Sunday, 1 March 2015

1 Mar: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden and Langley

Nigel writes: I nearly missed the start of today's ride, as I only remembered at the last minute that it was now March and the start time of our Sunday rides had been brought forward half an hour to 9am. So I abandoned my plans for a leisurely breakfast, drank a quick mug of coffee and set off for Brookside.

It was a glorious sunny morning, so it was rather a surprise to discover that there were only four others waiting: Steve, Rupert, Alex and John E. Perhaps everyone else would turn up at 9.30am. There was no pre-arranged leader today, but Rupert had a route in mind and after a short discussion to fine-tune it we set off.

We rode south along Trumpington Road and turned left into Brooklands Avenue. We were heading for the busway, but instead of joining it at Long Road we visited the new Kaleidoscope development off Brooklands Avenue where a new access point to the busway has recently been opened.

This was the first time I had entered this new development of apartment blocks and was surprised to discover that it was much larger, and rather less architecturally banal, than I had expected. It gleamed in the bright morning sunshine, looking like something you might find in, say, Spain.

Kaleidoscope, Cambridge

It wasn't obvious how to get to the busway - and there was no signposting - but we didn't take long to find it and we were soon on the busway heading south towards Trumpington Park and Ride.

From the Park and Ride we followed the path through Trumpington Meadows, over the M11 to Hauxton Mill bridge. We followed the cycle path along the A10 for a short distance before turning onto the B1368 towards Newton.

At Newton we turned left to Whittlesford and then right towards Duxford. We continued to Ickleton where the group divided to take two different routes to our coffee stop in Saffron Walden. Rupert and Steve took the traditional route via Coploe Hill, Chestnut Avenue and Audley End, whilst Alex and I took a slightly longer route via Elmdon.

Although the weather this morning was clear and sunny, with very mild temperatures, there was a very strong south-westerly wind, and the long climb to Elmdon took us directly into it. We plodded to the top and then descended back town to Wenden Lofts before turning east for a fast wind-assisted sprint along the B1039 to Wendens Ambo. From there we took the rather busy B1052 into Saffron Walden rather than the usual road and joined the others for coffee at The Temeraire. Also there were various other members including Adrian, Craig, Edward, Doug and Mick.

Nigel tops up a slow puncture

After coffee I carried on to lunch with Alex, leaving various others to take a shorter route. My route took us south to Debden Crossroads and then through Widdington, Ugley, Rickling and Arkesden. With a headwind for much of the way this was more of a slog than I had expected, and it came as a welcome relief to eventually reach Langley Lower Green, where we stopped for lunch at The Bull.

Alex splashes through the ford at Clavering

Already eating lunch were Adrian, Steve and Doug, and I was pleased to see that John E, who we had lost in the warren at Kaleidoscope, was there too.

The others had arrived well before us so they left and headed back to Cambridge leaving Alex and I to enjoy a leisurely lunch. The food was, once again, excellent and I can see this pub becoming a regular favourite of the club. It was good to see the pub was very busy, despite being in a isolated location.

After lunch Alex and I took a direct route back to Cambridge (the same as Gareth had taken on our previous visit here on 25th January. This took us north through Little Chishill to Shaftenoe End and then up to Great Chishill. We descended to Flint Cross and then joined the B1368 to Fowlmere and Newton. With the wind behind us at last we made rapid progress, with Alex riding strongly and disappearing into the distance on these long level sections.

We turned towards Little Shelford and returned to Cambridge via Great Shelford, the DNA path, and the busway. Rain had been forecast for the afternoon but never materialised and I arrived back home at 3.45pm, having cycled just under 60 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 26 February 2015

26 Feb: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Dullingham

Edward writes: This Thursday, disappointingly, only eight riders from the club's hardy (or maybe foolhardy) faction came to Hauxton, this being the lowest number on our rides for quite long time. Certainly the forecast wasn't good with some four hours' rain predicted from 10am and this may have been the reason for such a low turn out. We met in mild but overcast conditions with a light breeze from the south west although this was expected to strengthen and turn more north westerly in the afternoon.

