Sunday, 4 October 2015

4 Oct: Sunday ride to Meesden and Much Hadham

Nigel writes: It's October now, but the combination of a day of fine, sunny weather, a couple of particularly fine food stops and an excellent route allowed me to enjoy one of the best club rides for some time.

I arrived at Brookside to find that my companions for the first stage of today's ride would be Alex, Mike CC, Rupert, Stan, Edmund, Andy, Carol and Eva, led very ably by Ian D.


We set off by cycling to the station to pick up the busway, with a very moderate pace allowing to do my usual thing and sprint ahead to take photos.

On the busway

On the busway

On recent rides I've been looking out for good vantage points to take photos of the other riders from above. The new footbridge over the railway at Great Shelford is one such point, but today I decided to try the Addenbrooke's Road bridge over the railway. It's certainly a good vantage point, but probably a little too far away.

The link from Francis Crick Avenue to the DNA path

This is the club's fourth Sunday ride since switching to the new "2-stop" format which involves a slightly later start at 9.30am and dropping the afternoon tea stop. We're still getting used to the new arrangements and watching carefully how well it's working. Ian explained that since we had no afternoon stop he'd be aiming for a late arrival at coffee followed by a similarly late lunch, allowing us to get in a decent amount of cycling before heading straight home after lunch.

A late arrival at coffee was probably inevitable anyway, given a 9.30am start and over 20 miles to go. Ian led us led us a fairly direct route, following the usual route south through the Shelfords and Whittlesford as far as Duxford before turning onto Grange Road, the long, straight road that runs west to Chrishall Grange.

A long, gentle climb took us up to Hertford Lane End where we turned left, riding through Elmdon before dropping down to Wenden Lofts. These are familar roads but in recent months I've ridden them mostly on evening rides, in the opposite direction, so this was a pleasant change.

Climbing to Duddenhoe End

A short section of B1039 took us to the turn for Duddenhoe End and an easy climb up to that village and on through Langley Upper Green to Meesden, where we stopped for coffee at the village hall. The elevation here was 139m, making this, rather surprisingly, the highest point on today's ride.

Morning coffee at Meesden Village Hall

By now it was 11.30am and as we arrived at the Meesden Village Hall a large group of members were already getting ready to leave. We went in and purchased cakes or bacon rolls (and in many cases both) before coming back out to enjoy them in the increasingly warm sunshine. The community cafe here is a delightful (and very moderately-priced) place to visit which has quickly become a firm favourite of the club.

Getting ready to set off from Meesden Village Hall

By the time we were ready to set off again it was approaching 12 noon. As usual, quite a few riders set off back to Cambridge leaving just David W, Conrad, Eva, Alex, Edmund and me to join Ian for the next stage of the ride to our lunch stop in Much Hadham.

Approaching Anstey

One advantage of having no afternoon tea stop is that it doesn't matter if you have lunch a bit late, and I was very pleased that instead of rushing directly to Much Hadham Ian had plotted a delightful loop via Buntingford and the lovely Westmill - Nasty - Dane End loop before turning back east once more.

Cherry Green: turning to Nasty and nice Great Munden

We crossed the old A10, and continued east to Barwick, where the ford is one of the widest and deeepest we regularly visit. It's a bit slimy but I was able to ride through without slipping over. Everyone else, however, decided that it was safer to take the footbridge.

Bridge over Barwick Ford

There were a lot of sports cyclists out today, no doubt as keen as we were to make the most of the last good day in the current spell of fine sunny weather. We also encountered dozens of sportive riders coming the other way, riding what I now know was the Hertfordshire 100.

A few minutes later we reached Much Hadham and stopped for lunch at Hopley's cafe. I'd been here once before and was looking forward to my second visit: this is a very pleasant cafe in a small nursery serving excellent light meals.

Waiting for lunch at Hopley's cafe in Much Hadham

After lunch it was time to return back north to Cambridge. I was briefly tempted to meet the afternoon ride for tea in Hare Street but that would have involved retracing our route from the morning so I stayed with Ian and the others for a very enjoyable and nicely-paced ride back though Little Hadham, Clavering, Arkesden, Catmere End and Coploe Hill. By now the morning chill had completely disappeared and it was now feeling pleasantly warm.

When we reached Ickleton I decided to separate from the group and put in a few extra miles. If I had stayed with the others my mileage for the day would have been 73 miles. However with my personal Eddington Number target in mind, whilst they continued straight on to Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords, I turned right towards Hinxton and followed the A1301 cycleway towards Sawston.

After a short pause for coffee at McDonalds at the A505 roundabout (which was interrupted by the roar of a Vulcan Bomber flying overhead) I turned onto the A505 cycleway to Abington. From there a short climb up to Balsham was followed by a long, fast, descent back down to Fulbourn. I continued on into Cambridge, calling at Brookside before heading home. I arrived home at 6.05pm having cycled 83 miles. My Eddington Number remains at 79 for now.

Vulcan over Sawston

Download GPS track (GPX).

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