When we met at Hauxton, the magnetic appeal of a joint enterprise ride led by Andy and Sarah was soon apparent when twenty-three cyclists came to the start for our tour of north Essex taking in Clavering for coffee and Wimbish for lunch. Among the twenty-three we had the opportunity to welcome Seb who was joining a Thursday for the first time. This number absolutely had to set off in two groups, so Andy led the first group out and several minutes later Sarah took charge of the second group, and for the second week running we succeeded in staying apart and the two groups did not merge into a single group.
We went out to Little Shelford, where we met Tony dealing with the first puncture of the day. We continued on through Newton, Thriplow, where Tony had his second puncture leaving him with little option but to retire from any further riding, and Fowlmere before coming to the A505.
For once the main road wasn’t too busy and we soon crossed into Chrishall Grange and faced the long climb up to the Hertford Lane turning and a convenient re-grouping spot. On our left as we made this climb the sugar beet harvest could be seen as beet was piled along the adjoining field for two or three hundred metres.
Sugar beet near Elmdon turning
As we headed mainly southwards we were nearly always riding into the brisk south-westerly wind as we went though Chrishall and joined the Saffron Walden to Royston road for a mile or so before turning for the climb up to Duddenhoe End.
Next up was Langley Upper Green with its quaint old cricket ground which is bisected by the road and this is where we turned south easterly for the three mile run down to Clavering bringing us all to the Christian Centre, but not before Seb had dealt with the day’s third puncture.
This was the second time that the Thursday group have visited this centre, similar in many ways to the Baptist Chapel in Swavesey, with a wonderful selection of home-made cakes to choose from, plus a coffee all for £1.50. Needless to say more members had travelled out independently and we managed to count thirty so we rather overwhelmed them, but let’s hope a useful contribution to church funds.
Clavering Christian Centre
It was 11.50am before we were all assembled for the next session which was to take us to the recently relocated "Elder Street Cafe and Deli", as it is now called, near Wimbish.
Preparing to leave Clavering
Again we travelled in two groups with Andy out at the front and Sarah bringing on the second group. However, the second group hadn’t got far before Sarah had the fourth puncture of the day and I understand Mike was soon on hand to get her going again.
By now the weather had deteriorated and we rode into the brisk wind which was now bringing rain with it which persisted all the way to Manuden. At Manuden we had reached our most southerly point and from now on the wind would be more favourable to us which was just as well as the road to Rickling Green comes with some stiff climbs.
After Rickling Green we joined the B1383 for a few hundred metres to Ugley and then once again on quiet country lanes up to Henham.
As we turned slightly north easterly the wind was right behind us as we made our way to Debden Green and then a couple of more miles into Debden. This just left us to go down the hill to the crossroads and another half mile brought us to our lunch stop where we heard that the first group had only arrived a few minutes earlier as Andy had had the day’s fifth puncture.
Elder Street Cafe and Deli used to be located further up the road at the junction with the Thaxted road and it is still under development with an upstairs seating area becoming available some time in the new year. Although we had booked for about twelve, we did in fact have a few more and this flustered them for a few minutes but they soon recovered their poise and we were served with very nice food quickly, and our lunch break was very enjoyable.
After lunch Alex led a small group away earlier which included Sheila and Mia as they needed to get back to Foxton station for their train home. Soon after the remaining fifteen headed back down the hill to the crossroads and on to the undulating ride into Saffron Walden taking us through the town, past the golf course and up the steep Windmill hill along the A1301 to the turning for Little Chesterford where we paused to admire a certain residence. We now had a further nine miles to travel through Ickleton and Hinxton ford where no one tried to emulate Mike CC’s efforts of riding through it, and Duxford.
We were on course to be home by 3.30 pm but another two punctures intervened, Adrian in Duxford and Andy’s second in Whittlesford which meant lights on for the last three miles to Little Shelford where the ride ended at 4.pm.
Despite the drizzly weather (it was never cold) and all the punctures this was a really enjoyable day out and thanks to Andy and Sarah who not only led the ride the ride in style but also provided us all with a map which was even broken down into colour-coded ten mile sections. That’s class! For those doing the full circuit this was a ride of 52 miles. Edward Elmer
Download GPS track (GPX).