Crossing Hinxton Ford
We then swung through Ickleton and began the ride up to Elmdon – surely Cambridgeshire's marquee climb. At the first (false) summit everybody re-grouped and I decided to go ahead to take a photo, zooming down the fast mini-descent before the resumption of the ascent. An oncoming lorry required me to slow, but as I squeezed the brakes my bike started squirming scarily into the middle of the road. The lorry sped past me and I wobbled to the verge: looking down I saw air bubbling out of a front tyre puncture-in-progress: yikes. Soon the main group arrived and while Adrian stayed on to help with repairs and to escort me, Mick C led everybody else on to coffee.
On the road again, it became clear Adrian had devised a most scenic route, with lumpy progress through Heydon and Barley en route to Reed. Rather too scenic, it turned out, for the other group who took a more direct route to coffee while Adrian and I enjoyed full value. By now the weather had improved markedly with bright sunlight and a brisk wind from the West. Chrishall post mill looked particularly smart in the bright autumn light.
Chrishall Mill, Great Chishill
At coffee Craig, David Ms and perhaps one or two others were waiting. But after the usual comings and goings it was still eighteen of us who set off on the relatively short leg to Baldock and lunch.
Bacon sarnie at The Silver Ball Cafe
At Baldock, we split into various groups. I joined some dining companions for lunch in Fish'n'Chick'n, where we enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation taking in such topics as diesel emission testing, software deblurring of digital images, and the synergies between cycling and being an 'independent consultant'.
Rocking up at Baldock
On the return leg shortly after lunch we soon reached a decision point: whether to take a 'rough stuff' route (potentially muddy) or to ride on the old A1 (potentially busy). I was with the eight that decided on the A1 course but shortly after we split – curses! Another visitation from the puncture fairy, this time to Pete Wi.
We rapidly fixed it and set off fearing we would now be some way behind the others. However, after some phone calls it became clear that the 'rough stuff' faction had their own troubles, being forced by an excessively muddy path to backtrack and take the road. It was decided that there would be a general re-grouping at Steeple Mordern and so, duly reconstituted, we set out on the final push for home.
The wind was now in our favour so we made rapid progress, arriving before long in Barrington where most riders turned off to head back to Hauxton. Four of us continued for a final flourish over Chapel Hill, and I then rode back into Cambridge via Harston and the busway.
In a day of gremlins it turned out my Garmin had failed to record, locking solid early on (the second time it has done this since I've had it). Nevertheless it had been a most enjoyable ride – thanks to Adrian for devising a great route and for leading! Alex Brown