Thursday, 21 July 2016

21 Jul: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Ely

Edward writes: After a few oppressively hot days this morning began just slightly more bearable, although later in the afternoon it would again become very humid. Fourteen riders assembled in Haslingfield, among them David W back from his cycling holidays in one of the former Soviet republics and Mongolia; at Brookside, led by John R, there were ten.

Barton

Mike C was in charge for the ride from Haslingfield and we began by cycling to Barton where we crossed the path of the city start group who were taking a route via Dry Drayton and Oakington. For our part we went along Barton Road as far as Grange Road followed by the rare experience for a Thursday ride of cycling through the city. This included Mill Lane, Pembroke Street, Downing Street, Park Terrace, Clarendon Street and finally Fair Street where we came to Midsummer Common.

Between Selwyn and Newnham Colleges, Cambridge

Pembroke Street, Cambridge

Midsummer Common took us down to the river where it’s always nice to observe all the river activity and where later this evening the Town Bumps will be continuing.

Midsummer Common

River activity

We crossed the river by the new bridge and continued on the towpath up to Milton.

Beside the Cam

We now had just Landbeach to ride through and the last two miles to Cottenham and the Community Centre for coffee. With twenty-four from Cambridge and Haslingfield and others who cycled independently it was reckoned to be about thirty-two at the centre. Although we had given prior notice of our arrival their procedures seemed a little laborious and service was quite slow, but always friendly, and of course nobody would want to be critical of people who volunteer.

After an hour spent in Cottenham we left in two groups with Mike taking his along the five miles of Twentypence Road all the way to Wilburton. We were now into the Fens where the scarcity of trees and hedgerows can allow the wind to make cycling hard work, but today, luckily for us, hardly any wind blew. After Wilburton we crossed Grunty Fen all the way to Wentworth.

Wilburton

At Wentworth we crossed the A142 and headed towards Coveney where we encountered the unusual experience in the Fens of a hill upon which Coveney sits.

Uphill to Coveney

Leaving Coveney

After Coveney most took the direct four miles into Ely although it is quite possible some may have taken a longer route to Ely via Little Downham. Although the Fens lack the undulations of, say, Suffolk, cycling through this flat countryside on such a nice day was very pleasant, especially with the sight of Ely Cathedral always in the distance.

Approaching Ely

We soon covered the miles into Ely where there is no designated lunch venue and so most people made for the river to eat packed lunches or to head for The Cutter. We arrived shortly after 1 pm and it was 2.15pm before we left. In the meantime it was very nice beside the river and watching all the activity of people enjoying such a lovely day. In the background lots of trains passed including four long freight trains which on a rough calculation had taken eighty lorries off the road.

Lunch by the river in Ely

The group with Mike was about fourteen strong and we left Ely alongside the river to Padney, and past the accommodation blocks for all the people employed in this vast food-growing area. As usual the Lodes Way was quiet and we soon arrived in Wicken where we stopped briefly to enjoy ice creams.

Ice creams at Wicken Fen

We carried on through the Fens to Lode and when we reached the main road there was no opposition to taking the direct route along it to Stow-Cum-Quy, and then beside the A14, finishing at the airport roundabout.

On the Lodes Way

By now people were splitting off to head for home leaving a small group to head through Cherry Hinton and the hospital DNA path to Great Shelford and those going back to Haslingfield would have completed 60 miles. As always our thanks to Mike C and John R for their efforts to make this such a nice day out. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

20 Jul: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today had been a very hot day in Cambridge. The temperature during the afternoon had been almost 30C, and when I set off to Brookside for tonight's evening ride it was still around 26C: still hot. I wasn't sure whether this would cause the turnout to be large or small; in the event there were seven of us. At Brookside I was joined by Matilda, Andrew and Neil; at the Green Dragon Bridge in Chesterton we were joined by Ray and newcomer Dimitris, and after joining the busway at Nuffield Road we picked up Paul by Orchard Park.

