Thursday, 31 March 2016

31 Mar: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Ely

Edward writes: After a long wait we finally had the prospect of a fine, sunny day with temperatures above that of many recent days. It was cold overnight at about zero or one degree centigrade but at 9:30am the sun was shining and at Haslingfield Green eighteen riders assembled - the Brookside start had seven. Interestingly twenty-five was the number Cottenham Community Centre was told to expect but, of course, this wouldn’t take into account those riding out independently. Our leader today was John Seton for this ride out into the Fens to Cottenham and Ely.

Approaching Comberton

With eighteen riders we set off in two groups of nine with the second group following on some minutes after the first group left. This took us out to Harlton where we turned right into Washpit Lane which took us up to the A603 and onto the road into Comberton. The breeze, although it was never a feature of the day, was in the north and thus slightly cool as we rode into it. At the junction in Comberton we crossed straight over to join the appropriately named Long Road that climbs all the way up to Hardwick. We went down into Madingley, Dry Drayton, over the A14 into Oakington.

Dry Drayton

It was when we reached Oakington that the tactics went a little awry as the first group had evidently taken the road through the former airfield to Longstanton where they would join the busway. The second group went through Oakington to the busway and then headed to Longstanton. About halfway along we had the unusual experience of the two groups passing one another. John, with the first group later turned off the busway onto a track which leads to Rampton whilst the second group, once it had reached Longstanton, made its way to Willingham and then Rampton. So now everybody was back on the same route as we finally arrived in Cottenham for our coffee break, all of us before 11.15am.

Needless to say there were many who arrived independently and with so many people moving around it’s difficult to say how many exactly, but certainly in excess of thirty. We had a nice break at the Community Centre; it has very pleasant staff and is a popular stop for us.

By 11.45 am everybody was on the way again with three groups, four if you count Adrian and Richard M who took an off-road route via Long Drove. All others went along Twenty Pence Road for five miles northwards to Wilburton, and a sign of Spring as the fields of oil seed rape are now coming into flower; in a week or two it will all be a sea of yellow.

Grunty Fen, Wilburton

Grunty Fen, Wentworth

After Wilburton we went across Grunty Fen to Wentworth and the A142. When we had crossed this road we headed towards Coveney which rises above the surrounding Fen and can be seen from a long way out. Coveney was a prearranged regrouping point and this gave some the opportunity to take a slightly longer route to Ely via Little Downham, whilst two sub groups took a more direct route which for the four remaining miles always had the benefit of a view out to the Cathedral.

Coveney

We do not have a fixed lunch spot in Ely so groups spread themselves around: fish and chips were popular, also sitting by the river with a packed lunch and The Cutter on the riverside. The sun was really making an effort today and for those by the river it was particularly pleasant and it was noticeable how busy the railway is with hardly a minute or two without a passing train, either passenger or freight.

Approaching Ely

By 2.30pm we were all under way again; some had left to go towards St Ives, and John led the main group and Rupert led a smaller number back to Cambridge. We left Ely alongside the river on the track called Fen River Way to Padney, Barway and Wicken and joined the A1123 for a few hundred metres up to the turning to Upware and a ride along the Lodes Way across Swaffham Prior Fen and Bottisham Fen.

Lodes Way

This took us to Lode, but just before the village we stopped at a little farm shop selling takeaway coffee and tea. This was fortunate for some but the machine broke down before the last two could be served, so they went without! It was no problem as we were close to finishing our ride which took us along the main road to Stow-cum-Quy, up to the turning for Fen Ditton where our group broke up to go their separate ways.

Lode

As usual our thanks to John for our ride which was a splendid day out, lovely weather and almost everybody would have had 60 miles under their belts. Edward Elmer



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30 Mar: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: Now that we've put our clocks forward by an hour the evenings have suddenly got lighter and our Wednesday evening rides have changed from monthly to weekly. As if to celebrate the arrival of the new season (and perhaps as compensation for a dismal Easter), tonight's ride took place on a perfect spring evening: dry and sunny with the lightest of breezes. My companions for this evening's ride were Tom and Gareth who joined me at Brookside, Seb who joined us on Trumpington Road, and John S who was waiting for us in Great Shelford.

