Sunday, 3 July 2016

3 Jul: Sunday ride to St Neots, Kimbolton and Over

Nigel writes: After several disappointing weeks of cool and wet weather, normal summer service seems to have resumed and today was warm and sunny right from the start; the first time this year I haven't needed arm warmers or a gilet at 9am. I was the leader today, and rode across to Brookside to find six riders waiting to join me for today's "full day" ride: Rupert, Peter, John S, Sheila, Ian W and Ian B. That's quite a small turn out, even by Sunday standards, though it wasn't unexpected since fine summer weather often means our members have other calls on their time than cycling.


Our morning coffee stop today was in St Neots, and to get there we followed exactly the same route as we did when Conrad led us there on 19th June. Conrad had already identified the best direct route there, and I saw no reason to do anything different. This involved heading west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton and then following the B1046 through Comberton and Toft to Bourn.

The ford at Caxton End

At Bourn we left the main road and turned towards Caxton, passing through the fords of Caxton End along the way.

The road to Caxton

On the road between Caxton and Great Gransden Ian B reported that one of his pedals had become unscrewed and we all stopped. On closer inspection it became clear that the bearings had become completely seized up and would no longer turn. There was little that could be done and Ian decided to return back to Cambridge, riding awkwardly on just a single pedal.

The rest of us continued on, passing through Waresley on our way to St Neots where we stopped for coffee at the Ambience Cafe in Riverside Park. Already there were Adrian and Richard-from-Bedford.

Afterwards Peter returned back to Cambridge whilst Adrian and Richard made their own way to lunch at their own pace, leaving Rupert, John S, Ian W and Sheila to ride with me to lunch. This was in Kimbolton, which was only about ten miles away, and although I added a couple of short loops to extend the distance we were there in just over an hour, arriving there at about 1pm exactly.

Kimbolton Castle

We stopped for lunch at Oliver's Cafe in the main street. I went in to ask whether we could bring our bikes around the back, and was invited to wheel our bikes in through the front instead. I really can't fault the staff here: we were made extremely welcome and although the menu is quite simple, when the food itself arrived it was very well presented and appetising. Adrian and Richard were already there, and after a while we were joined by Vin and Dr John, who had made their own way there, and by Susan, making a total of nine.

Lunch at Oliver's Cafe, Kimbolton

Preparing to set off after lunch in Kimbolton

When we emerged from the cafe after lunch we discovered that the sun had come back out again and some of us paused to reapply sunscreen. Then we set off for the longest stage of today's ride, a sweeping clockwise loop that would take us to our afternoon tea stop in Over. We started off by going north, crossing the A14 just north of Spaldwick and then climbing the notorious Belton's Hill to Barham. This is not a big hill, even by Cambridgeshire standards, but it's still short and sharp and appears completely unexpectedly in an area which is otherwise very flat.

Belton's Hill

The steep section is followed by a much gentler ride up to Barham, where we turned east towards Wooley and Alconbury Weston.

Approaching Barham

Alconbury Weston was followed by another short climb up to Alconbury Hill, but after that we were back on the flat. We continued east to Wennington and Little Raveley before turning south to King's Ripton and a short run along the B1090 to RAF Wyton. Here a right turn and another unexpected hill - this time downwards - took us to Houghton. From there a pleasant trundle along the Thicket Path brought us to St Ives, where we joined the busway for the short distance to Over.

Tea today was a "home tea" Mike CC's house in Over, where Mike and his wife Helen had prepared a fine spread of sandwiches, savoury snacks and cakes for us to enjoy. A few minutes later Simon arrived with the Sunday afternoon ride, and there were quite a few other members who had made their own way there. As in previous years this was a very pleasant and sociable occasion, and like all our home teas was a highlight of the club's year. Many thanks are due once again to Mike and Helen for their hospitality.

Tea at Mike CC's in Over

One member I was particularly pleased to see was Ian B, who we had last seen during the morning limping back to Cambridge on just a single pedal and who had come back out to tea on a different bike.

A fine spread

I wasn't in any hurry to return home and was content to sit in the shade of Mike's gazebo, chatting, drinking tea and trying to resist the temptation to go back for yet another cake. When eventually the time came to set off for home it turned out that everyone else on the day ride had already left, and so, freed from the responsibilities of ride leadership, enjoyed a brisk ride back along the busway with Alex. I arrived home at 6.15pm, having cycled 127km (79 miles)

Download GPS track (GPX).

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