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CTC Cambridge

7 Dec: Thursday ride to Potton and Sandy

Thursday, 07 December 2017 

Peter W writes: Prior to today's ride there had been some second thoughts about the lunch venue and whether this would entail an overlong return journey to Cambridge and Haslingfield. The upshot was an agreed shortening of the return ride by moving the lunch top to Gunn's Café in Sandy.

The weather forecast for this ride made for grim reading. In the morning there would be winds of 20+ mph and persistent heavy rain, followed after midday by plunging temperatures caused by the dispersal of the low cloud, but with the wind not letting up. This outlook gave rise to a flurry of emails and phone calls between concerned ride leaders and some committee members. Should the ride be cancelled? Should it be curtailed after the coffee stop? Should the city group and the village group amalgamate to make the numbers viable?

Both Sheila and I (ride leaders for the day) decided that we would go to our respective starts and play it by ear from there. It takes me so long to get togged up and the bike sorted that I had determined that, as long as I was not the only rider to make an appearance at the start, I would go as far as any of my co-riders wished along the planned route. Imagine how heartened I was to be greeted by seven other riders at the start, including Denis and new rider Geoff, both of whom seemed up for an adventure. So convinced was I that I would be the only person at the start, that I didn't even bring the registration form and hastily had to write everyone's name down on a scrap of paper.

We set off along the Barton Road and soon passed Comberton, Toft, Bourn and Longstowe. It was windy and there was some rain but it was fairly quickly agreed that if conditions didn't worsen the ride was viable. We were making pretty good time but as we passed Longstowe the rain became a bit heavier and conversation turned to how waterproof our kit was. John J recommended we all bought a particular brand of Norwegian cycling underwear "for comfort and efficiency", whatever that means.

The last leg to the coffee stop which involved skirting round Gamlingay and heading towards Potton was the most trying. The wind was gusting and rain quite heavy. The Boundary Café on the South side of Potton was a most welcome sight. Wet layers were draped over chairs and heaters. Glyn had the foresight to bring spare dry gloves and a clean, dry top; the mood overall became instantly more positive.

Boundary Cafe, Potton with sun shining outside.

John J and Richard catch up at the Boundary Cafe.

We laid into the cakes and hot drinks and gazed contentedly out of the pavilion windows across the playing fields. As we did so, three things occurred almost simultaneously: firstly the heavens opened and torrential rain, carried by the strongly gusting winds caused us to carefully reconsider our next move on this ride. The rain was so heavy we could no longer see to the far side of the cricket pitch. The second thing was the sudden entrance of four very bedraggled-looking cyclists from the village group. They say timing is everything and in this instance the village group had just failed to reach the safety of the coffee stop before this cruel 'Act of God'. Thirdly, as the rain subsided a little, in walks Adrian looking as fresh as a daisy with an expression which said 'what's all the fuss about?'

A lot of milling and discussion then ensued. To play for time and allow the weather front to pass over, many riders had second cups of coffee (and in some cases second cakes). In the event, all the city group, bar two, decided to carry on. The village group decided that even though the rain had subsided further, they'd had enough - and I don't blame them after such a severe pounding. Adrian's intentions were, however, clear: 'I go on'.

The next leg to lunch involved a loop to Everton and down Tempsford Hill to Blunham and onto Great Barford. We would then find the cycle track into Sandy. The weather was a little less ferocious. The wind was not quite as strong as it had been and the rain was lighter. The route was interesting and the sky to the west showed signs of brightness. As we hove into view of Sandy we caught the tiniest glimpse of blue sky. By the time we had settled down to lunch in Gunn's Café, the sun was out and shining brightly through the windows. How things change!

Gunn's Cafe, Sandy

Gunn's Cafe, Sandy

Some of our party tried out the Bedfordshire culinary masterpiece –the Clanger- a whole meal wrapped in pastry. Savoury filling one end, and sweet filling [marked by an ‘X'] the other end. Today it was gammon and apple.

Bedfordshire clanger at Gunn's Cafe, Sandy

With the wind behind us, the sky clearing and the sun out- the return journey ceased to present a threat to us. Before we left Adrian reappeared again, just to check everything was in order. Meanwhile Rupert could not resist phoning Sheila to suggest that she might very well have enjoyed a ride in such balmy conditions.

We set off back via Everton, Gamlingay, Waresley, Gransden and Caxton where we said farewell to Glyn. We were now five in the group. Simon left soon after and the remaining four, including Denis and Geoff, ploughed on down the old A428 to Hardwick and turned off to Coton, returning to Cambridge via the cycle path to Grange Road. We again made good time arriving in Cambridge at 3.15pm just as the temperature started to drop once more. Peter Wilson

1 comments from old website

Thursday 14th Dec 2017 at 11.42pm

An excellent first ride! Many thanks Geoff

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