Sunday, 20 September 2015

20 Sep: Sunday ride to Newmarket, West Stow and Wicken

Nigel writes: Today's "2-stop" ride was our best-attended Sunday ride for several weeks, with eight riders at the start and many more joining along the way. No doubt the weather was an attraction, with sunshine at the start and forecast to continue all day. But I suspect the direction of the ride may have also encouraged members to come out: today we would be riding east into Suffolk, through some of the finest cycling country in the area.


Our leader today was Alex. We set off from Brookside and followed Hills Road to Addenbrooke's, where we turned onto Wort's Causeway for the ride over the Gogs to Fulbourn. This gentle hill is always an excellent way to start a ride, with an easy climb offering fine views and a long, enjoyable descent. Perhaps surprisingly, the elevation at the highest point is 68m, seven metres higher than the top of Chapel Hill near Haslingfield.

Alex leads the climb over the Gogs

We continued on through the Wilbrahams and turned onto the long, straight road that leads to Six Mile Bottom and then up in the direction of Brinkley.

Setting off after a brief pause at Woodland Cemetery crossroads

When we reached the crossroads about a mile before Brinkley we turned left to Dullingham and then along the B1061 which allowed us an enjoyably fast descent directly into Newmarket.

We stopped for coffee at the large Waitrose supermarket just north of the town centre. In recent years we've always visited Coffee and Co but we've increasingly become frustrated by their slow service and rather careless attention to remembering who had ordered what, so we were visiting Waitrose to see if it was any better. It was certainly quick and cheap but rather spartan and characterless - though excellent value for money.

Already at the cafe were quite a few other members, including Joseph, Adrian, Conrad, Geoff and Eva who joined us for the next stage of the ride.

After coffee we set off east towards Moulton, which offers a long and scenic climb past the racecourse training grounds. Somewhere near the top I realised my rear tyre was soft so stopped to change the tube, telling the others not to wait.

Warren Hill, Newmarket

It didn't take me long to get back on the road, but by now the other were well ahead and, as I had expected, I found myself riding the next fifteen miles or to to lunch on my own. I got out my map to plan a route, but it was fairly obvious which way to go, following NCN 51 through Moulton, Gazeley and Highham to Barrow before turning north to cross the A14 to Risby. This was a delightful ride, through pleasantly undulating countryside and as I rode along I wondered whether there were any better lanes in the entire area.

From Risby I continued north towards Flempton, overtaking Adrian, Joseph and John along the way, and crossed over the A1101 to West Stow. A couple of miles further on I reached West Stow Country Park, arriving at the cafe about five minutes behind Alex and the main group.

Lunch at West Stow Country Park

After lunch we set of back towards Cambridge. This took us through West Stow Heath, an area of pleasant woodland on the the southern edge of the much larger King's Forest forestry plantation, and then along a short section of A1101 to Lackford.

West Stow Heath

At Lackford we turned off the main road towards Cavenham, continuing through Tuddenham and Herringswell to Kennet where we joined the B1085 and crossed over the A11 to Chippenham.

Between Cavenham and Tuddenham

At Chippenham we paused briefly to divide into two groups. Today's ride was a "2-stop" ride with no formal afternoon stop, so Alex announced he would be leading the "official" ride back to Cambridge via Snailwell, Exning and Burwell. However I didn't want to go home just yet so invited people to ride with me to meet the afternoon ride for tea at Wicken Fen. Most people decided to stick with Alex, with just Eva, Chris and Keith accompanying me through Fordham to Soham and on a short loop through Soham Cotes, Barway and Padney.

Distant view of Ely Cathedral from Barway, five and a half miles away

We arrived at Wicken Fen just before 4pm and stopped for tea at the cafe. Moments later the afternoon ride arrived, led on this occasion by Ray.

After a very pleasant half hour or so sitting outside in the sunshine we all set off back to Cambridge. The afternoon ride had cycled around Wicken Fen on the way here so Ray led us around the back of Wicken village and then west to Upware.

Ray leads the afternoon ride home from Wicken

I always enjoy meeting the afternoon ride at tea and riding home with them, taking the opportunity to catch up with a different set of friends from those I had been riding with earlier.

The bridge at White Fen

From Upware we rode south across Swaffham Prior Fen and then along the Lodes Way to White Fen. With a low westerly sun I was inspired to take as many photos as I could so I followed my customary practice of sprinting ahead and standing with my camera as the others ride past before sprinting on to catch up with them.

White Fen

When I reached the crossroads with the B1102 just south of Lode I was ahead of the group. They must have stopped for some reason or perhaps taken a different route, as I didn't see them again and enjoyed the final few miles to Quy and into Cambridge on my own. I arrived home at 6.15pm, having cycled 82 miles. My Eddington number remains at 78.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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