Thursday, 2 July 2015

2 Jul: Thursday ride to Newmarket and Hawstead

Alex writes: 'Moderate' it says. '60-70 miles' it says. But with today's ride we strained at the leash of those characterisations.

One cake good; two cakes better. But better still is a cake and a sausage roll. This is the perfect coffee-break fuel for a ride such as today's – or at least so I thought as I enjoyed this combination at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket at our coffee stop.

Earlier, around 20 members had gathered in Hauxton for the start of the ride. It had been muggy and rather overcast – conditions which were to persist for the rest of the day with a brief outbreak of rain, which did not amount to much.

Gathering at Hauxton

With Mike C leading, we had set off through the Shelfords, along the DNA path, past Addenbrooke's, over Gogs and then via the Wilbrahams, Exning and Reach to Newmarket where we stopped for coffee and were joined by Peter, Eva and a few others. At 25 miles this was already a good distance and, as several rider remarked, the pace seemed more rapid than normal.

On the DNA path

Over the Gogs

Nearing Exning

With the usual comings and goings around 15 of us set off further east, climbing up out of Newmarket in the drizzle. We passed through Moulton, Gazeley, and Dalham and then on to roads that were unfamiliar to, at least to me, heading further east passing through Ousden, Chevington and Whepstead before arriving at our lunch stop: the Maglia Rosso cycle shop and cafe in Hawstead, where we found David S waiting for us.

Some of us ate sandwiches on the village green, others ordered food at the cafe. The fact that Maglia Rosso is a bike shop was particularly handy for me, as I had lost pressure in my rear tyre (valve failure?) and was able to borrow their track pump for easy inflation of a replaced tube. Several other members toured the shop suffering various degrees of temptation but remarkably, nobody bought anything.

Leaving Newmarket

With 45 miles already in our legs and the temperature in Celsius now rising in the high 20s the return home to Cambridge was always going to be a little testing, even taking a direct route. We took undulating roads passing through Rede and Cowlinge, pausing frequently to regroup and swig from our bidons. I floated the idea of an ice cream break at Stradishall or maybe a pub stop in West Wratting, but the mood was more that we needed to continue with the final push.

Hydrating at Cowlinfge

Eventually at Brinkley the group divided, with some riders heading south to Abington, and Rupert leading a group (which I joined) that swept down to Six Mile Bottom and then slogged along the Wilbraham Road before heading through Quy back to Cambridge.When I got home, I found I had cycled 83 miles. My Eddington number remains 41. Alex Brown

Download GPS track (GPX).

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

1 Jul: Evening ride to Thriplow

Nigel writes: Today was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures of over 30C in Cambridge during the afternoon, and when I ventured outside to cycle to the start of tonight's ride the temperature wasn't much lower. Despite the heat I was joined at Brookside by John E, Paul, Gareth and Graham, with Conrad arriving just as we were setting off.

We set off south along the busway to Addenbrooke's and the DNA path to Great Shelford. As usual Gareth was soon speeding off into the distance with the remainder of us keeping together. However when we reached Great Shelford we spotted that Paul was missing and stopped for several minutes to wait for him, eventually deciding to carry on regardless (we later discovered that he had sustained a puncture).

It was almost 7pm by the time we got moving again, but Conrad was clearly up for a fast ride despite the heat and set a brisk pace through Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton, with Graham and me hanging on behind. We continued south over Coploe Hill to Catmere End before looping south through Littlebury Green to Elmdon.

On the road between Elmdon and Chrishall we were rejoined by Gareth, who had taken a much longer route via Clanver End and Arkesden and was now breathless from sprinting to catch us up. Moments later we caught up with Eva and Carol who had been on their own ride and were now riding to meet us at the pub.

Chrishall Grange

We sped down the hill from Chrishall to Chrishall Grange and crossed over the A505. As we approached Fowlmere we caught up with John E, and when we finally arrived at the Green Man in Thriplow we found Paul sitting outside with a beer. The rest of us ordered drinks and various snacks and sat outside in the still-hot evening air. This is a very pleasant pub in a great location, serving good beer and excellent chips, and is one of my favourite Wednesday evening stopping places.