On the busway

As we continued north towards Oakington we encountered puddles of water; Paul explained that there had been a downpour about an hour earlier, though we had seen no sign of this in Cambridge other than a patch of dark sky.

There was a slight headwind as we rode along, but with the temperature still in the mid-20s this was not unwelcome. After having suffered some stiflingly hot indoor temperatures earlier in the day it was really nice to be outside in more moderate conditions with a refreshing cooling breeze.

We continued along the busway to St Ives where we joined the Thicket Path to Houghton. This was as pretty as always, though the recent rain had combined with the fallen blossom that always lies on the path to create a rather slippery and messy mulch.

Approaching Houghton on the Thicket Path, with Paul shielding his eyes from the glare of the low sun

At Houghton Mill we wheeled our bikes past the mill and over the lock (where a group of local teenagers were cooling off by jumping off the bridge into the water) and onto the Ouse Meadows towards Hemingford Abbots.

Crossing the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots

We arrived at the Axe and Compass at about 8.15pm. We ordered drinks and food which, for the first time this year, we were able to enjoy sitting outside.

At The Axe and Compasses, Hemingford Abbots

We were at the pub for almost an hour - rather longer than usual but it was such a pleasant evening that I think none of us were in a rush to head home and we were happy to sit chatting instead.

We set off for home at about 9.15pm, just before sunset, returning via Hemingford Grey to St Ives and then back along the busway. The temperature by now had fallen to a very pleasant 20C and with the wind behind us this time our pace increased slightly, but no-one felt a need to sprint. As the light gradually declined, a huge moon appeared ahead of us, adding to our pleasure on what we all agreed was a delightful ride back. We continued to Cambridge and I arrived home at 10.20pm, having cycled 58km (36 miles).



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Sunday, 17 July 2016

17 Jul: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden, Hatfield Broad Oak and Clavering

Nigel writes: Today was the hottest Sunday we've had this summer, and the combination of classic summer weather, an excellent route and a superb home tea made this one of the most enjoyable club rides of the year so far. As is often the case on nice summer days, the numbers were rather lower than usual, and when I arrived at Brookside I found just four riders waiting to join me: Alex, Ray, Mike CC, and Conrad our leader for today.

At the start at Brookside

We set off and headed south from Brookside. Conrad announced that he wanted us to get out of Cambridge (and into the countryside) as quickly as possible, and so instead of following our now-traditional route to Great Shelford via the busway and DNA path, we took the simpler and slightly shorter route along the main road, following Trumpington Road to Trumpington and Shelford Road to Great Shelford.

We turned right to Little Shelford and continued south to Whittlesford and Duxford. The temperature was about 20C with a light westerly wind blowing a refreshing breeze across us.

Coffee today was in Saffron Walden, which meant we had time for a loop along the way. So instead of carrying on to Ickleton we turned onto Grange Road, the long, straight and very quiet road that runs west from Duxford to Chrishall Grange.

Mike CC on the climb from Chrishall Grange up to Chrishall

We then turned east and enjoyed a fast roller-coaster descent to Elmdon, followed by a short climb and then a slightly steeper descent down to the B1039 at Wenden Lofts.

Topiary in Elmdon

We followed the B1039 east for less then a kilometre to the junction for Littlebury Green. Here our small group divided, with Mike CC continuing along the flat to Wendens Ambo before the final climb into Saffron Walden, whilst Conrad, Alex, Ray and I turned left for a short climb to Littlebury Green followed by a long descent along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House and the inevitable climb into Saffron Walden.

Ray and Alex on the climb up to Littlebury Green

We stopped for coffee at Bicicletta Coffee. This is often rather overcrowded on Sunday mornings but today it was quiet when we arrived so we had no problems finding somewhere to sit and our coffee and cake orders arrived swiftly. Already sitting outside were Edward, Mick, and returning member Martin, and a few minutes later we were joined by Susan.