We set off south from Brookside, following Trumpington Road, Long Road, the busway and the DNA path to Great Shelford. As usual Gareth was riding ahead of the others, and when we became separated from him at the level crossing in Great Shelford he gave us a wave and set off on own.

The rest of us carried on south through Little Shelford to Whittlesford and Ickleton. Even without Gareth to push up the pace our speed this evening was quite brisk, and we arrived at the top of Coploe Hill in just under an hour, just in time to watch the sun set.

Coploe Summit at sunset

We descended from Coploe and took the right turn onto Royston Lane towards Chrishall Grange. This is quite a bit shorter than the longer loop we sometimes take via Catmere End and Littlebury Green, but the extra time came in handy when Tom incurred a puncture and we stopped whilst he replaced his tube.

Royston Lane

Now that the sun had set the temperature was dropping rapidly, reminding us that it is still March, and my fingers and toes began to feel the cold. Fortunately we didn't have far to go, and after crossing the A505 to Fowlmere and adding in a short loop via the RSPB to Shepreth, we reached The Plough in Shepreth at 8.30pm exactly. Gareth was already there, having ridden the longer loop via Catmere End, Littlebury Green and Elmdon.

We'd been impressed by this pub when we visited it for the first time last summer, and our visit this evening confirmed that good impression. It's a large, smart pub (which feels incongruous in such a small village), and our orders of chips were fulfilled quickly.

At The Plough, Shepreth

After a pleasant half hour in the pub we set off back to Cambridge via Barrington, Chapel Hill, Haslingfield and Barton. I arrived home at 10.05pm having cycled 33 miles.



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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Spring rides with CTC Cambridge

Spring has at last arrived, and we're adjusting our weekly programme of cycle rides to reflect the improving weather and the lengthening evenings. For our complete diary of rides see our April rides list.

Starting Sunday 3rd April the start time of our main Sunday rides changes to 9.00am and these rides will become slightly longer. Our Sunday afternoon rides will continue to start at 1.00pm, though the time of our afternoon tea stop will change to 3.30pm to allow us a slightly longer ride.

Our Wednesday evening rides become weekly from 30th March onwards. Join us at Brookside at 6pm for a two-hour ride through our favourite local lanes. After watching the shadows lengthen and the sun eventually set, we stop at a pub for about half an hour before heading directly back to Cambridge.

All our other rides continue as normal. Our ride every Thursday continues with parallel village and city centre starts points but the same coffee and lunch stops. Our senior cyclists' group continues to meet for lunch every Tuesday, and our leisurely Saturday short social rides continue twice a month.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

27 Mar: Sunday ride to St Ives

John writes: Today was Easter Sunday and so I was expecting most riders to be at home with families or in church, so it was good to still find at Brookside Rupert, Sheila, Keith, Susan and Paul.

I warned the small group that having already experienced very strong blustery conditions on the ride from home in Swavesey that with us going back a similar route all needed to be wary especially of crosswinds.

Brookside

We set off the now familiar route out of Cambridge via Silver Street, Grange Road and out onto Huntingdon Road. From there we crossed over toward Girton and then picked up the busway. With our coffee stop today at St Ives being fairly close to the start I decided to turn off the busway at Oakington and ride out toward Cottenham with a fantastic tailwind. From there we picked up Rampton Road and cycled through Rampton, into Willingham and down into Over where we encountered for the first time really strong head and cross winds. Just before we again reached the busway at Swavesey we picked up Mike CC who was riding from home straight to coffee.

We reached St Ives and the River Tea Rooms just after 11am and found Adrian and David W already there. We all ordered a well deserved coffee/tea and cakes and were soon also joined by Ed and Mick C and then Seb and Alex.

Just before we started the debate as to what we would do for the afternoon planned ride to St Neots the skies darkened and the rain and hail started to lash down. Our collective minds were easily made up – we were all going to head back home along the busway (again!) as quickly as possible.

