CTC ride to Stradishall, Clare and Stetchworth

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It was one of those days when you pack a waterproof jacket and a bottle of sunscreen, and end up using both. The day started out dull and grey, with low misty cloud settled over the fields and hills, and every view disappearing into the murk.

On the ride out from Brookside, I didn’t want to cause trouble by riding off the front and splitting the group, so I bid goodbye and made my own way to coffee. I followed the route of the Haslingfield audax that I went on in March, through Fulbourn, Six Mile Bottom, Dullingham, Stetchworth, Woodditton and Saxon Street, then heading south through Cowlinge to Stradishall. There were lots of swallows about.

At Tubby T’s I met Adrian, Vic and John, who had come direct. But where were the others? We drank our coffee and by 11:30 there was still no sign, so I said goodbye once again and made my own way to lunch, taking in some of the Suffolk hills: through Denston and Hawkedon, then up the hill to Somerton, down to Hartest, and up Hartest Hill, which has a good long section at about 10%. The road through Stanstead (not to be confused) led me back down to the valley of the River Glem (a tributary of the Stour), and then there was another steep climb up to Glemsford. I took a loop south of the A1092, through Cavendish, Pentlow, and Hickford Hill, arriving at Clare in time to meet Adrian for lunch in Clare café.

Throughout the morning it had been hot and humid, with thunderstorms wandering about on the horizons, but they had all kept their distance.

At Clare Country Park we met the remaining day riders (Tom, Mick Cousins, and Eva) by the snack tricycle. Tom explained that they had got lost on the way to coffee, somewhere in the network of lanes southwest of Cowlinge!

Tom set us a fast pace as we headed north through Poslingford, Stansfield, Hawkedon (again), Rede, Chevington, Hargrave, and as we passed Barrow it was clear that if we went straight to tea we would be very early. So Tom suggested a loop north of the A14, to Cavenham and Tuddenham and back again.

After we crossed the A14 for the second time, we were hailed by an old lady who had parked her convertible and lapdog by the side of the road. Could she borrow a mobile phone so she could call the RAC? Eva kindly obliged, and we listened as she explained that she had run out of petrol and could they come and help? It sounded as though the RAC were not very impressed.

After tea our luck ran out and we were caught in one last thunderstorm. Nigel wrote in his blog of the afternon ride,

Within a minute of leaving the pub the skies opened and we found ourselves riding through a torrential downpour. The whole group stopped under some trees in Dullingham for several minutes before carrying on to Swaffham Bulbeck, Bottisham and Quy. Although the rain slackened off after a while it continued to rain steadily all the way back, making this my wettest club ride for a year or two.

I had 106 miles: a good day out, despite the soaking.

It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious about taking a route that crosses itself!