By heading out to Withersfield, which is more than 20 miles distant, there are few options of route when aiming to be at coffee by 11am. Thus the plan was to go by the Botanic Garden and via Brooklands Avenue to join the busway at the station. In the event Rupert, that well know free spirit, practised his well rehearsed routine and was almost out of sight in seconds, heading off past Brooklands Avenue and down Trumpington Road. Too far ahead to be heard so there was no alternative but to adjust the route to join the busway from Long Road.
Finally we were all together on the busway and DNA path to Great Shelford for the rather uninteresting ride along to Sawston. We used the cycleway to Babraham and then the A505 cycleway to Great Abington. The good news is that the Cambridge News reported this week on the beginning of construction of the cycleway through the Babraham Institute.
The weather today was distinctly autumnal with a brisk north easterly wind and after recent rides this was an unpleasant shock to the system. After Great Abington came Hildersham and the long climb up to Balsham and West Wratting. We now had the four miles over Wratting Common to reach our destination, arriving about 11.15am to find the Hauxton group already enjoying their cakes.
Bradman's has been used about three time now and they looked after us very well and it is still developing the cricketing theme with one bar displaying the letters Bodyline, enough to make visiting Australians wince! Despite the weather, which by now was looking a bit less promising, there were probably about twenty-five of us there; some of course would be returning home after coffee.
At about 11.50am we started the second leg of our ride through Withersfield into Great Wratting where we turned north taking the quiet lane up to the A143. Unfortunately Susan had a front wheel puncture and, cue Mike, who duly played the leading role in getting her on the road again. By agreement Sarah's group went ahead, leaving a small group of six to follow on once the repairs were complete.
Mike on puncture duty
We turned south on the A143 for a few hundred yards before turning off to head in the direction of Hundon. At last we were on much quieter country lanes and this would have all been very pleasant were it not for the onset of rain, not very heavy maybe but the waterproofs had to go on. At the turning for Brockley Green, which was on the route Andy and I had agreed, we took Adrian's advice and went a little further on before turning south to make for Stoke by Clare. The purpose of this was to avoid the steep climbs on the road to Brockley Green - and Adrian's advice is always worth taking.
We reached Stoke by Clare and then climbed up to Ashen followed by the road across the old airfield to Tilbury Juxta Clare and then the final run into Great Yeldham and the Waggon and Horses. Much to our surprise we were the first to arrive - now how did this happen as our route, although different, was no shorter? The chairman would surely have words, and sure enough he did! However, it turned out that they had had a couple of punctures (or was it trying to keep Rupert in check?)
Also having lunch was a group of 40 Plus riders from Essex and we had to wait a little longer to be served but everyone seemed satisfied and it was a lot better than being out in the rain which had now started in earnest. At 2.20pm eleven set off for home in steady rain all the way to Stambourne. It wasn't all that pleasant riding with the rain and the wind but we pressed on through both the Bumpsteads and then Castle Camps.
The ascent out of Castle Camps was the last serious climb of the day, much to Mike CC’s relief, and at the Ashdon turning we left Sarah and Andy with thanks for their efforts during the day.
This left us to press on through Bartlow and Linton. The A1307 at this point was incredibly busy and it took some time to get over. One is always aware of the appalling fatality rate on this road. We finished the ride as the city group had started, though Hildersham, Abington, A505 cycleway, Babraham, Sawston, arriving in Great Shelford at 5pm, ironically with the sun shining. For those going back to Cambridge this would have been a ride of 58 miles. Edward Elmer
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