The round trip was a breezy 35 miles but an enjoyable coffee stop and then back to families and dogs.

Thank you to all who joined me today to make a very pleasant relatively short ride. John Ross

Thursday, 24 March 2016

24 Mar: Thursday ride to Potton and Old Warden

Edward writes: This morning’s weather was overcast, but not cold. The wind had finally shifted from the East and was in its predominant westerly quarter. The forecast predicted light rain by about 1pm or 2 pm but by that time we would soon be on our way home and so if there was any rain it would be with a following wind.

Today’s ride, which was led by Tony from Haslingfield Green and Sean from Brookside, was to take us to Potton for coffee and the air museum at Old Warden for lunch. The Brookside gathering was seven cyclists but in Haslingfield we had at least eighteen (three start points needed!), so we set off in two groups taking the route through Harlton to the A603.

Entering Harlton

We passed through both the Eversdens, Kingston, Bourn and Longstowe where we saw a touching little scene with two baby lambs sitting on their mother’s back. This shows the beauty of cycling as this would hardly have been possible from a car window.

Harlton

Entering Kingston

Leaving Kingston

We were now on the road to the Little Eversden/Gamlingay turning some three miles from Longstowe. Of course we turned to Gamlingay which is a further two miles on and when we reached the town we had to go along the busy B1040 for the last leg into Potton and the Coach Inn. We arrived here just before 11 am after sixteen miles and found Sharon and Belinda already enjoying their coffee. This was fortuitous for them, because with almost thirty customers arriving together, the staff found it a little difficult to get everybody served and some were not able to enjoy a relaxing coffee as it only arrived shortly before we were ready to start again.

Longstowe

Nice!

Potton

As usual after coffee there was the usual comings and goings but when it all settled down Tony took a group of about a dozen and a little later Rupert led a group of seven or eight as we left Potton on to the Everton road. When we got to Everton we came to Tempsford hill for a rapid descent with Rupert again demonstrating his unique leadership skills of not only being in front but being out of sight. So much so that when we got to the railway crossing he had already crossed over before the barriers came down and the rest of us had to wait for three trains to pass before we rejoined our leader waiting on the other side.

Tempsford Crossing

From now on Rupert, perhaps a little chastened, kept himself in sight! When we reached the road which runs beside the A1 it was extremely busy which is unheard of, but a glance to our right showed us that the northbound carriageway on the A1 had no traffic on it and when we went down the slip road on the other side police were directing traffic off the dual carriageway onto the minor roads. This took us to Blunham and Moggerhanger, over the A603 and down Budna Road to Northill and then Ickwell. And of course after Ickwell it is just a few hundred yards to the Shuttleworth Air Museum.

We arrived here just before 1pm having covered twenty-eight miles.The cafe at the museum is large and it was easily able to cope with all of us and lunch was taken quite quickly. Some of course had sandwiches and had to sit out in the rain which had started just before our arrival showing that the forecast was pretty well spot on. Possibly because of the low cloud cover there didn’t appear to be any flying today.

Well attired against the rain

By 2.45 pm we were all on our way again with Tony leading his group of about a dozen with a smaller group (self led) following on behind. We only caught the occasional glimpse of the lead group but our journey home was now benefiting from the following wind and, although the rain was only light, it was on our backs. We went through Broom and past Jordan’s Mill to Langford and the long climb up to the water tower but this was very easy with the following wind. We crossed over the A1 to Hinxworth and four more miles took us to Ashwell where Andy and Sarah left us to take a cross-country route back into Essex.

