Sunday, 18 June 2017

18 Jun: Sunday ride to Baldock and Much Hadham

Ian writes: When you're just about to set off on a day’s ride at 9am and it's already 25C and flat calm, you know you're in for a testing day in the saddle. Fortunately for me, leading my first ride, there were six very experienced riders to share the first leg out to coffee at Tapps Garden Centre at Baldock, namely Mike CC, Alex, John R, Dave C, Rupert and Alan.

After the Barton Cycleway, Chapel Hill, too many miles of vibrating handlebars through the poor road surfaces of Shepreth, Meldreth and Steeple Morden, we climbed out of Ashwell via Bygrave to arrive at the Garden Centre at 11am, where Dave W was waiting for us, (we had already picked up John S en route). So, with a maximum of nine, I was wondering how many were just out to coffee and whether I would have any company for the last 50 miles. Well if you are wondering how many CTC "Englishmen" were going to "go out in the midday sun", it was five, as Rupert, John R, Dave C and Mike CC returned to Cambridge via a variety of routes.

Having had our water bottles refilled, we set off with most of us knowing that the infamous Chalk Hill beckoned. This is the longest, steepest hill I have ever climbed and having struggled up it twice on cooler days I was not relishing the challenge now that it was pushing the high 20s. In the end we all managed it OK and continued on the middle leg through the very pleasant lanes of North Herts, travelling predominantly SE through Ardeley and Haultwick towards Dane End.

After cooling our feet off through the river Rib ford, at 1.15pm Hopleys Cafe appeared out of the heat haze in Much Hadham. This is great spot to have lunch on any day but none better than when sitting outside under the shady trees. As it was Father's Day the service was understandably relatively slow but we were in no hurry.

With 45 miles achieved, there was just the 30 miles left to Cambridge, navigating through Stocking Pelham, Meesden and Chrishall. One of the many good cycling customs is that most fellow cyclists acknowledge each other but on approaching Langley Lower Green I thought we were overdoing the banter a little until I realised that the party coming the other way was Simon leading his CTC Sunday afternoon ride out to Clavering. With some of our water bottles dangerously short of water, it was decided that an emergency stop was necessary at the Bull Inn. Suitably refreshed, and after an off-road short cut suggested by John, we were soon back onto the plains of Cambridge. At Fowlmere I was dismissed, leaving the intrepid 4 to cruise back to Cambridge where those completing the full route would have clocked up 75 miles.

With thanks to Rupert for suggesting the route and having the foresight to book us an outside table at Hopleys, and to my fellow cyclists for looking after me on my first lead. And to any of you thinking it’s time you led a ride, go for it - you will get loads of support. Ian Bamborough

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very much for a really nice day of cycling over a lovely route, Ian. I hope to join the next ride you lead too!