Nigel writes: Today was the first time that I had an opportunity to join one of the club's new Sunday winter rides that we are operating during the darkest winter months. These are daytime rides which start at 9.30am and return to Cambridge before dark. They include stops for morning coffee and lunch but no afternoon tea stop, which makes them rather shorter than the all-day rides we organise at other times of the year. There is no separate afternoon ride, but members looking for a half-day ride are encouraged to join the 9.30am ride instead and either return home after coffee or stay on for the full ride.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover a large crowd at Brookside for today's ride, including many new faces, and by the time we set off there were fifteen of us, with a wide mix of speeds and ages.
Gareth was our leader today, and with so many new riders I offered to be back marker. Gareth led us south out of Cambridge along Trumpington Road, the busway, and the DNA path to Great Shelford. We continued to Little Shelford and on to the junction with the B1368. We turned south and followed the B1368 through Newton to Fowlmere.
The day had started overcast but mild, with a slightly bit of drizzle. However it wasn't long before the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful sunny day, the only drawback being the bright glare caused by the sun reflected on the wet road ahead.
I was riding at the back through Fowlmere with Wendy and Pete H when Wendy had a puncture. The three of us stopped to fix it (actually, Pete did most of the work), whilst the others carried on unaware. I phoned Gareth to let him know what had happened and we agreed that he would continue to coffee with the rest of the group leaving the three of us to make our own way to coffee in Ickleton.
The puncture was soon fixed and we set off again to Chrishall Grange from where we would take a short cut to Ickleton. Unfortunately Wendy had a second puncture and, although it was fixed easily enough, the delay meant that when we arrived at the coffee stop in Ickleton just as the others were getting ready to set off again. This wasn't a problem - Gareth urged me to have a coffee and said he'd wait.
After coffee the majority of riders returned back to Cambridge. There is no formal leader for this, but with Pete and several other experienced riders in the group I knew no-one would get left behind.
This left five of us to carry on to lunch at Wimbish. Gareth's route took us via Coploe Hill, Catmere End and over the pleasant hill which we always refer to as the "road with the radio masts above Littlebury Green".
We dropped down the other side and climbed another hill to Arkesden, which was looking particularly pretty in the sunshine.
From Arkesden we continued to Wicken Bonhunt. There we turned left onto the B1038 to Newport from where it was just a few more miles to our lunch stop at the Elder Street Cafe in Wimbish. This was my second visit to this excellent and very popular cafe and farm shop, and I had been concerned that they might not have room for us. In the event I needn't have worried - we walked in to discover that Tina had reserved a large table for us, and Adrian and Joseph were already there enjoying their lunch.
After lunch we returned back home to Cambridge. I rode back with Gareth and Cheryl via Radwinter, Ashdon and Balsham, enjoying the fading afternoon sun all the way until it set as we approached Fulbourn. I arrived back home at 5pm, having cycled 55 miles.
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