Wednesday, 25 November 2015

25 Nov: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Tonight was our second monthly "moonlight" ride of the winter, a relaxing cruise along the busway to St Ives and beyond. I don't know how many turned up for the last one, but this one attracted a good turnout, with Alex, Gareth, Tom, John R and John J joining me at Brookside, and Paul meeting along the way in Girton.

Today had been clear and sunny, and although the sky had now clouded over slightly the evening was fine and dry, and still clear enough for the full moon to be clearly visible. It was really quite cold, with a slight north-westerly wind blowing into our faces as we rode along the busway, and I was regretting not having put on overshoes or brought thicker gloves.

When we reached St Ives we cycled through the town centre and joined the Thicket Path to Houghton, which was quite wet under-wheel. At Houghton Mill we dismounted, wheeled our bikes through the mill and over the lock, and re-mounted for the ride across the meadows (on a recently-widened path) to Hemingford Abbots.

A few moments later we reached The Axe and Compasses, where we stopped for drinks and bowls of chips. By now I was feeling quite frozen and it was a relief to in the warm. Already in the pub were Mike CC and Mike who had made their own way there.

At the pub in Hemingford Abbots

After about three-quarters of an hour it was time for those of us who lived near Cambridge to head for home, whilst the Swavesey contingent stayed on for another round or two.

I rode home with Paul, Alex, Tom, and Gareth, though Gareth soon disappeared off into the distance leaving the rest of us to ride back along the busway at a more moderate but still brisk pace.

As is so often the case, the journey back was relaxed and enjoyable. Although the thermometer on my Garmin registered a slightly lower temperature (2.2C) on the way back than on the way out, the lack of a headwind meant it actually felt less cold.

Somewhere along the long section past Northstowe I was startled to hear the sound of a flock of geese, swooping around in close formation and just visible in the moonlight against the dark sky.

The slight breeze behind us pushed us along gently, and I arrived home at 10pm exactly, having cycled 35 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

22 Nov: Sunday afternoon ride to St Ives

Simon writes: This is my first ever blog as a registered CTC ride leader. In no small part do I have Ray and John F to thank; they encouraged me to make this move by showing a commitment to continue Sunday afternoon rides through the winter. In addition I'd like to thank Rupert for his support since I became an ad-hoc leader on a ride to the Chestnut Tree in West Wratting earlier in the summer.

Today was one of those I like to call a "Piccadilly Circus", ride when lots of people join or leave at mid-way junctions. (I’m very happy to accommodate this where practical, by the way).

The afternoon’s sunny outlook brought out Ian W, John E and Susan, as well as a phone call from Steve to ask if he could join us on the Coton footpath. "Russian Stan" had also arranged to join us in Coton.

I always find the gentle but everlasting climb up the Old Saint Neots road a bit heavy going so early in a ride, but necessary for the plan. Ian peeled off near the Knapwell junction to do birthday duties in Cambourne, leaving us to take a fairly direct route to the Hemingfords. I made two wrong turns and found an extra “Meadow Lane” just before the Axe & Compass much to Susan's delight. I was looking for the Meadow Lane that leads onto the cattle grazed common so as to enjoy the enchanting scenery at Houghton Mill and the woodland feel of the Thicket before dropping back into St Ives.

Tea in the River Tea Rooms

At the River Tea Rooms we were very pleasantly joined by Jacob H and also and Simon D, who originally introduced me to Peter Hunt and the CTC Junior Saturday afternoon rides some 38 years previously. Doesn’t time fly?

After a streamlined, tail-winded, zip back along the busway with Jacob, Steve and Susan, I arrived back at my boat at Baits Bite Lock near Milton at 5.20pm having done enough miles to confuse a £10 Argos cycle computer. So no change to the Eddington number this week I’m afraid.Simon Galloway

22 Nov: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Langley

Ray writes: I had been fighting off a cold all week, so today was one of those days where I'd have rolled over and gone back to sleep if I hadn't volunteered to lead the ride. Instead, I found myself wrapping up as warm as possible and heading to Brookside.

