Thursday, 12 January 2017

12 Jan: Thursday ride to Swavesey

Edward writes: Over the last day or so there had been a lot of discussion through the e-mail system as to whether or not today's ride should go ahead. The weather forecast had been pretty dire with a lot of rain predicted from mid-day onward. In the event our two leaders came to the agreement that we make this a coffee-only ride, with everyone heading back home after coffee in Swavesey rather than carrying on to lunch in Gamlingay.

At the start in Haslingfield

In all, over the two groups, more than twenty members arrived at Swavesey, with thirteen setting off from Haslingfield under the guidance of our chairman and another half-dozen or so departing from Brookside with John Seton leading from there. We had met at Haslingfield under grey skies, but with no immediate threat of rain and a temperature of about 5C. In view of the weather predictions our route was always going to be as direct as we could make it. Thus we went through Harlton, the Eversdens, Kingston, Bourn and up to the A428 near Cambourne. We then headed through Knapwell, and soon after there Susan hit a spot of bother which was later diagnosed as a broken spoke; fortunately she was able to carry on to Swavesey. After Knapwell followed the climb up to Boxworth after which we passed the ever-expanding construction site for the A14 development. In years to come all these roads which cross the new A14 are going to look a lot different. From here, oncer we were over the A14 it was but a short distance to Swavesey and the Bethel Baptist Chapel where we enjoyed for one of our favourite coffee stops.

Swavesey

Swavesey

This week the Women's Institute were in charge of baking the cakes, and a many and varied selection was on offer; delicious too. We arrived just after 11am and spent a pleasant half hour or so there, with many mindful of the weather forecast which predicted the rain to start at mid-day.

Preparing to leave Swavesey

As we assembled to leave the first spots of rain were felt. We made for the busway for the short journey home, accompanied by an increasingly steady drizzle. When we reached the Girton interchange quite a few carried on in the direction of Histon, with another group continuing through Girton and down Huntingdon Road towards Cambridge. Most people would have got home by 1pm having cycled in the region of 30 miles. Today was not one of our more memorable rides, but at least we did get out. Thanks are due to our leaders Andy and John for going ahead with the ride despite there being plenty of reasons for cancelling. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

11 Jan: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: It had been very windy earlier, but by 6pm conditions had calmed down considerably, allowing our first moonlight ride of 2017 to take place on a breezy but dry evening; quite cloudy but with enough breaks to allow us to enjoy the full moon for much of the time. The temperature was a steady 5C, relatively mild compared with the freezing temperatures forecast for later in the week.

My companions this evening were Gareth, Sven and Dimitris, and together we enjoyed a very pleasant spin round the hills on the Essex border, taking the familiar loop down to Ickleton, over Coploe Hill, along Royston Lane and then back via Chrishall Grange and Fowlmere.

This was my first evening ride using my new dynamo-powered front light, and Gareth helped me align it to provide a good, long view of the road ahead: not as dazzlingly bright as my Exposure battery light but illuminating much more of the road ahead (and of course never needing a recharge).

After a couple of hours we stopped for refreshments at The Plough in Shepreth.

At The Plough, Shepreth

We stayed rather longer than usual this evening, with three of us ordering meals and one of us ordering the traditional bowl of chips. I think that we all felt we deserved to indulge ourselves slightly, having braved a January evening for a bike ride - even though conditions were actually fairly benign.

Afterwards we set off back to Cambridge via Barrington and Chapel Hill, arriving back in central Cambridge slightly later than usual at about 10.15pm. According to my Garmin I had cycled 55km (34 miles).Nigel Deakin



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Sunday, 8 January 2017

8 Jan: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden and Langley

Nigel writes: I forgot my camera today, so no photos, and I didn't have time to write a ride report. But here's the route we took. We had quite a large group today, with Susan leading the main group and me leading a smaller and slightly-faster group along the same route, following Susan's route meticulously on my Garmin.

My group arrived at Bicicletta Coffee bang on time at 11am. As you would expect at that time, it was packed with visiting cyclists, so we took the opportunity to visit Starbucks instead. This is a few doors to the right and had plenty of room.

