Today's leader was Mike C who, along with Adrian, share an encyclopedic knowledge of the byways of South Cambridgeshire and neighbouring Essex and Suffolk.
The start at Hauxton Green
Even Mike couldn't surprise as we left Hauxton for a routine run through to Whittlesford and then on to Newton. Newton became Thriplow and then Fowlmere where the increasing strength of the wind was felt at full face on.
We came to the A505 followed by more face wind as we rode up to Chrishall Grange. We followed the Elmdon road but branched off to head for Ickleton Grange which, once reached, put the wind on our back and being slightly downhill we made pleasantly rapid progress into Ickleton and thence to the Riverside Barns for the first break of the day. At coffee we were joined by Vic F and Sue, both of whom had cycled out independently.
It was very cozy inside the little cafe, in some contrast to the temperature outside. After our break there were the usual comings and goings but this still left fourteen to proceed to lunch.
Ickleton (Photo: Charlie Drew)
We used the concrete farm track to obtain the road going up Coploe Hill and although some had stopped at our usual regrouping spot the break was brief and we pressed on and took the turning down to Littlebury. This road goes past the bluebell woods which are such a wonderful sight in the spring. We reached Littlebury and crossed over the B1383 and headed up to Windmill Hill for the climb and descent into Saffron Walden and then exited the town along Ashdon Road. When we reached the top of the hill we turned towards Sewards End, into Newhouse Lane and then turning towards Radwinter and once again into the wind.
Water Lane, Radwinter
Water Lane, Radwinter
When we had passed through Radwinter we turned into Water Lane which today was very appropriately named as both the fords were in full flow. After crossing the second ford Averil had a puncture which delayed the small group at the back by about 15 minutes; punctures couldn't come as a major shock as we saw a lot of hedge trimming in progress. Luckily we were only two of three miles from our lunch stop and we finally got there at about 1.45 pm.
Debden Barns is a nice place but not appropriate for a group of cyclists as some had to wait an hour for their lunch and thus we didn't leave until almost 3 pm. In fact some of our group went to the shop at Carver Barracks to buy something there and, as it was, the first seven who were ready to leave left at least half an hour before the final seven were ready to leave.
When it was time to go we had to fix a puncture in Charlie's bike but this only took a few minutes (Mike was on hand this time!) Over towards Newport the sky was rapidly turning black and with it the wind got stronger and colder. When we finally ran into the mini-tempest it was like needles being driven into our faces as we rode through hail and the wind blew hard making it difficult to hold a line on the road. When we got to Newport Mike abandoned the planned trip through Wicken Bonhunt and Arkesden and instead we stayed on the B1383 out of Newport and up to Wendens Ambo. At least now the wind was mostly behind coming over our left shoulders from an 8 o'clock direction, and this was a good thing as we had to make the long climb up to Littlebury Green. The roads, of course, were now very wet which were already filthy from all the farm traffic moving the sugar beet harvest. By now the temperature had dropped and the cold started to make itself felt. We reached Catmere End and once again onto Coploe Hill for the two miles into Ickleton and then onto Duxford.
This brought us to the A505 which was incredibly busy and it was ages before we could find a gap to get across. This just left us with Whittlesford and Little Shelford before finishing the ride in Great Shelford at 4.30pm and 51 miles.
This was a typical winter's ride with strong winds, sunshine and a hailstorm but for all that still very enjoyable for which we have to thank Mike for such an excellent ride. Edward Elmer
Download GPS track (GPX).