Morning stop at Bicicletta Coffee, Saffron Walden

After coffee Mike CC left the group to return home, whilst Susan and Martin joined it, and as a result there were now six of us carrying on for the next stage of the ride: Alex, Ray, Conrad, Susan, Martin and me.

Our next stop was lunch at Cammas Hall Farm near Hatfield Broad Oak. We left Saffron Walden and followed Debden Road south to Debden and Debden Green. There we turned off onto slightly quieter roads through Cherry Green and Broxted.

Broxted Hill

We continued along a succession of delightfully peaceful lanes to Molehill Green. This is just north of Stansted Airport but as the airport was completely hidden behind a thick barrier of trees the only thing that betrayed the existence of the UK's fourth-busiest airport was an increase in traffic and a constant stream of Ryanair and Easyjet aircraft passing low overhead on their way in to land.

We soon left the airport behind and continued south to Takeley and a further succession of charming quiet lanes to Cammas Hall Farm. This is a "pick your own" farm with a fairly large cafe. This is normally quite a quiet place but today it was very busy, and we had to quite for about fifteen minutes before we could place our orders for lunch. However once we had done that the food was delivered fairly quickly and efficiently. Whilst we were sitting waiting for our food we were joined by Gareth, who had left Cambridge a little after 11am and cycled directly here.

Lunch at Cammas Hall Farm, Hatfield Broad Oak

After a pleasant lunch we set off once more for the next stage of today's ride. We left the farm and cycled west, passing through the picturesque villages of Hatfield Broad Oak and Hatfield Heath to Sawbridgeworth.

Hatfield Broad Oak

Hatfield Heath (Photo: Gareth Rees)

Sawbridgeworth is a relatively busy little town but it wasn't long before we were through it and back on the tranquil lanes that lead through Allen's Green and Green Tye to Much Hadham.

Green Tye

As the afternoon progressed the temperature rose to about 25C. On a longer, harder ride this would have been quite uncomfortable but today we didn't have far to go. At Much Hadham we turned north, crossed the A120 at the traffic lights in Little Hadham and continued to Stocking Pelham and on to Clavering. Here we stopped at lovely house where one of the club's celebrated "home teas" was awaiting us. Our hosts today were Craig and Frances, though the venue was actually the lovely home of one of their neighbours.

It was 4pm and we were half an hour early, but no-one seemed to mind. On a cooler day we might have added an extra loop but on such a hot day we were happy to spend the extra day relaxing.

Tea in Clavering

After a while Ian W arrived with the afternoon ride, and we all enjoyed the splendid tea that Craig, Helen and their neighbour had put on for us.

A fine spread

We lingered at tea for about an hour and a half before setting off for home.

Just about to set off for home

Ian led the afternoon group west for a loop via Langley, while the "all-day" group took a more direct route home via Arkesden and Catmere End. This involved climbing Quicksie Hill out of Arkesden followed by the much steeper hill between Clanver End and Littlebury Green. We have long wondered what name to give this second hill, but seem to be settling on "Telegraph Hill" in recognition of the radio masts at the top.

"Telegraph" Hill from Clanver End to Littlebury Green. Steeper than it looks.

Telegraph Hill

Telegraph Hill

After a short descent down to Littlebury Green and another short climb to Catmere End, we were able to end the ride with a fast and very enjoyable high-speed descent along the Catmere End - Coploe Hill - Ickleton rollercoaster.

After a final run along the flat through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelford I arrived home at about 6.30pm, having cycled 136km (84 miles). Following this ride, my Eddington Number has increased to 81.



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Thursday, 14 July 2016

14 Jul: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Saling

Edward writes: After a few days of mixed weather we met in Hauxton with the promise of a dry and warm day. Although the light breeze was from the North and would be helpful for the morning session, by afternoon as we headed roughly northwards it wouldn’t present a problem. Today’s ride to Newport and then on to Great Saling is always one of our most popular and longer rides and today fourteen riders set off under the guidance of Andy, our leader for the day.