We had lunch at The Bull in Langley Lower Green. It was very busy when we arrived, but after a while everyone else disappeared and we had a pleasant meal.



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Monday, 2 January 2017

2 Jan: Special ride to St Ives and St Neots

Nigel writes: Our first club ride of 2017 took place, rather unusually, on a Monday, following a decision to cancel Sunday's ride due to a forecast of rain, and hold it the following day instead. This proved to be an excellent decision, since "holiday Monday" turned out to be bright and sunny, and about fourteen riders turning out to spend the final day of their Christmas and New Year holidays on a bike ride.

Our route today was essentially a repeat of a very successful ride we had enjoyed a month ago, and with the same leader, Alex, though with different food stops.

Eddington junction

We set off north out of Cambridge on our way to meet the busway just beyond Girton. It was a glorious sunny morning, but it was also very cold, with the temperature just above freezing. The ride had started at 10am to reduce the risk of early-morning ice and for the first few miles everything appeared to be going well, until we turned east onto New Road, Histon, the final section of road before the busway. A high hedge along the southern side had shielded the road from the sun. When we met a pair of oncoming horses, a ripple of braking passed along the group, and we sudden discovered we were riding on ice. Russell drew the short straw and tumbled over, fortunately with no damage to rider or cycle.

New Road, Histon: very icy

Alex wisely turned the group around and we continued on to Oakington, joining the busway a little further along. Fortunately we didn't encounter any more ice, apart from a couple of small patches along the busway which we passed carefully.

On the busway

We arrived at St Ives at about 11.15am and stopped for coffee at the "Local Cafe". This is a traditional cafe of the "fried food" variety, and although we frequently stop for coffee in St Ives, this was our first visit here for several years. I think it's quite a good place to visit, especially with a large group, as they had plenty of room inside and our food and drink orders were handled speedily. The main drawback is a lack of cycle parking, though fortunately the shop next door was closed so there was no-one to object when we piled our bikes up outside.

Bikes outside the cafe in St Ives

The last person to arrive in the cafe was Alex, who had been delayed by a puncture. Alex rides on tubeless tyres, filled with sealant, and a small hole usually mends itself. However on this occasion the hole was large enough to require plugging with an "anchovy", a curious name that only makes sense when you see what it looks like before insertion.

Alex's "anchovy"

Afterwards we reassembled outside, and it became apparent that almost everyone was in the mood to take advantage of the sunshine and carry on with the group to lunch in St Neots.

Setting off after coffee in St Ives

Alex's original plan had been to ride along the Thicket Path to Houghton and across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots, but after objections from Rupert (probably on the grounds that it would be muddy) we took the on-road route via Hemingford Grey instead. After passing through Hemingford Abbots we continued across Eastside Common and on to Godmanchester.

Eastside Common, Hemingford Abbots

In Godmanchester we turned south onto the B1043. This heads directly for St Neots, and I became concerned that we would get there before I had time to digest the beans on toast that I had just eaten for breakfast. Fortunately when we reached Offord D'Arcy turned east for a pleasant loop through Graveley and Toseland before turning back west towards St Neots.

Approaching Graveley

We arrived in St Neots at about 1.25pm and stopped at The Weeping Ash, a Wetherspoons pub just north of the main street. We parked our bikes in the yard outside and went inside to find most of the tables occupied. About half the group stayed in the pub to have lunch, with the other half walking the short distance to eat at the Market Cafe and Cafe Nero instead.

Backwater in St Neots

After lunch it was time to return home to Cambridge. Alex and Rupert were both mindful of the possibility of ice on the minor roads so we skipped the scenic route via Waresley and took a more direct route via Abbotsley instead. For this final stage home we had a slight tailwind, and with the sun still shining this was a very pleasant ride home.

Bourn

As we approached the outskirts of Cambridge the sun set and the temperature started to fall. I was glad that we didn't have far to go. I arrived home at about 4.15pm, having cycled 90km (56 miles). A fine start to 2017. Nigel Deakin



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