On the climb up to Balsham we stopped at a lay-by to remove our waterproofs as the drizzle had completely stopped. The wind was in the west which helped with our progress, although the ride back would be a bit more formidable. We went through Balsham, West Wratting and Carlton Green which took us onto the quiet stretch of road to Little Thurlow.
Carlton Green to Little Thurlow
This just left us with two more miles of quiet road to the A143, leaving a mile to arrive at Adam’s in Stradishall at just after 11.30am. We arrived just after the Brookside starters led by Peter W, but sadly with only two other riders.
Coffee at Stradishall
We were joined at coffee by John S (riding fixed), Peter Woodward, Joseph and Geoff and later by Vic F. Whilst dismounting from her bike Anne badly gashed her leg which needed some medical attention. We rang Wickhambrook Surgery and Geoff and Rupert volunteered to escort Anne there and we hope that all is well with her. With Rupert no longer with us there would be no further suggestions of curtailing the ride because of having to face the wind for the journey home. Service at Adam’s had been a bit slow as there was only one member of staff, but we still managed to leave by midday.
We now joined the rolling Suffolk countryside and with the wind behind us we made good progress through Denston, Hawkeden and Rede. When we reached Whepstead Joseph took the lead and guided us on quiet roads via Hawstead, past Nowton Park and then into Bury St Edmunds to our lunch stop at the Abbey Gardens, arriving at 1.45 and 41 miles.
Lunch in Abbey Gardens, Bury St. Edmunds
The upside of indifferent weather is that there were not too many people around and we found two tables side by side to eat our sandwiches, which were handily close to a kiosk selling drinks. It was very pleasant indeed sitting in the gardens and just before we left we were able to admire the beautiful flower beds.
Flower Beds in Abbey Gardens
Flower Beds in Abbey Gardens
By 2.20pm we started again and this time Adrian, that well known encyclopaedia of all roads and byways in East Anglia, led us out of the town and he took us onto NCN 51 heading west into the wind on our way to Little Saxham. We alternately headed west and south and so our journey wasn’t too arduous and the hedgerows played their part in protecting us from the wind. We went through Barrow, Dalham, Cheveley, Woodditton and then the run down from Stetchworth to Dullingham. Peter left us here and we made our way to the Brinkley to Six Mile Bottom road where Joseph, Edmund and Peter Woodward left us.
This just left the last five to go down to Six Mile Bottom, that well known race track to Little Wilbraham, where Adrian left us leaving just five to head through Great Wilbraham and Fulbourn, where John S left us. This left us with the unwelcome ride over the Gogs before finishing the ride via the DNA path to Great Shelford. Mia, Sheila and Susan completed the full circuit of 80 miles back to Hauxton finishing just after 5.30 pm. A long Thursday ride but definitely worth the effort and thanks to Joseph and Adrian for helping out with the route, especially around Bury St Edmunds, and to Geoff and Rupert for taking care of Anne. Edward Elmer
Download GPS track (GPX).