Sunday, 29 January 2017

29 Jan: Sunday afternoon ride to Wicken

John F writes: The dire wet weather forecast earlier in the week had not materialised by the 1pm start so I was pleased to be joined by three companions for the ride to one of the best Sunday afternoon tea-stops, Wicken Methodist Church, which Simon had arranged to be open especially for us.

This was a ride of two halves: for the outward leg the temperature was between 5C and 10C, with a slight following breeze and occasional breaks in the cloud.

At the start

My route Eastwards was recorded on the GPX file made by Simon. We arrived on the dot of 3pm and were joined by Jacob.

The Church and its tea-room had been splendidly refurbished and we enjoyed a pleasant three quarters of an hour over tea.

Wicken Methodist Church

Wicken Methodist Church

Jacob, Greg and Simon

John E, Simon and Greg in the tea queue

The refurbished tea room at Wicken Methodist Church

Stan who had telephoned me earlier also joined us. Many locals were there too so I was pleased that business was not totally reliant on CTC custom!

After tea John E left us to make his way to St.Ives whilst we five returned via the Low Road, and across the fens to Upware and the Lodes Cycleway. Now the breeze was against us and brought increasing quantities of rain. By Quy it was raining quite hard. I was home at 5.15. Simon's GPS had recorded an outward distance of 22.2 miles. The return was unrecorded but would have been a few miles shorter. It was a round trip of about 40 miles. John Ferguson

Why we went there



Download GPS track (GPX).

29 Jan: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Buntingford

Nigel writes: On a cold, damp, morning, with "heavy rain" forecast for the afternoon, I didn't expect many people to turn up for today's ride. However when I arrived at Brookside, a few seconds before the 9.30am start, I found thirteen riders preparing to set off. Sheila and Rupert wisely decided to divide us into two groups, with Sheila leading the front group and Rupert following a short distance behind with the second group.

Brookside

Our coffee stop in Ickleton wasn't very far away, so instead of riding there directly our route took us west along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton before turning south to Haslingfield. From there, instead of scaling Chapel Hill as usual we continued south to Harston where we crossed the A10 before continuing to Whittlesford.

The temperature today was about 5C, distinctly milder than last week, and with no worries about ice.

Whittlesford

At Whittlesford we turned south for Duxford and Ickleton, arriving at the Riverside Cafe slightly earlier than usual at about 10.45am. An early arrival was probably just as well, since with such a large group it took some time for everyone to get their food and drink.

Riverside Cafe, Ickleton

After coffee about half the group decided to head back to Cambridge, with the other half carrying on to Lunch in Buntingford. That would be perfectly normal on an ordinary day, but today, with heavy rain still forecast to arrive at 1pm, I thought it was quite impressive that so many people were keen to stay out a bit longer. I hesitated for a few moments and decided to join the group that was carrying on to lunch.

The descent from Elmdon to Wenden Lofts

Sheila led us on south by a fairly direct route, starting with the long climb from Ickleton to Elmdon followed by a fast descent back down to the junction with the B1039 where a small sign proclaims identifies the location as Wendon Lofts. From there a short climb took us back up to Duddenhoe End from where several miles of more level roads took us to Langley, Meesden and Anstey.

Approaching Anstey

We continued south to Great Hormead where we made our final turn west for a short run along the B1038 to Hare Street and Buntingford. Our lunch stop was at Buntingford Coffee Shop, where a large table had been reserved for us. A few moments later we were joined by Mike S who had been riding independently on his electrically-assisted bike. Buntingford Coffee Shop is one of my favourite lunch stops, and the food and service today was excellent.

Lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop

After a very pleasant, relaxed lunch we sent back outside and prepared to set off back towards Cambridge, climbing slightly to Wyddial before turning north onto the B1368 and following it the way back to Cambridge. After Barkway this road is essentially downhill, and with a slight tailwind we made brisk progress. After a while it began to drizzle very slightly: this was technically rain but definitely not the heavy rain that we had been promised, and certainly nothing that required the use of my rain jacket.

As usual, the group dispersed as we approached the outskirts of Cambridge as people turned off for home. I returned to central Cambridge with Alex, taking the path across Trumpington Meadows before joining the busway to the station. I arrived home at about 4pm - well before sunset, and still with no sign of heavy rain - having cycled 89km (55 miles). Nigel Deakin



Download GPS track (GPX).

