Thursday, 13 July 2017

13 Jul: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Castle Hedingham

Edward writes: Our destination this Thursday was Castle Hedingham which would be one of our longest rides this summer and today under the leadership of Sarah, perhaps with a little help from Andy. There were twelve at the start in Hauxton, including Simon riding with us for the first time, and over in the city they had ten with Rupert doing the honours here, assuming they could keep him in sight. The weather was good, not much wind and everything was set for a good ride.

Little Shelford

Our route out took us through Little Shelford into the more metropolitan Great Shelford where the good news is that next month the road past the school is scheduled for repair, or if we are lucky, resurfacing. We joined the A1301 and headed south through Stapleford and into Sawston, travelling all the way through it up to the Pampisford turn.

Next it was the cycle path to Abington accompanied by the din off the neighbouring A505. We soon found our way going past Abington Science Park and down to the A1307 for the entrance to Hildersham. Although the harvest has already started yesterday’s rain most likely had put pay to any work today, so we were able to admire the fields in all their golden glory. Next we engaged in our first climb of the day up to Balsham followed by a couple more hills to West Wickham.

Approaching Balsham

This soon brought us to Horseheath with impeccable timing at 11 am and sixteen miles. Already there, of course, were the city slickers, but fortunately for us the cakes were still to be brought out. As expected there were several who came out independently including Bill P who had cycled out from Ely, and Bob B who, after a long absence, is now making a habit of it as this is two weeks running that we have seen him.

As usual the Old Red Lion produced the goods but Sarah was in no mood to allow anyone to dwell too long and with full disciplinary force she gave notice that we would be leaving in five minutes’ time. At this point Rupert relinquished his leadership role and as arranged Edmund took over to lead the city folk.

Leaving Horseheath

At 11.30am we set off in two groups, heading first back over the A1307 through Cardinal's Green, Mill Green into Castle Camps. All went well but we soon came to the roads which are being resurfaced with chippings and they are no fun to ride on, and as were to find out later not without consequences. We got through the Bumpsteads and then Stambourne and as we left Stambourne we started the most enjoyable part of the ride to Toppesfield as the countryside was a joy to ride through.

Approaching Stambourne

We were now heading south and east as we neared the A1017 and Castle Hedingham when my tyre split, but at least it stayed more or less up making it just rideable for the last two miles to lunch. The tyre was probably a bit thin but the loose chippings were enough to finish it off. Adrian, he of the infinite knowledge, said there was a cycle shop just before going into Castle Hedingham and just over the road was a bench under a tree on the little green. So, equipped with a new tyre we settled down for sandwiches and to fix the bike. Enjoying themselves were John F, Tony, Simon G, Averil and of course the joker in the pack, Greg. They all contributed in various ways with Greg supplying most of the humour, having fully recovered from his sleepless Saturday night caused by a Rave in his village.

When it was all done we went to find the others at Buckley's cafe in the village and we found them having a very civilised lunch. Actually, everyone was full of praise; it was very friendly and efficient and even Rupert looks like he can be persuaded that we should come back here again. We must acknowledge Andy and Sarah whose meanderings around the countryside made this discovery.

Lunch at Castle Hedingham

For the return journey there appeared to be two options - a northerly route led by Edmund and a more southerly route led by Sarah. About fourteen chose this route but before we had gone a couple of miles David W’s tyre also split, but ever resourceful, he had a spare tyre with him and it didn't take long for us to be on our way again.

Leaving Castle Hedingham

We now faced mostly to the west and the roads we travelled were new to many of us and, as in the morning, they were, for the most part quiet country lanes. We passed through Wethersfield and a few miles later we reached Great Bardfield and finally into familiar territory as we turned for Thaxted.

Leaving Thaxted

Another four miles brought us to Debden where we stopped at the little village shop for ice creams. This left us with a couple of miles of hills into Saffron Walden and then onto the A1301 through Littlebury and Little Chesterford where we said goodbye to Sarah and Andy with the remainers finishing off through Ickleton, and Duxford. Here Greg showed us how to get across the A505 when it's busy. Using his past experience as a lollipop man he put his hand up and the traffic came to a halt and we all safely crossed with the bemused drivers looking on. Didn’t someone do something like this with the Red Sea? Or has Greg got biblical powers we didn’t know about? Anyway it was a fun way to finish off the day which, in fact, was one of the best we have had this year. Those going back to Hauxton would have completed the predicted 68 miles. Thanks to our leaders, Rupert, Edmund and Sarah and Andy for a great route and for finding the lunch stop. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. What Ed didn't mention was his eponymous tool....err that now requires some explanation! In the excitement of replacing tyres Ed had recourse to The Ed Gizmo - a tyre seating lever that makes the task much, much easier. Essential emergency kit addition.
    See here:

    Some people hadn't seen one (Ed's tool, that is) and I can confirm these can now be sourced from Wiggle and are highly recommended. Ed offers detailed training sessions if asked nicely.....