Wednesday, 9 September 2015

9 Sep: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: I was just getting my bike out in preparation for going on a tonight's ride when I discovered I had a flat front tyre. I quickly replaced the tube and rushed over to Brookside. I arrived there a couple of minutes late, arriving in time to find Sven, Daniel and John E still waiting patiently for me.

It was a warm, sunny, evening but with only an hour until sunset I was keen to get started as soon as possible, so we set off south along Trumpington Road and turn left onto Porson Road on our way to join the busway at Long Road. To my frustration I realised that my front tyre was soft so we stopped whilst I changed the tube a second time.

Changing the tube in Porson Road, Cambridge (Photo: Sven)

It was almost 6.45pm by the time we were on our way again, following the busway to Addenbrooke's and then turning onto Francis Crick Avenue to connect to the DNA path to Great Shelford.

Francis Crick Avenue, Cambridge

Our evening rides often split into faster and more moderate groups, but since there were only four of us this evening we stayed as a single group, stopping to wait for the slower riders where necessary. At Great Shelford we were delayed by a minute or two at the level crossing but we were soon back on our way to Little Shelford and then along the familar road south to Whittlesford, Duxford and Ickleton.

We reached the top of Coploe Hill at about 7.40pm, about ten minutes after sunset and also about ten minutes later than planned. After a short pause for a remote-controlled selfie (below) we continued on south, though since we were running a bit late we turned onto Royston Lane rather than continue all the way to Catmere End.

All four of us on Coploe Hill. The phone I'm holding is a remote control for the camera.

This was the first time I'd been along Royston Lane for several months. This is one of the most scenic (but also one of the most potholed) lanes in the area, and it was very pleasant until the light faded completely and we were no longer able to see the potholes easily.

John on the left is just a blur on Royston Lane

Before long we reached the western end at Chrishall Grange. It was now completely dark, the only lights being our own and those of combine harvesters working late nearby. We crossed the A505 to Fowlmere and then, unusually, turned towards Shepreth, where we stopped for drinks at The Plough. It was now just after 8.30pm.

Already at the pub was Chris, who had sprinted to join us along the way. He hadn't realised he was ahead of us and so ended up riding to the pub on his own, arriving just before us.

This was our first visit to this pub, which re-opened earlier this year after having been closed for several years. I had been expecting it to be a quiet country pub rather like the one in Thriplow so was astonished to find a huge place buzzing with live music and well over a hundred people.

Once we had found our way through the throng to the bar I was impressed to find a small range of excellent beers on sale. The house beer was a "Shepreth IPA" from Calverley's Brewery in Hooper Street, Cambridge, and I noticed that they had until recently had been selling beer from the Carpenter's Arms brewery in Great Wilbraham.

We ordered drinks and bowls of chips (which were served quickly) and had a pleasant half hour sitting in a quiet part of the pub before it was time to set off for home. Before we left I asked the assembled members whether we should come back to this pub, and everyone agreed we should.

Beer and chips at The Plough, Shepreth

Outside the pub we said goodbye to Chris, who was heading back south towards Fowlmere, and then set off north towards Barrington and Haslingfield. This entailed the strange experience of climbing Chapel Hill in the dark, which was interesting because you couldn't see how close to the top you were.

About to set off for home from The Plough, Shepreth

After Haslingfield we continued to Barton and then on into Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway. I arrived home at 10.15pm, having cycled 32 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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