Thursday, 25 August 2016

25 Aug: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Dunmow

Edward writes: After a night of spectacular lightning, thunder and heavy but short-lived rain, fourteen riders met in Hauxton nicely split evenly between the sexes. There had also been some early morning rain but this had cleared before our start time, although there did seem the prospect of further showers throughout the day. Tuesday and Wednesday had been unbearably hot but today was not expected to be so bad but temperatures were still forecast to be in the high twenties centigrade.

In town only three riders met. Our two leaders today were Rupert from Brookside and Edmund from Hauxton and our destinations were Newport for coffee and Great Dunmow for lunch.

From Hauxton we left in two groups and proceeded through Little Shelford and Whittlesford where we crossed the A505 into Duxford. We went by the factory area to the ford where, despite the camera being in position, Mike CC wouldn’t oblige and try his luck again through the water. That was a bit disappointing for the cameraman.

Hinxton Ford

Hinxton-Ickleton Level Crossing

Hinxton-Ickleton Level Crossing

When we reached Ickleton we began the climb up our old favourite Coploe Hill. At the top we stopped for a few minutes to allow those worst affected by the effort to recover.

Mike CC recovers after climbing Coploe HILL

Whilst at the top we were caught by Rupert and his city slickers and here Rupert pulled rank and took over leadership of both groups and this wasn’t altogether unwelcome as it avoided the climb Edmund’s leading group were taking up to Arkesden. So after Catmere End and the Wireless Hill descent we turned left into Wendons Ambo which artfully allowed us to pull into Dorrington’s at Newport in front of the lead group which went via Arkesden.

Now that Dorrington’s get advanced notice of our visit they are well prepared for the rush and deal very well with the numbers and get us through quickly. By this time the sun was out and it was very hot sitting outside on the pavement. Someone noticed that Rupert was wearing his waterproof overshoes which showed that he was taking the weather forecast seriously even if no one else did.

New pair of waterproofs required?

After coffee it was again in two groups that we left which meant a ride along the busy B1383 to the turning beside the M11 and then on the quiet lanes to Henham.

After Henham we went east along the B1051 for about two miles before turning south to Broxted Brick End and after stopping for some consultations of the map we arrived in Little Easton. This was a really nice part of the journey where at times it seemed if there were more aircraft overhead in and out of Stansted than there were cars on the road.

We arrived in Great Dunmow at 1.pm and thirty miles after leaving Hauxton. The designated lunch stop was a cafe called Rhubarb but as is often the case in the summer most people had sandwiches and we sat on the grassy bank beside a small lake to enjoy them before joining the others having lunch at the cafe for a cup of tea.

Lunch in Great Dunmow

After lunch Rupert led a group with a slightly earlier start leaving a dozen to follow Edmund a little later.

We started the return leg by retracing our steps out of Dunmow to Little Easton. What followed was a delightful ride which went near to familiar names like Tilty, Duton Hill and Great Easton without actually visiting them.

Little Bardfield

This was all very pleasant showing the success of a well-planned route which in the end took us to Thaxted. Now we could have returned by a familiar route down to Debden and Saffron Walden but this ride wasn’t finished yet and we now made our way eastwards to Little Bardfield and then north to Hawkspur Green and Great Sampford where we joined the B1053 for the undulating run up to Radwinter, and it was noticeable how much heat was coming off the recently harvested fields. Finally we were on more familiar territory as Ashdon, Bartlow and Linton came next.

Ashdon

In Hildersham we chose the route to Little Abington and the farm bridge to Babraham. We finished in Great Shelford at just after 5pm leaving Eva, Sheila and Mia to ride to Hauxton with 65 miles under their belts. This was a very successful ride out and many thanks to Edmund for spending time planning the route, and there was no rain! Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

24 Aug: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today was yet another hot, humid, August day. During the afternoon the temperature in Cambridge had risen to nearly 29C, and by the time I set off to Brookside for tonight's ride, it was still about 23C. At the start I was joined by seven other riders: Gareth, Mike CC, John R, Sven, Dimitris, Kenny and newcomer Dave, here on his first evening ride with us.

The start at Brookside

Today's route was a run along the northern busway. After a brief discussion about alternative routes to the busway (via King's Hedges or via Arbury) we agreed to go there by the shortest route which was via Girton.

