Ray writes: With so many members away on a club trip to Lancashire this weekend, I wasn't expecting a big turnout for today's ride. In the event I was joined at Brookside only by Rupert and Keith. We took the usual route to the guided busway and DNA path to Great Shelford. We were making for Ickleton, and today I deviated from my usual route, via Duxford and Hinxton, instead turning right as we approached Whittlesford to take Hill Farm Road and the short cycle track alongside the A505 before crossing at the roundabout and heading in almost a straight line to Ickleton.
We climbed Coploe Hill and, with just a brief pause at the top, carried on to Catmere End, Littlebury Green, and down the hill to the B1039. I had intended to turn right here and proceed via Arksden and Wicken Bonhunt, but Rupert persuaded me to bypass that hill and led us in the opposite direction, to Wendens Ambo, where we turned onto Duck Street and minor roads most of the way to Newport. Here we turned east on Debden Road, which we followed all the way to our morning coffee stop.
Joseph met us on the road as we passed the Debden turn and, with a small group of fast riders aided by Rupert's shortcut, we arrived at the Mutton and Kipper a full 20 minutes earlier than planned to find Edmund was already there. Service was cheerful and efficient, and our coffee and bacon and egg sandwiches arrived quickly, so we were soon back on the road. Joseph and Ed joined us for the onward journey, while Keith left to make his own way home.
We took the B184 to Thaxted, but having now experienced the fast, aggressive driving on that stretch of B-road, I think next time I'll double-back and go via Debden. The traffic was better behaved after Thaxted, where we continued south on the B184 for a mile or so before turning onto minor roads to Lindsell. We continued south through Duck End and Bran End to Stebbing, and approached Andrew's Field from the south-west.
Once more we were met with friendly and efficient service, and we were on our way again by 1.10pm. As we had time in hand, Joseph and Rupert suggested another change to the planned route: instead of riding fairly directly to Finchingfield via Great Bardfield, we would take a more easterly route via Shalford. This is the usual route taken by the Thursday riders, and I was very happy to follow this meandering minor road.
At Finchingfield we re-joined the route programmed into my Garmin, which took us via Steeple Bumpstead to Helions Bumpstead. A direct route would have continued through Castle Camps, but I was keen to break the return with a cup of tea at Ashdon Museum, so we turned onto the road that would take us there via Steventon End. Joseph and Ed weren't tempted by the prospect of tea so left us for a more direct route to Linton. After a brief stop to tighten the bolt clamping my brake lever to the handlebars, Rupert and I arrived at the museum and enjoyed home-baked cakes and two pots of tea for two.
Refreshed with tea, we embarked on the final leg through Bartlow, Balsham and Fulbourn. We'd had a side-wind for most of the day but hit it head-on on the descent to Fulbourn, where we found ourselves pedalling downhill. We cycled towards the city along Fulbourn Old Drift, and when we reached the traffic lights on Coldham's Lane, Rupert suggested we continue straight-on and cross Coldham's Common - a novelty for me, but after crossing Newmarket Road and Stourbridge Common we came out conveniently at the Green Dragon bridge.
The final drama of the day was to find Arbury Road closed to traffic: the traffic-calming chicane had caught out a driver who must have mounted the kerb, hit a bollard, and flipped their car onto its roof. Fortunately this was passable by wheeling my bike along the pavement for a few yards. I arrived home having cycled 78 miles. Thank you to Rupert and Joseph for the route suggestions, and to everyone for their company on the ride. Ray Miller.
Download GPS track (GPX).