We were now on a familiar route home via Steeple Morden, Littlington, Bassingbourn and Meldreth where we came across Peter Wo dealing with a slight mechanical hitch, with Tony waiting with him. After Shepreth and Barrington those going back to Haslingfield would have completed a round trip of 54 miles with the ride finishing at 3.30pm. As ever our thanks to Tony for another successful Thursday ride. Edward Elmer



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Sunday, 20 March 2016

20 Mar: Sunday afternoon ride to Potton

John F writes: I and six others joined Sue at Brookside for the afternoon ride to Potton. I was keen to go on this ride because, surprisingly, I had never been to Potton. We set off in good weather but with a nagging north-easterly wind through Coton, Dry Drayton, Hardwick, Bourn and the well-cycled route past Waresley Garden Centre. Thence we turned right on to the quiet lane to Gamlingay Cinques (where I saw my first "fat" bike but did not have chance for a photo).

The start at Brookside, Cambridge

We reached Potton without going through Gamlingay village. This was a very pleasant route with little traffic. We arrived at the Coach House shortly after the regulation time of 3pm. A few late lunchers were still in the pub where we joined by Mike S. The mean GPS readings from the group registered 24.5 miles.

Brookside

After tea, coffee, cakes and roast potatoes (the latter supplied gratis by mine host) we set off on a delightful route through Wrestingworth to Guilden Morden where I was back on familiar territory as we rode through Shingay, Croydon, Wimpole, Orwell and Barrington. Here a scud of rain persuaded me to stop and put on a waterproof, though this proved unnecessary.

Tea at The Coach House, Potton

I followed the group over Chapel Hill into Haslingfield where the group dispersed to their various homes. I reached home at 6.10pm after an excellent ride of just under 50 miles. Congratulations and thanks to Sue for leading us on an interesting and incident-free route. John Ferguson

20 Mar: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Wyton

Alex writes: A number of members had ridden the Cambridge Spring Dash and Cambridge Pork Pie audaxes on Saturday and I had tried to sell the idea of the Sunday ride as a "recovery ride". But there were no takers, so it was only fresh-legged companions who joined me at Brookside: Greg, Jerry, Li, Rupert and English Seb.

Approaching Bourn

We took a straightforward route to coffee, eschewing any hills; it's a ride leader's privilege to design them out of the route, especially when he has tired legs.

When we reached Bourn Greg was powering up an incline when his chain snapped and unfurled onto the road. Luckily, Rupert seemed to have a wide range of chain repairing tools and items and so, with a new 9-speed link inserted we got under way again.

Repairs

The early haze had burned off and it had become a beautiful Spring day with warming sun and a fresh breeze - pleasantly different from the dark damp weather we'd had yesterday on the audaxes. After some initial aches my legs had loosened and seemed to be enjoying a spin.

On Long Lane

At Gamlingay we found Adrian, David W and John S. The mechanical had delayed us a bit, and a slightly longer-than-usual wait for bacon sandwiches delayed us further. Since Wyton was quite a distance away, we'd be arriving for a late lunch. Still, there was no hurry and the sunshine made for very pleasant cycling as we worked our way North. At Fenstanton David W got a puncture, and since he didn't much fancy our official lunch destination of the Wyevale Garden Centre it was just Greg and me who pressed on to lunch. Everybody else set off back to Cambridge.

At Wyton Greg and I met Mike CC and over lunch we spent some time discussing strategies for weight loss (eat less and exercise more!) We then re-mounted our bikes and trundled home on the familiar route along the Thicket Path and busway.

When I reached home I found I had cycled 97 km (60 miles).

Saturday, 19 March 2016

19 Mar: The Cambridge Pork Pie 200km Audax

Nigel writes: Today's ride was my first long ride of 2016: the Cambridge Pork Pie 200km Audax, which is essentially a ride to Melton Mowbray and back. I did this ride a year ago with Gareth: you can read the ride report here. On that occasion there were just the two of us, whereas today was an organised event with a hundred riders, including five from CTC Cambridge.

Audax is a form of cycle touring where riders aim to visit a sequence of controls by following a set route. It's not a race, although there is a time limit for completing the ride which places riders under a certain amount of pressure. Today's event was organised by Nick Wilkinson, in conjunction with Audax UK.

