This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 78.
‘That was a really wonderful day out’ said one survivor of the 50-mile ride from Midsummer Common to Ely and back. By Stourbridge Common the ride stretched out over half a mile and our official tally was 157 riders through Bottisham. The ride included very many children, their families and a lot of people we’d never seen before on our events. The back of the ride arrived in Reach at about ten to twelve in good time to catch the opening ceremony at the fair. Most riders were just there for the fair, which was swarming with people on an unusually sunny Bank Holiday.
After the festive opening ceremonies, which involved some dancing around a maypole, a group of about 40 of us carried on all the way to Ely via Wicken Fen, arriving at 3:30 pm where about half got on the train home. The rest of us – about 17 – left Ely at 4:30 pm and we were back in Cambridge just before 8:30 pm and repaired to the Maypole pub (appropriately) for a celebratory drink.
Jim Chisholm led the ride back from Reach to Cambridge at 2 pm but only with about 30 people and so the balance must have decided to go home independently.
At Reach Fair the mayor and her entourage visited the Campaign stall bike and I was delighted to hear her say that she thought they ought to have cycled rather than arriving in their limousines – perhaps next year then?
I must remember to take a dustpan and brush next year – at one point as lead rider I had to stop and pick up broken glass near a pub. I think we got most of it, but I did hear about some punctures at the beginning of the ride. I heard of a couple of bangs and scrapes and a grazed arm when someone fell off their bike but nothing major to worry about. One rider, who said that the most she had ever ridden before was three miles, came with us all the way to Ely and back. When she was flagging at the back we oiled her rusty chain and set the seat height and she was like a new cyclist. I also heard of several groups of people who had travelled to Cambridge from London especially for the event.
For many people, both children and adults, this was the longest ride they’d ever undertaken, and a good number said to me that they didn’t know the route existed and that they were glad to discover it. Many also asked when the next ride was and I was sad to tell them that there were no organised rides planned, apart from our regular informal Friday rides. The campaign has stopped running the leisurely rides every month, choosing instead to focus energies on organising one big ride per year.
I should like to thank all the volunteer marshals for helping this ride pass smoothly, Sustrans for building the route and providing liability insurance cover and Cambridge City Council for helping to promote the ride.