Thursday, 22 September 2016

22 Sep: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Saling

Edward writes: This Thursday, with the official arrival of autumn the day before, the weather started to feel like the actual season it's supposed to be in. Today's temperature was in the late teens against last week when it was near to thirty degrees centigrade. Our ride to Newport and Great Saling would probably be the last of the long rides this year and in Brookside with Rupert as leader there were six riders whereas we at Hauxton started with ten. It was good to see Richard out for a brief ride and Adrian joining us.


As it was to be a long ride we chose the most direct route to Newport through Little Shelford and Whittlesford to the A505. Along the way we were joined by Gerry, Mike B and Susan which Greg thought made us a bit like the Pied Piper gathering a following as we went along.

Catmere End

As is now the custom we went round the Duxford factory area, over the railway and ford to Hinxton and Ickleton before embarking on the climb up to the summit of Coploe Hill. (Anybody wanting blackberries would find plenty here.) After a brief rest we continued to Catmere End and then the road up to the radio mast before the fast descent down to Wendens Ambo.

Mike B and Adrian on Coploe Hill

Sarah on Coploe Hill

With no further ado we arrived in Newport just after 11am, conveniently just ahead of those city slickers from Brookside. As we have come to expect from the staff at Dorrington's they were well organised and quickly dealt with the dispensing of coffee and cakes. Already there enjoying the sunshine we found Greta, Doug, Craig and Jim.


For the next session the two groups decided to take the same route to Great Saling which meant we had to do the mile or so south on the B1383 until we reached the Henham turn just before the motorway. Now, for a while at least, we were on quiet roads to Elsenham station. After waiting for the train to pass and surprisingly found that the gates were manually operated we carried on southwards and on to a fairly busy road to Molehill Green.

Elsenham Station

Elsenham Station

Now things quietened down again towards Broxted where we encountered a road closed sign. Usually cycles are able to squeeze through and so we decided it was worth the risk. It was nice to observe the high standard of road repairs and with complimentary words to the workforce we got through easily enough.


Great Easton and Lindsell soon followed as we ran along the delightfully named Lubberhedges Lane which took us through quiet countryside. As we looked at the fields we saw that the harvest is now well behind us and ploughing, harrowing and drilling are all very much in progress. The final approach to Andrews Field is reached by a short stretch off-road but a refuse collection truck made the leader miss it (that's his story and he’s sticking to it), which caused a three-mile detour round Stebbing before we arrived at the airfield at about 1.20pm and 37 miles.

Arriving at Great Saling

Andrews Field is always nice to visit. Their food is good, reasonably priced and the staff are friendly. However, recently there has been a trend for more people to take sandwiches with relatively few buying food at the counter and it was pointed out to us that isn't what we should be doing and we wouldn't be welcome if it happened again. A point to bear in mind in the future.

Preparing to leave Great Saling

After lunch we assembled to leave with the time at 2.15 pm. Rupert decided to lead his group home on a more direct route via Great Bardfield with a following group of nine going via Shalford followed by the four miles of lanes which lead to Finchingfield.

In the lanes on the approach to Finchingfield

Then followed a further six miles to Helions Bumpstead and after the climb up to Castle Camps it was our regular ride back through Bartlow and Linton where we said goodbye to Vic F who had joined us at lunch. The ride ended via the A505 cycleway to Sawston and Great Shelford. We had good weather throughout and a very enjoyable round trip of 72 miles finishing at 5pm. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

21 Sep: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: After last week's heatwave there was a definite autumnal feel in the air this evening, with sunset taking place only half an hour after the start of tonight's ride, and a definite cool feel in the air as the evening progressed. However it probably only felt cool because we were still dressed for summer: it wasn't cold by any means, and a perfectly fine evening for a bike ride.

I had five companions on the ride tonight: Paul, Tom, Dimitris, Andrew and Mike K. Our route followed the familar pattern for an evening ride to the south, following the busway to Addenbrooke's, the DNA path to Great Shelford, and the road through Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton.

Between Little Shelford and Whittlesford I persuaded the group to ride in a fairly close 3x2 formation instead of our usual practice of riding single file on a long, strung-out line. This was something of an experiment but I think it was successful. The basic idea is that a compact group is easier to overtake, but it also has the happy consequence of making conversation easier, and also making riding easier for everyone except the two at the front.

On the busway to Addenbrookes

At Ickleton our group divided, with Paul taking the direct road to Chrishall Grange whilst the rest of us took the longer and hillier route via Coploe Hill and Royston Lane. When we arrived at Chrishall Grange Paul was waiting for us, and we all continued the final few kilometres to Fowlmere and on to Shepreth.

Our pub stop this evening was at The Plough in Shepreth, and it was as pleasant and efficient as always, with our orders of chips arriving within a few minutes.