Today's ride started in Girton, at the recreation pavilion, and I woke up early and cycled across Cambridge in light drizzle to get there in good time for the 8am start. Nick was there, of course, welcoming people at the entrance, with several helpers inside including Nick's wife Ewa, who was serving tea, coffee and toast, and Gareth, who issued me with my "brevet" card and stamped it with an image of a pork pie.

Girton: Breakfast at the Départ

I recognised five other CTC Cambridge regulars: John R, Alex, Daniel, Seb C and Mike P, who had brought along his brother Mark. As 8am approached we all went outside to receive a short address by Nick, mainly to tell us about flooding on the busway and warn non-locals about the dangerous bollards found along it.

Organiser Nick Wilkinson (back to camera) warns riders about the hazards of the busway before departure

The start time arrived and a hundred cyclists set off through Girton and onto the busway. Everyone was a no doubt a strong rider but it was interesting to see different approaches to speed at the start, with the fast, racing cyclists quickly moving towards the front and the slower, experienced Audaxers pacing themselves carefully behind. As the field began to spread out, I began to move towards the front so that I could catch a tow from the faster riders for the first few exhilarating miles before dropping back when I had had enough.

For many of my fellow riders this was their first time on the busway, but they were clearly experienced in a peloton and called out warning of walkers, oncoming bikes, and of course bollards whenever needed. A section of path was flooded near Fen Drayton but we singled out and carefully splashed through.

Soon we were in St Ives, back on the road, and I settled down to ride at a more moderate pace for the rest of the first stage to Oundle. This involved a long and rather dull run along the B1090 to Sawtry followed by a series of pleasant country roads for the final leg into Oundle.

For the first hour or two of the ride the drizzle came and went; it wasn't enough to to get us wet, but it was enough to create patches of water on the roads which the riders in front splashed up into my face and onto my lovely white jacket. Once again I found myself mentally dividing other riders into two: the racing cyclists on road bikes without proper mudguards, where drafting meant a faceful of dirty water, and the old-school audaxers with their full mudguards.

Oundle

Soon we reached Oundle and our first control. The nominated cafe stop was at Beans Cafe, but I thought it might be rather crowded so I stopped at The Coffee Tavern instead. Over a breakfast of coffee and scrambled eggs on toast I had a pleasant conversation with Sarah and Colin from St Ives CC. Stopping for food was clearly a novelty for them: Sarah explained that on a typical 180 km race she would simply slow down at a feeding station to catch a few gels before accelerating on her way again.

After Oundle I set off on my own. The countryside was now rather more rolling, with a series of descents into valleys immediately followed by climbs out again.

Southwick, three miles north of Oundle

The first descent took us down into Harringworth, where the long brick railway viaduct is an unmissable landmark.

The climb from Harringworth to Seaton, with the railway viaduct behind

A few miles later I found Seb, John, Mike and Mark, who had overtaken me whilst I had been drinking coffee in Oundle. This was a good point in the ride to join up with them, and the five of us rode on together to Oakham and then to Melton Mowbray.

Mike and Mark (Photo: Alex Brown)

We reached Melton Mowbray at 1.15pm and we split up to find lunch. John and I went into Costa Coffee, Seb went into Subway, and Mike and Mark found another cafe close by.

Nigel, John, Mark and Mike in Melton Mowbray

After a brief photo-stop outside the famous pork pie shop it was time to head back towards Oundle for the long ride home to Cambridge, and John, Mike, Mark and I set off together leaving Seb to linger just a bit longer in Melton Mowbray.

I knew from my ride last year that the afternoon stage from Melton Mowbray to Oundle was easily the prettiest and quietest of the whole ride, but also the hilliest, and I was soon using my small chainwheel for the first time for many months. John was on fine form today, and set a brisk pace. Mike and Mark seemed comfortable with the speed but it was a bit faster than I would have preferred and I frequently found myself plodding along at the back.

In due course we arrived back in Oundle and stopped once more for food and drink, this time at Beans Cafe. It was about 4.45pm. As we arrived, Alex - who we hadn't seen since the busway - was getting ready to set off but he decided to stay and have a second coffee with the four of us.