I arrived to find David trying to warm up his hands and feet; I was in a similar position with numb fingers and toes. People arrived in ones and twos, and there were about a dozen of us by the time we set off, with Rupert acting as back stop.

This was the first really cold day of the winter so I decided on a fairly direct route to Ickleton. There was quite a range of abilities on the ride today, with some strong audax riders up front, but we managed to keep together well on the ride to coffee.

Rupert warned me there would be ice on the road between Duxford and Hinxton. He was right, but it wasn't too bad in the event. Nobody was foolhardy enough to attempt the ford, and we arrived without incident at Ickleton just after 10.30am.

This was my first time here for a morning coffee stop, and a good stop it was, with fried egg and bacon sandwiches the favourite (although I did see one of our riders tackling omelette and chips). A handful more riders came direct and joined us at coffee, so we pretty much filled the small cafe.

Adrian arrived just as we were leaving: he had stopped to repair a puncture en route. He had intended, anyway, to take a slightly shorter route to lunch and meet us there, so we set off without him. Unusually for a Sunday, there were more riders coming on to lunch that returning home, with 12 of us setting off for the full day ride.

We retraced our wheels to Ickleton for the ascent of Coploe Hill, with the usual regrouping at the top. It was turning out to be a beautiful day with clear skies and sunshine, and a lovely view from the top of the hill. We pressed on to Littlebury Green where Rupert left us for home and the main group turned for Arksden.

We continued to Clavering then a southerly loop through the Pelhams. Gareth gave me a time check at Brent Pelham, and I briefly considered adding another loop to avoid arriving at lunch too soon, but nobody seemed too worried about getting into a warm pub a few minutes early so we stuck to the original plan.

We arrived at the Bull shortly before 1pm, and Adrian pulled up as we were parking our bikes. We were given a very warm welcome. The pub was serving food perfect for cyclists on a cold winter day, with a choice of soup, jacket potatoes, or toasted sandwiches, all very reasonably priced.

After lunch Adrian and John S took an off-road short cut while the rest of us stuck to tarmac. A fast group took off ahead of me, and a few others overtook me on the climb to Elmdon, leaving me leading from behind with just Seb and John R for company. I was surprised not to find everyone waiting by the bus shelter in Elmdon, but as we knew we were bringing up the rear we pressed on towards Chrishall Grange.

As we crested the hill, we met up with Adrian and John, who had got there ahead of us despite the rough-stuff. After enjoying another view of Cambridgeshire in the winter sunshine, we began the descent to Chrishall Grange. We found the rest of the group waiting for us at the turn for Fowlmere, where we realised that we were missing Sheila.

We figured the only place she could have gone wrong was at Elmdon, where there was an option of turning right towards Ickleton. We were on the verge of sending out a search party when, fortunately, David got through to her on the phone. We were right that she had gone wrong in Elmdon, but she was with Greg who was confident of the way home.

Adrian left us again for an alternative route along Grange Road while the main group headed for Fowlmere and Newton, where we found Greg and Sheila waiting at the cross-roads. United again, we pressed on for Cambridge via Thriplow, catching sight of Adrian again as we came into Little Shelford.

As usual, people started peeling off to their respective homes as we approached Cambridge. I arrived home at 4.15pm having cycled 56 miles. Ray Miller

Download route (GPX).

Thursday, 19 November 2015

19 Nov: Thursday ride to Clavering and Wimbish

Edward writes: Today’s puncture count: Andy (2), Tony (2), Sarah (1), Seb (1), Adrian (1). Weather forecast: dry. Actually we had light rain on and off all day. The punctures might even be some sort of (unwanted) record, but it didn’t in anyway distract from a great day out for today's ride.

