Sunday, 14 December 2014

14 Dec: Sunday ride to Shepreth and Buntingford

Nigel writes: There was no pre-arranged leader for today's ride to Shepreth and Buntingford, so before setting off from home I took the precaution of checking this blog to see whether we'd done this ride before, and if so what route we'd taken. With the help of the search box I quickly found that we'd visited the same places on 23rd February, so I looked at the route and downloaded the GPS track to my Garmin, just in case it was needed.

I arrived at Brookside just before 9.30am to find Neil S, Neil T, Z-Q and John E already there and wondering what route to take. After a brief discussion we agreed to take a loop to the west before stopping south to Shepreth. We set off west out of Cambridge along the Coton path to Coton and then up Madingley Hill.

Neil and John climb Madingley Hill

At the roundabout at the top we turned towards Hardwick before tuning south along Long Road to Comberton. When we reached the B1046 we turned west once more and rode through Toft before turning south for the fonal few miles through Kingston, the Eversdens and Haslingfield. It was a pleasant morning, cold but not particularly so, and fairly bright with the prospect of sunshine later.

After climbing Chapel Hill we dropped down to Barrington and a few minutes later arrived in Shepreth , where we stopped for morning coffee at Teacake Cafe. Already in the cafe were Vic, Sue, Mike S, Mick, Joseph, Edward and Adrian, making eleven in total.

After coffee at Teacake Cafe, Shepreth

After a pleasant forty minutes we left the cafe and most of the group set off for home, leaving just Adrian, Mike and me to carry on to lunch in Buntingford. We decided to take three different routes. My route took me west to Kneesworth and Litlington, along a short section of A505 and then up the steep hill to Thirfield. As expected, the sky brightened and the sun came out and it turned into a rather nice winter's day, despite a persistent cold southerly wind. The next few miles through Kelshall and Sandon and then on to Buntingford were along very pleasant (if rather muddy) country lanes. I arrived In Buntingford and stopped for Lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop, where a reserved table was waiting. A few moments later Adrian arrived, who had taken a very similar route with a short-cut at the end. I ordered lunch and a Nigel (see this report for an explanation) and we sat down to wait for our food. About five minutes Mike S arrived: he had taken a direct route via the B1368.

After lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop

After lunch we all set off for home. Once again I set off on my own with a plan to follow the same route as in February. However just beyond Wyddial my gear cable snapped. This left me with just two gears, neither particularly low, so I abandoned my plan to ascent Mount Chishill and instead returned home along the easier gradients of the B1368. With a tailwind this was fairly easy despite the lack of gears. When I reached Harston I used the new path across Trumpington Meadows - much of it coated with thick mud - to reach the busway into Cambridge. After a short diversion to try out the new "spine road" through Great Knighton (see here for more information) I arrived home at 4.15pm having cycled 61 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 11 December 2014

11 Dec: Thursday ride to Lode and Newmarket

Edward Elmer writes: This morning we met in Hauxton where the temperature was about 5 Centigrade but, more importantly, there was a cold, stiff wind. However this didn't deter eleven members of the club from assembling there for our ride out to Anglesey Abbey and then on to Newmarket.

Today we were under the guidance of Sarah.


We set off by going to Great Shelford, where we joined the DNA path which took us via the hospital to Hills Road. Here we tackled the climb over the Gogs followed by the descent into Fulbourn. At this point the wind was behind us, thus mitigating the effects of its cold.

Over the Gogs

From Fulbourn we went through Great and Little Wilbraham and out to the old Newmarket road. This took is to Bottisham and the final mile into Lode for our coffee break at Anglesey Abbey.


At coffee we found five other members in addition to the three who had joined us en route. Nineteen was a good turnout for an unpleasant winter's morning.

Anglesey Abbey

After a short break Sarah led us out through Lode village allowing us to join the Lodes Way. Here we ran through a typical Fen landscape - flat and windswept but still having a certain appeal. We left the Lodes Way in Swaffham Prior and then headed into Reach and now with the wind directly behind us for the run up to Burwell.

Swaffham Prior

More Fen landscape followed as we went along Heath Road and we had to go past our usual short cut through the farm as access seems to have been blocked. This didn't really matter as we went the long way round close to the A14 and were able to witness the emergence of a large solar farm being constructed along this road. All this brought us to Exning and the final couple of miles into Newmarket and the Horse Racing museum for the luncheon interval.

The museum is always very accommodating for us and they allowed us to take our bikes through to the inner courtyard. Lunch was very pleasant with a good selection of hot food available at reasonable prices. Also important was the chance to get warm again.

Sarah, in true disciplinarian mode, insisted on a 1.30pm departure so that we could get back before dark. We left Newmarket through the back streets and climbed out of the town past the racecourse gallops on the Cheveley Road. This took us by several of the studs before reaching the turning for Dullingham and Stetchworth. Now for the first time we were directly into the wind , but this didn't seem too bad as the hedgerows offered plenty of protection. The road down to Dullingham is very undulating but pleasant nonetheless.

