This was the fifth time that George had led his “Beds Ride”. Seven of us (George and Jean, Geoff and Will, Chris, John Ackers and Barbara) boarded the train at West Hampstead after a panic about the long ticket queue and disappointment at the broken lift. Fortunately, it was a twelve coach train providing plenty of room for our bikes. We were immediately greeted by William and Clara who led me right to the front of the train to say hello to their parents Peter and Suzanne – they had got on at St Pancras as had Richard Carter.
After a big struggle up the steps at Flitwick Station, we assembled on the railway bridge – 12 people with 11 bikes (one a tandem, of course).
The route took us through the edge of Flitwick and then through the villages of Greenfield and Flitton onto Silsoe Village where we turned right into the High Street, then left by the church and into Wrest Park. The ride through Wrest Park passes the country house then seems to stop at a big sloping field with a warning to drivers that ‘whatever your SatNav says you shouldn’t continue up the track ahead’.
We did continue on what can only be described as ‘a very rough track’ to the top of a hill and down the other side. The surface provides plenty of variety ranging from loose gravel to chunks of concrete. But all of us made it to the other end without any incidents.
Riders on the rough track… click on a thumbnail
We sped on through pleasant countryside, passing the village of Gravenhurst and then under the main road through a tunnel providing a very convenient cycle bypass just before Shefford, We stopped for a coffee break at The Loft in Shefford.
Soon after leaving Shefford we joined a country lane by means of a right turn just before a gigantic roundabout.
We continued on our ride along quiet roads through woods to Old Warden – a village with many thatched cottages. Soon after, we arrived at our lunch stop at the airfield beside the line of hangars containing the Shuttleworth Collection of early aircraft, cars and even bicycles. On our first visit in 2012, most of us went into the collection, but this time, only John decided to do so. Usually, a few of the hangar doors are open and you can sneak in to get a glimpse of some of the aircraft such as beautiful early gliders and bi-planes. But this day all the doors were firmly closed.
At 3pm we set off on the return part of the route which turned out to be a bit of an adventure. But first we cycled past
the thatched cottages of Old Warden and paused for a moment to watch the cricketers.
There’s a hamlet called “Ireland”. It really consists only of a pub called the Black Horse. But somehow, our navigation always seems to go awry in the vicinity of Ireland. Although the advice should be ‘never go to Ireland’ we did manage to go there and had to extricate ourselves by means of a detour to get back to the little road with the Thai food outlet by Chicksands Bike Park. After that, it was plain sailing as far as our Tea Stop at St Mary’s Church, at Church End, Haynes. We come here every year as well as on our pre-ride recces and are never disappointed. You go to make a choice of home-made cake or scones and then sit down at a table or in the churchyard to drink the copious tea out of fine china cups and saucers.
The last stage of the ride returned to Flitwick via Silsoe instead of the usual route that enters Flitwick from the north via Maulden. Somehow, we all managed to get down to the platform and onto the waiting 6.30 train before it departed.
More photos (mostly taken by Geoff) on Flickr