Sunday, 31 July 2016

31 Jul: Sunday ride to Thaxted, Terling and Ashdon

Nigel writes: After a rather strenuous ride last weekend, I had been looking forward to a relaxing, gentle-paced day out on the bike today. In the event it turned out to be one of our longest and fastest-paced Sunday club rides of the year so far. Fortunately that didn't prevent it being a very enjoyable and satisfying ride.

Today's all-day ride was described in the rides list as a Sunday Longer Ride. We only have a handful of these rides a year: they are described as being a little longer, and a little faster than our normal Sunday rides, and in the past they have tended to be rather niche affairs, attracting three or four riders. However there's clearly a growing interest in the club for slightly longer rides, since we had up to a dozen riders out today, all riding rather faster than our normal moderate pace.


Our leader today was Alex, and when I arrived at Brookside just before today's 9am start I found him accompanied by Mike P, Eva, Ray, Rupert, Camille, newcomer Ned and Greg. That's nine in total. Our morning coffee stop was in Thaxted, and since that is a good 24 miles from Brookside Alex led us there by a fairly direct route. We made our way south out of Cambridge to Great SHelford, taking the direct route along Trumpington and Shelford roads rather than our more usual but slightly longer route via the busway.

In Great Shelford we rejoined our usual route south, continuing through Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. It became apparent right from the start that the pace today would be brisk, with several riders setting a strong pace at the front. However we had quite a strong group today, with no-one trailing at the back.

Today was a fine warm day, rather cloudy but quite bright with long spells of warm sunshine, particularly in the morning: excellent weather for a bike ride. A light but noticeable wind blew steadily from the west for the whole day, which gave us a bit of a tailwind in the morning, and a noticeable headwind on the way home.

We climbed Coploe Hill, with Alex breaking with tradition by riding on over the summit without stopping: he knew we had a long way to go today, and wanted to get us to coffee as quickly as possible.

Climbing Coploe Hill

Half-way up the hill we met Dave W coming towards us: he promptly turned around and joined us.

Climbing Coploe Hill

Climbing Coploe Hill

At the cross-roads beyond we turned left and climbed up "Heavy Hill" before dropping back down to Littlebury. From there we followed the B1383 for a couple of km to Audley End before turning east to Saffron Walden.

Climbing Heavy Hill towards Littlebury

Climbing Heavy Hill towards Littlebury

By now we were riding so fast that I wondered whether the people at the front were under the impression that we were stopping there for coffee, and so were tiring themselves out in expectation of an extended stop. However my suspicion was clearly mistaken, since when we turned south onto the Debden Road and began to leave Saffron Walden behind their brisk pace continued.

We followed the Debden Road all the way to Debden and continued to Thaxted, where we stopped for coffee and cake at Parrishes Restaurant. It was 10.45am. Outside the cafe we found Adrian and Doug, and whilst we there we were joined by Edmund, Eva, Susan and Joseph.


After cofffe we set off once more towards our lunch stop in Terling, a tiny village south of Braintree. With Edmund, Eva, Susan and Joseph joining our group, and (very unusually) no-one leaving it, we were now a group of twelve, though somehow we managed to depart without Joseph and he ended up making his way to lunch on his own.

Setting off after coffee in Thaxted

With Terling being a relatively distant lunch stop Alex took us there by a fairly direct route: east to Great Bardfield, south to Great Saling and then south-east along more unfamilar roads to Terling.

Speeding along towards lunch in Terling

We arrived at Terling at about 12.45pm, with Joseph rejoining us at about the same time. Our lunch stop was the Owl's Hill Tea Room. I think this was the first time that any of us had been here, and when we arrived it turned out to be a charming little cottage in the middle of the village, with a very simple (but perfectly adequate) menu of sandwiches. They seemed well-organised efficient (it's always reassuring to have your name taken when you order) but the food took quite a long time to arrive, perhaps because they were fairly busy and we were quite a large group. Nevertheless it was a very pleasant place, and quite cycle-friendly, with cycle tubes and a pump available.

Lunch at Owl's Hill Tea Room. Terling

After lunch Alex rounded us up for the next stage of the ride which would take us back north to our afternoon tea stop in Ashdon.

Setting off after lunch

We were now riding into a headwind, but that didn't slow down the pace. Unusually it wasn't just one or two strong riders at the front who were setting the pace: everyone seemed to be riding more quickly than normal.

The peloton

Alex's route north (which was carefully contrived to avoid intersecting with our southward soute) took us through Rayne and Shalford to Finchingfield, and from there via Radwinter to Ashdon. Somewhere between Shalford and Finchingfield we discovered that we'd lost our leader, and only half the group was with us. A phone call to Alex quickly established that Mike P had sustained a puncture, and Alex and the rest of the group was keeping him company whilst he fixed it.

I continued on with the front group, arriving for tea at the Ashdon Village Museum at 3.45pm. The place seems to have had a bit of a makeover, but the cafe was as delightful as ever. After about ten minutes we were joined by Alex and the remainder of the group, and we spent a very pleassnt 45 minutes or so sitting outside with pots of tea and plates of excellent cake, with a moist frangipane tart proving particularly popular. Already at the cafe was Mike S, who joined us for a while before setting off home on his own.

Afternoon tea at the Ashdon Museum

The afternoon ride arrived just before we set off back to Cambridge. We left them to enjoy their tea and rode back via Bartlow, a short climb to Balsham, and a long, fast descent to Fulbourn. We continued into Cambridge via the Old Drift, Church End and The Tins before various riders started peeling off along Mill Road. I arrived home at 5.45pm, having cycled 139km (86 miles), probably our longest Sunday ride this year. Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. During the all day ride on Sunday there was a painful moment of disturbance at lunch when it was discovered that we were only circa half a dozen miles from Maldon. our esteemed leader Alex confirmed which one it was: Of ‘The Battle Of Maldon fame’!

    There was some bemusement when no one actually knew anything more about said battle - other than that Alex claimed some strategic mistake was made during it.

    I volunteered to research the issue so that should we ride out that way again we would be a better informed group!

    The Battle of Maldon took place three weeks before Whitsun on 10 (possibly 11) August 991 AD near Maldon beside the River Blackwater in Essex, England, during the reign of Aethelred the Unready. Earl Byrhtnoth and his thegns led the English against a Viking invasion. The battle ended in an Anglo-Saxon defeat. After the battle Archbishop Sigeric of Canterbury and the aldermen of the south-western provinces advised King Aethelred to buy off the Vikings rather than continue the armed struggle. The result was a payment of 10,000 Roman pounds (3,300 kg) of silver, the first example of Danegeld in England.

    With the ebb of the tide, Olaf's forces began an assault across the small land bridge. Three Anglo-Saxon warriors, Wulfstan, Aelfhere and Maccus blocked the bridge, successfully engaging any Vikings who pressed forward.[3] The Viking commander requested that Byrhtnoth allow his troops onto the shore for formal battle. Byrhtnoth, for his ofermōde (line 89b), let the enemy force cross to the mainland. Battle was joined, but an Englishman called Godrīc fled riding Byrhtnoth's horse. Godrīc's brothers Godwine and Godwīg followed him. Then many English fled, recognizing the horse and thinking that its rider was Byrhtnoth fleeing.

    This post hopefully indisputably proves that CTC Cambridge is good both for body and brain!