Sunday, 10 May 2015

10 May: Sunday all-day ride to St Neots, Thurleigh and Waresley

Nigel writes: Today's ride was a jaunt into the borderlands west of the Ouse, where Cambridgeshire merges into Bedfordshire. Although this is a fairly dull, flat landscape it offers plenty of options for quiet, easy cycling on very quiet roads. For the first stage of today;'s ride, from Cambridge to St Neots, my companions were Mike CC, Rupert, Seb, Li, John D, Tracy and John R our leader.

Magdalene Street, Cambridge

We set off north from Brookside, crossing the City Centre, climbing Castle Hill and following Huntingdon Road to Girton. A few minutes later we reached the busway which we followed as far as Swavesey.

It is always a pleasure to ride the busway. One aspect I like is that it allows people to ride at their own speed without there being any possibility of people getting lost or separated from the group, and with the temperature still fairly cool it was nice to be able to warm up with a bit of a burn.

Climbing Castle Hill, Cambridge

At Swavesey we left the busway and turned south-west. After riding through Swavesey itself we crossed the A14 and followed a slightly zig-zag route through Boxworth, Elsworth, Hilton and Graveley to St Neots. This was a relatively long route and by the time we reached St Neots we had ridden 30 miles and the time was 11.15am. Already at the Market Cafe were David W, Conrad and at least one other member.

Coffee in St Neots

After coffee various members returned back home leaving Li, Mile CC, Conrad, Seb, John R and me to carry on to lunch at Thurleigh Farm Centre. It was approaching 12am by now but we didn't have far to go. We crossed the Town Bridge and then turned off west towards Duloe and Staploe. It was striking just how much quieter the roads were now than they had been earlier, making me wonder whether those who return after morning coffee were missing the best part of the ride.

Since we had departed from St Neots quite late I was expecting John to take us straight there, so was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had a loop planned for us first. At Buchmead we turned north and continued through Little Staughton to Pertenhall and Swineshead before turning back south through Risley and around the western edge of Bedford "Autodrome" before turning back east just north of Bletsoe towards Thurleigh.

Sign near Bletsoe

Our lunch stop today was at Thurleigh Farm Centre. This was my second visit, and once more was impressed by the simple but very pleasant cafe here, serving a good range of dishes at very modest prices.

Leaving Thurleigh Farm Centre. The sign says "cycle groups welcome"

After lunch took a fairly direct route east towards St Neots, taking a rather more southerly route than we had taken in the morning. It was really now quite warm, and with the wind behind us and the roads very quiet this was a particularly pleasant part of the ride.

Crossing the Willow Bridge, St Neots

When we reached Eaton Socon we crossed the Willow Bridge to Eynesbury and paused briefly at the One Leisure Centre where the Cambridge Festival of Cycling was holding a cycle try-out show and the March Vintage Cycle Club was displaying its collection of classic cycles (and allowing people to ride them).

At the Cambridgeshire Festival of Cycling. This vehicle has six pairs of pedals.

We arrived at Waresley just before 4pm. We ordered coffee and cakes (my third of the day) which we enjoyed in the sunshunbe on their very pleasant patio. Also at the cafe was a large group from South Herts CTC. However there was no sign of the afternoon ride.

Afterwards we set off for home, which in my case meant riding back to Cambridge. For the first part of the ride, through Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn I rode with David, Conrad and Seb, but after that we began to split up, with David leaving us at Kingston, Conrad disappearing into the distance ahead of me, and Seb dropping back behind me. I arrived home at 5.40pm, having cycled 82 miles. My Eddington Number remains at 76.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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