Brookside: ready to depart into the drizzle
We set off and headed south towards the busway, DNA path and Great Shelford. We soon discovered that in addition to the rain we were riding into a gentle but cold headwind. In Great Shelford we took the road to Little Shelford and followed it south towards Whittlesford. I was the leader today, but as we made our way towards Whittlesford I became rather engrossed in conversation (and in keeping warm in the rain) and carelessly allowed the pace at the front of the group to increase. As a result, when we reached the A505 south of Whittlesford, and we stopped to regroup, I realised that John, Sheila, David and Greg were nowhere to be seen. Greg soon arrived with the news that the others had stopped in Whittlesford for a puncture. After unsuccessfully riding back to find them I decided that since John was with them there were in good hands and suggested we carry on towards Saffron Walden where we were due to stop for coffee.
We continued through Duxford to Ickleton and climbed over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. As we dropped down on the other side we took the left turn to Littlebury and completing our journey into Saffron Walden by riding along the B184. This is quite a busy road and in today's rain was rather unpleasant, but we were only on it for just over a mile and were soon arriving at Bicicletta Coffee.
Coffee at Bicicletta Coffee
Already in the cafe were Edward, Edmund, Mick, Craig and John S and a few minutes later we were joined (to my relief) by John R, Sheila and David. This cafe can get quite busy at 11am on a Sunday but today there was plenty of room. We ordered coffee and cakes and spent a pleasant half hour dripping water slowly onto the floor.
I like this cafe. It's unique in the Cambridge area as a cafe aimed directly at sports cyclists, and you can't fault the proprietor for his friendly welcome and his practice of rushing out to offer you a lock when you arrive. Others aren't so keen and are put off by the crowds and the prices, so it's likely that we will continue to visit other places in the town for coffee as well as this, but so long as they're not overwhelmed with visiting cyclists I'll be happy to come back.
Setting off after coffee
After coffee various members turned back for home, leaving seven of us to carry on to lunch at Langley Lower Green: John S, Alex, Seb, Edmund, Sheila, David and me. The rain had now stopped (for good), but we were all rather wet and I was keen to get moving again. My route to Langley took us south on the Debden Road for several miles before we turned west towards Widdington. From here onwards the roads became much quieter and as we all warmed up we started to relax and, I think, really enjoy the ride.
From Widdington we continued south (past the cycling clubhouses on the Henham Road) to Ugley before turning back north to Rickling Green, Rickling and Clavering.
Nigel and Alex assess the ford in Clavering
Nigel and Alex in the ford in Clavering
We arrived at The Bull in Langley Lower Green at about 1.25pm. This was later than planned but I had phoned them earlier to warn them and when we arrived we received a warm welcome. This is a simple pub in a lovely quiet location which we have visited a few times in recent months, serving a simple range of baked potatoes, paninis and soup, and I'm pleased to be able to confirm that it remains an excellent place for club lunch on Sundays.
After lunch we set off north towards Cambridge, taking a fairly direct route via Little Chishill, Shaftenhoe End and the short climb up to Great Chishill. At this point several of us realised that we were getting too hot and stopped to take off rainwear, before continuing through to Chrishall and the descent to Chrishall Grange. We crossed the A505 to Fowlmere and then took a small loop through Thriplow (where we noted quite a few daffidils were already in flower) to Newton. Just north of Newston we took the turn to Little SHelford and returned back into Cambridge via the same route as in the morning: DNA path, Francis Crick Avenue and the busway to the station.
Francis Crick Avenue, Cambridge
I arrived home a few minutes later at about 4.10pm, having cycled 57 miles.
Nick (who was with us until coffee) wrote a ride report on his blog: Saffron Walden for coffee.
Download GPS track (GPX).