Thursday, 4 February 2016

4 Feb: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Newmarket

Edward writes: This Thursday was another chance to try a dual start ride with Alex once again volunteering to lead from Brookside and Rupert to lead from Hauxton. This Thursday our ride included the always popular Old Red Lion in Horseheath and then on to the Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket. The weather in the morning wasn’t great, with intermittent drizzle, but at least it wasn’t cold.

Fourteen riders assembled at Greta’s house and it was nice to see her looking so well and tanned after her spell away. With fourteen we left Hauxton in two groups and went out to Whittlesford where we picked up the cycleway into Sawston and subsequently the cycleway to Babraham.

On the Sawston Cycleway

Rather than go the farm route from Babraham to Little Abington, Rupert chose the A505 cycleway to Great Abington and out to the A1307 at Hildersham.


Unfortunately Rupert’s intended route from Hildersham to Linton was thwarted by a road closure so instead we climbed up to Balsham which was followed by West Wickham and Streetley End and arrived in Horseheath after seventeen miles at a perfect 11 am.

Hildersham to Balsham

We stopped for coffee at The Old Red Lion. As was to be expected, with those who rode out independently and the arrival of the group from Brookside, we more or less took over the all the available space. As usual we were treated to teas and coffee and, of course, a variety of goodies; always very good here.

Balsham to West Wickham

After coffee the plan was for Alex to lead a group, not necessarily those who came out with him, on a shorter fifteen mile route to Newmarket via Dullingham and Rupert to lead his group on an eighteen mile circuit via Kirtling and Saxon Street. Rupert’s group retraced its steps back to West Wickham and with the wind behind us made our way over Wratting Common. Just before Carlton we turned off for the ride over to Little Thurlow but a smaller sub group carried on to Carlton and went top Newmarket via Burrough Green and Dullingham.

Carlton to Little Thurlow

Rupert’s group climbed up to Great Bradley and on to the lovely quiet roads which prevail in this area. Despite being hit by the occasional drizzle the temperature in fact had started to rise and it was all very pleasant as we came first to Kirtling and soon after Saxon Street.

Near Kirtling

We are now used to seeing all the early daffodils but we now have so many trees on early blossom and if only the sun could have made an appearance how much nicer it would have looked.

Saxon Street

After Saxon Street it was more or less downhill all the way to Newmarket where we arrived at 1pm to find once again we had overwhelmed the museum cafe. Fortunately they had been forewarned of our arrival, if not such a large number, but they still gave us their friendly service and they dealt with it all very well.

At 2pm we had all eaten and it was time to leave; Alex had taken his group out at 1.30 pm, there being no chance of the two groups combining. We went out onto the high street so that we could get on the road for Exning. Exning is about a mile and half from Newmarket and once there we took the B1103 up to Burwell while another sub group chose the less busy Heath Road but we were all able to meet again on the way to Reach.


Next came Swaffham Prior, Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham and the cycleway alongside the A1303 up to Stow-cum Quy.

Swaffham Bulbeck to Bottisham

Just beyond Quy, as we approached the underpass of the A14, we came across Adrian helping David with a puncture (where did they come from?), and this gave an opportunity for Mike to offer his usual assistance. While we were there we saw an Easyjet low overhead on the approach to the airport and we wondered if it could be Charlie in the pilot’s seat (probably not, he's probably somewhere much more exotic).

Repairs by the A14

When all was fixed we carried on to Airport Way where Rupert declared the ride over, leaving those for Cambridge and those for South Cambridge to go their separate ways. From Hauxton to here was 50 miles and a special word of thanks to Rupert who kept himself in sight all the time and even at times rode with the peloton. Edward Elmer

Alex adds: Eight of us set off from the Brookside start this morning: David T, John E, John R, Li, Mia, Sheila, 'Vin and me. We left the city via Hills road and then turned on to Worts Causeway for the climb over Gogs (where we met John S). We then took the familiar route through the Wilbrahams and on to Six Mile Bottom. Here instead of going straight on as usual I took us south west along the London Road for a little while, turning off to climb up to West Wratting. To my surprise, I'd never ridden this way before – it's a nice ascent onto the Newmarket ridge.

By the time we got to West Wratting it had started to drizzle heavily, and when we arrived in Horseheath we were quite damp through. Rupert's group had got there several minutes earlier and were looking both dry and full of cake. As usual Horseheath offered us sweet delights and before long we were re-fuelled and ready to head off again into the drizzle. Rupert offered an 18 mile route to lunch; I a 15 mile one.

I led my group back up to West Wratting and then we rode along the quiet lanes past the Woodland Cemetery towards Dullingham. The damp weather had cleared now and some patches of blue sky and sun cheered the landscape up and made for pleasant cycling.

We rode east beyond Dullingham and entered Newmarket on the Woodditton Road, arriving in good time and (as expected) well before Rupert's group.

Most of the city start cyclists could get away from lunch promptly and for the ride back to Cambridge I took a fairly direct route through Exning, Burwell, the Swaffhams and Quy, taking us back into Cambridge alongside the Newmarket Road.

When I arrived back home I found I had ridden 87km (54 miles). My metric Eddington number is now 82. Alex Brown.

Photos by Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

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