Sunday, 15 February 2015

15 Feb: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Thaxted

Nigel writes: Today started dull and murky: the sky was just "One Shade of Grey", as Rupert put it. This was perhaps disappointing compared to last week's sunshine, but the temperature was very mild due to the low cloud, and it was dry with hardly any wind. I arrived at Brookside to find Conrad, Julia, Chris, Lynn, Greg, John E, Mike CC, Rupert and Neil T waiting to set off on today's ride, a total of ten in total.

Heading out of Cambridge on the Barton Road cycleway

Our leader today was Conrad, who led us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton.

On the Barton Road cycleway

When we reached Barton the cycleway ended so we rejoined the road and turned left towards Haslingfield, which we reached a few minutes later. As we rode along, Chris explained to me that he had a place in the RideLondon Surrey 100 and was in need of some hill training, so when we passed the church and began the 10% climb of Chapel Hill he stormed ahead and reached the top well before the rest of us.

Rupert leads the descent of Chapel Hill to Barrington

We descended once more to Barrington and continued through Shepreth, across the A10 to Fowlmere, and across the A505 to Chrishall Grange. We paused briefly to regroup before setting off once more along Royston Lane and Grange Road to Ickleton.

I was riding at the front with Chris so suggested the two of us took a short extra loop, continuing a little further along Royston Lane, over a short hill and down again before turning left towards Ickleton.

Chris climbs the hill on Royston Lane

We reached Ickleton at about the same time as the others, and a couple of minutes later stopped for coffee at Riverside Barns. This is always a popular stop for club members and when we arrived there were propbably about ten members already there.

Coffee at Ickleton Barns

As usual, we had to wait a few minutes for our drinks but the friendly staff were clearly working as fast as they could and served us with cheerful good humour. This is a nice place to visit and I think they are pleased to see us as well, an ideal combination.

The duckpond at Ickleton Barns

After coffee we all prepared to go our various ways. As usual, a large group was returning back to Cambridge, but I was planning to stay with Conrad and continue on to lunch.

Setting off after coffee at Ickleton Barns

However I was slightly late leaving the cafe and somehow lost sight of Conrad's group, so found myself riding with Adrian, Steve and Joseph who were also heading to lunch in Thaxted but at their own, probably slightly slower, pace. We rode together over Coploe Hill to Catmere End and then over the hill by the transmitter and along the B1039 to Wendens Ambo.

We crossed the railway and turned south onto the B1383 towards Newport. Despite the B-designation this is actually quite a busy road (it's the former A11), but we only had to ride for two miles before turning off onto much quieter lanes towards Widdington.

Any route by Adrian inevitably involves a bit of "rough-stuff", and on this occasion this involved riding turning east in Widdington and following the road for a mile and a half until it peters out and turns into a unsurfaced byway. I was riding well ahead of the others at this point so I simply carried straight on, along a muddy, potholed track towards Hamperden End.

My route along a very muddy byway between Widdington and Hamperden End

This started off relatively well (see photo above) but grew steadily worse, with the water-filled potholes getting larger and larger until they filled the whole ridth of the track. As I struggled along I was overtaken at speed by four motorcycles, clearly relishing the "rough-stuff" themselves, and I also met a landrover coming the other way. Fortunately I was able to keep cycling almost all the way and only had to dismount for two very short sections.

There was no sign of Adrian, Steve and Joseph so I phoned Adrian to see where they were, and discovered that they were on a different byway about half a mile to the south. However I was committed by now so carried on to Hamperden End and then rode south along the road to meet them at the other end of their byway, at Lovecotes Farm. This, it turned out, had been a much better route.

Adrian's route along a less muddy byway between Widdington and Lovecotes Farm

Now back on nice dry, smooth, tarmac, we sped along for the final few miles to Thaxted which we reached at about 1.15pm. We stopped for lunch at Parrishes Restaurant (as pleasant as always), and after about five minutes were joined by Conrad's "offfical" group: Julia, Eva, Jim and Rupert. They had taken a slightly longer (but much less muddy!) route via Ricking Green.

After lunch at Thaxted

After lunch we set off back towards Cambridge. We set off to the east before soon turning north-east to Great Sampford and then north along the quiet and beautifully smooth B1053 to Radwinter, the tarmac still bearing Tour de France graffiti from last summer.

Between Thaxted and Great Sampford

After a while the sun came out and the day brightened up. We continued north to Ashdon and Bartlow and west to Linton, with Eva, Jim and Conrad leaving my group at various points along the way. We continted to Abington where we took the cycle path to Babraham, lifting our bikes over the A11 footbridge along the way.

When we reached Babraham we agreed to try out the new cycleway along the A1307 to Cambridge. This involved riding along the busy A1307 for just under a mile before the cycleway started at the roundabout by the entrance to the Babraham Research Centre.

Along the extended A1307 cycleway

Once on the cycleway it was perfectly satisfactory, taking us up the hill to Wandlebury and then down again on the existing path all the way to the Addenbrooke's Roundabout. I arrived home about ten minutes later at 4.15pm, having cycled 63 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. I think we lost you because I didn't plan to go up Coploe Hill as I thought it would be muddy --- a cyclist we met at Ickleton who had just come down Coploe Hill warned us as well. So we went back through Ickleton and climbed to Elmdon, where we were fortunate to see a herd of deer in the fields just outside Elmdon. A cyclist on a mountain bike who I cycled with for part of the climb told me he had seen a stag in that area just two days before.