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

22 Jan: Sunday ride to Stradishall and Chippenham

Alex writes: I knew from personal experience that Saturday night had seen temperatures well below freezing, but since conditions were dry there was not too much risk of hazardous ice on the roads, and after consulting with Rupert I decided it would be safe to ride today.

At the start (photo: Nigel)

Ten other hardy riders joined me at Brookside: Andy, Sarah, Nigel, Simon, Rupert, John J, Ray, John R, Alan and Nick W.

Today’s route would take us to Stradishall for coffee and La Hogue for lunch. This is an atypical winter ride, since the leg to coffee is longer than usual, necessitating a shorter leg to lunch.

We set off down Hllls Road and then started climbing over Missleton Hill. My Garmin was reading -4 °C. At this point the two Johns, having already got chilled to the core cycling to Cambridge down the busway, decided that discretion was the better part of valour and turned for home.

Climbing Missleton Hill (photo: Nigel)


Climbing Missleton Hill (photo: Nigel)

The rest of us pressed on. Although it was bitingly cold the sky was clear and the winter sun brought some welcome apricity and cheered the scenery.

We rode through the Wibrahams, turned for Six Mile Bottom and then took the warming climb up to Brinkley. The ascent broke the group apart and I spend some time shepherding up and down the slope to make sure all was well. Simon announced he would turn for home shortly so Alan and I then pressed on to rejoin the group. And then there were seven.

Although the roads were mostly dry as anticipated, in one of the dips past Brinkley some water had pooled and frozen, requiring great care to pass.

Alan and Alex rejoining the main group (photo: Nigel)

With the temperature rising to above freezing, we then took the B road through Great Bradley, then turned back onto quiet lanes at Little Thurlow to arrive at Café 33 (formerly Adam’s) at 11:20, where we found Keith waiting for us.

After bacon sandwiches, baked beans on toast, and other delights we set of at noon for lunch. The raison d'être of this course was exploration of the lesser-traveled lanes running north/south in this part of the country – and very attractive they proved, with rolling terrain and regularly-spaced trees often lining the roads, in the continental style.

At Dalham, most riders turned to head back to Cambridge leaving four of us to continue: me, Keith, Nigel and Ray. After a cheeky little climb north of Dalham we got a helpful tailwind and made good progress to arrive at La Hogue at 13:15.

La Hogue's irresistible pavlova (photo: Nigel)

After a predictably excellent lunch we headed home, avoiding the concrete road around Chippenham Estate (no right-of-way) and then taking the familiar route through Snailwell, Exning, Burwell, Reach and the Swaffhams. As the sun sank, so did the temperature and I was glad to arrive home just before sunset. I had ridden 103 km (64 miles).


Download GPS track (GPX).

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

21 Jan: Cambridge Diss d'Clare Perm 200km Audax

Gareth writes: It was Alex’s idea in the first place. He needed a 200 km ride in January to keep on track for a “Randonneur Round the Year” award, and he had spotted that the weather forecast for Saturday was for overcast skies and 3 to 5 degrees: cold, but no risk of ice. The ride he suggested was Nick Wilkinson’s “Cambridge Diss’d Clare 200” which heads east into Suffolk, Norfolk (if very briefly) and Essex, with six controls at Cambridge, Barrow, Diss, Debenham, Elmswell, Clare, and Cambridge.

Four of us signed up: Alex, Nigel, Seb and me. Three of us had previously ridden the route: Alex in January 2016 with John Ross, and Nigel and me in April 2016. Seb was new to the ride, but he had done the similar “Suffolk Eye-full 200” in February 2016 in very cold conditions.

As the week went on, the weather forecast became less optimistic, with clear skies and a hard frost predicted for both Friday and Saturday nights. So I made a careful selection of clothing layers. Feet: Sealskinz waterproof socks, shoes, and neoprene overshoes. Legs: cycling shorts, Lowe Alpine thermal underwear, cycling leggings. Body: Lowe Alpine thermal underwear, winter jersey, Altura high-visibility jacket. Head: snood and fleece-lined hat. Hands: Altura winter gloves. I run quite hot when I get going, so three layers worked well for me: even though the air temperature dropped well below freezing, I was comfortable throughout the ride. My hands were cold when starting out after each stop, but I am used to this and after about ten minutes of exertion they suddenly heat up as vasodilation allows a flow of warm blood from my core.

