Edward writes: After several weeks of rides in good weather our luck finally ran out and we met in Hauxton under grey skies and light rain with a wind from the north west. But this didn’t deter the clubs’s hard core riders and when we left Hauxton we had thirteen members for our trip out to Saffron Walden and then on to Andrew’s field at Great Saling.
So we left Hauxton in the rain and headed south so the wind was on our backs thus mitigating the worst effects of the weather as the rain didn’t blow in our faces. We went our usual way through to Whittlesford and then through Duxford but taking the road through the factory area, over the ford and on to Hinxton. In Hinxton, in order to prevent car drivers risking the ford after heavy rain, which in the past has seen many cars swept away, gates have been erected to prevent such events in the future.
After Hinxton it was Ickleton and the climb up Coploe Hill where we stopped in order to regroup. Next was Catmere End followed by Chestnut Avenue to Audley End.
We continued into Saffron Walden for coffee at the Temeraire where we found Peter Wo waiting for us. Needless to say we had to take coffee inside, although the large parasols outside provided an effective shelter for the bikes.
When we got underway again Adrian soon hit trouble with a sheered bolt on his seat post which, luckily for him occurred close to Saffron Walden and he was able to get back to the cycle shop and then renew his journey on his own. After we had passed Debden Peter Wi had a puncture and Mike stayed to help him whilst the rest of us pressed on to Thaxted where we would wait for them. Thaxted had always been designated as a place to stop so that we could regroup and continue the ride together.
After about ten minutes Mike and Peter arrived and we headed off for mile along the B184 before turning off for Lindsell and, of course, free from traffic and now into quiet and pleasant lanes which made cycling more enjoyable, despite the continuing rain. After Lindsell we ran through Bran End and then into the attractive village of Stebbing and now we were close to Great Saling and the airfield which we reached at 1.25 pm but not before getting a taste of things to come in the afternoon as we now headed north for a short while into the wind.
The airfield is always a nice and interesting place to visit as they often have visiting motor cyclists and some are on vintage bikes such as BSA and Royal Enfield, familiar names to those riding motor bikes in 1950s. Today, however, the weather had probably made some of them have second thoughts about bringing them out of the garage. We always feels welcome here and as their notice says they don’t serve fast food but serve good food as fast as they can.
Just as we were ready to start Graham had a puncture but this only delayed us for ten minutes or so. We left the field and turned into the north wind and the rain into our faces as we made for Shalford and were briefly on the Tour de France route until we turned off the main road onto four miles of very narrow lanes which finish in Finchingfield. Sadly, along here Graham had another puncture, different wheel this time, and once again Mike was on hand to offer assistance whilst the rest of us went on to Finchingfield which had been designated a stop point to allow us to regroup again thus keeping us all together.
In Finchingfield we had a cup of tea while waiting for Mike and Graham to come along and for them also to have a cup of tea. It has to be said that designating stopping points in advance worked well and certainly kept us all together. In Finchingfield David took a slightly shorter route home and he kindly escorted, Sarah, Belinda and Sharon so that they could return to Hauxton a bit earlier than the main group would.
We left Finchingfield via Spains Hall for the five miles over to the B1054. Although it was still raining we now notice that the scabious wild flowers are appearing in the grass verges, and also the sign of the advancing season harvest is already underway with the oilseed rape and also barley succumbing to the combine harvester, but not today. Although the rain just didn’t give us a break everybody remained remarkably cheerful and stoical and made the best of the conditions, or using Peter’s phrase if you can’t hack it don’t do it! Helions Bumpstead came up next and then Castle Camps where Peter left us and Bartlow came and then Linton where Jacob stopped off - was he seen disappearing into a cake shop?
After Linton and Hildersham we took the road via Great Abington so that we could use the new cycleway beside the A505 until the Babraham turn. As we went under the point where the railway bridge used to be the road lowers and there was deep water all across the road. Finally we came into Sawston, Stapleford and Great Shelford where the ride ended at 5.50 pm after 64 miles and it was still raining. Despite everything, in a funny sort of way we all enjoyed the day out deciding not to let the weather spoil our day so thanks to everyone for making it possible. Edward Elmer
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