22 February. Saffron Walden circuit. 30 miles.

A large group of 11 wrapped-up-well Windmillers gathered at The Pheasant in Great Chishill at 9.30am to set off on a 30 mile circuit via Saffron Walden, once again on a cold day. Led by Maurice and followed at a brisk pace to warm up by Andrew, Vernon, John B, Sandra, Ken, Brian, Ric, Chris, Lawrence and Martin, the peloton’s first stop was Elmdon to see if the group was still together, which it was. Lawrence was particularly well wrapped up as he had only just returned the previous day from 3 weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia, but where the weather had also been cold, particularly at night time.

John B had also had a cold week’s walking the week before in the Lake District, having to cut steps into deep snow to climb familiar peaks, and so this chilly ride must have been a doddle for him. Normally bare headed, he did however sport a smart red ski hat.

This was to prove an uneventful ride, puncture-wise, compared to the previous week, no doubt due to drier roads and an absence of nasty little sharp flints which can penetrate the toughest of tyres, even Schwalbe Marathons! Tough to get on a wheel rim too, according to Chris, who wrecked two tubes in his attempts to do so and brought his old bike instead of his flash new machine.

Audley End House came and went in its usual ethereal majesty before climbing the hill into Saffron Walden, Martin being subjected to some aggressive honking by a bad tempered driver (probably well deserved), before exiting the town and climbing the steep hill to Sewards End.

Lawrence still warming up in Sewards End followed by Vernon and Martin

Then it was through the lanes to Elder Street and a stop at the delightful Debden Barns café to warm up the extremities with good coffee and large helpings of cake, scones, cream and jam, which did the trick.

Coffee and cakes at Debden Barns

By this time the skies had cleared and a beautiful day emerged, still fresh but the heat of the sun made all the difference and so happier faces were seen at the next photo stop in Duddenhoe End:

Sunny Duddenhoe End and cheerful faces 
John B whizzing through

Finally it was back to The Pheasant by a variety of routes. Those seeking to get to the bar first took the direct route to Great Chishill whilst others took the scenic route through Chrishall, leaving just Maurice and Martin to clock up the full 30 miles by taking the long way from Chrishall to Great Chishill which also enabled them to admire the view towards Cambridge and beyond. But it was Ric who easily claimed the longest ride of the day through having cycled from Harston to The Pheasant in the first place and then back to Harston, clocking up nearly 50 miles in the process. Well done, Ric!

An excellent lunch was then had in The Pheasant after which we made our departures, feeling smug at having turned out in the cold in the first place. Strange how 30 miles felt so different to last week’s 30 miles.

Here is the route taken:

22 Feb 18 map

Thanks, once again, to Maurice and Andrew for their organisation of team Windmill, and to Brian for the pics.



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