08:00 St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge (Photo: Nick Wilkinson)

Nick Wilkinson came to the start (08:00 in St Andrew’s Street) to see us off, and then we set out east on the A1303. In Newmarket we turned up into the hills, on a long steady climb to Ashley before descending by the windmill to Dalham and then climbing again to the first control at the Premier store in Barrow, where the coffee machine was very welcome. We didn’t stop for long, and soon were on the road again, heading north-east to Risby and West Stow. The sky was cloudy thus far, but we could see brighter skies on the south-eastern horizon, beyond the towers of the sugar refinery at Bury St Edmunds.

09:24 Dalham Road between Ashley and Dalham

10:17 New Road between Barrow and Risby

Crossing the A134 eastwards brought us into pig-farming country around Great Livermere. The field across from the pig farm was full of birds: mostly gulls and crows and rooks, but there was also a flock of peewits (also known as plovers and lapwings), dark-green-and-white birds with big wings and a crest on the back of their heads. Then a commotion among the rooks revealed the presence of a buzzard that had managed to slip in among them. Rooks really don’t like having a buzzard around them, and they harrassed it continually until we had cycled out of sight.

11:04 Between Little Livermere and Great Livermere

In the lanes around this part of the ride we encountered places where water running off the fields had frozen solid in shady north-facing hollows, and in a couple of spots we had to get off and walk. But there was little or no black ice, and we all stayed upright, reaching Diss (85 km) at around 12:45. In Diss the traffic was jammed nose-to-tail along the A1066, so we abandoned the road and walked the last few metres up Mere Street to the control.

13:19 Waterfowl on the frozen Mere at Diss

Leaving the café we found that the clouds were clearing and the sun had come out, but there was a long way to go: Diss feels as if it ought to be the mid-point of the ride, but in fact it’s only 85 km in and there are still 130 km to go. The route turns south-south-east from Diss towards Eye and Debenham, and the easterly wind was still troublesome and kept us slow. At this point we were attracted by the possibility of hot food at Dorothy’s Café at Elmswell, where Nigel and I had hot apple pie and custard back in April of last year. The café’s Facebook page said they closed at 16:00 so there was a good chance that we could make it if we put on a little extra speed once we got the wind at our backs. But it wasn’t to be. We got to Elmswell about 15:30 to find that the café had closed at 15:00. This was a big disappointment, though we tried to put a brave face on it, and a banana in the parking lot of the Co-op was no substitute for a hot meal and a sit down. But there was nothing for it but to put on a cheerful face and head southwest towards Clare, 40 km away, as the sun set in the west.

13:45 On the B1077 between Eye and Occold (church of St Peter and St Paul, Eye, visible right)

14:03 Bedingfield, between Occold and Debenham (Photo: Nigel)

Near Rattlesden we surprised a great white egret fishing in the ditch by the road and it took to the wing and fled as we approached. Soon it was getting dark, and with the clear skies the temperature dropped rapidly. Venus was bright and low in the western sky and guided us to Clare, where we arrived around 18:30. But here the advantage of going so slowly came to light: the pubs were now open and serving hot food. So we went into the Bell and, craving for fat (as you do in bitterly cold weather), we all ordered cheeseburgers and chips. All, that is, except Seb, who protested that he was not hungry, and could not be persuaded that a hot meal was essential when there were still 40 km of Essex and Suffolk hills to cross.

18:56 The Bell, Clare

It was nearly 19:30 when we set out again, heading north from Clare and then west towards Kedington and Great Wratting. The skies were clear of cloud, and away from the lights of the towns, the constellations of Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Cygnus and Auriga were bright and clear. We could have navigated by the Pole Star if GPS and route sheet had failed us. The temperature continued to fall as we crossed the high ground Wratting Common, reaching −5 °C according to the thermometer on Seb’s Garmin, and there were patches of frost on the road, so we took the downhills somewhat gingerly.

Seb’s speed dropped along with the temperature, and we started to worry a bit about the time limit. Fourteen hours from setting off would bring us to 22:00 and so it was clearly going to be a bit tight. We got to St Andrew’s Street with less than ten minutes to spare. But audax is not a race, and the important thing is that we survived and completed the ride. I learned a few things about pacing myself in the cold, and the value of a hot meal on a winter night.

21:51 Arrivée at St Andrews Street, Cambridge

My total distance was 222 km (138 miles). You can see tracks on Strava for Alex, Nigel, and Seb.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

19 Jan: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Wimbish

Edward writes: This Thursday we had a trip out to nearby Ickleton for coffee and Wimbish for lunch. This has been a very cold week and this morning was no different but it was also also exhilarating as there was very bright sunshine and no wind, even if the temperature was barely above freezing.

