Sunday, 8 June 2014

8 Jun: All-day ride to St Neots, Tilbrook and St Ives

Seb writes: A dozen of us set off from Cambridge behind our leader, Ian, on a beautiful sunny day with just a slight breeze. We went out along the Barton Road on the cycle path, overtaken by three women on the road from the university triathlon club, whom we had chatted with at Hobson's Conduit, their exams just over. At Toft, we cut through Church Road and rejoined the High Street before continuing to Longstowe, Great Gransden, Abbotsley, and on to St Neots. The Market Square had a Mediterranean air with the pavement cafes doing a roaring trade, and thronging with cyclists, including a group from the Cambridge Town and County club out for their Sunday morning ride. In our group, some left to ride home, and others joined, with ten of us continuing onwards to lunch.

Leaving St Neots soon after 11, we continued due west, through Staploe and Upper Staploe, then north and west through Little Staughton and Swineshead before a right turn to Upper Dean and coming into Tilbrook from the west at about 1pm. The White Horse was offering either roast or sandwiches, and we all opted for the latter; attractively served with a dressed salad, these certainly exceeded our expectations, We set off again at about 2 still in bright sunlight and along delightful lanes. The countryside is at its best with fields full of green crops and the hedgerows bursting with flowers. Some verges were a mass of ox-eye daisies, while overhead hovered red kites and other hawks. Ian guided us onto the cycle path around Grafham Water, reaching it via a farm track that was at first concrete but later deteriorated to bumpy stone with some muddy patches; luckily it was fairly dry. Leaving the Grafham Water cycle path, which was quite busy with families, we made our way through Grafham and on towards Brampton.

A cry of  'mechanical' made us all slow up, and Bob and Tracy both had punctures, Tracy her back wheel, Bob the front. Bob had some sort of clever device on his quick release which took a minute or two to fathom out, but we soon put new tubes in both wheels - Tracy's support team being the quicker to much amusement - and continued onwards. At Brampton and Huntingdon we used the cycle paths, which was quite tedious as cars always get priority at the lights, but Ian knew the route well and we eventually got through to Godmanchester and onto Cow Lane and then the tarmac footpath that connects into the Hemingfords. We arrived at the Riverside Cafe in St Ives just before 4pm. They were due to close at 4, but Ian had forewarned them of our arrival, and we had tea.

The return home was via the guided busway. Ian, who had done a stirling job all day, stayed in St Ives so we were leaderless. I found myself at the front alongside Dave Wooldridge who was in terrific form and I was struggling to keep up with him. When we got to Oakington he turned off and, when I turned around, I saw the others hadn't been able to hold his pace either, so I simply rode home. I got back about 5.30, and the distance was 72 miles. Seb Macmillan

View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).

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