Thursday, 18 February 2016

18 Feb: Thursday ride (city start) to Saffron Walden and Dullingham

Mike P writes: Despite an unpromising overnight forecast of sleet and snow flurries in the Cambridgeshire area for the early morning, eight riders arrived at Brookside for the 9:30 departure. Roads were damp from the overnight rain but conditions were dry and cold with no wind to speak of.

Mike CC, Rupert, John, Eva, Dr John, Stuart and I were joined by guest rider Russell Griffin. Russell had recently invested in a new bike and decided to "test the waters" with the run out to the coffee stop.

(Read Edward's report of the parallel ride from Hauxton to the same destinations: Thursday ride (village start) to Saffron Walden and Dullingham.)

Gathering for the city start (Photo: Alex Brown)

We headed out of Cambridge on Trumpington Road turning off towards Great Shelford at the Waitrose intersection. We forked right just over the railway bridge taking the village route through Little Shelford and onwards to Whittlesford by which time the first rays of sun were coming through an otherwise grey sky.

Whittlesford Road (Photo: Alex Brown)

Having crossed the A505 we headed into Duxford and detoured via the ford into Hinxton with all wisely opting for the footbridge crossing.

Mike CC shows how to cross Hinxton Ford safely(Photo: Alex Brown)

Dropping into Ickleton we headed up the familiar Coploe Hill before stopping at the summit to catch our breath and admire the views.

Coploe Climb (Photo: Alex Brown)

Coploe Summit (Photo: Alex Brown)

By now the sun was working its magic and temperature was much more pleasant. We pushed south towards Catmere End and enjoyed a quick descent to Audley End before the final climb into Saffron Walden and a well-earned coffee at the Temeraire arriving shortly after Eddie’s group about 11.15 am.

Suitably replenished we headed out to Ashdon on what is a surprisingly busy unclassified road, seemingly popular with lorries and transit vans.

At Ashdon, John and Russell decided to head back into Cambridge, leaving a group of just five to make our way to lunch. Conditions were so nice we opted to take a detour from my original route and, just after the village, we headed out into the rolling South Cambridgeshire countryside towards Shudy Camps and crossed the A1307 Haverhill Road at Horseheath. The villages and countryside looked fantastic in what was rapidly becoming a day to remember. We worked our way up to Carlton and joined the B1052 at Brinkley for the short ride north into Dullingham.

Approaching lunch (Photo: Alex Brown)

Approaching lunch (Photo: Alex Brown)

Once again we were just pipped to the post by Eddie's group and arrived at The Boot in Dullingham at 1.15pm. Such were the numbers it took a while to replenish lunchtime stomachs although I thought the food looked universally good and excellent value, not to mention the Adnams.

We left Dullingham at 2.30pm opting for a relatively direct route back via Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham. Although the sun was still shining, a noticeable north westerly headwind made it feel like hard work pulling up towards Swaffham. Fortunately, once we “turned the corner” and started heading west on the A1303 cycle way towards Stow cum Quy the wind wasn’t so noticeable and we returned to Cambridge via Fen Ditton before picking up the cycleway along the Cam past Chesterton and back across town.

We arrived back at Brookside at 4.10 pm having cycled 53 miles. Mike Pearce

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