Saturday, 16 November 2013

16 Nov: Saturday morning ride to Cottenham

Julia writes: There seems to be a new theme for our Saturday rides: Rather uninspiring grey skies and a rather unexpectedly large crowd waiting at Brookside. I'm not sure what it is that makes people come out on a damp and dull November morning, but it certainly is nice to see that our rides remain so popular even when the weather is less than ideal.

We were 20 people in total when we set off for the ride - 19 cyclists, including three newcomers, and of course baby Flo as a passenger in the bakfiets.

Photo: Clive Peace

It was my turn to lead the ride, and I had decided to not follow our usual route out of town along Barton Road, but instead went via King's Parade through the city centre. The bridge over the Cam on Garret Hostel Lane was a bit of a challenge for me - I just about managed to propel the heavy cargo bike up the short but steep climb, using the lowest gear available. Our group briefly got separated at the traffic lights crossing Queen's Road, but soon we were all together again and continued along the Coton footpath, over the M11 and on to Coton. We passed the Orchard and Garden Centre and crossed Madingley Road before riding past the American Cemetery, through the village of Madingley and on to Dry Drayton. I had not been out this way for quite some time and enjoyed the scenery, although the last of the autumn colours would have been even more picturesque had they been bathed in sunlight.

As we approached Dry Drayton I had to think for a moment which way we needed to turn next, but thankfully there was a sign at the end of the road pointing right for Oakington and Cottenham, saving me the embarrassment of having to check with Ian which way we were meant to be going. We were five miles from our coffee stop at that point, and I was looking forward to the break already. There had been a few little hills on our route and I had to pedal quite hard in order to keep up a reasonable pace. The road connecting Dry Drayton, Oakington and Cottenham is rather long, straight and somewhat boring, but on the bright side we had the wind behind us and made good progress on this final stretch before our stop. I even used the highest gear on the 8-speed hub of the bakfiets, which is a rare treat.

We soon arrived at the community centre in Cottenham, one of my favourite ride destinations. The sign outside the former Methodist church says "delicious fresh coffee served here", and that is exactly right. The centre can sometimes be quite busy, but on this occasion it luckily wasn't very full, so we had no trouble finding seats for everyone.

I ordered the usual cafe latte and it was indeed very enjoyable. But not only the coffee is delicious at this place; the cakes served in the community centre are baked by volunteers and are very tasty, too - Howard reckons the Victoria sponge is particularly good. I must try a piece next time! Flo had neither coffee nor cake, but he seemed to have a good time nonetheless, sitting in his high chair and playing enthusiastically with a toy ambulance car.

Soon it was time to leave again and we went back the way we came along the High Street for a short while before turning sharp left onto Denmark Road. Looking behind me, I noticed that a few people were missing - apparently they had enjoyed the stay at the coffee stop so much they had not realised we'd set off! While waiting for them to catch up, I took another photo, with the war memorial in the background.

Once we were all together again, we continued through Landbeach on to Waterbeach. Flo was getting hungry now and started to complain a little, so I left the group at the car park by the railway station to go the shortest way home via Horningsea, while Ian led the group back to Cambridge along the river. I stopped on the bridge just out of Waterbeach to take a final picture of my fellow cyclists on the tow path, a string of brightly coloured dots that soon disappeared into the distance.
I reached home at 1 pm, having cycled 24 miles. Julia Hochbach

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