Into Horseracing Country (C#20)
Thursday 7 July, 115 Miles
With the prospect of a reasonable day’s weather the chance to ride two consecutive centuries was just too hard to resist. So I decided to head over to East Cambridgeshire and ride round the heart of horseracing country in the vicinity of Newmarket. And taking a leaf out of yesterday’s ride I decided to follow my ‘usual’ route in reverse. Two things soon became apparent.
Firstly, although there wasn’t much wind today there was a breeze that was noticeable. Quite pleasant in terms of keeping me cool but strong enough to just register and give my legs a little bit more to contend with. This meant that the longer, outward part of the ride was going to be mostly into the wind. The plus being that towards the end I should have the benefit of a slight tailwind.
The second thing I noticed was that when I originally rode the route the other way round I must have added in quite a few loops and twists to get the total mileage up to the required hundred. So this meant that after an hour’s riding I was still fairly close to home. But gradually the distance built up and I was eventually south west of Bury St Edmunds and heading for the horseracing countryside around Newmarket.
The landscape in this area is quite unique. There are numerous stud farms and the fields, when you can see them behind well-manicured hedges are usually double fenced often with, no doubt, expensive horseflesh grazing serenely within. Everywhere has a looked after and tidy feel – so tidy that it’s unnatural. The estate mansions are discretely located, usually not visible from the road, and their entrances are barred by often ornate high security gates. Occasionally there is a guard house complete with a security guard to discourage nosey parkers such as passing cyclists. From time to time signs appear to announce a particular stud farm. I can’t think of anywhere else in England like this. The air positively reeks with the smell of money. Even the road surfaces are unusually smooth and free of potholes. Do I like it? Mmm, I’m not sure. But I do appreciate the contrast which, to my mind at least, makes me appreciate our more natural countryside even more.
One of the great things about this ride is the opportunity to enjoy a bit of gentle hill climbing in the rolling countryside. So I ride up and down, back and forth rarely following a straight line – a bit like a yacht tacking – and pick out a series of climbs to stretch my muscles and give my lungs a bit of a workout. And it’s really invigorating too in the warm sun. All too soon I am approaching the fringes of Cambridge so it’s time to turn north east and head over to a friend’s house for a coffee and a gossip.
Then, with the benefit of a tail wind, I make fairly rapid progress back towards Bury and home. On the way I pass Ampton Hall. This is a fine house, built in a sort of Jacobean style, after the original hall burnt down in 1885. The entrance to the hall boasts some rather ornate gates. Passing the hall is a milestone as it means that I now have less than ten miles to reach home – unless I go off piste as it were.
So today I can celebrate two milestones. Twenty centuries completed; one third of my goal. And with 115 miles ridden, the longest century ride of the series – so far. Oh, and when I got home I found out that Cav had won his third stage of this year’s Tour. I’m all made up as they say!