A group of eight intrepid explorers Maurice, Andrew, John B, Ken, Rick, Vernon, Lawrence and Sandra assembled outside the Pheasant, Great Chishill awaiting instructions as to where we were heading on what was going to be a pleasant Autumn day, if a bit windy at times.
Wimpole Hall being the destination for the days excursion and a general consensus that this should be a very nice ride and it certainly was even with a few events on route.
We set off with Maurice guiding us on a path to Barkway which takes in some hills at Shaftenhoe End that would certainly warm us up for the rest of the route, this was also the same route that the BBC Children in Need Rickshaw challenge had travelled only the Friday before, those guys and girls are amazing to have pedalled the rickshaw up those hills. From Barkway we headed to Reed and Therfield before dropping down to then cross the A505 and head past Ashwell and Morden station on into the Cambridgeshire countryside where we first started to feel the force of the wind cutting across the field and the roads with sparse hedges, Maurice making good use of me as a wind break at times, which I was happy to oblige, with the occasional comment from Maurice that there was no need to rush, I think this must have been as he was dropped out of shelter from me. Passing through Steeple Morden and on to Wendy cum Shingay or is it Shingay cum Wendy, (I think that depends on which way you are travelling!), this was where I dropped in behind John B and Rick to shelter from the wind and also the same area where Andrew found another gear and came steaming through like an express train, must have been the porridge kicking in. On to Arrington and the entrance to Wimpole Hall estate, where Vernon came a cropper on the step through the gate, with words of guidance from behind “Don’t put your hand down”, he managed to stay upright even if his bike went through horizontally. Through the parkland dodging the various green currants left by the sheep and odd cow pat, we went in search of coffee at the park’s restaurant.
A little over 20 miles down and feeling refreshed we set off again, it wasn’t long before John B came steaming through and shouts of puncture are heard from behind, the team turned around and headed back to Wimpole Hall to aid/supervise the repair of Vernon’s tyre. Back on the road again to Orwell then Barrington, where Vernon was found propped up against a telegraph pole adding a bit more air to said tyre. Onwards to Shepreth and then Fowlmere when it was discovered that the group had halved in size, we’re four down, Maurice duly waited at the junction while John B, Vernon and I would head on to the next junction. At this point I was beginning to regret not having a piece of cake with coffee, as my legs had had enough (self inflicted calorie controlled diet that a Sparrow wouldn’t survive on, well that’s gone out the window now!) At the same time my bike started to feel unusual, yes I’d developed a slow puncture and it was while I was adding a bit of air, that the stray gang caught me up and the tale of Ken’s bike developing a major steering fault, basically there was no steering, thankfully this was sorted and we were on the move again. Not far now and hoping that my tyre would hold up to get back, well it did but not without a couple more puffs to keep me going, last 50 yards or so on foot, with Andrew and Maurice making sure I made it.
Over lunch we started to compare distances travelled during the day on the various GPS tracking devices, Vernon 34.75 – the shortest distance for a change, Lawrence 35.76, Sandra 35.75 and Andrew 36.4 – having spent considerable time rounding up the troops and making sure I was ok on the final stretch, thank you.
Thanks to Maurice for another lovely, if eventful ride.