Sunday, 4 December 2016

4 Dec: Sunday ride to St Ives and St Neots

Nigel writes: Once again Alex managed to arrange glorious sunny weather for today's relatively short winter ride to St Ives and St Neots. At the start I was joined by David T, Rupert, Susan, Camille, Russell and Johns J, S and R and of course Alex our leader. Our morning coffee stop was in St Ives, and Alex led us straight there along the busway, arriving at the River Tea Rooms at about 10.45am.


Cambridge's new suburb. What's your Eddington Number?

On the busway

After coffee we were joined by Yasmin and continued west along the Thicket Path to Houghon, across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Grey and along Eastside Common to Godmanchester.

On the Thicket Path beside the River Great Ouse

At Godnanchester we turned south, following the B1043 towards St Neots. If we had stayed on this road we would have arrived at our lunch stop far too early, so when we reached Offord D'Arcy we turned east for a short loop via Graveley and Toseland before rejoining the B1043 a few kilometres north of St Neots.

Wind Turbines near Toseland

Wind Turbines near Toseland

When we reached St Neots we crossed the river and stopped for lunch at the Ambiance Cafe. I sat inside with Camille, with everyone else bravind the cold outside.

After lunch we returned back to Cambridge, following the B1046 all the way except for a diversion via Caxton. I arrived home at about 3.45pm with the sun still shining, having cycled 91km (56 miles).

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

27 Nov: Sunday ride to Reed and Rushden

John S writes: It was overcast, and quite chilly, but not too windy when I arrived at Brookside to lead this ride. I was pleased to find Rupert, Sheila, Camille, Mike CC, Alex, Ian W, and Keith there waiting to join me.

Route planning was easy. I had declined the Runs Committee's suggestion of a coffee stop at Ickleton, on the grounds it was not far enough away from the start, and had opted for Reed instead. That's fine, except that the direct route up the often-busy B-road through Fowlmere and Barley is around 30km, which corresponds to an 11am arrival at our normal speed. That then left the problem of extending the route from Reed to Rushden, as the direct route through Sandon is a bit too direct, and the A507 and A505 make it hard to add in extra distance without using busy roads.

Fortunately, Sheila had recently led a Thursday ride from Reed to Ardeley, so I was able to stand on the shoulders of route-planning giants and shamelessly follow pretty much the same route from coffee and on to lunch.

We rode direct from Brookside to Reed in cloudy conditions. The highest altitude we would reach all day was between Barkway and Reed, and here a patch of sun briefly shone through north of Cambridge to pick out the science park in the distance.

On the road to Barley (Photo: Camille Stavrakas)

Adrian, Joseph, Mick C, Sue, Keith and Mike S were already at the Silver Ball Café at Reed when we arrived. The service was efficient and quick as always, and I was looking forward to my bacon and egg sandwich. I was pleased when it arrived, but this feeling was short-lived, as Alex's gigantic bacon and egg roll put my sandwich to shame.

As we left Reed, Mike S experienced a slight problem with his battery connection on his electric bicycle. This was simply and quickly resolved, and I am hoping that I can find a similar simple solution for the lack of power in my legs!

We proceeded south towards Buntingford, through Green End and Mill End and then on through Arkesden, Westmill and Nasty, where we made all the usual jokes about “nasty rides” etc. In Great Munden we then turned north-west along lovely quiet lanes through Wood End and Moor Green, towards Ardeley.

On the road between Great Munden and Ardeley (Photo: Camille Stavrakas)

Here, we turned right to climb up towards Cromer windmill. This is shrouded in scaffolding at the moment, but we still paused for a team photo. From there, it was a short hop to lunch at the garden centre in Rushden, where we found that Adrian had already been and gone, and met up with Susan and Mike S.

A brief pause next to the scaffolding-clad windmill at Cromer

The cafe at Mill End Plants is in a poly-tunnel, and bike parking is easy - you can simply take your bike into the cafe! At the best of times, it is not going to be that warm in a poly-tunnel in November, and when we arrived we found that the main form of heating – a space heater – had stopped working that morning, so warmth was provided by two small oil-filled radiators, which struggled to make much impact on the temperature.

Sue, Susan and radiator

There was a good variety of cyclist-friendly food on offer – soups, hot pasties, baked potatoes, toasties, cake etc. and the service was friendly and efficient. After eating, we set off fairly promptly rather than waiting in the rather chilly conditions.

Setting off from Mill End Plants at Rushden

We then headed north to cross the busy A505, and climb the hill towards Ashwell. Here we turned right and took familiar roads towards Littlington, where we turned off the normal route to take the detour through Abington Piggots. Here we were rewarded with the first real sunshine of the day, and the setting sun beautifully lit up the last leaves of autumn on the beech trees.

From there we entered Bassingbourn and paused to switch on lights before taking the regular route through Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington towards Haslingfield, and on to Harston, where we split into Cambridge and South Cambridge sub-groups and went our separate ways.

