Sunday, 12 June 2016

12 Jun: Sunday ride to Newmarket, Hawstead and Fordham

Nigel writes: Today was dull and overcast, with a constant threat of rain that occasionally turned into actual rain. However with pleasantly warm temperatures in prospect we had a good turn out at Brookside for today's ride, with Alex, Li, Dr John, newcomer Robert, Ray, Paul, Mike CC and Chris joining me and our leader Keith for today's full day ride east into Suffolk.

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

We set off east from Brookside, crossing Parker's Piece (where the Town and Country fair was setting up for its second day), continuing down to the river and following NCN 51 (which for this section is known as the "Jubilee Cycleway") to Quy.

On the Jubilee Cycleway approaching the P&R

Our coffee stop today was to be in Newmarket, followed by a lunch stop at the Maglia Rossi cycle shop and cafe in Hawstead. Keith explained that since the lunch stop was relatively distant, we would be stopping for coffee earlier than usual and so would be taking a fairly direct route to Newmarket. This involved following the B1102 past Lode and through the Swaffhams to Burwell. This is a relatively busy road but fortunately it has a shared-use path almost all the way.

Approaching Swaffham Prior

When we reached Burwell we turned right onto the rather quieter Heath Road to Exning from where we followed the B1103 into Newmarket.

We arrived at Coffee & Co in Newmarket at 10.30am, a full half-hour earlier than usual. Although this is a pleasant cafe, nicely-located in a quiet location just off the High Street, service can become rather slow and disorganised at busy times. Today, however, there weren't many other customers and for most of us our coffees and cakes arrived a bit quicker then usual. Nevertheless the staff still managed to lose track of what had been ordered and had to ask people who they had forgotten to give their orders a second time. This really isn't good enough, and could be easily avoided by recording orders properly and either taking names or giving people order numbers.

Coffee & Co, Newmarket

Already at the cafe was Vic and a short while later we were joined by Adrian and by Joseph. After half an hour someone new turned up, asking whether we were CTC Cambridge. This was Will, who had just missed us at Brookside and had made his own way to Newmarket to join us for his first Sunday ride.

As usual, several riders turned back for home leaving eight of us to carry on to lunch: Alex, Joseph, Ray, Li, Conrad, Chris, Keith and me. We climbed east out of Newmarket on the B1063 to Ashley before turning onto quieter roads through Dalham, Chevington and Whepstead. As we rode along we encountered a steady stream of cyclists coming the other way. They were all displaying a number on their handlebars so were clearly taking part on an organised event. I asked someone what event this was. They said that this was the Newmarket Hilly Cycle Sportive, and wearily confirmed that the route was indeed hilly. Our route was fairly hilly as well: I had forgotten quite how rolling this part of Suffolk can be.


We arrived at Hawstead at 12.30pm and stopped for lunch at the celebrated Maglia Rosso cycle shop and cafe. I had visited this place for the first time only three weeks ago and was looking forward to another visit.

Arriving at Maglia Rosso, Hawstead

The cafe has a very pleasant outdoor eating area but we felt a few spots of rain and sat inside to eat.

Lunch at Maglia Rosso, Hawstead

After a while it began to rain more steadily. It was clearly just a short that would pass over before so long, so we decided to linger at the cafe, ordering second cups of coffee and exploring their selection of cakes. At about the same time Lesley and Roger turned up and joined us.

Cycle parking at Maglia Rosso, Hawstead

It was still raining lightly when it became time to set off again, so we put on waterproofs before making our way north towards Bury St Edmunds.

Between Hawstead and Bury

As we had hoped, the rain soon stopped and the waterproofs were able to come off again. We didn't go into the centre of Bury but simply skirted the southern suburbs before turning west onto NCN 51 towards Little Saxham and Barrow. For this section of the ride we were joined by Lesley and Roger on their electrically-assisted bikes.

Between Barrow and Higham

When we reached Gazeley we turned north to Kentford. My right knee had been giving me intermittent trouble for the past few hours and I was rather relieved to be making the transition from this attractive but rolling part of Suffolk to the flatter Cambridgeshire countryside north of the A14. My knee stopped hurting and after we reached Kennet I found my speed increasing for the final few miles along the B1085 through Chippenham to Fordham, with Alex following just behind.

Alex and I arrived at Simpson's Nurseries in Fordham at 3.45pm, about five minutes ahead of the others. We parked our bikes and went inside the cafe. I had already eaten two large cakes already today and didn't particularly want a third, so but a bowl of trifle looked list the thing instead.

Nigel's tea was just a trifle at Simpson's Nurseries, Fordham

After about half an hour we were joined by Ian W and the afternoon ride: it looked as if there were about half a dozen riders. We left them to enjoy their tea and set off for the final stage of the ride back to Cambridge.

Setting off from tea at Simpson's Nurseries, Fordham

Our route home took us along the B1102 to Burwell where we turned north towards Reach and the Lodes Way to Lode, Bottisham and back into Cambridge. I arrived home at about 6.10pm, having cycled 126km (78 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

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