At the start in Hauxton (Photo: John Ferguson)

Greta's Garden (Photo: John Ferguson)

Greta's Garden (Photo: John Ferguson)

Leaving Hauxton

Our route from Hauxton to Newport doesn’t offer many alternatives, especially when there is going to be a long ride after coffee. Therefore we took the most direct route through Whittlesford, over the A505 into Duxford, then via the ford through Hinxton and Ickleton, ready for the climb up Coploe Hill.

Approaching Duxford (Photo: John Ferguson)

Duxford

Between Duxford and Hinxton

Coploe Summit (Photo: John Ferguson)

Coploe Hill was the first of many climbs today; in fact over the day we climbed about 2000 ft; not Ventoux perhaps, but still climbs. After the usual rest and recovery at the summit we careered downhill and up again to Catmere End and followed this with more climbing before another fast descent to Wendens Ambo.

Descending Coploe Hill

Descending Coploe Hill

Littlebury Green (Photo: John Ferguson)

Between Littlebury Green and Wendens Ambo

From Wendens Ambo it was only a mile or so into Newport for our first break at Dorringtons.

Newport

The group of ten from Brookside led by John R must have taken their riding more seriously and some of them overtook before we reached Newport. Possibly eager to get near the front of the queue and have first choice of the cakes. Two days earlier we had called Dorringtons to expect us and they pulled out all the stops to get us served quickly and a very successful exercise it was too.

Coffee at Newport (Photo: John Ferguson)

So successful that within half an hour we were able to assemble for the next session to Great Saling for lunch. John took his group along the B1383 towards Henham and Andy led his group up the hill so that we could take the route via Debden. After Debden, Debden Green, in fact, we turned towards Henham but turned off just past Hamperden End onto a very undulating road to Sucksted Green on the B1051.

As we passed through Broxted Church End we were directly under the flight-path of a continuous flow of aircraft landing at Stansted Airport.

Landing at Stansted

But by now were into delightful countryside passing through Tilty, Duton Hill, Little Cambridge and Lindsell. From Lindsell to Great Saling is really a lovely ride along quite lanes, one of which is called Lumberhedges Lane, finally bringing us to the airfield at Great Saling, arriving at 1.15 pm, to find John’s group already enjoying their lunch.

Great Saling

Judging by the number of motor cycles lined up it seemed we may be in for a long wait, but luckily they had already ordered and we didn’t have to wait long for our food. It’s always enjoyable coming here; the staff are always friendly and there is never a problem in allowing those with sandwiches to sit on the outside tables.

After lunch Andy led a small group home towards Thaxted. This left John to lead about a dozen on the return journey up to Shalford where we joined the four miles of quiet lanes right through to Finchingfield.

In the lanes towards Finchingfield

In the lanes towards Finchingfield

In the lanes towards Finchingfield

This was really pleasant and we only encountered a couple of cars all the way into Finchingfield.

Finchingfield

Now it was the long haul of five miles over to the B1054 and the turning to Helions Bumpstead. This was all very pleasant especially now as the grass verges have so many wild flowers, even if most of them seem to be scabious!

Between Finchingfield and Helions Bumpstead

Between Finchingfield and Helions Bumpstead

From Helions Bumpstead it was now pretty straightforward, passing through Castle Camps, Bartlow and Linton. We finished the ride via the farm route into Babraham, Sawston, Stapleford and Great Shelford. Those going back to Hauxton would have travelled 70 quality miles, arriving just before 5 pm. This was a really successful and enjoyable day and many thanks to Andy and John for their efforts in leading us round. Edward Elmer

John Ferguson adds: I joined this Bastille Day ride at Greta’s House in what was appropriately French weather. Andy selected a direct route to Newport. At Wendens Ambo I was the only one who followed Adrian onto a farm track which led to the centre of Newport. This track is quite rideable although very steep so we arrived after the main group. I had to get back to Cambridge after the coffee stop so I returned with Jacob and a few others via Clavering, Langley Lower Green and the unsurfaced road to Building End.



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