Joining me to share these experiences tonight were Ray, Neil and Dimitris, with Gareth arriving a few minutes too late to meet us at the start and joining us at the pub later.
We set off south from Brookside and followed our usual route south to Great Shelford and on through Little Shelford and Whittlesford to Duxford. When we reached Duxford, instead of continuing directly to Ickleton, Ray suggested we turn left towards and took the loop via Hinxton (and its eponymous ford) instead.
Normally we don't have time to go via Hinxton because we're rushing to get round the Catmere End loop but this evening my plan was to take the shorter Royston Lane loop so we had some time in hand.
We climbed Coploe Hill and paused, as usual, at the top to admire the fine view of brown, freshly-harvested or ready-to-harvest fields in all directions. We then carried on down the other side and turned onto the scenic swichback of Royston Lane.
Royston Lane ends at Chrishall Grange. This is where the hilly, scenic part of any evening ride ends and is replaced by a run along the flat to our chosen pub. Tonight we were heading for Barrington, so we crossed over the A505 and continued north to Fowlmere. From here to Barrington the obvious route would have been via Shepreth, but tonight - following another suggestion by Ray - we took the route via Foxton instead, which was a very pleasant change.
We arrived the Royal Oak in Barrington just as the sun was setting, at about 8.20pm. Gareth was sitting outside: he had missed us at the start and cycled a loop to the west before arriving at the pub a few minutes before us. We ordered bowls of chips and joined him.
Beet and chips at The Royal Oak, Barrington
By the time we were ready to set off for home it was quite dark, and the temperature had dropped enough for me to be glad that I had brought a gilet and armwarmers. Climbing Chapel Hill in the dark (and after a pint of beer) is always a special experience, and I enjoyed the journey home via Haslingfield, Barton and the Barton Road cycleway. It's very easy to get separated in the dark, and with Gareth disappearing ahead of me and the others somewhere behind I found myself riding the final few kilometres into Cambridge on my own. I arrived home at 9.50pm, having cycled 56km (34 miles). Nigel Deakin
Download GPS track (GPX).