John J (aka Dr John) had said he would join me and ride to coffee. I waited for a few minutes at Swavesey bus stop before heading off down the guided busway alone wondering if he would have picked up my email the previous night reminding him of the early start. Thankfully as I approached Brookside I saw John there albeit in a fairly sweaty state as he had picked up the message whilst having breakfast and had ridden at breakneck speed to get to the start on time.
Although the weather was going to be hot this early start was still a bit on the chilly side.
There were six of us for the start – me, Dr John, Rupert, Alex, Sheila and Tom. I like the Sunday all day rides as the lesser numbers make the group riding easier and there is plenty of time to chat to all the other riders with you. We set off an one of our standard routes out of Cambridge via Newnham Common and the Barton cycleway to Haslingfield where we turned right to head up the first of our “Cambridgeshire Hills” – Chapel Hill early on in the ride still clears the airways!!!
Pausing in Barrington
After Barrington I had added a small loop to extend my planned route by just a few extra miles to get up to my target of 23/24 miles in two hours (average ctc pace of 12mph!) for coffee at 11am. So we travelled via Shepreth and then Molton Road into Orwell. We crossed the A603 and into the Wimpole estate where there was a parents and kids fun race on – most kids were clearly being dragged around and few seemed to be having fun – but the competitive parents were!
From Wimpole we headed up Croydon Road before turning right and up another Cambridgeshire Hill – Croydon Hill which maxes at 10%.
Stopping at the top most of us took a layer of clothing off as by now the sun was out with some real warmth in it. After the hill it was a nice relaxing ride through Hatley St. George and into Gamlingay from where it was only a few minutes ride to our first stop at Woodview Farm shop and café. The Woodview Farm site has been known for fresh produce since 1926 when there were 12 market gardeners and one dairy in the village. Already in the café was Edmund and we shortly joined by Adrian, Susan and David W. Whilst Rupert ordered his usual healthy bacon buttie and Alex a healthy scone albeit with extra cream and jam the rest of us settled for various cakes, scones and teacakes.
11.30am and time to set off for lunch stop. Dr John had to return home, Adrian was making his own way to Grafham café but Edmund, Susan and David W were all keen for a pub lunch in the sun. We headed off toward Gamlingay, cinq along Cinques Road. Gamlingay Cinques is a 3.4 hectare nature reserve on dry sandy soil, which is apparently an unusual habitat in the county of Cambridgeshire. Then up Tetworth Hill and Potton Road into St Neots where we chose the well marked cycle route across the meadows area crossing the Willow Bridge and into Eaton Socon. We then travelled along Bushmead Road and into Little and Great Staughton. This is a lovely quiet road which eventually brings us up toward the Grafham Water end of the B661. We were now only a mile or two from our lunch stop at the Wheatshief Pub at Perry. Rupert had booked us in for 1pm and we duly arrived on time.
The pub had said that they expected to be very busy and could only offer us an outside table but of course as it turned out this was perfect and we had excellent food and drink in very pleasant surroundings. The pub was busy but I noticed that although there were a lot of bikes besides ours the majority had clearly been hired at Grafham Water bike shop for a very short round trip to the pub!!!
Just before 2pm we set off heading East and as we approached the end of the Grafham Water shop entrance road we saw a tall lycra clad man wearing open-toed sandles – that could only mean one rider – John Seton!
By all accounts John had had a very trying morning going back and forth between home and the bike shop trying to resolve various bike malfunctions. John had guessed right as to which route we would take after lunch and so he joined us for our ride back towards Cambridge.
As we rode from Graveley towards Croxton and Abbotsley we realised that the wind had picked up and changed direction – we were now into a strong headwind which Tom was starting to really struggle with. After a while Tom told us to ride on as he knew the way home and we so the rest of us pushed ahead through Caxton, Bourn, Toft and Comberton.
John S and I stopped off at Burwash Manor tea rooms for a well deserved drink and a final cake.
The round trip day ride had been around 70 miles.