Sunday, 23 July 2017

23 Jul: Sunday ride to St Neots, Oundle and Houghton

Nigel writes: Today's ride was one of our occasional "longer" Sunday rides, with a slightly earlier start than usual and a slightly longer distance planned. However the weather forecast was distinctly unpromising, with rain showers predicted for later in the day. I therefore set off for the 8.30am start expecting to find few other riders apart from Alex, our leader for today, and me.

I was completely mistaken, and instead of finding just a handful of riders I found one of our largest turnouts on any Sunday ride this year, with a total of fifteen riders present including me. Clearly members of CTC Cambridge are not put off by an earlier start, by a longer distance, or by the prospect of a shower or two. Bravo!


For the first stage of today's ride we rode west to our coffee stop in St Neots. With so many riders Alex invited me to take the lead at the front whilst he followed on near the back, and for part of the way we rode as two separate groups.

Barton Road, Cambridge

Alex had chosen a fairly direct route, following the B1046 all the way apart from a diversion via Caxton half-way along. Along the way we passed through Abbotsley, and we spotted quite a few amusing participants in its scarecrow festival as we rode along.


We reached the Ambiance Cafe in St Neots a few minutes after 10am. This is a modest, unpretentious cafe, but once again it demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, catering for a sudden influx of cyclists quickly and efficiently and supplying table umbrellas without prompting when it began to rain.

After coffee several riders returned back to Cambridge, leaving a still-sizable group of ten to continue on to lunch. This had originally been planned to be at the National Trust tea rooms in Lyveden near Oundle, but this would have involved a mile or two of off-road cycling, and in the light of recent rain Alex decided to avoid this and divert to Oundle instead.

Pertenhall, just before Kimbolton

The rain soon stopped and for a while the sun came out, but the most memorable aspect of this next stage of the ride was the rain, which restarted as we passed through Pertenhall and by the time we reached Kimbolton had became a downpour. However we kept going, pausing only to put on raingear, and after about twenty minutes the rain stopped again.

Eight minutes after the previous photo, sheltering from the rain

We reached Oundle at 1pm exactly and stopped for lunch at Beans Cafe.

Lunch in Oundle

Although it had been dry and warm as we sat outside Beans Cafe eating our lunch, it started to rain as we prepared to set off. Within a few minutes the rain had become a downpour. Despite this, Alex said "let's go" and set off along the street, whilst most of the others stayed motionless, sheltering from the rain in a gateway near the cafe. After a few moments I decided to follow, leaving my fellow-riders to stay behind in their mutineer refuge.

I caught up with Alex and we tacitly agreed that it was probably a good idea to stop and wait, and we too took shelter in a doorway about 100m along the street. A few minutes later the rain slackened slightly, the others appeared, and we all set off together. The rebellion had ended without a single word being exchanged.

The next stage of our ride took us south-west, across the busy A605 and then right at the following junction - the famous "turning for Thurning" (we make the same joke every single time we visit this tiny village). We continued in a straight line through Thurning, Winwick and Hamerton as far as Alconbury Weston where we turned north for the short climb up Vinegar Hill toward Monk's Wood. The rain hadn't lasted long and by now it was warm, dry and sunny.

A little further along we joined the B1090 - rather busier than usual because of the "Secret Garden Party" in Abbots Ripton - and followed it towards St Ives. Just before we reached St Ives we turned right and dropped down a little hill to Houghton, where we stopped for tea at the National Trust cafe beside the mill.

We were due to meet the afternoon ride there, but they never appeared, though we did meet Ian W who had made his own way there.

After a pleasant half hour eating cream teas in the sunshine we set off for home, taking the Thicket Path to St Ives and the busway from there back to Cambridge.

Heading home along the Thicket Path to St Ives

On the busway

I arrived home at 6pm exactly, after having cycled 150km (93 miles) on our longest ride so far this year. Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

CTC Cambridge Summer Barbecue

We are pleased to announce a Summer Barbecue event on Sunday 13th August. This will be hosted by Sarah and Andy at their house in Little Chesterford and will run all afternoon with lots of nice food and good company. UPDATE: Booking extended to 6th August. Members are welcome to bring a guest.

The cost is £6 per person, which includes all the food plus soft drinks, tea and coffee. Please book and pay in advance using this form by 6th August.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

20 Jul:Thursday ride to Ashwell and Willington

Edward writes: This Thursday our ride would take us westward to Ashwell and on to Willington for lunch with Tony leading from Hauxton (fifteen riders) and Rupert leading from the city with six riders. The weather at the start was a lot cooler than recent days and accompanied by a stiff westerly wind which meant a morning riding into it. We started our ride with a climb over Chapel Hill into Barrington with a short pause in the village to allow everyone to come together again before setting off for Shepreth and Meldreth.