Afterwards we all cycled back to Cambridge. We turned on our lights although it was still quite light and we didn't really need them, with the sun not actually setting until we reached Great Shelford. I arrived home in Cambridge fifteen minutes later at 9.45pm, having cycled 35 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

21 Jun: A ride around Bend

Nigel writes: A motoring holiday in the western United States brought me to Bend in central Oregon. It's a small city of about 90,000 people lying just east of the Cascade mountains, the line of conical, snow-capped volcanoes that runs north-sound through the middle of the state. It's well-known for its excellent brewpubs and as a centre for outdoor activity. Although mountain biking seems to be the main thing here, it seemed an ideal place to rent road bikes and spend a half-day cycling.

Behind Nigel are the mountains Middle Sister (left, 3062m) and North Sister (right, 3074m)

We rented bikes from a bike shop called Sunnyside Sports, partly because of the convenient location but mainly because its impressive website allowed us to specify exactly what bikes we required, right down to the saddle width and type of pedals.

The bike shop

We went for a pair of Trek Domaine 4.3 carbon-fibre road bikes, each of which cost $40 (£25) for a day's hire.

The bikes

The route we took was the Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway, a signposted 36-mile loop to the north-west of Bend. This starts by the river in Downtown Bend and then heads west through leafy suburbs.

Start of route in Bend

The road out of the city had cycle lanes, but traffic was very light (it was Sunday). What traffic we did encounter appeared courteous and patient. It was a hot, humid, day, about 25-30C, with a slight threat of rain that never amounted to anything.

Bend has plenty of roundabouts, unlike the USA generally

Soon we were out of the city and on wide, empty roads. The route was described as being "very scenic". However this didn't refer to the immediate landscape, which was pleasant but unexciting ranchland, but to the constant sight of the "Three Sisters" mountains about twenty miles to the north-west.


The ride itself was straightforward and easy, with little in the way of climbs. We were on quiet, smooth roads throughout. We passed quite a few sports cyclists along the way; curiously everyone seemed to be riding in twos, and we didn't spot any larger groups.


After a couple of hours we arrived in Tumalo, a small settlement just north of Bend, and stopped for coffee.

Coffee stop in Tumalo

Afterwards we carried on back to Bend and returned the bikes to the bike shop. Our total distance was 36 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 28 June 2015

28 Jun: Afternoon ride to Houghton

John writes: Six members joined me at Brookside (Angela, Catharine, Jacob, John E, Mike K, Ray). The morning's rain had ceased about an hour previously so we set off in perfect cycling conditions towards Barton, thence Comberton, Toft, Bourne..After a brief pause to inflate my soggy front tyre we took the quiet road through Knapwell and Connington. My GPS predicted an ETA at Houghton of 3.40pm so Jacob suggested an additional loop. Instead of diving under the A14 into Fenstanton he led us into a stiffish breeze towards Hilton and then onto a footpath. Here we had a longer pause where, with much assistance, I changed my front inner tube: the tyre had gone completely flat. Catharine kindly gave me a gas inflater for which many thanks.

The footpath soon became a bridleway (Mere Way) with remnants of ancient tarmac making a good cycling surface. We crossed the A14 by a farm bridge into Hemingford Grey and thence to Hemingford Abbotts with large crowds visiting the Open Gardens. From there the Meadow Lane took us across the flood plane to Houghton Mill and the National Trust tearoom 20 minutes before closing. There were enough cakes and scones left (just) as well as drinks - consumed sitting out-of-doors at the picnic tables. There was no sign of the all-day riders.

After tea we set off down the delightful traffic-free Thicket Path on right bank of the Ouse entering St. Ives by All Saints church. From there it was the familiar return journey beside the busway with John E extending his ride by a diversion through the fenland villages of Over etc. Jacob and I left the others at the Girton turning.

This was a delightful ride with two firsts for me – the Mere Way and Houghton Mill tea-room. I was home at 6:45pm having cycled about 45 miles. John Ferguson