We set off, rode through the City Centre and headed out of the city along Huntington Road. Several riders were quite frisky this evening and pushed up the pace, though we stayed together until Mike CC and John suggested that the rest of us went ahead at a faster pace whilst they followed on behind.

On the busway

After we joined the busway our pace relaxed and we paused briefly to allow Mike CC and John to catch up with us. Nevertheless the pace for the journey was fairly brisk, despite a light headwind, and we made good progress to St Ives and then along the Thicket Path to Houghton. There we dismounted briefly to walk past the mill before getting back on our bikes to ride across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots.

Crossing the Ouse Meadows

Crossing the Ouse Meadows

We arrived at The Axe and Compass in Hemingford Abbots at about 7.50pm, slightly ahead of schedule, and went inside to order drinks and food, with several of us ordering burgers and others ordering bowls of chips.

After a slightly longer-than-usual 50-minute session in the pub we all got ready to ride back to Cambridge. It was now well after sunset so we turned on our lights.

Mike CC and John didn't have far to go so they said goodbye and invited the rest of us to go on ahead of them. Our route home took us back to St Ives via Hemingford Gray and back along the busway.

When we reached St Ives we crossed the river by the old bridge and rode down Bridge Street towards the town centre. As we approached the end of the street Gareth suddenly turned left into Merryland, taking him in completely the wrong direction. I called on the others to ignore him and we continued to the end of the street before turning right towards Market Hill and the busway.

A minute later Gareth caught back up with us, and explained that the route we had taken had actually taken us past a no-entry sign and the wrong way down a very short (10 metres or so) one-way section of the street. Later inspection using Street View confirms what he said; cyclists wanting to get to the market place (which is a through route only for cyclists) are presumably expected to turn left down Merryland and loop back at the mini-roundabout, or perhaps take a completely different route from the bridge via The Quay. In any case this seems unnecessary and if I get around to it I'll write to the County Council to request a cycle exemption here.

A couple of minutes later we were on the busway and making our way along the busway back to Cambridge. We had a slight tailwind (certainly we had no headwind) and our pace was quite high, and this was a fast and enjoyable ride back.

As we rode back through the darkness we enjoyed the spectacle of a thunderstorm in the distance, directly ahead of us. At first we could see only the lightning bolts across the sky; as we approached the edge of Cambridge we heard thunder as well.

After having lost two members from my ride on Sunday I was anxious not to do so again. It's easy to get separated in the dark, so as we rode along I kept looking back and counting how many white lights I could see. As we approached Longstanton we realised we had lost two riders, so the remaining four of us stopped under a street light to wait for them. Dimitris and Kenny were not in sight, so I phoned Dimitris to find out what had happened. He explained he had sustained another puncture (he'd had one on Sunday), but Kenny was keeping him company so he urged us to continue without them.

The rest of us carried on. After a short while it started to rain a little, with sporadic but fairly large rainsrops. Although we expected this to turn into a deluge at any point, it never did, and we managed to get all the way back to Cambridge without getting more than slightly damp.

I arrived back at home at 10.05pm having cycled 58km (36 miles). Nigel Deakin



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Monday, 22 August 2016

Sunday 14th August: approaching the tea stop in Westmill, Herts

Sunday, 21 August 2016

21 Aug: Sunday afternoon ride to Wicken

John F writes: Six riders (of four nationalities) assembled at Brookside for the 2p departure of today's afternoon ride to Wicken Village Hall. This is one of three places in Wicken which take it in turns to serve Summer Sunday afternoon teas offering excellent value-for-money.

The start at Brookside

Simon, today's leader, led us out of the city by way of the Carter Bridge, the Tins and the Old Drift into Fulbourn. Turning right at Queen's farm we were now in the country. Hot dry weather had allowed the harvest to be completed and there were now no fields of standing corn. We reached The Bell at Bottisham at 3pm and continued through the Swaffhams and Reach into the straggly village of Burwell. Turning left into Dyson's Drove we touched the edge of Wicken Fen and reached the Village Hall at 3.50pm. There was still a good collection of cakes on offer.

Tea at Wicken Village Hall

After an enjoyable three-quarters of an hour we set off taking the fen route into Upware, Lode and Quy. The gusty wind which had been largely favourable on the way out was now predominantly adverse with little vegetation to shelter us.

We entered the city on the traffic-free route from Fen Ditton and across Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common. I was home shortly after 6pm after a very enjoyable ride of 40-45 miles and excellent value tea. Thanks to Simon for leading. John Ferguson