Nigel writes: Today's weather was a repeat of last week: very sunny, very mild, and very windy. I arrived at Brookside to discover a large crowd of keen and youthful cyclists getting ready for a brisk sprint in the beautiful autumn sunshine, and beside them a smaller and rather older group of CTC members preparing for today's all-day ride to Ickleton, Wimbish and Hauxton. There were seven of us in all: Conrad, Neil, Steve, Neil, Tom, Ian and me. We wished the members of Cambridge University Triathlon Club a good ride, and off we went.
Nobody had volunteered in advance to be the leader of today's ride, but this is rarely a problem on Sunday mornings as someone always suggests a route and becomes the de facto leader. On this occasion that person was me. At my suggestion we all rode west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton and then south to Haslingfield.
It was certainly quite windy, and we were riding more or less directly into the wind, but in the bright sunshine (and the new wind-proof top I had bought last week) it was really quite warm. When we reached Haslingfield we turned onto Chapel Hill and began our ascent of this notorious 61m-high mountain.
We stopped near the summit, gasping for oxygen in the thin alpine air, to wait for Conrad who had stopped earlier to adjust his bike. Whilst we were waiting two large pelotons from Cambridge Cycling Club sped by.
As we descended down the other side towards Barrington I exclaimed at the beauty of the view...until we turned and the cement works chimney came into view.
We rode through Barrington and continued through Shepreth to Fowlmere. There we turned south and crossed over the A505 to Chrishill Grange.
At Chrishall Grange we divided into two groups. Steve, Tom, Neil and Ian took the shorter route to Ickleton via Royston Lane, whilst Conrad and I took a slightly longer route via Elmdon. The two of us arrived Ickleton Barns Cafe at 11am, a few minutes after the others. Also at coffee were several other members who had made their own way there, including Doug, Edward, Vic, David, Mick, Mike CC and Joseph.
After coffee some people joined the all-day ride and some people left it, leaving Conrad, Mike CC, David, Joseph, Steve, Tom and me to carry on to lunch at Wimbish.
The direct route to Wimbish would have been only nine miles, so I suggested a longer route which involved heading south over Coploe Hill to Littlebury Green and then continuing further south through Arkesden, Wicken Bonhunt and Rickling to Rickling Green, where we turned back north. This took us for a mile along the B1363 through Quendon and then along a series of particularly lovely quiet lanes through Widdington and past Carver Barracks to Wimbish, where we stopped for lunch at the Elder Street Farm Cafe before.
We entered the cafe and discovered that it was fully-booked but we were welcome to sit at the rather windy tables outside. I hadn't eaten here before and was very impressed by the menu, the moderate prices, and the high quality of the food that was delivered. I look forward to coming again, though next time I hope we remember to book!
After lunch we retraced our route for a couple of miles before turning north towards Saffron Walden. This took us directly into the wind, which seemed to have picked up a bit since earlier, so it was a relief to be able to turn north and have it behind us again. From Saffron Walden we descended to Audley End and after another short section along the B1363 turned onto Chestnut Avenue. This took us into the wind once more for the gentle climb up to Catmere End. We continued south over Coploe Hill and down into Ickleton for the second time today. From Ickleton we continued north to Duxford and crossed over the A505 to Whittlesford. A few minutes later we reached Little Shelford where we took the left fork to Hauxton. We reached Hauxton Village Hall at about 3.15pm. This was the venue of today's club AGM and the traditional pre-meeting tea which Tina, Eva and several other members had kindly prepared.
After tea, and the AGM itself, I returned back to Cambridge via Little Shelford, Great Shelford and the DNA path. I arrived back home at about 6.30pm, having cycled 64 miles.
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