When it was time to go thirteen riders had assembled and were all marked off on the register by Andy, our leader for the day. Meanwhile, back in the city, there was a similar process with John S checking in eight riders.

As Ickleton is only about eight miles distant from Hauxton, a circuitous route was required which started via Little Shelford and Newton. Once underway it was apparent how cold it was, with hands hard to keep warm - even with Rapha gloves. Although the last few days had been dry there were still plenty of puddles and, in the shade, damp roads, which required a lot of concentration to avoid mishaps.

We missed out the usual ride round Thriplow and went directly to Fowlmere and out to the A505 at Flint Cross. Now we had the two miles of climbing up to Great Chishill; there were no complaints now about being cold. On the way up we were caught by those from the city.

We went past Heydon and into Elmdon which put us on the long descent down to Ickleton. Although mostly downhill it is interrupted by a stiff climb and at the start of the descent from it, and probably flying, the rear derailleur on John E's bike broke off. This brought to an end to his day's cycling, but more importantly he avoided injury. In good spirit there were many offers of help, principally from John S and Rupert. After some first aid to the bike John was able to freewheel downhill to Ickleton and limp along to the Riverside Barns where we were having coffee. Once there, Rupert and John soon got to work to get the bike serviceable enough for John could to get home.

At coffee, with the addition of the independent riders, we very nearly filled the cafe taking up all the available seats. On a day like today this must have been good business for them.

When it was time to go, about fourteen continued along the A1301 to Littlebury where we turned right to climb up to Littlebury Green before descending back down to the Royston to Saffron Walden road. We then turned off to pay a rare visit to Newland End before continuing on Arkesden via Quicksie Hill.

The climbing was over for a bit as we arrived in Wicken Bonhunt and then into Newport for a bit more climbing. On the climb out of Newport, whilst trying to change gear, Peter had what he called a "controlled falling off" into the grassy embankment, as his chain had come off and he was stuck in his rear derailleur. There were no bruises, and he will be fit to shout for the Gunners at the Emirates this Saturday. A few more uphills and downhills finally brought thirteen of us to lunch at the Mutton and Kipper in Elder Street Wimbish.

Wimbish Tye Green

This was a pleasant lunch break and a bonus for the cafe as we were nearly the only customers there. After lunch at 2.30 pm it was time to go again and as Andy was close to home he exercised the Chairman's prerogative and delegated the afternoon session for John to lead on his own. Andy and Sarah were joined by Alan, leaving John's group of ten to head through Tye Green Wimbish to Radwinter, passing over the fords in Water Lane which were passable with care.

Water Lane, Radwinter

A few more climbs took us to Ashdon, Bartlow and Linton. This is a regular route home for us taking in Hildersham, Abington, Babraham, Sawston, Stapleford and Grest Shelford.

We finished the ride at 4.14pm, as the sun was going down and the temperature dropping. Those going back to Hauxton would have completed 56 miles. Thanks to our two leaders for taking us round and, despite the cold ,this was a very successful January ride. Also thanks to Rupert for his assistance to John E. Edward Elmer



Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 15 January 2017

15 Jan: Sunday afternoon ride to St Ives

Simon writes: With a little trepidation, and a helping of hope that the forecast for dry weather this afternoon might bare a credible resemblance to reality, I set off from my boat at Bates Bite Lock along the tow path to Brookside.

Well it nearly stopped raining all afternoon but it was like a typical English summer's day, damp but not cold. Everyone else wore a waterproof jacket but I was sure that I'd suffer more from the effects of "boil in the bag" syndrome if I did. Although getting slightly damp was inevitable at least it was fresher than the alternative - and these modern synthetic fabrics really do a fair job of breathing and not soaking up the wet stuff.

Those brave enough to take a little of the rough with the smooth at Brookside included Simon D, David, John E and new member Alan. The route that I researched after Thursday morning's ride followed a parallel path from Boxworth over bridleways through Lolworth and Bar Hill to Dry Drayton, but it was decidedly too muddy to appeal to anyone but Jacob H so I stuck with what works and hoped not to get groans from the group.

To this end we kicked off with the Coton foot path, the gentle climb up the old St Neots road as far as Cambourne before turning towards Knapwell and Connington.

It was here that we were joined by John J, an affirmation of his earlier email to ask if he might join us somewhere en route. When we got to Fenstanton he and John E took a short cut to "S'tives", as the locals would have it, and for John E to add some water resistant leg wear to his Sunday ensemble, while the remaining group did the last loop through the Hemingfords, Houghton Mill and The Thicket.

