Sunday, 25 January 2015

25 Jan: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden and Langley

Nigel writes: We've had generally good weather for our Sunday rides so far this year (with just one exception), and today continued this trend, with a fine, mild day of clear skies, bright sunshine and a very light winds.

The promising conditions brought out a good turnout at Brookside at the start of today's ride, fifteen riders in all: Carl, Ian, Alex, Mike CC, John R, John E, Greg, Steve, Neil, Tom, Pete, Charlie, Rupert and Gareth, who was our leader today. As with other recent rides, it was good to see one or two new faces, and it was also good to see that some relatively new riders had come back for another ride.

On the busway, climbing the railway bridge to Addenbrooke's

On the busway, climbing the railway bridge to Addenbrooke's

Gareth led us south out of Cambridge along the busway to Addenbrooke's and along the DNA path to Great Shelford. After a short pause at the railway crossing we continued to Little Shelford and then south to Whittlesford.

At the Hill Farm Road/A505 junction near Whittlesford

We crossed over the A505 and continued through Duxford to Ickleton, where the group paused to regroup. It was clear there was a variety of speeds in the group so Rupert suggested we divide into two for the final few miles to our coffee stop in Saffron Walden. Rupert would lead a slightly slower group over Coploe Hill to Catmere End and then down Chestnut Avenue, past Audley End House, to Saffron Walden. Gareth would lead everyone else on a slightly longer route via Elmdon and Wendens Ambo. I rode with Gareth and we arrived at The Temeraire a few minutes after Rupert's group. Also in the pub were several members who had ridden there directly: Edward, Mick, Adrian, Vic, Joseph and Craig, making a total of 21 at coffee.

Prepeating to set off after coffee in Saffron Walden

Afterwards the group divided once more, with about half the total number heading back to Cambridge and the rest carrying on to lunch at Langley Lower Green. We didn't have very far to go so Gareth took us south along the Debden Road and then west through Newport to Clavering. It was now about 12.30pm, and the group divided once more, with Rupert leading the majority directly to lunch, leaving just Gareth and me to add in a very pleasant extra loop via Stocking Pelham and Brent Pelham. I think it's really good when our rides are big enough to be able to divide them in this way, as it means that everyone can have the type of ride that suits them best.

Gareth in the ford at Langley Lower Green

Our lunch stop today was The Bull in Langley Lower Green. This is a familar pub which we often pass on our rides and which used to be a regular tea stop. Our last visit was in March 2009 but since then it seems to have gone into decline. It's in an excellent location in an area that we frequently visit on our rides so we were delighted to discover recently that the pub is under new management and has started to serve light Sunday lunches. Our visit didn't disappoint: the service was friendly and efficient and the food (I had a baked potato) was just right for cyclists on a bike ride. I'm sure we'll be back before long, not only for lunch but perhaps in the summer for a pre-arranged tea.

Preparing to set off after lunch in Langley Lower Green

After lunch we set off back to Cambridge. With sun was still shining in a clear sky, and hardly any wind, it felt very mild and the ride back was a delight. The first two miles took us north to Little Chishill before dropping down to Shaftenhoe End. This is one of my favourite local lanes and was as pleasant as ever.

Little Chishill

At Shaftenhoe End we turned right and climbed up to Great Chishill before dropping down again on the long, straight, road down to Flint Cross.

Descending from Great Chishill towards Flint Cross

At Flint Cross we turned onto the B1368, crossed the A505 and continued along the B1368 through Fowlmere to Newton. With a gentle tailwind we made rapid progress.

Speeding along at the front along what is a rather dull road,  Gareth and I demonstrated to Alex the benefits of cooperative drafting: by taking turns to lead at the front, we were able to maintain a faster pace (about 20mph with a tailwind) for longer than we would have been able to maintain individually. We're not a racing club, and high-speed drafting is not an important part of what we do, but it can be fun to do from time to time.

Waiting to join the B1368 at Flint Cross

We paused at Newton to allow the rest of the group to catch up and then continued on at a gentler pace to Harston. We turned onto the A10, using the bumpy pavement cycleway for the short distance to Hauxton Mill Bridge. There we turned onto the new path that leads through the Trumpington Meadows development site, over the M11, and back to the main road near the Park and Ride.  We joined the busway and a few minutes later were by the station in the middle of Cambridge. I arrived home at 3.45pm, having cycled 56 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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