Sunday, 7 May 2017

5 May: Sunday afternoon ride to Ickleton

Simon writes: "Well it would seem that both our tea destination and the wind would carry us effortlessly along in a southerly direction today. Everyone with us started at Brookside and that included Phil N, Sue H, John E, David S, Mark T and Lali R.

With the wind making our progress easy and the tea stop being open until 5pm I thought we would indulge with a full 25 miles of trekking and exploration along the way there and employ the CTC standard direct DNA route to get us back.

Back in March David S had talked about leading the group from Stapleford to Babraham, short cutting Sawston, using the public footpath. This starts at Bury farm and crosses a little well finished wooden bridge over a babbling river Granta, before progressing past a woodland area of the Babraham estate. I had to miss his original ride to tea as it was Mothering Sunday and had arranged to meet my family in Saffron Walden. Only then did the cunning fox who went to the university of cunning decide to cycle there and meet David’s group 3 doors down at the Bicicleta later that same afternoon so that I could at least ride home with them!

However, back to today’s ride, the rapeseed crops are in full bloom at the moment and we could easily have been in a small boat surrounded by oceans of rolling waves of it.

The off road terrain is interrupted only briefly along Babraham main street before continuing to the steepish foot bridge over the dual carriageway A11. The photo either makes it look like it’s hard work getting a bike over it or I'm a merciless slave driving leader who will get his comeuppance one day…….. narrowly avoided later today as you will find out.

From Abington we hopped briefly over the main A1307 to see if anyone fancied riding through the ford in Hildersham and back over the main road in Linton. This was to pursue a pleasing route, sadly often neglected during our club rides, through Hadstock and Little Walden past the old converted airfield control house and into Walden itself. I promised Sue that I would arrange the hills on my next lead to be all down hill…..

Once through Walden we were only two villages (and, of course, the afore promised downhill section of Coploe hill) from tea but the spectacle of bluebells along the wooded northern boundary of Audley End just outside Littlebury had us compelled to stop and take photos.

As John hails from St Ives he bade us Au Revoire without stopping for tea but now we think he may have had a subconscious premonition, for when we got to the Ickleton Barn Café the proprietor was in the throws of shutting up shop. He exclaimed that he'd had no custom all afternoon and wouldn't serve us.

As is customary in this situation the leader duly volunteered to be an edible sacrifice for the riders, but they all managed to find varied but plausible reasons to break with convention.

If there is a deity at work (s)he must have planned my salvation (after our salivation!) as the remainder of the journey home should be occasioned by John pushing his bike against the increased resistance of a flat tyre. We repaired one of his punctures whilst a pilgrimage of ants crawled up the concrete wall and between the items of tools that this “bicycle repair man” carries when called upon.

So, 25 delightful miles and 11 villages to a virtual tea, 12 miles 4 villages and 2 punctures to a real home. Simon Gallaway

Download planned route (GPX) (not a GPS track).

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