I had expected to see Johns E and J already at the River Tea Rooms, languishing in their umpteenth cup of tea, but curiously we reached the tea room a few moments before they did.

Tea in St Ives

After tea Simon decided to pay his mother a visit. John E was essentially home anyway and before I could return from the toilet John J and Alan had set off, presumably down the busway. With one last little known detour up my sleeve I took David back through Fenstanton and Fen Drayton to the Hollywell Ferry road that joins up with the busway further along.

Now with a tail breeze and no rain we steamed all the way from St Ives to Milton Road Cambridge inside an hour, an average of 16.5mph. Simon Gallaway



Download this route (from Brookside to St Ives only) (GPX).

Thursday, 12 January 2017

12 Jan: Thursday ride to Swavesey

Edward writes: Over the last day or so there had been a lot of discussion through the e-mail system as to whether or not today's ride should go ahead. The weather forecast had been pretty dire with a lot of rain predicted from mid-day onward. In the event our two leaders came to the agreement that we make this a coffee-only ride, with everyone heading back home after coffee in Swavesey rather than carrying on to lunch in Gamlingay.

At the start in Haslingfield

In all, over the two groups, more than twenty members arrived at Swavesey, with thirteen setting off from Haslingfield under the guidance of our chairman and another half-dozen or so departing from Brookside with John Seton leading from there. We had met at Haslingfield under grey skies, but with no immediate threat of rain and a temperature of about 5C. In view of the weather predictions our route was always going to be as direct as we could make it. Thus we went through Harlton, the Eversdens, Kingston, Bourn and up to the A428 near Cambourne. We then headed through Knapwell, and soon after there Susan hit a spot of bother which was later diagnosed as a broken spoke; fortunately she was able to carry on to Swavesey. After Knapwell followed the climb up to Boxworth after which we passed the ever-expanding construction site for the A14 development. In years to come all these roads which cross the new A14 are going to look a lot different. From here, oncer we were over the A14 it was but a short distance to Swavesey and the Bethel Baptist Chapel where we enjoyed for one of our favourite coffee stops.

Swavesey

Swavesey

This week the Women's Institute were in charge of baking the cakes, and a many and varied selection was on offer; delicious too. We arrived just after 11am and spent a pleasant half hour or so there, with many mindful of the weather forecast which predicted the rain to start at mid-day.

Preparing to leave Swavesey

As we assembled to leave the first spots of rain were felt. We made for the busway for the short journey home, accompanied by an increasingly steady drizzle. When we reached the Girton interchange quite a few carried on in the direction of Histon, with another group continuing through Girton and down Huntingdon Road towards Cambridge. Most people would have got home by 1pm having cycled in the region of 30 miles. Today was not one of our more memorable rides, but at least we did get out. Thanks are due to our leaders Andy and John for going ahead with the ride despite there being plenty of reasons for cancelling. Edward Elmer



Download GPS track (GPX).

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

11 Jan: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: It had been very windy earlier, but by 6pm conditions had calmed down considerably, allowing our first moonlight ride of 2017 to take place on a breezy but dry evening; quite cloudy but with enough breaks to allow us to enjoy the full moon for much of the time. The temperature was a steady 5C, relatively mild compared with the freezing temperatures forecast for later in the week.

My companions this evening were Gareth, Sven and Dimitris, and together we enjoyed a very pleasant spin round the hills on the Essex border, taking the familiar loop down to Ickleton, over Coploe Hill, along Royston Lane and then back via Chrishall Grange and Fowlmere.

This was my first evening ride using my new dynamo-powered front light, and Gareth helped me align it to provide a good, long view of the road ahead: not as dazzlingly bright as my Exposure battery light but illuminating much more of the road ahead (and of course never needing a recharge).

After a couple of hours we stopped for refreshments at The Plough in Shepreth.

At The Plough, Shepreth

We stayed rather longer than usual this evening, with three of us ordering meals and one of us ordering the traditional bowl of chips. I think that we all felt we deserved to indulge ourselves slightly, having braved a January evening for a bike ride - even though conditions were actually fairly benign.

Afterwards we set off back to Cambridge via Barrington and Chapel Hill, arriving back in central Cambridge slightly later than usual at about 10.15pm. According to my Garmin I had cycled 55km (34 miles).Nigel Deakin



Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 8 January 2017

8 Jan: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden and Langley

Nigel writes: I forgot my camera today, so no photos, and I didn't have time to write a ride report. But here's the route we took. We had quite a large group today, with Susan leading the main group and me leading a smaller and slightly-faster group along the same route, following Susan's route meticulously on my Garmin.

