This Thursday’s ride saw a recent record 18 Windmillers on parade. A warm welcome to Paul, on his first outing with the group and welcome back Howard. The high turn out was no doubt influenced by the extensive Thai menu at the Navigators, Little Shelford; the dry and warm(ish) forecast; the long sections of dedicated cycle paths and the nearly pan flat course profile. In fact so flat was the profile, Charles was tempted into eschewing his ebike for his old faithful, normally aspirated Giant bike (but more on that later).

Brian had devised a devious 53km route up through the East side of Cambridge and back through the West side, maximising the use of cycle paths and cycle routes and minimising the use of of the city roads. A pleasure to ride but a real challenge to follow the twists and turns thereof ! Thankfully most Windmillers come equipped with electronic navigation these days and any wrong turning were quickly corrected. The stiff breeze on the day was from the East and didn’t hamper our progress on the largely North-South route.

Although mostly on paths, it was still deemed prudent to split into three equal groups. In time honoured fashion, the first ‘equal’ group set off with 7 riders, the second with 6 and the third with 5. Hmmmm.

Cambridge’s guided busway is (or was) the longest guided busway in the world and has two main branches. The Northern busway uses the course of the former Cambridge and Huntingdon railway and the Southern section uses part of the former Oxford Varsity Line. Although the utility and cost of the busway divided local opinion at the time, a total of 2,500,000 trips were made in the first year of operation which was 40% higher than the predicted figure. What is not in dispute is the utility of the busway to cyclists and pedestrians alike, who can enjoy munching kilometre after kilometre on a great surface almost risk free (not withstanding there has been the very occasional fatality involving cyclists and buses). Brian’s route made extensive use of both branches of the busway to ensure that brisk progress was made on the first leg of our route and we were soon clear of the city and heading for fen country.

A brief detour via Rampton and we were on course for the Auction House cafe in Willingham. Willingham Auctions was established in 1959, and ran as a popular Auctioneers and Estate Agents for 25 years. It was reopened in 1994. The café is now a justifiably popular part of the site. Somewhat delayed for coffee, however, was the second group on the road due to an unfortunate puncture to Charles’ bike. Not having his usual e-bike meant that his full bag of bike spare paraphernalia and electronic gadgetry wasn’t there when it was needed and the puncture took a long time to fix ! By the time we were finally all assembled for coffee, the sun was out and we could all relax in the courtyard enjoying the warmth – just as well as the sudden influx of 19 riders had put the café into temporary overload and drinks and cakes were a while in arriving !

The enforced extended break allowed us to review our clothing choice in the sunshine and multiple windproof hi-vis layers and thermal baselayers were duly stowed away.

The return leg took us in the vicinity of the popular Byron’s pool near Grantchester. Lord Byron himself (‘Don Juan’ dude and father of Ada Lovelace) is reputed to have used the pool for swimming. These days it is a popular nature reserve. The Rivers Bourne, Rhee, Cam and Granta all converge just upstream of the pool.

The Navigator has long had a reputation for fine Thai food and good beer but it hasn’t been a Windmill regular haunt (maybe until now) – it didn’t disappoint. Despite the large number of us, food and drink was efficiently delivered and efficiently consumed. Another great ride.

And the blog title ? Thai for: “turned out nice again”. The ‘crew’: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Chris, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Ken, Martin B, Martin W, Maurice, Paul, Ric, Rod, Roger, Simon.

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