Sunday, 5 March 2017

5 Mar: Sunday morning ride to Saffron Walden

Nigel writes: Today was one of the most unpromising days for a Sunday ride we've had for some time. Although the temperature was not especially low, there was a strong southerly wind and the prospect of rain for much of the day. I had half-expected the ride to be cancelled, but no email had arrived, nor any announcement on the website, so decided that I should think of this as an opportunity to test my new mudflaps and duly rode over to Brookside for the 9.30am start of the ride.

Hills Road, Cambridge

It came as no surprise to find plenty of other riders already there, including David T, Andy, Sarah, Alex, Keith (on his pristine white bike), newcomer Sophie and Susan our leader for today. We set off from Brookside and made our way to Hills Road which we followed all the way out of the city.

The climb to Wandlebury

Just beyond Addenbrooke's Hills Road turns into Babraham Road, with quite a good off-road cycleway. It had now started to rain lightly, and it was nice to be able to keep us away from the splashes of passing cars on this fast and busy road. What we couldn't keep out of, though, was the path of a strong and relentless headwind which made this surprisingly hard work. As a consolation Alex advised me that my mudflap was working excellently: whereas other riders with mudguards were still sending a stream of spray on the rider behind, I was not.

After a few kilometres we turned off the main road to follow the new cycle path through the Babraham Institute to Babraham Village. From here Susan had planned to take the farm track and A11 footbridge to Abington, but I suggested that it might be muddy so we took a rather longer diversion via the A505 cycleway.

Just beyond Abington we crossed the A1307 to Hildersham and continued to Linton. Here we crossed back over the A1307 to Hadstock and began the gentle but long climb to Little Walden. By now we were beginning to get rather cold and this final leg over the hill and down again to Saffron Walden was a bit of a trudge, and it was a relief when we arrived at Bicicleta Coffee for our first break.

Bicicleta Coffee, Saffron Walden

Bicicleta Coffee is usually packed with sports cyclists at 11am on a Sunday morning, but today it was fairly quiet. The owner remarked that he could rely on CTC Cambridge to be out in weather that would put off less hardy riders.

Over coffee we discussed what to do, and I sensed a general feeling that most people wanted to skip the lunch stop in Langley Lower Green and head home after coffee. I was happy to go along with this, and afterwards we returned home via Audley End House, Chestnut Avenue And Catmere End, joined by Edmund who had joined us at coffee.

Chestnut Avenue, climbing to Catmere End

The rain had stopped, and with the wind behind us at last it felt rather pleasant. I think some of us were slightly regretting having abandoned the full ride, though every time the road turned west a blast of cold wind reminded us what we were missing. (We later discovered that John S had made his own way to Langley Lower Green and had wondered what had happened to us).

Coploe Hill

After a fast descent over Coploe Hill we dropped down to Ickleton. A short diversion via Hinxton brought us to Duxford, followed by Whittlesford and the Shelfords and we finally entered Cambridge via the DNA path and busway. I arrived home at about 1.15pm, having cycled a modest 62km (38 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. I already knew what had happened to you all, as I crossed with Alex near Duxford and he flagged me down and kindly warned me you had decided to skip lunch. I went on towards Langley, taking the short cut Adrian showed me through Chrishall and on via Building End. Here I had an argument with a sharp rock. There was a loud bang and I found that my back tyre was split beyond being patched up with a “boot”, so I had to resort to my spare tyre. This same spare tyre has helped 5 other cyclists get home over the years, and today I finally got my turn! I got to The Bull at Langley Lower Green a bit late, but I was pleased they were still serving food, so I had some very welcome ham egg and chips. The landlady was musing about how they would be spending the week eating the soup she had made for the cyclists that morning, so I told her that The Bull is a popular stop and that we would certainly be back. I decided not to ride back via Building End, and stuck to proper roads, and was grateful for the help from the tailwind and the hills to get me home quickly.