My group arrived at Bicicletta Coffee bang on time at 11am. As you would expect at that time, it was packed with visiting cyclists, so we took the opportunity to visit Starbucks instead. This is a few doors to the right and had plenty of room.

We had lunch at The Bull in Langley Lower Green. It was very busy when we arrived, but after a while everyone else disappeared and we had a pleasant meal.



Download GPS track (GPX).

Monday, 2 January 2017

2 Jan: Special ride to St Ives and St Neots

Nigel writes: Our first club ride of 2017 took place, rather unusually, on a Monday, following a decision to cancel Sunday's ride due to a forecast of rain, and hold it the following day instead. This proved to be an excellent decision, since "holiday Monday" turned out to be bright and sunny, and about fourteen riders turning out to spend the final day of their Christmas and New Year holidays on a bike ride.

Our route today was essentially a repeat of a very successful ride we had enjoyed a month ago, and with the same leader, Alex, though with different food stops.

Eddington junction

We set off north out of Cambridge on our way to meet the busway just beyond Girton. It was a glorious sunny morning, but it was also very cold, with the temperature just above freezing. The ride had started at 10am to reduce the risk of early-morning ice and for the first few miles everything appeared to be going well, until we turned east onto New Road, Histon, the final section of road before the busway. A high hedge along the southern side had shielded the road from the sun. When we met a pair of oncoming horses, a ripple of braking passed along the group, and we sudden discovered we were riding on ice. Russell drew the short straw and tumbled over, fortunately with no damage to rider or cycle.

New Road, Histon: very icy

Alex wisely turned the group around and we continued on to Oakington, joining the busway a little further along. Fortunately we didn't encounter any more ice, apart from a couple of small patches along the busway which we passed carefully.

On the busway

We arrived at St Ives at about 11.15am and stopped for coffee at the "Local Cafe". This is a traditional cafe of the "fried food" variety, and although we frequently stop for coffee in St Ives, this was our first visit here for several years. I think it's quite a good place to visit, especially with a large group, as they had plenty of room inside and our food and drink orders were handled speedily. The main drawback is a lack of cycle parking, though fortunately the shop next door was closed so there was no-one to object when we piled our bikes up outside.

Bikes outside the cafe in St Ives

The last person to arrive in the cafe was Alex, who had been delayed by a puncture. Alex rides on tubeless tyres, filled with sealant, and a small hole usually mends itself. However on this occasion the hole was large enough to require plugging with an "anchovy", a curious name that only makes sense when you see what it looks like before insertion.

Alex's "anchovy"

Afterwards we reassembled outside, and it became apparent that almost everyone was in the mood to take advantage of the sunshine and carry on with the group to lunch in St Neots.

Setting off after coffee in St Ives

Alex's original plan had been to ride along the Thicket Path to Houghton and across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots, but after objections from Rupert (probably on the grounds that it would be muddy) we took the on-road route via Hemingford Grey instead. After passing through Hemingford Abbots we continued across Eastside Common and on to Godmanchester.

Eastside Common, Hemingford Abbots

In Godmanchester we turned south onto the B1043. This heads directly for St Neots, and I became concerned that we would get there before I had time to digest the beans on toast that I had just eaten for breakfast. Fortunately when we reached Offord D'Arcy turned east for a pleasant loop through Graveley and Toseland before turning back west towards St Neots.

Approaching Graveley

We arrived in St Neots at about 1.25pm and stopped at The Weeping Ash, a Wetherspoons pub just north of the main street. We parked our bikes in the yard outside and went inside to find most of the tables occupied. About half the group stayed in the pub to have lunch, with the other half walking the short distance to eat at the Market Cafe and Cafe Nero instead.

Backwater in St Neots

After lunch it was time to return home to Cambridge. Alex and Rupert were both mindful of the possibility of ice on the minor roads so we skipped the scenic route via Waresley and took a more direct route via Abbotsley instead. For this final stage home we had a slight tailwind, and with the sun still shining this was a very pleasant ride home.

Bourn

As we approached the outskirts of Cambridge the sun set and the temperature started to fall. I was glad that we didn't have far to go. I arrived home at about 4.15pm, having cycled 90km (56 miles). A fine start to 2017. Nigel Deakin



Download GPS track (GPX).