The ride was just over 110km, which was helpful to Alex, as it meant that he has now completed 100 rides of 100km or longer, which is another significant milestone (or should that be kilometre marker) in his pursuit of an ever greater Eddington Number (the cycling-related one, and not the number of protons in the observable universe!).

Thanks again to Sheila for having devised a route that provided the basis for an enjoyable day of cycling. John Seton

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27 Nov: Sunday afternoon ride to Potton

Simon writes: Well I can't say that the weather didn't promise the best of the sunshine to be with us this morning and right up to the point when I met David, Neil and Andy at Brookside that's what we'd had. But our ride started with grey skies and teetered on the verge of a few minute spots of rain. So I took off my sunglasses and packed them deeply away into my handlebar bag as an attempt at reverse psychology and it worked, the rain left us alone.

Our route out was the perennial favourite Barton road cycle path to Haslingfield, not an idle decision as there was method in my madness.

Phil had originally wanted to join us at the Barton junction to avoid the city traffic. I toyed with the idea of returning from tea through Wimpole Hall to deliver Phil conveniently back into the Barrington area where he rides from, but from a phone call to the Wimpole NT estate I learnt that they close the gates at dusk and as we couldn’t guarantee to meet the deadline it was decided to meet Phil in Barrington and do Wimpole via Malton Lane on the way out.

Unexpectedly, he decided he really needed the exercise, so climbed Chapel hill to meet us on our side before climbing it again with us (and again on his way hone). At Wimpole the mechanical shock of the first cattle grid that serves the ancient deer grazing parkland had his front light reverse engineer itself into its component parts. (Yes – another front light)

Wimpole Estate

From there we climbed Croydon Hill and continued through Hatley St George. It was at this point that I took the group off-road onto the path that runs alongside Hatley woods and St John the Baptist Church, whose four mini-spires can just be seen in the photo (below) north of Cockayne Hatley. The ground was surprisingly dry considering the rain we've had recently, though I knew this because I had visited it the day before to check its suitability for the group. The same photo also shows that the sun had returned to grace the last three miles of our ride out.

North of Cockayne Hatley, with church in distance

Tea at the Boundary Café was pleasant and nowhere near as populated as it was two weeks ago, when our club riders descended upon the caterers in their dozens.

Tea in Potton

Tea in Potton (spot the difference)

On the way home, it had got dark by the time we reached the turning on the outskirts of Little Gransden and I got a puncture in Toft. Unlike Eva's punctures of Thursday this week, no "Super Simon" leapt out from a phone box like a well known Monty Python character sporting a flat cap and a tool box to fix it, but the residents who live just opposite Church road in Toft kindly lent me their track stirrup pump which sped things up made the job easier. Many thanks, if you're reading this: your public spirit is a credit to you. Simon Gallaway

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

23 Nov: Thursday ride to Swavesey and West Perry

Edward writes: Our two leaders today were Peter W at Brookside with five riders and out in Haslingfield we had JJ leading fifteen. The weather was certainly cool with a North-east wind and there was never going to be glimmer of sunshine, with leaden skies all day. From Haslingfield our route took us to Harlton into Washpit Lane, up to the A603 and on to Comberton.

Leaving Haslingfield

Leaving Haslingfield


Next we climbed up to Hardwick and followed this to Madingley and Dry Drayton. When we reached Oakington the two groups’ routes diverged with JJ taking his down the busway whilst Adrian led the second group via the airfield to Longstanton before arriving in Swavesey and the Baptist Chapel for coffee; those using the busway arrived a few minutes later.

Oakington Airfield

Back at Brookside it seems Peter used a novel route through the town past the Round Church before arriving at the river which was used as far as Milton. Here they came across Eva who was dealing with a puncture and it’s on good authority that we heard that Simon with true gentlemanly gallantry immediately came in to assist. They were not held up for long and they arrived in Swavesey in good time.

At coffee we were joined by ten others, making thirty in total, another good Thursday turnout.

After coffee, and the usual comings and goings, a number of groups started out for Grafham Water. It’s difficult to know where everybody went to but probably most went via Graveley and the Offords whilst another smaller group went via the Hemingfords and Godmanchester. At the railway crossing in Offord Cluny two sub-groups met and were able to continue together through Buckden to Grafham. Most went on to the Harbour View and few took lunch at the visitor centre and also took the opportunity to look at the cycle shop. This group rejoined the others at the Harbour View where a mass exit of all eighteen riders took place.


Leaving West Perry (Grafham Water)

Leaving West Perry (Grafham Water)

It seems the planned route home was via Staughton Moor and indeed Adrian, accompanied by Richard M, went that way, but apparently there had been a last minute change of plan and we all headed back to Buckden and Offord Cluny. Most of the group headed towards Godmanchester leaving a small contingent to head for home via Graveley and Great Gransden. This was quite a long winter ride with some probably clocking up seventy miles. As always thanks to Peter and JJ for leading the rides.
Edward Elmer

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