4 April. Iron men and women go to Ely and back. 51 miles.

We knew this was going to be a long day, and probably a windy one, but that didn’t stop 9 hardy  Windmillers from gathering in the Trumpington Park and Ride for a 51 mile trip to Ely and back. Graham, Sandra, Victor and Brian clocked up even longer distances having started from and returned to their homes, so well done those four, particularly Victor who had a dodgy front brake with pads that were stuck on for part of the way.

The others on this jaunt were organiser Andrew, Keith, Lawrence, Geoff and Martin. Having all assembled safely, off we whizzed alongside the busway to Cambridge station and then guided by Brian through the side streets to a convenient underpass at the junction of East Road and Newmarket Road and down to the River Cam.

Baits Bite Lock on the River Cam on a sunny Fenland day

Instead of going clockwise as on previous trips we decided to go anti-clockwise to try out a new route and also have a coffee break at the Wicken Fen Visitor Centre café. This worked out well on the whole except that National Cycle Route No. 11 came to an abrupt stop at Waterbeach, even though it was marked on the map, and became a series of stiles and gates which had to be crossed whilst heading towards Lode resulting in this becoming an Iron Man challenge, particularly when lifting Geoff’s e-bike over a gate.

Big Fenland skies near Waterbeach

Once we were back on No. 11 near Lode we had a glorious ride across the open Fens with a strong wind on our tail resulting in a fast journey to Wicken, arriving at 11.30am after 18 miles. Lawrence spotted a Marsh Harrier circling for its prey and Sandra thought it might have had a mate too. A great sighting. En route to Wicken we passed the infamous cock-up bridge and of course had to be photographed against it:

Stopping to admire the cock-up bridge near Wicken
The Wicken Fen Visitor Centre and café on the right

After coffee and cakes we set off for another 10 miles to our favourite lunch stop in Ely, Peacocks, via more riverside roads and tracks and under the newly constructed bridge carrying heavy traffic from Ely to Newmarket. This made the final hop into Ely somewhat easier than on previous trips, particularly as the bike path had been well repaired too.

Lunch was quite superb – a friendly greeting, a large table (the owner knew we were coming thanks to Brian phoning ahead), and excellent food washed down with some fine bottled Elgood’s beer from Wisbech (for those not worried about falling asleep on the homeward leg).

Lunch in Peacocks, Ely
Tea has its benefits too it seems. Note the reference to the EU.

With 28 miles under our belt, there were no takers for the train home and so after lunch we set off on the homeward leg via Witchford, Wilburton and Cottenham knowing that a Fen blow would be on our noses most of the way. And indeed it was but we plugged on, heads down and getting relief at times from roadside hedges and trees. Just after crossing the River Ouse, Graham and Sandra peeled off and went down the main road to  Cottenham whilst the others took a minor back road and then to the River Cam via Landbeach and Milton. At one stage Victor took a minor tumble at a road junction after which repairs were attempted on his front brake without much success which resulted in Victor having effectively pedalled uphill across the Fens. So the prize for losing the most calories on the ride definitely went to Victor.

Once back in Cambridge, Keith, Brian and Martin decided they could not manage another inch without some refreshment and so they headed for The Salisbury Arms in Tenison Road whilst the others returned to Trumpington via the busway.

Here is the route taken:

Ely circuit 4 April 2019
The ‘mountain’ shown at 28 miles was in central Ely! Mapometer claims 50 miles but most satnavs recorded 51/52 miles.

Thanks to Andrew for organising a great ride. Let’s hope Route 11 near Waterbeach gets established for real in the coming months, so please lobby Sustrans!



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