Sunday, 11 October 2015

11 Oct: Sunday ride to Fordham and Chippenham

Nigel writes: With summer time ending in just two weeks' time there seems to be a feeling in Cambridge CTC that we'd better make the most of the fine days we're having now, since winter is just around the corner. That's certainly how I feel at the moment, but the surge in turnout for some of our recent Sunday rides suggest that others feel the same way. Today was a good example of this: a cool, crisp day, and a forecast of clear skies and sunshine, brought out eight riders at Brookside, two more joining along the way and yet more joining at coffee.

My fellow-riders at Brookside were Mike CC, Ian D, Ian W, Stan, Vin, newcomer Mike B, and John R who was our leader today. We were heading east, so we set off towards Parker's Piece and down to the river.

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

We followed the river east along Midsummer and Stourbridge Commons before turning away from it towards Fen Ditton.

Stourbridge Common, Cambridge

At Quy we paused briefly to rendezvous with Andy and Sarah (who brought our number up to ten) and then made a beeline along the B1102 to Lode where we joined the Lodes Way.

Turning onto White Fen

Despite the sunshine it was still really rather cold, and I think several of us had some difficulty in deciding how many layers to wear. I decided the temperature wasn't going to warm up for a while to stopped to put on my jacket, after which I felt much more comfortable.

We continued along the Lodes Way, crossing the new bridges over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode and Reach Lode before dismounting to carry our bikes up the steps and over the bridge at Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. Will the long-promised cycle bridge ever be built here?

Crossing the footbridge over Burwell Lode

We were now on the edge of Wicken Fen, so we rode around the edge of the reserve and past the visitor centre (where the afternoon ride was due to stop for tea later today) and into Wicken Village. We turned right onto the A1123 and followed it for three miles to Soham. This is a relatively major road but it is rarely a problem and this morning was very quiet. Indeed I didn't really notice it, since I was listening to tales of Sarah's and Andy's recent cycle tour across the Balkans.

A few miles beyond Soham we reached Fordham, where we stopped for coffee at Simpson's Nurseries. Already at the cafe were Joseph, Conrad, Geoff and Keith, and we all spent a very pleasant half hour or so sitting in their courtyard eating cakes and drinking coffee. We usually visit this cafe in the winter, so it was nice to be able to sit outside in the increasingly-warm sunshine for the first time.

Coffee at Simpson's Nurseries, Fordham

After coffee we performed the usual shuffle, with some riders heading back home and others continuing on to lunch. I carried on to lunch, and since the designated lunch was only about half an hour away John took us for a loop through Isleham and Mildenhall before turning back along the B1102 towards Worlington.

The road to Isleham

We continued to Freckenham, turned left to Chippenham, and stopped for lunch at La Hogue Farm Shop and Cafe.

Lunch

Already at the cafe were Eva and Jim. I think this has become one of the club's favourite lunch stops: there's a good range of rather interesting food, orders are efficiently taken and speedily served, and the size of the place means they are never overwhelmed by our numbers. Once again it was warm enough to sit outside and eat in the sunshine,

Lunch at La Hogue Farm Shop and Cafe

After lunch everyone set off back west towards Cambridge. Today was a two-stop ride, so John announced he would be taking the group south into Newmarket and then on towards Dulllingham. This would have brought the total mileage to about 65 miles. I, however, decided that it was such a nice day that I wanted to stay out and ride a little further, so after taking a final photo of the group as they rode along the estate road around the southern edge of Chippenham Park, I set off eastwards.

Everyone else heads home past Chippenham Park

Before I reached the public road I stopped, put my camera in my bag, consulted my map to decide where I was going, and then set off again. Second later, and unknown to me, my camera rolled out of my bag and onto the concrete road.

A few moments after taking the previous photo and setting off in the other direction, my camera dropped out of my bag. It rested here for over an hour.

I didn't have a route planned. All I knew is that I wanted to do more than 80 miles to help me reach my Eddington Number target. I decided to head south-east, following the B1085 over the A11 and A14 to Kentford. I continued south to Gazeley where I decided to turn east once more, following the NCN 51 cycle route with a vague idea of heading towards Bury St Edmunds.

The road from Gazely to Higham and on to Barrow is a delightful ride, and somewhere between Higham and Barrow I stopped to take a photo of the road ahead. I unzipped my bag only to discover that my camera was nowhere to be seen. After a couple of minutes of denial, during which I repeatedly rummaged through the bag and tapped my pockets in the hope that it would reappear, I decided I had no option but to ride the eight miles back to the point where I used my camera last.

Along the way I checked all the places where I had stopped to read the map, hoping that I had absent-mindedly left it somewhere, but there was no sign of it and with an increasingly heavy heart I arrived back at the concrete road by Chippenham Park where I had left the others. To my great relief I spotted my camera immediately at the side of the estate road. It must have fallen a metre or so onto the ground but it appeared undamaged,.

Other members will be aware of the importance I place in creating a pleasingly-shaped GPS track. If I had headed home now I would have left an unsightly stub representing my ride to Barrow and back. I therefore decided the best way of rectifying this was to ride this section of road a third time and then carry on east. Fortunately this was no burden at all: the weather was delightful, and beyond Kentford the route was too.

I stopped to take a photo of this inviting section of road, only to discover I had lost my camera

When I reached the point where I had discovered the loss of my camera I stopped to take the photo I had wanted to take over an hour ago. I then carried on. It was now about 3.45pm so I decided to abandon my plan to visit Bury and instead turned south towards Wickhambrook. There I turned west towards Cambridge, following country lanes through Farley Green and Cock and End before reaching the A143 near Adam's cafe. The cafe was closed, but the shop next door was not, so I stopped to stock up on chocolate for the journey home.

I left the A143 and turned towards Little Thurlow. This was followed by Carlton Green, Weston Colville, West Wratting and Balsham. From here a tempting 10 mile descent to Cambridge beckoned, but I was keen to round my mileage up to 100 so turned south for the descent to Hildesham. This was followed by an enjoyable but totally unnecessary digression through Abington and along the A505 cycleway all the way to Whittlesford Station. Crossing the railway here entailed carrying my bike over the station footbridge, but once over it was a familar cruise home towards the Shelfords and into Cambridge.

I arrived home at 7.30pm, having cycled just over 100 miles. My Eddington Number remains 79; however I now need to complete just one more 80-mile ride before it will reach 80, my target for this year. Nigel Deakin



Download GPS track (GPX).

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