Nigel writes: Today started bright and sunny but despite a forecast of occasional showers (and many of the club going away for Norfolk next week) we had a respectable turnout for today's all-day ride: Neil, Steve, Ian John, Rupert, newcomers Mark and Mike, today's leader Conrad, and me.
The first stage of today's ride was to Waresley for coffee, and Conrad took us directly there: along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, along the B1046 to Bourn and then via Caxton and Great Gransden to Waresley Park Garden Centre, which we reached soon after it opened at 10am.
This was quite an early time to stop for coffee, but Conrad explained that this was necessary to allow a longer leg afterwards to lunch in Clophill. At coffee we were joined by David W. Afterwards Rupert, Neil, Steve and Ian returned home, leaving six of us to continue on to lunch,
We followed the B1040 south-west for a mile or so before turning off for Gamlingay Cinques and Gamlingay Great Heath.
We continued to Everton and then down through the woods into Sandy.
At Sandy we rode through the town before joining the NCR 51 railway path for a mile before leaving it to turn south towards Moggerhanger.
We continued south through Northill and Old Warden, but just before we reached the A600 Mike discovered that his bag had somehow dropped off his rack and was probably lying in a gutter a few miles back. After spending a minute or two wondering what to do we decided that we would all ride back for about three miles to the point where Mike had last been aware of it. Unfortunately there was no sign of it, so we continued back on our way and rode on through Haynes and Haynes Church End before reaching Clophill at about 1.15pm.
The official stopping place was The Stone Jug, a very popular pub in a quiet back street of the village. Unfortunately it doesn't do lunch on Sundays so three of us ordered drinks and sat outside with our sandwiches whilst the remaining three went on to find food in The Flying Horse, a rather more salubrious pub on the A6 half a mile further on.
After lunch we set off east towards our planned afternoon tea stop in Ashwell. This took us through Silsoe and through the grounds of Wrest Park.
This has a cafe (in a "walled garden", apparently normally open to non-paying visitors, but not today) and looks like a possibility for a future lunch stop.
A surfaced but very bumpy bridleway took us east from Wrest Park to Gravenhurst, where we rejoined the roads for the final miles through Shefford, Langford, over the A1 and through Hinxworth to Ashwell. Today had been quite a cold and windy day, but as we approached Ashwell the sun came out and the temperature rose.
Tea was at the Parish Church Room, which was serving tea and cakes to raise funds for repairing the lovely parish church across the road. We arrived at almost exactly the same time as John F and the afternoon ride, making quite a large group today at tea.
After tea we all set off together for the final leg back home to Cambridge.
Our route home took us east through Steeple Morden and Litlington to Bassingbourn, where we crossed the A1198 before continuing through Meldreth and Shepreth to Barrington.
A final ascent of Chapel Hill gave us an opportunity to pause at the top to reunite, before we sped down to Haslingfield for the final few miles to Barton and then back along the cycleway to Cambridge. I arrived home at about 6.15pm, having cycled 87 miles - my longest club ride this year (and my second-longest ride this year overall).
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