Some brief blue sky (Photo: Alex Brown)

It was about 5.15pm when the five of us left the cafe and started the final leg back to Cambridge. The landscape began to flatten out and John's pace probably increased slightly. Unfortunately the food stop had been less rejuvenating than I had hoped and once again I found myself struggling at the back. I was perfectly capable of keeping going, but at 14mph rather than 17mph.

The gap between John, Mike and Mark at the front, and Alex and I behind, began to grow and eventually - and rather to my relief - we lost sight of them. I settled down to a more comfortable pace, assisted by Alex who generously provided me with extended periods of drafting to allow me to recover as we continued along pleasant quiet roads to Alconbury. Along the way the sun set and it soon became dark.

Alex had previously expressed his dislike of the next section of the route, from Alconbury, through the Stukleys and around the Huntingdon Ring Road to Godmanchester. It's dull, urban and with a lot of traffic in Huntingdon. He had gone as far as to suggest returning from Oundle by the reverse of the morning route rather than by this more southerly route through Huntingdon. I agree it's dull and busy, but it's only a few miles and it wasn't long before we were in Godmanchester for the familiar final twenty miles through the Hemingfords to St Ives and back down the busway.

We hadn't seen very many other riders along the route from Oundle, but once we were back on the busway everyone suddenly appeared again, and we found ourselves part of a long convoy of tired audaxers plodding our way through the darkness back to Girton. After a brief pause at Longstanton to allow me to rest we arrived back at Girton recreation pavilion at 8pm exactly. That's 12 hours start to end.

Girton again: Relaxing at the arrivée

John's group were leaving just as we arrived, but Alex and I were content to linger at the "arrivée", enjoying the solicitious attention of Ewa who plied us with soup, drinks and cakes whilst we waited for Seb and Daniel to arrive.

Seb arrived about half an hour after us, at about 8.30pm, but it was another hour before Daniel turned up, heroically sprinting into the hall to hand over his brevet card moments before the official deadline of 9.30pm.

Including the ride out from central Cambridge, my total distance today was 142 miles (228 km). In addition to being my first Audax ride since joining Audax UK, this is also my 80th ride of more than 80 miles in length. Since I have not yet done 81 rides of more than 81 miles in length this means that my Eddington Number is now 80.

For more information about this and other local Audax rides see the Cambridge Audax website.



This is Nigel's GPS track (starting from Cambridge). GPS and TCX files for this route can be downloaded from the CamAudax site here

19 Mar: The Cambridge Spring Dash 100km Audax

Ed writes: In company with Sheila and David T and around 50 cyclists from other clubs, I set off from Girton to take part in the first Audax ride that any of us had attempted: the Cambridge Spring Dash 100. This was organised by Nick Wilkinson in conjunction with Audax UK.

So with a slight feeling of trepidation, we headed through Cambridge city centre, carefully avoiding tourists, pedestrians and other cyclists and then through Shelford and Duxford for the long climb up to Elmdon. Under grey skies with the odd sight of a peeping sun, we carried on to our first check point - the Tally Ho pub at Barkway for a welcome coffee and cake.

After an unusually short break,on through pleasant and rolling scenery towards Saffron Walden, up to Ashdon and having covered 80km, we arrived at a much needed lunch stop at Bradman's pub in Withersfield. Once again an unusually short break - how unlike CTC rides we thought - and off for the final push of 32km.

The final part of the day went through Balsham and down the long descent to Fulbourn and thence through Cambridge and back to Girton.

We got back to Girton around 3.30 to be welcomed by soup, coffee and the inevitable cake. Where would we be they imposed a cake tax?

The length of today's ride was 100km (62 miles).

Ed, David and Shiela celebrate completion of their first Audax

The three of us really enjoyed our first experience of Audax - very well organised, perfectly achievable to anyone used to a CTC day ride plus the challenge of route finding. We have already registered for our next Audax!

We'd also like to thank the organisers for making us feel welcome and providing a great day out. Ed Rose

For more information about this and other local Audax rides see the Cambridge Audax website.


