What better day to write this blog than when I completed my first solo 100km bike ride!
It was the first week of March and I, along with my Global Consulting Project (GCP) group, was preparing for our project in Cyprus. Likewise, other teams were gearing up for the projects they were to take up worldwide. None of us had even dreamt that in just two weeks, Covid-19 would change our world, and we would have to completely re-strategise our approach for the GCP.
It was the 16th March when we received lock down instructions from the UK Government, complying to which the University of Cambridge, as well as the colleges, laid down rules for all its resident students. I couldn’t meet my Cambridge MBA friends in person anymore, as none of them were based in Homerton College. Needing a new social circle, I formed a small workout group with three students at Homerton – Lucrezia, Florian and Oskar. We decided to explore areas around Cambridge on our bikes to keep ourselves fit (today, I can affirm it was the best ever decision). During our exploration, we discovered some jewels, and I would like to take the opportunity to share this journey to some of the most beautiful places around Cambridge.
The first journey was to Grantchester, a small village about 3km south of Cambridge. Nice green farmlands, grazing grounds with sheep and cows, the River Cam with ducks and swans, making its way through the village, evenings in Grantchester are pure bliss. Adding to the magic are the riverside pubs in the village (worth checking out).
To test our biking stamina, we made the next visit to St. Ives, a small town 16 miles north-west. St. Ives is a cozy town on the banks of River Great Ouse. The famous bridge over the river is unusual, as it incorporates a chapel, the most striking of only four in England. The town is very lively over the weekends and has numerous local cafes and restaurants to dine in or take away.
Confident of our strength now, our next planned trip was to Ely, a city 24 miles north-east of Cambridge and famous for its cathedral. We chose to cycle there via Wicken Fen, one of Europe’s most important wetlands with a wide variety of flora and fauna. Cycling through the countryside took us through some amazing landscapes and some challenging off-roads in the region. We decided to go with a takeaway from Peacocks tearoom (highly recommended) to feed our growling bellies. After spending a few hours in the city, we cycled back to Cambridge. In all, a lovely day trip. (Pro-tip: There are trains between Ely and Cambridge).
And finally, we decided to take up the toughest challenge so far – biking to Ickworth House. Although the destination was just 30 miles (east) of Cambridge (and our first trip out of Cambridgeshire), what made the journey challenging was the approx. 900 ft elevation over the terrain. It took us a serious amount of effort to make it to the house, but the sense of accomplishment we got upon reaching the destination was priceless. The gardens there are beautiful, and you can relax there for hours in the lap of nature. In the evening, we decided to take the train back to our home in Cambridge!
By mid-July, Oskar and Lucrezia finished their courses at Cambridge and went back to their home countries to start a new phase in their lives. Florian went back to his home to spend the Summer with his family.
Left alone, I did some solo biking to nearby places like Gog Magog, Castle Hill, Cottenham, Madingley and so on – some of the places in Cambridge you must explore. In all, bike exploration during the COVID lock down not only made me explore some of the places which I would have never have thought of biking to, had things been normal, but it also taught me a lesson that even during adversity, there are always ways to make life interesting.