Nigel writes: I arrived at Brookside for today's ride to find Eva, John E, Neil, Eva, Cheryl and Wendy already waiting. There was no leader arranged but I had done some preparation last night and was able to suggest a route. The others seemed happy to let me lead so off we went. Today was dull, damp and windy but it never rained and it was quite mild despite the cool wind. For the first hour or so we were able to enjoy a few rays of sunshine before the sun disappeared, never to be seen again for the remainder of the day.
We set off south out of Cambridge along Trumpington Road to Trumpington where we turned left to Great Shelford. This is a rather boring route compared with the busway and DNA path but with only 90 minutes to get to Saffron Walden I thought it would save us some time. From Great Shelford we followed our usual route through Little Shelford to Whittlesford and Duxford. We were riding into a persistent headwind but although this slowed us down it didn't seem as bad as the headwinds we had endured in recent weeks.
From Duxford we continued to Ickleton where we climbed Coploe Hill and followed our favourite single-track road to Catmere End.
From Catmere End we descended along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End house and then had a short climb into Saffron Walden. We arrived at The Temeraire at about 11.20pm. Already in the pub were Joseph, Doug and David W.
After coffee and cake four of us carried on to lunch in Thaxted whilst the others returned back to Cambridge. Since the direct route was only 7.5 miles I suggested a loop via Debden cross-roads, Widdington and Henham.
At about 1.15pm we arrived in Thaxted, where we stopped for lunch at Parrishes Restaurant. We had separated from Zhiqing earlier to allow her to take a shorter route and as expected she was already in the restaurant, but to our pleasant surprise John E was there as well; he had followed us south out of Saffron Walden and then he, too, had taken a more direct route to Thaxted.
After lunch we rode east for a few miles before separating to go our various ways. David would make his way back west towards his village, whilst Zhiqing, John and Joseph would ride north to Great Sampford, Ashton and Linton and then back to Cambridge. I was up for a slightly longer route home so continued a little further east to Little Sampford before turning north to Helions Bumpstead. There, instead of taking the usual route through The Camps and Horseheath I decided to go through Haverhill to Withersfield, just for a change.
The wind was behind me for most of the way home and I made rapid progress. From Withersfield I continued across Wratting Common to West Wratting and then turned left for Balsham. This allowed me a rapid, wind-assisted descent to Charterhouse Bridge and along the long straight road to Fulbourn. Whenever I ride this way I give myself a little challenge, which is to see if I can maintain a speed of 20mph all the way from Charterhouse Bridge (the bridge over the A11) to the edge of Fulbourn. Today, thanks to the wind, I managed this without difficulty.
From Fulbourn I returned the few final miles to Cambridge via Cherry Hinton and Mill Road. I arrived home at 4.40pm, having cycled 65 miles.
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