Sunday, 6 March 2016

6 Mar: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden and Langley Lower Green

Nigel writes: Today started bright and sunny: a promising start for a day's cycling. There had been an early morning frost, but by the time I rolled over to Brookside for today's ride the sun had done its work and the temperature had warmed up slightly. I arrived at the start to discover that my companions for the first stage of today's ride would be Stan, (English) Seb, Li, Rupert, Keith, Mike and John: eight in total. That's slightly fewer than we've seen on some other Sundays recently, but still a very respectable turnout for a cold March day.

At the start

I was the leader today, reprising a ride that we had taken on 31st January. Our morning coffee stop was in Saffron Walden, and with only 90 minutes available to ride there I took what I think of as the "classic" route to get there. This involved cycling down Trumpington Road and cutting through a few of Cambridge's most exclusive streets to Long Road, where we joined the busway for the short journey to Addenbrooke's.

On the busway

After a short section along Francis Crick Avenue we turned onto the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we continued to Little Shelford where we turned south towards Whittlesford, Duxford and Ickleton. There was a slight breeze from the north. In addition to giving us a slight tailwind this meant that we didn't have a cold wind in our faces, and it was really rather pleasant riding along in the morning sunshine.

Coploe Summit

At Ickleton we began the ascent of Coploe Hill. This is an easy climb though it's steep enough to keep us warm and to require a brief stop at the top to regroup.

Descending from Coploe

We descended south from Coploe Hill and crossed the county boundary into Essex. A short climb brought us to Catmere End which was followed by a long, pleasant descent along Chestnut Avenue towards the B1363 near Audley End and the final climb into Saffron Walden.

Morning coffee was to be at Bicicletta Coffee but when we arrived there were over twenty bikes outside and it looked pretty crowded inside. Several members were already there but the rest of us decided to wheel our bikes the short distance to The Temeraire and have coffee there instead. Although it's no surprise that a cycling cafe in a pretty town is busy at 11am on a Sunday morning, I was rather disappointed. Although quite a few members do prefer The Temeraire, I would much rather visit somewhere which offers good coffee and very actively welcomes cyclists rather than the admittedly much-cheaper beverages of the local Wetherspoons.

After coffee the group from Bicicletta Coffee came over and met us, and several of that group joined me for the next stage of the ride, to lunch in Langley Lower Green. We were still eight, though now we consisted of Sarah, Andy, Susan, Seb, Alex, David W, Adrian and me. Adrian made his own way there, leaving the remaining six to ride with me on a slightly longer route. This involved riding south to Debden crossroads and then via Widdington, Ugley, Rickling and Clavering. The good weather had brought rather a lot of motorists onto the roads, but once we reached the road to Widdington conditions became much quieter and the last hour before lunch was the most relaxed and enjoyable of the day.

Alex in Clavering Ford

We reached Langley Lower Green at 1pm exactly and stopped for lunch at The Bull. As was the case in January, we were made very welcome and had a very pleasant and relaxing meal.

After lunch at Langley Lower Green

After lunch it was time to head back north towards Cambridge. We took a relatively direct route, riding via Shaftenhoe End, Great Chishill and Heydon. By the time we reached the little plateau just north of Chrishall the weather had turned ominous, and there were a few drops of rain in the air. As we started the long descent down to Chrishall Grange it began to hail. This wasn't particulatly pleasant but didn't cause us any problems, and in any case were were on our way home and didn't have far to go.

We crossed the A505 to Fowlmere and took the loop via Thriplow to Newton. We said goodbye to David W there, and to Susan a mile further along the B1368 at the turn to Little Shelford. This left just Alex, Seb and me to continued along the B1368 to Harston and follow the route over Trumpington Meadows back into Cambridge.

When we reached Trumpington Park and Ride I had a puncture, so I waved the others on and wheeled my bike over to a sheltered area to change my tube. This chore was quickly completed and I continued on my way and onto the busway.

By now the hail had stopped, so I decided to take a short diversion along the Great Kneighton spine road to Long Road. This is essentially a building site, but with this part of Cambridge changing so fast it is always worth visiting to see what's new (in this case a big new school nearing completion). Here I discovered that I had another puncture, this time in the other wheel. Fortunately I had set off with two spare tubes so I still had one left, and once again it didn't take long before I was back on my way, rejoining the busway for the final mile or two into the city centre. I arrived home at 4.15pm having cycled 58 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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