Approaching Dullingham

In Dullingham

In Dullingham, Rupert And Eva left us for a quicker return into Cambridge leaving the remaining eleven to head off on the switchback road to West Wratting and then Balsham. We said goodbye to Jacob and Mike CC as they returned to Cambridge via Fulbourn. We were now down to nine as we made the final descent of the day to Hildersham and over the ever busy A1307 to Great Abington. We joined the new cycle way on the A505 and another windswept journey from Babraham into Sawston. It was interesting to note that a hedge has been planted but not, sadly, beside the road but running into the fields.

At the level crossing between Sawston and Whittlesford

We finished the ride via the cycle way up to Whittlesford and finally Little Shelford. Those going back to Hauxton would have completed a regulation winter ride of 54 miles. Particular thanks are due to Sarah for a superb winter ride. One or two others tried to offer assistance but Sarah remained steadfast throughout. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 7 December 2014

7 Dec: Morning ride to Saffron Walden

Nigel writes: My companions for today's ride were Rupert, Ian, Eva and our leader Conrad, who started the ride with a non-nonsense statement that we were going to ride to Saffron Walden by "the usual route".

We all knew what he meant: south from Brookside to join the busway at Long Road and then across towards Addembrooke's to join the DNA path to Great Shelford.

Crossing the railway towards Addenbrooke's

We continued from Great Shelford to Little Shelford and then south through Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. As usual, this was a gentle, relaxing ride. Although the weather was dull and damp, it wasn't particularly cold and sunshine was promised for later.

Crossing the railway towards Addenbrooke's

We climbed Coploe Hill to Catmere End and then dropped down along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House and the final short climb into Saffron Walden. Unfortunately the promised sunshine appeared only fleetingly and the weather deteriorated. By the time we arrived at The Temeraire for coffee it was drizzling steadily.

Already at the pub were Adrian, Mick, Edward and Joseph, and as we arrived we were joined by Tony.

After a pleasant twenty minutes or so in the pub we decided that instead of continuing on to lunch in Thaxted we would return home to Cambridge via a rather indirect route though Ashdon and West Wratting. As we rode along the weather improved somewhat so when we reached Cemetery Crossroads we carried on to Dullingham before turning west towards Swaffham Bulbeck.

Between Bartlow and West Wratting

There had be a persistent westerly breeze all day but we were now riding directly into the wind, so we were grateful we didn't have far to go. After riding through Bottisham and Quy we returned to Cambridge via Fen Ditton and the path across the meadows. I arrived home at 2.15pm, having cycled 48 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 4 December 2014

4 Dec: Thursday ride to Ashwell and Barkway

Edward writes: Although the overnight temperatures had stayed above zero degrees we all arrived at Haslingfield Green in very raw conditions and it certainly felt very cold. The sky was leaden and the air had a damp, misty feel about it, but still eighteen cyclists arrived ready for today's ride out to Ashwell for coffee then on to Barkway for lunch. Today Jacob was at the helm and regular riders might have been wondering if he had off road plans in his thoughts, even though his other off road pals, Adrian and John F, were not on this ride.

Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

Not unexpectedly we set off with a climb up Chapel Hill where we found the normal views obscured by the weather conditions.

Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

We came into Barrington and then did the loop round Orwell and back down to Meldreth where we formed a long, single line as we tried to minimise any delays to the passing motorists. We left Meldreth and climbed up Mettle Hill past the Showmen's Guild site to Kneesworth and then Bassingbourn and stayed on the main road to bring us to Litlington.


By now it felt very cold, with the temperature at about 3 degrees centigrade, but fortunately there was little or no wind which today was from a cold east. We soon came to Steeple Morden and then Ashwell for coffee which, experimentally, was the little shop called Rhubarb and Mustard. This was all very nice but probably a little small for our needs which caused some to go down the road to Day's Bakery and probably a coffee under the tree on the little green. The shop was very nice and friendly, but maybe more important than the coffee, was to feel warm again.


Once coffee was over Jacob assembled us all outside a lovely old timber-framed building ready for the next session which started with a climb out of the village on the road towards the railway and the A505. At least the climb got our circulation going again as we came to the A505, which wasn't too busy, and took the road which would lead us to Sandon and Therfield.

Sandon Turn

All around us looked bleak under the dark skies and we all felt the chill in the air. We pressed on through Sandon, soon followed by Therfield and then Buckland on the A10.


A few yards on the A10 and then we were on the road to Barkway which in these conditions seemed as if we were crossing a moor rather than East Anglian agricultural land. At 1pm we arrived in Barkway and the Tally Ho pub and a chance again to get warm and enjoy our lunch break.

Those who ate in its restaurant enjoyed a good meal but those who brought sandwiches had to endure the outside for a little longer before going inside for a warming drink and to stand by the open fire.


When we left at 2pm the light was already going and there was also a slight drizzle in the air so Jacob led us on a slightly more direct route home that he had originally planned. Thus we climbed past the golf course and on to Nuthampstead and then Barley where we joined the B1368 for the final descent of the day down to Flint Cross and the A505. This, of course, took us into Fowlmere and Newton where we said goodbye to those going back to Haslingfield leaving a small group to go on to Great Shelford and lastly Cambridge by about 3.30pm.


Despite the unpleasant weather we all enjoyed our day and a special thanks to Jacob, who didn't take us off-road, for a great route which took in many rural, traffic free lanes. Everybody would have cycled over 50 miles. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).