Saturday, 28 March 2015

Would you like to become a bikeability instructor?

Our friends at Outspoken Training are looking to recruit some new instructors to deliver "Bikeability" training to local children and adults. If you're interested, see their website at www.outspokentraining.co.uk/vacancies

Thursday, 26 March 2015

26 Mar: Thursday ride to Lode and Kentford

Belinda writes:
The forecast today was for a very rainy morning and a gradually brightening afternoon and that rain may have deterred some riders from setting out. This led to just 4 riders leaving Hauxton under dark skies but happily minimal precipitation. Richard was the leader for today's ride to Anglesey Abbey and Lanwades Park and he set out along with Mike C, Sharon and John E.

This select group made their way to Great Shelford, Fulbourn, The Wilbrahams and Bottisham before arriving at Anglesey Abbey at 10.45 with a report of no more than a few spots of drizzle! Here they were joined by an assortment of riders who had arrived there from varying corners of the region and by varying means. These were Ian, Belinda, Averil, David M, John J, Rupert, Peter W, Jacob and Adrian.

Anglesey Abbey Cafe

After the usual tasty National Trust cake and coffee, Richard organised the 13-strong group in preparation of the two-hour ride to lunch at Lanwades Park. The route was along the pleasant traffic free tracks of the Lodes Way through the fenland amongst some lapwings and skylarks to Burwell.

Lodes Way

John J left us to return home so the remaining dozen riders continued to Exning and then to Newmarket and along the upmarket Hamilton Road where we came across a few twitchy racehorses returning to their plush stables after training. From here to Moulton before arriving at The Animal Health Trust Visitor Centre at Lanwades Park at about 1.15 in time to say hello to Craig and Frances who had dropped in to greet us. Fortunately it was dry and warm enough for half the group to eat their sandwiches in the courtyard before joining the rest of the group in the cafe for tea and more cake!

Lanwades Park

Here we had the first puncture of the day. Fortunately Ian managed to do his repair during lunch and was ready by the time everyone had finished eating.

The return route was via Gazeley and Ashley where half the group had a 10 minute break at the pond in Ashley while the other half viewed or assisted with fixing puncture number 2!

Ashley

Onwards through Cheveley and on to puncture number 3 where Mike C as ever was on hand to assist David M. The group decided to split in half while repairs were ongoing as some were returning north to Anglesey Abbey or north Cambridge and some were heading more south so we said our goodbyes and continued via Wood Ditton, Stetchworth and Dullingham where Rupert enjoyed being recipient of puncture number 4!

Dullingham

Puncture no. 4

At least the sun was now out and we could observe his fairly quick handiwork with Adrian’s assistance but not before the other puncture group had caught us up! We really did split up after this and headed into an ever more blustery north westerly wind towards Anglesey Abbey while Richard led his group back towards Shelford.

Thanks to Richard for an interesting route and for managing to keep the rain clouds at bay! It probably was about a 60 mile round trip today. Belinda Borneo



Download track (GPX).

A visit to the Ghent Six-Day Races

John writes: I had always wanted to go and see a live track cycling event. Like many others I was bitterly disappointed not to get any allocation for the 2012 Olympics track events.

Last year the wife and I decided to do something about it – so we booked a four day trip at the end of November with Sporting Tours International to see the last few days of the Ghent Six Day Event. We travelled on the Friday afternoon by coach from Dover via the cross channel ferry to our delightful base at an Ibis hotel in the centre of Ghent.

Ghent

On the Friday night we chose to walk into Ghent (10mins) for a meal and a couple of beers in one of the many interesting bars. A few of the other stalwarts in the Sporting Tours party chose to head to the stadium for a long night of watching the racing.



On Saturday we went on an organised trip to Bruges to see the famous Christmas Market – and to have a few more beers! Saturday night was our first experience of proper 'old school' track racing. Entering the stadium is like stepping into the fuggy embrace of a fairground on a cold winter evening. The atmosphere inside the cavernous Kuipke building is thick with the smell of fried onions, hotdogs, burgers and beer.

Riders being introduced to the fans. Spot Mark Cavendish!

Cycling fans take their seats at the 5,000-capacity arena, peering down on the steep-banked small oval wooden track to get the full sweep of the races. But in the middle of the track there is a party going on. And it is open to anyone.
While the pro cyclists fly around the banks of the velodrome like stunt riders on the wall of death, the centre of the circuit is heaving with bodies drinking and chatting and shuffling around in small circles, in a vain attempt to take in the action. These are men and women in suits, youngsters in fancy dress, groups of guys in vintage cycling kit … it is like a scene from a huge office party.

