Perhaps it was the absence of a pre-arranged leader that put people off. Or perhaps that shower of rain at 8am encouraged members to go back to bed. But whatever the reason, I found myself riding the first stage of today's ride, from Cambridge to Stradishall, on my own.
Stradishall is about twenty miles east of Cambridge and I took a fairly direct route there via Quy, Six Mile Bottom, Brinkley, Carlton and Little Thurlow, arriving at Adam's Cafe slightly early at 10.45am.
I entered the cafe and was pleased to see Keith and Adrian already there and after a few minutes we were joined by Li and Joseph. Everyone was keen to carry on with me to lunch in Sible Hedingham and so after we'd finished our cups of tea and plates of beans on toast we carried on east with me in the lead, following a route which I'd hurriedly prepared over breakfast at home.
Sible Hedingham is more or less south of Stradishall, and to get there we took a clockwise arc, following some of the narrowest lanes I could find through Denston, Stansfield, Glemsford and Belchamp Walter before arriving in Sible Hedingham at 1.15pm. It was a warm July day though there were plenty of cotton-wool clouds in the sky preventing the sun shining for more than a few minutes at a time.
Lunch was at The Corner Cafe in Sible Hedingham, very friendly and with a large and hearty menu of mostly fried food. After lunch we set off east towards Ashdon where we were due to stop for tea. Once again we followed the narrowest lanes I could find, many of them with grass growing down the middle.
Gestingthorpe village sign
As we passed through Gestingthorpe I stopped to inspect the splendid Gestingthorpe village sign and was intrigued by the figure shown on it. At first glance I thought it showed an astronaut, but Adrian immediately identified the sorry-looking individual as a polar explorer walking away from a rather windswept tent. His demeanour means it could only be Captain Oates who, subsequent research confirmed, grew up in Gestingthorpe.
We arrived in Ashdon at 4pm exactly and stopped for tea at the village museum. After a short while we were joined by Ray and the afternoon ride as well as a number of others who had ridden there directly.
Tea in Ashdon
Afterwards we set off back to Cambridge. By now the clouds had cleared and the sun had come out, so when Ray proposed a route home via Horseheath, Wratting Common, Weston Colville and Six Mile Bottom I was happy to join them.
Ray and the afternoon riders prepare to set off home after tea
I arrived home at 6.45pm having cycled 91 miles. However, despite this excellent mileage, my Eddington number remains stuck at 77. This is because, even after including this ride, my 77 longest rides still include five rides of exactly 77 miles. I therefore need to do five more rides longer than 77 miles before my Eddington number can increase by even a single mile.
Download GPS track (GPX).