Sunday, 9 October 2016

9 Oct: Sunday ride to Depden, Lavenham and West Wratting

Mike P writes: I arrived at Brookside to meet just three riders today, namely Eva, Tom and Mike CC later to be joined by Rupert on Chesterton Meadow. Several of the usual Sunday riders had been Audaxing on the previous day so I expected the turnout would be smaller than usual.

The morning promised good autumnal weather. It was mainly dry and bright although there was the threat of an occasional heavy shower coming through on a moderate northerly breeze.

As one of the last "three-stop" summer rides the route from Brookside was relatively demanding so we set off at a reasonable pace to Dullingham, riding via Six Mile Bottom rather than electing to detour through Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck. Thereafter we skirted the south side of Newmarket to Cheveley and Ashley before hitting rolling single-track country lanes to arrive at Depden farm shop and café just before 11.30am.

After a welcome coffee, bacon roll and cake, Mike CC and Rupert headed back to Cambridge. Their discussion about a pub stop on the way sounded tempting.

This left just Eva, Tom and myself to head east to lunch at Lavenham. Despite having cycled this section of the route only the day before I still managed to miss a couple of turns between Chedburgh and Stanningfield. Nonetheless, with the wind on our backs we pushed hard and made excellent time arriving at Lavenham at 1.15 pm. The sun obligingly came out whilst we ate lunch on the benches outside the Guildhall. Tom applied sun cream.

Leaving at 1.45pm we headed west to our pre-ordered tea stop at the Chestnut Tree Pub in West Wratting. This is a challenging section with plenty of rolling Suffolk countryside to put under our wheels before 4pm, not made any easier by an unplanned detour to Harrow Green. At least the route back to Hartest was all downhill.

A short time later, as we approached Denston, our luck with the weather ran out when we were caught in a heavy and prolonged shower. We dived for cover for a while but elected to continue on in the rain and under unrelenting dark clouds. Fortunately, the shower dissipated before too long and thereafter we made good progress on largely dry roads west of Highpoint onwards to West Wratting via Great Thurlow.

After a refreshing tea at the Chestnut Tree, where we joined by the afternoon group, we headed back to Cambridge via Balsham and Fulbourn, where both Tom and Eva peeled off to their respective routes home. I continued on through Cambridge, passing Brookside at 5.35 pm having ridden 134km (84 miles) at an average speed of 21.3 km/ hour (13.31 mph). Mike Pearce

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