Thursday, 24 August 2017

24 Aug: Thursday ride to Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds

Edward writes: We arrived at Hauxton this morning to discover that we had a new leader with Mike C coming on as an 89th minute substitute. No need to worry about this as Mike's knowledge of the byways is almost as encyclopaedic as Adrian's. The weather was warm, not too much of a south-westerly breeze, but overcast, as it was to remain for the rest of the day. In the end ten riders took to the roads and we hadn't gone far before being joined by Craig and Mike B. Back in the city where the slickers meet they had six with the ride being led by Mike P. Also out was Susan making a welcome return to the fold with a brief cameo appearance.

Great Shelford

On the DNA path at Great Shelford

After Great Shelford we took the DNA path past the hospital and followed our new route by exiting the site through the Ninewells development; another chance to admire, or not, yet another new high-priced development in Cambridge. Leaving all this behind we climbed the Gogs and descended into Fulbourn, through the Wilbrahams to join what always feels like an expressway, which is the road to Six Mile Bottom.

Gog Magog Hill

Before we reached Six Mile Bottom there was Adrian having just done one of his disappearing and reappearing acts, but this time mending a puncture. As Greg has said in the past it is possible that there is more than one Adrian. Once over the level crossing in Six Mile Bottom we began a serious climb which must be for two miles to the Dullingham turn. As the wind was in the south-west it gave us some very helpful assistance. After Dullingham it was all downhill which was just as well as by the time we arrived at the horse racing museum in Newmarket it was 11.30am. With the country group leaving fifteen minutes after the city slickers and further to travel this always gives them first choice of the coffee and cakes which might be one of Rupert’s artful plans; not called slickers for nothing.

Our youngest member

As usual we were joined by several other members who had made their own way there. As expected Mike P's group set off first and when we followed it was midday. We left Newmarket alongside the gallops on NCN 51 which, after the initial climb, was downhill, freewheeling all the way into Moulton.

Leaving Newmarket

After the packhorse bridge we had another climb followed by a short descent into Gazeley. This is a really lovely route and after a few dry days we can see that the farmers are getting on top of the harvest.

Gazeley to Denham End

Gazeley to Denham End

At Barrow we left NCN 51 until we reached Little Saxham where we rejoined it for the run into Bury St Edmunds.

Denham End to Barrow

We arrived at the Abbey Gardens, and what beautiful display they have, at 1.30 pm. We found a couple of unoccupied benches to enjoy our picnics followed by a cup of tea at the nearby kiosk. Not long after we arrived Mike P’s group started for home, possibly taking a more southerly route, with Mike C's group starting for home at 2.20pm.

Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

When we left Bury St Edmunds it was immediately apparent that the wind had grown stronger and for the most part we would be riding into it. However, with many roads lined by hedges they offered good protection, making the face wind less arduous. With the A14 on our left we headed for Risby and then towards Cavenham before making the turn for Kentford. For the most part these roads are very quiet but occasionally we are confronted by huge lorries, possibly going to the local farms. Wherever they are going they are quite intimidating. When we arrived in Kentford Peter W left us with a reminder that he is hosting a home tea next Sunday and with Leslie having already made at least twenty cakes a good time is assured. (The number of cakes might be an exaggeration, but Peter can also show off his lawnmower!)

Between Risby and Kentford

Between Risby and Kentford

As we were leaving Kentford Adrian had another puncture but he issued strict instructions not to wait as was "going to fix it properly this time". No one would bet against him getting back to Cambridge before we did. We came to Chippenham, followed by Snailwell where we had to cross the very busy A142. This was so busy that it required a "Greg". Two mentions and he’s not even on the ride! Doing a Greg requires stepping into the road and putting the right hand up and miraculously the traffic comes to a halt. It’s not recommended that anyone else tries this as it requires someone with a special presence. We came into Exning followed by Heath Road to Burwell. At last we were on the homeward straight as Reach and the two Swaffhams came next. When we reached Lode we stayed on the main road to Stow-cum-Quy where we were able to observe progress on the new cycle path. As our numbers decreased we finished the ride through Cherry Hinton and the DNA path again to Great Shelford. This left Simon P to head back to Hauxton at 5.45pm and 78 miles. A good, long ride. Thanks to the two Mikes for taking charge and especially to Mike C who had stepped in at the last minute.Edward Elmer



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