Although showers had been forecast these came in the form of light drizzle leaving the dilemma of whether or not to put on waterproofs. We climbed up to Kneesworth and Bassingbourn and for once we took the direct route to Litlington, omitting the loop round Abington Pigotts. After Steeple Morden we soon arrived in Ashwell and for a change we arrived some ten minutes before the city six allowing us first choice at the bakery.

Coffee in Ashwell followed the usual formula with one group on the little green and another in the village cottage garden.

Three Venerable Gentlemen



By 11.30am our two leaders assembled everyone and offered a choice of two routes, apparently of roughly equal distances. Rupert would take his group in the direction Cardington and Tony would take his via Southill. At coffee there had been reports that Rupert was again out of sight as he lead from Brookside (probably only a rumour), but we hoped that he would stay in sight for the ride to Willington. Meanwhile, Tony led his troops out of Ashwell on the cross-country route through Hinxworth to Edworth where we crossed the A1. This brought us head-on into the wind as we ran down to Langford.

Leaving Ashwell

It was relief to turn northwards in Langford for the run up the B659 before turning for Broom where we saw a field of roses under cultivation. This used to be a familiar sight here but we haven't seen them for a number of years now, so this was a welcome return. We were now in the pretty Bedfordshire villages of Southill, Old Warden and Northill. In the distance we could see the Cardington hangars and also the airship known as the "flying bum".

Airship at Cardington (Photo: Peter Wilson)

Roses in Broom

Soon we turned north westwards to climb up to Cople. This left us with a mile or two to bring us to the Home and Garden Centre, arriving at 1pm to find those with Rupert already seated waiting for their meals; so they did manage to keep an eye on him!

There were probably about twenty at the cafe and the staff seemed to have a relaxed attitude to those with sandwiches occupying tables out on the patio.

Lunch at Willington

When we nearly ready to leave it became apparent that Mike CC wasn't ready as he had made a late order for coffee and cake. In the event he had to switch groups and joined Tony's group. As we were leaving the garden centre Mike kept himself at the centre of attention due to a fault with his saddle. Averil provided him with an elastic band which gave him a temporary fix and we all set off again - this time for real.

After a mile or two we came to Danish Camp where we joined the old railway to take us via Blunham into Sandy. However, Mike still wasn't satisfied and brought us to a halt for more repairs. Luckily for him Mike C was on hand and along with Tony they came up with gaffer tape and electrical ties and afforded him a more permanent fix.

Mike CC in Person

Near Blunham on old Railway

We carried along the old railway alignment into Sandy, then through Everton, which reminds some of us that it will soon be the football season, and along to Waresley. At this point we said goodbye to Mike CC and wished him a safe journey home. (Hope you did get home all right, Mike.) Of course now we enjoyed the following wind and we rapidly made our way through Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn.

Just after Bourn the group split, allowing those going to Cambridge to stay on the B1046 and the others to go back via Kingston and the Eversdens to Haslingfield where we arrived at 4.30pm and a nice round 60 miles. It was a good day out and we thank Tony and Rupert for their efforts. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

19 Jul: Evening ride to Barrington

Nigel writes: My companions for tonight's ride were Seb, Camille, Ray and Will: given the growing importance of good food on these evening rides it felt appropriate that 40% of tonight's group were from France. The weather this evening was dull, hot and very humid: for much of the ride it felt as if it would start raining at any time, but fortunately it stayed dry and didn't start raining until the middle of the night.

Tonight's pub stop was in Barrington. We'd visited this about a month ago, when Ray led the ride there on a clockwise loop, setting out south and then turning west. On this occasion I decided to try an anticlockwise loop, setting out west along the Coton path and following the old St Neot's Road west before turning south towards Bourn.

After a short run south along the A1198 (which is always very quiet in the evening) we turned back east onto the lovely quiet lane that runs down towards Old Wimpole. Up until this point we had been riding on rather dull roads and it was nice to be on a country lane at last. We crossed the A603 and continued to Orwell.

We could have continued directly from Orwell to Barrington, but it was still not yet 8pm and so I took the group south to tiny Malton and on to Meldreth, stopping to admire the Meridian marker along the way.

Meridian marker near Orwell

We reached Barrington at about 8.15pm and stopped for food and drinks at The Royal Oak.

Dinner at The Royal Oak, Barrington

Camille's Octopus

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge via Chapel Hill, Haslingfield and Barton. With a gentle tailwind this was a very fast ride back, and I arrived home at 9.45pm, having cycled 53km (33 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).