Therfield Heath (not Royston Heath as I’d once thought it was called) is an SSSI of 170 hectares (420 acres) of chalk heathland to the West of Royston. The chalk was formed in the Cretaceous period (65 – 95 million years ago) and uplifted during the Alpine Orogeny then subsequently eroded by melt water from ice sheets from the Anglian ice age. The highest point of the Heath is Therfield Hill which reaches 168 m, the highest point for nearly 20km in every direction.
During World War II, the Heath was used as a prisoner of war camp. Originally the camp held 300 Italian prisoners later replaced by many more German POWs. Prisoners were put to work on the farms and – more pertenant to we cyclists – road building and maintenance. If only someone would do some road maintainance now !
One such road gains nearly 100m of elevation up the edge of the Heath to the village of Therfield itself. Rod, in his benelonence, started this ride from the Heath Cafe and took us straight up this hill – the first of five categorised climbs on the route according to Garmin.
At this point, we should welcome back to the UK the Professor, Simon, fresh home from his two month cycle free sabbatical in Costa Rica and Guatamala. The road condition here might seem similar to Guatamala but the fresh NE breeze and the toughest route we’ve done for a while came as a shock to the system. One person for whom the conditions shouldn’t have been a surprise was Victor, but he still bravely (or stupidly) turned out in shorts again ! Hope you’ve both recovered from tired legs and frozen kneecaps respectively.
Half way into the ride, Poppys Barn tea room was busy on arrival. Luckily Rod had had the foresight to reserve a table in advance so it was warming coffees all round before setting off on the still hilly return leg. On the way back we stopped briefly at THE windmill at Great Chishill – the windmill from which the club derives its name (One of 7 surviving open trestle mills, built in 1819). A short series of ups and downs led back to Royston, then through the town and back to the Heath Cafe. The excellent pre-ordered lunches arrived in short order and were enjoyed by all on parade along with some much needed restorative beers. Many thanks to the organiser, Rod.
Finally, for the record (manual pedal power acknowledged first on this occasion, due to the hilly effort involved): Andrew, Roger, Victor, Simon, Brian, Jeremy, Graham, Alan, eGeoff, eRod and (collected en route from Barkway) eMaurice.
2 replies on “Life is Full of Ups and Downs”
Fitness on holiday is problematical
Especially with two months on sabbatical
I was warned Rod’s love of hills is fanatical
My expletives were hushed but ungrammatical
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Great blog Graham!