When we met at Hauxton, the magnetic appeal of a joint enterprise ride led by Andy and Sarah was soon apparent when twenty-three cyclists came to the start for our tour of north Essex taking in Clavering for coffee and Wimbish for lunch. Among the twenty-three we had the opportunity to welcome Seb who was joining a Thursday for the first time. This number absolutely had to set off in two groups, so Andy led the first group out and several minutes later Sarah took charge of the second group, and for the second week running we succeeded in staying apart and the two groups did not merge into a single group.


We went out to Little Shelford, where we met Tony dealing with the first puncture of the day. We continued on through Newton, Thriplow, where Tony had his second puncture leaving him with little option but to retire from any further riding, and Fowlmere before coming to the A505.



For once the main road wasn’t too busy and we soon crossed into Chrishall Grange and faced the long climb up to the Hertford Lane turning and a convenient re-grouping spot. On our left as we made this climb the sugar beet harvest could be seen as beet was piled along the adjoining field for two or three hundred metres.

Sugar beet near Elmdon turning

As we headed mainly southwards we were nearly always riding into the brisk south-westerly wind as we went though Chrishall and joined the Saffron Walden to Royston road for a mile or so before turning for the climb up to Duddenhoe End.

Duddenhoe End

Next up was Langley Upper Green with its quaint old cricket ground which is bisected by the road and this is where we turned south easterly for the three mile run down to Clavering bringing us all to the Christian Centre, but not before Seb had dealt with the day’s third puncture.

This was the second time that the Thursday group have visited this centre, similar in many ways to the Baptist Chapel in Swavesey, with a wonderful selection of home-made cakes to choose from, plus a coffee all for £1.50. Needless to say more members had travelled out independently and we managed to count thirty so we rather overwhelmed them, but let’s hope a useful contribution to church funds.

Clavering Christian Centre

It was 11.50am before we were all assembled for the next session which was to take us to the recently relocated "Elder Street Cafe and Deli", as it is now called, near Wimbish.

Preparing to leave Clavering

Again we travelled in two groups with Andy out at the front and Sarah bringing on the second group. However, the second group hadn’t got far before Sarah had the fourth puncture of the day and I understand Mike was soon on hand to get her going again.

By now the weather had deteriorated and we rode into the brisk wind which was now bringing rain with it which persisted all the way to Manuden. At Manuden we had reached our most southerly point and from now on the wind would be more favourable to us which was just as well as the road to Rickling Green comes with some stiff climbs.

Rickling Green

After Rickling Green we joined the B1383 for a few hundred metres to Ugley and then once again on quiet country lanes up to Henham.


After Henham

As we turned slightly north easterly the wind was right behind us as we made our way to Debden Green and then a couple of more miles into Debden. This just left us to go down the hill to the crossroads and another half mile brought us to our lunch stop where we heard that the first group had only arrived a few minutes earlier as Andy had had the day’s fifth puncture.

Elder Street Cafe and Deli used to be located further up the road at the junction with the Thaxted road and it is still under development with an upstairs seating area becoming available some time in the new year. Although we had booked for about twelve, we did in fact have a few more and this flustered them for a few minutes but they soon recovered their poise and we were served with very nice food quickly, and our lunch break was very enjoyable.

After lunch Alex led a small group away earlier which included Sheila and Mia as they needed to get back to Foxton station for their train home. Soon after the remaining fifteen headed back down the hill to the crossroads and on to the undulating ride into Saffron Walden taking us through the town, past the golf course and up the steep Windmill hill along the A1301 to the turning for Little Chesterford where we paused to admire a certain residence. We now had a further nine miles to travel through Ickleton and Hinxton ford where no one tried to emulate Mike CC’s efforts of riding through it, and Duxford.

Hinxton Ford

We were on course to be home by 3.30 pm but another two punctures intervened, Adrian in Duxford and Andy’s second in Whittlesford which meant lights on for the last three miles to Little Shelford where the ride ended at


Despite the drizzly weather (it was never cold) and all the punctures this was a really enjoyable day out and thanks to Andy and Sarah who not only led the ride the ride in style but also provided us all with a map which was even broken down into colour-coded ten mile sections. That’s class! For those doing the full circuit this was a ride of 52 miles. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).