Wednesday, 25 January 2017

22 Jan: Sunday ride to Stradishall and Chippenham

Alex writes: I knew from personal experience that Saturday night had seen temperatures well below freezing, but since conditions were dry there was not too much risk of hazardous ice on the roads, and after consulting with Rupert I decided it would be safe to ride today.

At the start (photo: Nigel)

Ten other hardy riders joined me at Brookside: Andy, Sarah, Nigel, Simon, Rupert, John J, Ray, John R, Alan and Nick W.

Today’s route would take us to Stradishall for coffee and La Hogue for lunch. This is an atypical winter ride, since the leg to coffee is longer than usual, necessitating a shorter leg to lunch.

We set off down Hllls Road and then started climbing over Missleton Hill. My Garmin was reading -4 °C. At this point the two Johns, having already got chilled to the core cycling to Cambridge down the busway, decided that discretion was the better part of valour and turned for home.

Climbing Missleton Hill (photo: Nigel)

Climbing Missleton Hill (photo: Nigel)

The rest of us pressed on. Although it was bitingly cold the sky was clear and the winter sun brought some welcome apricity and cheered the scenery.

We rode through the Wibrahams, turned for Six Mile Bottom and then took the warming climb up to Brinkley. The ascent broke the group apart and I spend some time shepherding up and down the slope to make sure all was well. Simon announced he would turn for home shortly so Alan and I then pressed on to rejoin the group. And then there were seven.

Although the roads were mostly dry as anticipated, in one of the dips past Brinkley some water had pooled and frozen, requiring great care to pass.

Alan and Alex rejoining the main group (photo: Nigel)

With the temperature rising to above freezing, we then took the B road through Great Bradley, then turned back onto quiet lanes at Little Thurlow to arrive at CafĂ© 33 (formerly Adam’s) at 11:20, where we found Keith waiting for us.

After bacon sandwiches, baked beans on toast, and other delights we set of at noon for lunch. The raison d'ĂȘtre of this course was exploration of the lesser-traveled lanes running north/south in this part of the country – and very attractive they proved, with rolling terrain and regularly-spaced trees often lining the roads, in the continental style.

At Dalham, most riders turned to head back to Cambridge leaving four of us to continue: me, Keith, Nigel and Ray. After a cheeky little climb north of Dalham we got a helpful tailwind and made good progress to arrive at La Hogue at 13:15.

La Hogue's irresistible pavlova (photo: Nigel)

After a predictably excellent lunch we headed home, avoiding the concrete road around Chippenham Estate (no right-of-way) and then taking the familiar route through Snailwell, Exning, Burwell, Reach and the Swaffhams. As the sun sank, so did the temperature and I was glad to arrive home just before sunset. I had ridden 103 km (64 miles).

Download GPS track (GPX).

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