Thursday, 9 April 2015

9 Apr: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Risby

Edward writes: Today we met in a truly wonderful Spring day and not surprisingly over twenty members made their way to Hauxton for the start of what would turn out to be a long Thursday ride. As is often the case at this time of year the morning started decidedly fresh, but the weather forecast was good and this always presents us with the dilemma of what to wear, i.e. to wear enough to keep warm in the morning but risk becoming too hot as the temperatures rise later in the day. Our ride today would take us to Horseheath and then on to Risby which is beside the A14 about six miles from Bury St Edmunds.

Hildersham

We left Hauxton in two groups and took the least pleasant route to Sawston by going through Gt Shelford and Stapleford as opposed to our more normal route via Whittlesford and the cycleway to Sawston. After Sawston we followed our more normal pattern using the cycleway to Babraham and then alongside the A505 to Abington Science Park. Then followed the route past the Abingtons and out to the A1307 and through Hildersham and the long two mile climb up to Balsham but by now we were starting to see encouraging glimpses of the sun.

The climb from Hildersham to Balsham

We passed through Balsham and as we swept downhill towards West Wickham we turned right at the junction and used the Streetly End approach to Horseheath where we arrived at exactly 11am.

Balsham

As has been said on many occasions The Old Red Lion remains one of our favourite coffee stops and today was no exception with individual coffees, cookies and cakes in ready supply. Our group now totalled twenty seven and as the sun had burnt away the early morning cloud most of us sat outside on the patio. At 11.30am it was time to go and start the remaining twenty three miles to Risby, and again we travelled in two groups.

Towards Little Thurlow

We went up to West Wickham and crossed Wratting Common and then made the turning for Little Thurlow which is a most enjoyable two miles along very quiet country lanes and followed by the almost as nice ride up to Stradishall, albeit briefly along the A143. Our two groups were probably about twenty strong but we made our way successfully to Wickhambrook where we took the road past the cemetery, rather than the slightly more direct route to Hargrave.

Towards Stradishall

In Wickhambrook the grass verges contained very attractive displays of wild primroses growing amongst the speedwell which helped to offset the loss of some of the daffodils, many of which are starting to fade, such is the onward march of Spring. Soon after the Ousden turning we branched right to Hargrave and then on to Little Saxham which left us with the last couple of miles over the A14 and into Risby where we arrived at 1.20pm.

Towards Kennett

Lizzie's is a nice place to visit but it was probably asking too much of them to cope with so many people all at once. Some of our number saw the difficulty and quickly made their way to the nearby pub where by all accounts they were well looked after. Those who remained enjoyed sitting outside in the sunshine and all received their choices in pretty good time and we were able to leave again by 2.30 pm. We took the road heading north east towards Tuddenham and after three miles we branched off towards Kennett which brought us to the busiest part of our journey along the B1506 through Kennett and the right turn over the railway and both the A14 (not busy) and the A11 and a sigh of relief to be free to the traffic as we cycled into Chippenham.

Between Chippenham and Snailwell

We followed the road into the village to turn left at the Tharp Arms and headed for Snailwell and then down to the A142 (very busy). Such a busy road, but we all got across in one piece and proceeded into Exning where Jonathon had a minor problem with his bike but Mike C, as ever, was on hand to help out. This caused those two to not see which way we had gone through Exning and thus they took the long route round Heath Road to get to Burwell. We all met up again in Burwell but some of the leaders went ahead and made their own way home whilst the remaining ten or so carried on to Reach and then Swaffham Prior, Swaffham Bulbeck and Lode.

Reach to Swaffham Prior

As time was getting on we stayed on the main road for the short distance to Stow-cum-Quay and followed the cycleway to the Fen Ditton turning where about half of the group turned to head into Cambridge leaving the last five to go down Airport Way into Cherry Hinton, the hospital, Great Shelford and finally Hauxton where the ride ended at 5.30pm and 74 miles. Obviously a long ride but in the near-perfect weather one to savour and to write in our scrapbooks! Edward Elmer



Download GPS track (GPX).

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