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10 May: Baldock to St Neots

posted 12 May 2015, 04:31 by South Herts   [ updated 5 Jan 2017, 22:10 ]
The ride start was outside Baldock train station making it suitable for riders arriving by train, car, or even bike. Eleven of us set off at 9:30 northish in warm sunshine and were soon passing through the village of Ashwell, now famous for its muted church bells following complaints of residents (mainly clientele of the local pubs) about their hangovers on weekend mornings being aggravated by the peals.

group
Near Hinxworth

bridge by ford
The ford in Sutton
On reaching Sandy, where our scheduled stop was at the Subway concession inside Budgen’s supermarket, we noticed a new cafe, Mama’s, and made an impromptu decision to try it out. Agreeable though it was, the two softly spoken young girls serving did not know how to deal efficiently with a sudden influx of eleven customers, although after what seemed like aeons, coffee did eventually appear on the tables.
 
Four of the riders had recently returned from a week’s cycling in Majorca, staying at an hotel popular with other, mainly British cyclists. After they had regaled us with tales about their alcoholic and highly calorific experiences, we inferred that their evening’s entertainment included observing the lady triathletes returning from long training rides. Another long-standing CTC rider who now lives in Bedfordshire, who had fortunately noticed our parked bikes, which were not outside the listed coffee stop, then joined us.
outside cafe
Mama's Cafe in Sandy
On departure, two of our number headed back to Baldock while the remaining ten pressed on, crossing the A1 motorway by using the cycle path on the old railway line to Blunham. We then headed due north to Bushmeads before turning east to again cross the A1 and reach the St Neots lunch stop at 1pm. We soon found the previously unvisited Weeping Ash pub efficiently run by the JD Wetherpoon company where the manager kindly opened some side gates to allow us to park our bikes round the back.

We usually eat sandwiches or light lunches but here the temptation of the high calories-to-price ratio for half chickens with all the trimmings led to outrageous scenes of gluttony, not seen since the fall of the Roman Empire, and involving over half of the riders. Lunchtime discussion about the result of the general election concluded that the late intervention of Russell Brand had been decisive and with the consequence of some riders abandoning plans to subdivide their houses now that the threat of a mansion tax had been lifted.

On track
On NCR 51 near Blunham

pub
The Weeping Ash in St Neots
red tractor
 'International' tractor
tractors
Old tractors near Toseland



Leaving at 2 p.m. and now with a head wind we headed southeast towards Papworth Everard where we soon came up behind a convoy of over 20 gleaming veteran tractors, which temporarily slowed our pace. The sight of these caused me to take a sharp intake of breath, as I have been known to sometimes behave like an ex-tractor fan.
 
Normally garden centres are a bit of a problem for tea stops as they close at 4 p.m. but the one that had been chosen was Waresley garden centre, which stays open to 4:30. We arrived there coincident with a contingent from Cambridge CTC and sat at an outside table in the warm sunshine until being thrown out at closing time. The last section of the ride back was into a strong headwind and seemed to take a long time, as we didn’t get back to the train station until 6 p.m. after passing the NIMBY boards placed by the enemies of progress on the outskirts of Baldock. It had been a windy ride of 66 miles.
Steve 10/05/2015 - how could anyone think Carol had written this report with its bad jokes and puns!

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