The entertainment!

The racing is fast-flowing and near constant over the evening – 26 riders in teams of two, pedalling in a series of races for almost six hours straight, from 8pm to 2am, each covering close to 100km a night – flat out – for six nights.

Six-day races became popular in mainland Europe in the early 20th century and have been a staple of the racing calendar in Ghent since 1922, with past winners including the Belgian legend Eddy Merckx in the 60s and 70s, and more recently our own Bradley Wiggins – who was born in the city.

Adding to the carnival atmosphere is the MC's perpetual commentary, the bursts of disco music, and the singers who come on to the track to rouse the crowd with drinking songs when the riders take brief respites for re-fuelling and rub-downs in their trackside cabins.

Actually following the racing program is a dizzying experience, as there are so many different events – team eliminations, individual eliminations, flying lap time trials, madisons, super sprints and derny races. In the latter, the cyclists are paced by orange-shirted men riding little motorbikes who look like motorised Munchkins and take the cyclists up to 70kph in their slipstream. They get a huge roar of approval from the crowd. The overall winner of the Sixes is the team that gains most points in the different disciplines and gains the most laps on the other riders..

The dernys

Sunday we were free to roam the beautiful streets of Ghent and then we were back at the stadium for the final day’s racing from midday to 6pm. At this 2014 event we were also able to watch Mark Cavendish who had teamed up with a Belgian professional road and track specialist come second overall.

No matter what your sporting prejudices and knowledge base, the Ghent Six Day Event is about taking in a show and having a party.

And for anyone who has never been to Ghent – please do go it is a delightfully old but compact city with plenty of shops for non-cycling partners to visit also.

I have hopefully managed to add some photos and video clips of this superb experience. John Ross

Sunday, 22 March 2015

22 Mar: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Buntingford

Nigel writes: We didn't have a pre-arranged leader today. What that means in practice is that riders decide the route at the start, so I planned a route over breakfast just in case we needed it.

I arrived at Brookside to find that my companions for the first stage of today's ride would be Charlie, Alex, Neil S, Neil T, Li, Lynn, Simon, Graham and Tom. I told them I had a route planned so I was promptly elected leader.

Brookside (Photo: Alex Brown)

I led the group south-east along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's where we turned left for the climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

The road over the Gogs (Photo: Alex Brown)

At Fulbourn we turned east to Balsham. The road to Balsham starts as a long and tedious straight to Charterhouse Bridge over the A11 where it becomes quieter and more pleasant as it climbs up to Balsham.

Balsham (Photo: Alex Brown)

We paused to regroup at the top, on the outskirts of Balsham, before turning south for a very pleasant descent down to Hildersham.

Hildesham

We crossed the A1307 to Abington (where drivers in both directions stopped to allow us to cross) and then joined the relatively-new cycleway that leads south-west along the A505. This was only my second time along this cycleway, and the first time I have followed it all the way to where it ends at the roundabout with the A1301 south of Sawston.

The cycleway itself is smooth and reasonably wide but the crossings of side roads are very poor, especially the side-turn to Babraham where you have to watch out for traffic leaving the A505 at very high speed whilst simultaneously hoping that traffic will not appear from around a blind corner from the other direction. Despite these flaws, the cycleway does at least mean that this is a feasible route for cycling; without this cycleway I would never have dreamed of taking the club along the A505.

A505 cycleway near Pampisford

At the roundabout with the A1301 we crossed over to the rather older cycleway that leads south along it to Hinxton. Once again this necessitated some difficult crossings of very busy roads. However once on the cycleway it was plain sailing, and when we reached Hinxton it was just a few more miles along quieter roads to Ickleton, where we stopped for coffee at Riverside Barns. As usual, a large group of members were already there.

Ickleton

After coffee most of the group returned to Cambridge, leaving just Conrad, David, Alex, Charlie and me to continue on to lunch in Buntingford. We continued south to Catmere End, Arkesden and Clavering before turning west through Berden, Stocking Pelham and Furneax Pelham to Hare Street and from there to Buntingford, where we stopped for lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop.

After lunch we returned to Cambridge. We took a fairly direct route home, heading north-east through Wyddial, Anstey and Nuthampstead to Shaftenhoe End. The morning had been dull and cold but by now the sun had come out, making this a delightful ride along some of the nicest lanes in the area.

Nuthampstead

We climbed up to Great Chishill before dropping down again to Chrishall Grange and the final few miles via Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 4.10pm, having cycled 66 miles.



Download GPS track (GPX).