Sunday, 25 May 2014

25 May: All-day ride to Newmarket, West Stow and Wicken

Conrad writes: Today, I surpassed myself by only getting ready to leave the house at 9am so there was no way I could have made it to Brookside in time. I decided to pour myself an espresso, kick back and relax, secure in the thought that Newmarket is not that far from where I live. I made my way out of Cherry Hinton went through Fulbourn to get to the Wilbrahams. Somewhere along the way, I met Paul Dover, who was also on his way to coffee.

We had to stop just before the intersection at Six Mile Bottom, where the road goes under the main road because it was flooded! I know my ride experience is nowhere close to some of the others in the club but this was the first time in five years that I have seen that road flooded. There was no way to walk around the floodwaters so Paul and I bravely cycled through. Alright, I lie. It was Paul who bravely cycled through while I gingerly pedalled behind, making sure I followed his exact line.

We then climbed and turned left to Dullingham, where we took the B1061 straight into Newmarket. On the high street, just before the turn into Coffee and Co, we met Eva who was leading a large group of riders that obviously did not share my late tendencies. In total, we had about 20 riders at Coffee and Co and we were soon joined by Peter and Leslie who had a boot-full of new club jerseys to distribute.

Newmarket

We were just about to leave when the more observant amongst us heard a crunching sound as a car was driven over the road hump in front of Coffee and Co and some shouted to the driver to stop. I was oblivious to the earlier sound and feared the worst when I heard the shouting but it turned out that one of the car-tyres had gone flat. Fortunately for the driver, Keith B very kindly offered to stay behind and help.

Eva led 11 riders, less Keith, out of Newmarket, up through Moulton where we passed the Pack Horse Bridge and took the long climb up to Gazeley. Turning left, we cycled to Kenford, by which time Keith had heroically managed to catch up with us. Through no fault of his own, Keith had been unable to help the driver because her spare was dented so badly he couldn't fit the spare tire and so the driver had to call for roadside assistance.

Eva then led us over the A14 and then turned right at Dane Hill Road to Tuddenham. We then turned South East on Cavenham road, before making the turn to Lackford. It was only 12:30 pm so instead of going directly to West Stow, Eva led us on an anti-clockwise loop through the forest and finally to the Anglo Saxon Park at West Stow.

It was my first visit there and as I had packed my own lunch, I can't comment on the food offerings, but it was a very pleasant place. We set off at 1:45pm taking the other route out of West Stow and retraced our steps through Lackford and Tuddenham before turning right to cross the A11 at Barton Mills.

This is a tricky crossing even though one could cross two lanes at a time. We were all bunched up in the middle of the road divider waiting for a break in the traffic when, call it good karma for Keith's good deeds earlier in the day, or divine intervention or whatever, but two cars stopped on the A11, and waited for us to cross. I was frankly stunned by this gracious act and what's even more surprising is that three days after the ride, I have yet to see a story in the local newspapers with the headline "Cyclists cause 200 metre tailback and delays of 30 seconds by doing something completely safe and legal".

From Barton Mills, Eva led us through Worlington, Isleham and then into Soham. We then followed the A road into Wicken where today's tea stop was at the Methodist Church.

Wicken

The afternoon ride arrived shortly after and there must have been at least 25 club riders there. With such a large number of riders, it was inevitable that we would split and leave in two groups. Eva led my group through the usual way through Lode Way into Bottisham and then Stow Cum Quy. Most of my group proceeded to Fen Ditton while I made my own way back to Cherry Hinton. I cycled 70 miles today which was probably slightly less than those who had started at Brookside. Conrad Chua

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