Not discouraged by the cool start about twenty five riders assembled in Hauxton for our ride out to Great Saling for lunch and taking in Newport for coffee.
At the start Photo: John Ferguson
Today's leader was Sarah and we left Hauxton in two groups to head out to the A505 at Whittlesford.
In many recent rides we have had to contend with a cold easterly wind, but today the wind was minimal but even so it still persisted from the east. The early stages of the ride felt quite cold but a good stretch of the legs up Coploe Hill is always good to get the circulation going.
As is our custom we re-grouped at the usual place on the top of the hill before racing away down to Catmere End.
The Throng on Coploe Hill
This was followed by the approach to Littlebury Green and the turning which after a few more climbs leads to the long descent to Wendens Ambo.
Near Littlebury Green
The village roads are narrow and when we came across an oil tanker making a delivery it completely blocked the road causing us to carefully thread our way past. We soon joined the B1383 for the last mile or so into Newport and Dorrington's for our first break of the day. Inside we were joined by Doug, Peter W, Vic and Craig and despite the numbers the staff were able to fulfil our orders in quick time.
Coffee stop in Newport Photo: John Ferguson
At 11.40 we left Newport, again in two groups, and climbed out of the village to make for the turn to Debden and now joined the very pleasant, undulating ride up to Thaxted.
For once the our two groups maintained their positions and kept apart from one another - no doubt due to some firm leadership - as we made our way along to Little Bardfield and then Great Bardfield where we stopped for a short pause. The Vine pub in the village has a bike perched on its roof, no doubt a feature of last year's Tour de France.
The Vine, Great Bardfield
After Great Bardfield we soon turned off the main road and joined a particularly pleasant route (two swallows were seen along here and we see now also the appearance of so many cowslips in the verges), through Bardfield Saling, Crow's Green, and finally onto the airstrip at Great Saling reaching it about 1.20pm.
Towards Bardfield Saling
Already there was Bill and shortly after Steve rolled up and lunch was very pleasant with everybody sitting outside to enjoy a beautiful day under the promised blue skies. The little cafe at the airfield coped extremely well with so many people including their usual visit by bikers on their vintage motor cycles.
Lunch at Andrew's Field Photo: John Ferguson
At 2.10pm the call to leave was sounded and we left the airfield to head north east and for the first time felt a slight breeze against us.
Leaving Andrew's Field, Great Saling
Sarah took us through Shalford Green and Shalford where we turned onto the delightful lanes which run for about four miles up to Finchingfield. Now what happened next was quite mysterious as somehow in Finchingfield Sarah and Mike CC became detached from everybody else and took the road to Steeple Bumpstead rather than Helions Bumpstead! How could this happen? Maybe they were right and everybody else was wrong. Between Finchingfield and Helions Bumpstead we rode through a sea of bright yellow oil seed rape which now seems to be everywhere.
The Lanes approaching Finchingfield
All was well that ends well and we all met up again in Helions Bumpstead and proceeded on to Castle Camps which signalled the end of the climbing as we made the most of the long descent into Bartlow and soon we reached Linton. The ride was nearing its end as we crossed into Little Abington followed by the farm track into Babraham, the cycle way into Sawston, Stapleford and Great Shelford where we arrived at exactly 4.56pm.
Waiting for the lost leader Photo: John Ferguson
Our 'lost leader' at Helions Bumpstead
Those going back to Hauxton would have had a round trip of 65 miles. This was almost a textbook ride - the groups stayed apart and all went the same way, well apart from losing our leader for a little while, the weather was near perfect and the Essex and Cambridgeshire countryside looked its finest. What more could we ask for? Edward Elmer
Download GPS track (GPX).