At The Plough, Shepreth

After about half an hour we set off back to Cambridge. This involved riding along the most worn-out road in the area to Barrington and then climbing over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield. From there we continued to Barton and followed the cycleway back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 9.55pm, having cycled 54km (33 miles).

Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

18 Sep: Sunday ride to Thaxted and Buntingford

Alex writes: After the sequence of scorching sun, heavy rain and strong winds last week, it was a relief to set out this morning into more benign cycling weather: cool, still and overcast. At Brookside I found Dimitris, Paul, Ray, Rupert, Sheila and newcomer Imy would be my initial riding companions for the morning.

Today's coffee stop was Thaxted, some 40 km distant, so I took a direct route through the Shelfords, Duxford, then up Coploe hill where Dave W joined us; we climbed up Heavy Hill and zoomed down to Littlebury, then took the B roads via Saffron Walden and Debden. The pace was less frantic than the last time we took this route to coffee, but even at a more usual club speed we were on schedule to arrive in Thaxted at eleven o'clock.

However just as we were closing in on coffee, Sheila alerted me to the fact we were missing two riders. Waving the others on I waited fruitlessly for a while and then rode back a few hundred metres to find Ray and Paul had collided and were being assisted by John S who had been riding to join us. Happily, both men and machines were still in working order so the four of us made our way to Thaxted where a "brains trust" of Rupert and Dave re-trued Ray's rear wheel and Andy and Sarah (making a guest appearance for coffee only) bandaged Paul's grazed arm.

Our lunch stop lay due west in Buntingford, and to get there we took a succession of quiet lanes, wiggling our way across the country. Shortly after Rickling Green, Paul got cramp, so he and Rupert peeled off back to Cambridge leaving the rest of us to take Brixton Lane towards Manuden. This – a new road to me – was particularly pleasant, with good views and (today) no cars whatsoever.

Pausing on Brixton Land (photo: Dimitris Kamileris)

From Manuden we continued east through Furneux Pelham, Little Hormead and Hare Street. The sun was burning off the early cloud cover and we enjoyed the occasional burst of sunshine and gently rising temperature.

Closing in on lunch (photo: Dimitris Kamileris)

Because of the day's vicissitudes we didn't arrive in Buntingford until two o'clock but, possibly because of this late arrival, the sometimes-busy coffee shop had plenty of room for us and we were served promptly.

After lunch there was a general mood that a direct route home would be welcome, so after riding through Wyddial instead of enjoying the rollercoaster delights of Great Chishill and Heydon we allowed the B 1368 to deliver us more directly onto the Cambridge Plain. After crossing the A 505 we then took our usual route through Fowlmere and Thriplow and entered Cambridge via Trumpington Meadows and the guided busway to arrive at the station just before 16:30.

Riding back along the busway (photo: Dimitris Kamileris)

When I got home I found I had ridden 114 km (71 miles).

18 Sep: Sunday afternoon ride to Ashwell

Simon writes: Given the volume of rain that landed on Cambridgeshire between Thursday's ride and this weekend's rides I think we’ve been very lucky... or in Alex's immortal words, "fair weather was ordered for the day".

Setting off from Brookside in no particular order was Mike K, Irene, Mark, John E, Bev, Stan and Neil. However Neil did say that he wouldn't make it to tea and turned back at Wimpole Hall.

Bev also had time constraints, turned back at Wendy and, in view of his intergalactic round trip to St Ives, John decided to turn North only 1.5 miles from tea, presumably heading in the Wrestlingworth, Waresley, Papworth direction.

In Ashwell the lady curator of the museum greeted us, and just at that very moment we were pleasantly joined by Mike S on his assisted steed for tea

At 4.50pm we were still trying to tear Mike K away from the prize Marrow that the curator wanted to give him along with all the recipes she had for it. I had my excuse for passing up the invitation – I've still got the remains of last night's marrow and mince to reheat, and now, like the marrow, I too am stuffed!

The Tudor beams of the museum aren't really that bowed by the way, it's the effect my Garmin "action cam" has, at least until I get my head round its fish-eye view of the world in photo mode. It also records a GPS track of where we go which could be useful for future route planning but I also record journeys in case it should become helpful to have video evidence of any incidents. Thankfully we've not needed to refer to any yet.

So Ashwell took us 2 hrs 6 mins to cycle the 25.7 mile route that I planned on the website "Ride with GPS", and which included the Malton country lane from Meldreth to Orwell. After tea and at the brisk pace of 14.4 mph it took us only 1 hr 35 mins to cycle the 22.8 miles that I planned using "Ride with group consensus" all the way back to Cambridge Simon Gallaway

Download GPS track (GPX).