This GPS track is provided by Nick Wilkinson and can be downloaded from the CamAudax site here

Thursday, 17 March 2016

17 Mar: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Bardfield

Edward writes: This Thursday we were fortunate with Rupert stepping in to lead the City Start ride from Brookside where nine started, and we at Hauxton started with sixteen, again justifying the new format of two start points.

Although the day started murky, overcast and a temperature of about five degrees the forecast looked promising with the sun breaking through by mid-morning. This ride would take us to Dorrington’s at Newport, where we rang to tell them we were on our way, and afterwards on to Great Bardfield.

Hinxton Ford

Ickleton

This is one of our longer rides so we took the straightforward route out to Little Shelford, Whittlesford and the A505. From here we went to Duxford, over the ford at Hinxton, into Ickleton and up to the summit of Coploe Hill. One disappointing aspect of Coploe Hill today was the amount of traffic which we have not experienced before.

Coploe Hill

Catmere End

It’s nice, though, to record that Greta came along with us all the way and only left us at Catmere End to go down Chestnut Avenue to the B1383 and the less hilly and more direct route to Newport. When the rest of us got to Catmere End we went towards Littlebury Green, but not right into the village, and then turned to take the twisting and climbing road to the top before the rapid descent on a very rough surface to the B1039 and Wendons Ambo.

Wendens Ambo

About a mile later we arrived at Dorrington’s and within ten minutes Rupert’s group arrived. As usual we met several others, including Sarah, Peter Wo, Doug; Craig and Frances appeared just as we were leaving. At coffee many chose to sit outside in the sun which was now out accompanied by a marked rise in the temperature.

Newport

After coffee we left in two groups and both of us went south to the motorway where we all branched off towards Henham. Rupert took his group of about eight up to Henham whilst the larger group of about a dozen took a more southerly route to Elsenham. We crossed the railway twice and then headed east on the B1051 Thaxted road as far as the turning for Brick End and now that we had left traffic to the busy roads we found ourselves on quiet lanes to Brick End, Broxted.

Brick End, Broxted

From here all the way to Great Easton we enjoyed quiet, pretty country lanes. To many of us (not Adrian of course) this was the first time we had travelled these roads which, under the bright sun, made them all the more attractive.

Leaving Brick End, Broxted

When we arrived in Great Easton we had to allow time out for the petrol heads to admire the vintage Rolls Royces and aeroplane engines.

Rolls-Royce Showroom in Great Easton

After all this love and appreciation it was now but half an hour into Great Bardfield and the Blue Egg farm shop, arriving at 1.30 pm after 34 miles.

Emus, after leaving Great Bardfield

As expected Rupert’s group, on a slightly shorter route, were already ordering their refreshments. It seems that on the way Sharon’s chain had broken and Sarah came to the rescue with the right equipment but sadly not the right knowledge; however Rupert was on hand to do the necessary and they were not long delayed. Out in the sun lunch was very pleasant and there was a certain reluctance to leave, but by 2.15 pm we finally got two groups underway. Rupert’s group left first and the second group with about twelve left shortly after. We went back into Great Bardfield to join the narrow lanes which lead through to Finchingfield and on the way we passed a farm with wallabies and emus. This is a really nice route, almost always free of traffic, although we did come across a car which had broken down with a pick-up truck already on the scene. Finchingfield, as ever, looked its picture postcard self.

Heading for Finchingfield

We turned north westerly on the five miles of quiet roads past Spains Hall to the B1054, which we crossed and then ran down to Helions Bumpstead. Quite often at this point we take the loop via Olmstead Green but today we chose to go on the more direct route through Castle Camps and with the climbs behind us it was more or less downhill all the way into Bartlow. This was quickly followed by Linton and Hildersham and we came into Babraham via Little Abington and the farm track over the A11. The ride finished through Stapleford and Great Shelford and those doing the complete circuit back to Hauxton, Ian B, David T, Susan, Sheila and Mia, would have completed 62 miles, finishing at 5pm. Edward Elmer



Download GPS track (GPX).