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07 July: Panshanger to Ickleton

posted 9 Jul 2013, 06:58 by South Herts   [ updated 25 Nov 2015, 23:36 ]
The challenge was there.  Could the heat be endured?  Could the physical and mental challenges be overcome?  Could the nation be lifted and the next generation be inspired – while competing in shorts and white socks?  

From 2013 Weekend Rides
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Well, we did our best, but the only cups we’d be kissing today were tea and coffee cups and plenty of them, as we lived up to our café-to-café (CTC) image with three in one day.  It was my turn to lead around a 72-mile circuit from Panshanger on the hottest day of the year so far.  I was half expecting no-one to turn up, but some like it hot and I was delighted to have a group of seven and doubly pleased that newcomer Geoff picked this as his first ride with us.

Our route to Hare Street was a bit lumpy, especially for me as the potholes were so bad on the lane into Westmill that my bottle cage broke and is now held together with zip ties.  Our first café was The Old Swan, which only opens one Sunday a month, but is well worth a visit just to sit around the garden pond, sampling the home-made scones and teacakes (either/or, not both), feed the numerous fish and geese and quaff plenty of tea or coffee.

Our next challenge was to reach Ickleton for lunch.  A nice ride, along almost deserted lanes, took us into unfamiliar territory around Duddenhoe End and Elmdon.  Into Essex, then into Cambridgeshire and it was a swooping run down the chalk hills to Ickleton, sited where the ancient Icknield Way crossed the River Cam.

The Riverside Barns is a set of rather tacky small businesses, mostly deserted today by their owners, but the café has shady tables overlooking the River Cam and is a pleasant spot to cool off on a hot day and one we were reluctant to leave.

At half-past one it was the hottest time of the day, so I was grateful the route was a flat one through Fowlmere, Meldreth and Basingbourn to the source of the Cam.  I hugged the roadside seeking any shade offered by hedges and trees, but still arrived soaked in sweat at the church hall opposite Ashwell museum.  What a treat – lovely homemade cakes, a small selection but real quality.  Bottles refilled, it was now a small matter of getting back to Panshanger and we all finished well satisfied if a bit pooped, to say the least.

Jon, 7 July 2013