sky to the southwest was black with clouds, and when we reached the top the storm hit us. I'm used to the steady Cambridgeshire drizzle, but this was a proper rainstorm: torrents of water came out of the sky and we were soaked in a few seconds. Within minutes the road was covered with water, and as we headed down towards Wendens Ambo we had to pick our way carefully between the streams of brown muddy water running off the fields and along the road. There were lightning flashes in the distance, but the rain was so loud that we didn't hear the thunder.
The deluge slackened by the time we reached Saffron Walden, but the runoff had left pools of water everywhere. Where the Slade brook meets Ashdon Road there was about 30 cm of water: up to our bottom brackets. We came in through the door of Ashdon Village Museum at about 16:10, and someone said, "here are a couple of drowned rats!"
The volunteers at Ashdon Museum were superb: tea and cake revived us, and they even brought a stack of towels. Many thanks for your hospitality!
We lingered until close to closing time, and by 16:50 the worst of the rain had blown over, leaving the roads flooded in places but ridable with care. With a tailwind, we made quick work of the return via Bartlow and Balsham, and I was home at 18:30 having cycled 47 miles. Tough conditions for a bike ride, but better than sitting around indoors!