This article was published in 2016, in Newsletter 125.
The tenth annual cycle ride to the fair in the village of Reach will be held on bank holiday Monday 2 May.
The event is free to take part, open to all and there is no registration process – just turn up and ride.
The ride leaves from in front of the Guildhall in Market Square, Cambridge at 10am prompt, but for about an hour beforehand riders gather in the square. There’s a sense of excitement and anticipation as groups of friends come together, marshals make themselves known and last-minute adjustments to bikes are made. The numbers of people on the ride depend very much on the weather: in recent years we’ve had well over 500. For the last five or six years we’ve had the Mayor ride with us, but unfortunately not this time though we do expect many city councillors to be joining us.
We set off at a steady pace and head out of Cambridge along the river, where more groups of riders are waiting to join us at the Fort St. George, Riverside and Green Dragon bridges. There’s also usually a big group waiting to join us at Newmarket Road Park & Ride site which we pass through at about 10.30am.
We follow national cycle network (NCN) route 51 to Bottisham which runs along an off-road cycle path all the way to the village. At Bottisham we turn left and head towards Lode following NCN route 11. This is on road, though for some of it there is a shared-use cycleway that some will prefer to use. We use the toucan crossing to get over the Quy / Swaffahm Road. After Lode there’s a few miles in open fenland, where the roads are usually quiet with occasional agricultural traffic.
We arrive at Reach after a half mile of gentle uphill – the only gradient on the route. We’ve got a mown field to park bikes and most people lock their bikes together in groups. As usual we’ve been asked to remind participants not to lock their bikes to the cemetery fence.
The fair officially opens at 12 noon with proclamations from the dignitaries and the throwing of pennies – to the delight of many children. Watch dancing around the maypole and Morris dancing, enjoy the food and beer tents and funfair rides or go off for a ride further into the fens.
We lead a return home to Cambridge along the same route from the bike parking area at 2pm and arrive back at Guildhall by 4pm to say our farewells. It has been a real pleasure to see this ride grow in popularity over the years; we are grateful for the support we receive from the city council, Outspoken Cycles, BikeWeek and our volunteers. If you’d like to be involved then do contact the Campaign, or join us as we sweep the route on a recce ride which leaves from the Guildhall at 10am on Saturday 30 April. If your newsletter has spare copies of our promotional leaflet, please do use them as posters, or give them to your friends.