Sunday, 8 May 2016

8 May: Afternoon ride to Ashwell

Ray writes: The Sunday afternoon rides have been hit-and-miss of late, with no leader for the last two, but today I was firmly in the saddle. It was the warmest and brightest day of the year so far, and four riders joined me at Brookside: John E, Mike K, Neil and Stan. Stan had fallen victim last week to the leaderless ride, turning up at Brookside to find himself the only person there.

Today he had some company, and the five of us set off across Lamas Land to leave Cambridge via the Barton Road cycle path. We took a standard route through Haslingfield, over Chapel Hill to Barrington, then Orwell and through the grounds of Wimpole Hall to Arrington.

Here we ran into an obstacle: the gate at the far end of the Wimpole grounds was closed. This was a first for me but, not wanting to retrace our steps, we scouted around and found an escape route, scaling two fences, manhandling the bikes over, and crossing a field of nettles. As the last two were climbing over, I tried the gate again from this side and, to my surprise, it swung open. We just needed to pull harder!

We set off again, up the hill to Croydon, then down to the B1042 where we turned right and followed the B-road through Tadlow and Eyeworth before turning left onto the delightful quiet late that would take us into Ashwell.

We arrived at the tea room just after 4pm. Today was the "Ashwell at Home" village open day. We didn't call at any of the exhibits, but the tea room was much busier than usual leading us to split into two groups, with some sitting inside and three of us standing outside with our cups of tea. A minute or two after we arrived, Simon joined us at the tea room having ridden direct from home.

We discussed the options for the route home over tea. I suggested we go back over Chapel Hill rather than the flat route we usually take through Fowlmere and, as there was no threat of a mutiny, we set off with that in mind. The first part of these two routes is the same in any case: Steeple Morden, Litlington, Bassingbourn, and Meldreth where, instead of turning right for Melbourn and Fowlmere, we carried on towards Shepreth and took a left turn down Malton Lane to Orwell.

After retracing our steps through Barrington and over the hill to Haslingfield, Mike and Simon turned right for a track through Cantelupe Farm, while the rest of us retraced our outward route as far as the Coton turn, where we left the main road to cross Coton Countryside Reserve and pick up the cycle path into town.

John remarked as we crossed the reserve, "a jolly nice way to end the ride." I arrived home having cycled 51 miles. Ray Miller

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