Sarah was our leader for our ride out to Horseheath and then a planned visit to La Hogue near Chippenham. We left Hauxton, through Little Shelford and on to Whittlesford where we were joined by Mike B who would do his usual and stay with us until coffee. In Whittlesford we turned on to the cycleway to take us through Sawston and up to Babraham and out to the A505 where we joined the still new cycleway to Abington Science Park.

A505 cycleway

The breeze was on our backs and 10am came and no sign of the rain so confidence grew that we may be lucky. After Abington we crossed the A1307 into Hildersham and then along Back Road to take us into Linton and out once more to the A1307. We passed through Bartlow and began the climb towards Castle Camps but along the way took the turning which lead us up to Shudy Camps.

Shudy Camps

At this point the rain did arrive, only light at first but it wasn't long before it became more persistent. After Shudy Camps it only remained to pass through the tiny hamlets of Mill Green and Cardinal's Green and another crossing of the A1307 to arrive in Horseheath and probably our favourite coffee stop at the Old Red Lion Inn. Peter W joined us here.

Mill Green

At the Old Red Lion we were treated royally with not only coffee and tea but cookies, chocolate cakes and cream cakes and as it was raining hard outside nobody was in any hurry to leave. At the risk of overstating we really do appreciate how this pub has looked after so well for a number of years now.


Sarah took a vote as to how we should proceed and everybody opted to carry on - peer pressure maybe - and so we set off again taking the road to West Wickham and then across Wratting Common.

Although it was raining, with the wind on our backs, it wasn't too bad as we headed for Thurlow. At some point along here it was decided to shorten the ride and have lunch in Newmarket rather than Chippenham as planned, but a little later this was modified once more to Dullingham. Thus we came off the planned route and went through Great Bradley and Burrough Green and then down into Dullingham. This meant The Boot where we have often called in the past and although we hadn't booked they took the sudden influx of nine cyclists in their stride.


In fact we enjoyed a very pleasant lunch break before leaving again at 2.15pm after a discussion of which way we should go. In the end Sarah chose the route over the hills up to West Wratting, and just as we left the rain stopped more or less on cue.

Towards West Wratting

Going to West Wratting had the advantage of again having the benefit of the wind which had now moved to more north westerly. The only problem we had was the narrow lanes were very wet and this combined with the mud from the farm traffic as the sugar beet harvest continues and numerous water-filled pot holes meant we had to be alert all the time. When we crossed the road down to Six Mile Bottom Ian left us and shortly after when we reached West Wratting Peter left us and the last seven carried on to Balsham and then the descent from the higher ground down to Hildersham. We were now on the route we came out on and as we approached Babraham where the former railway used to cross the road a large amount of water had accumulated in the few hours since we came this way in the morning.


We finished the ride through Sawston and Stapleford and those who went back to Hauxton would have completed a circuit of 50 miles, finishing at 4pm.

Great Shelford

Despite the weather and shortening the ride everybody entered into the spirit and at the end glad they made the effort. We thank Sarah for all her work with many decisions to take for making such a pleasant day out. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 22 February 2015

22 Feb: Sunday ride to Nuthampstead and Braughing

Gareth writes: There was a hard frost overnight, and although the sun was shining, it was just a couple of degrees above zero when eight of us met at Brookside. As we set off down Trumpington Street, a strong southerly wind, bitterly cold, blew in our faces. The only signs of spring were the carpets of snowdrops in the woods by Whippletree Road in Whittlesford.

Caught by the level crossing in Great Shelford.

Nuthampstead is very close to Braughing (just six miles by the shortest route), so I planned a long and hilly ride to coffee via Duxford, Ickleton, Elmdon, Heydon, and Great Chishill, to be followed by a shorter leg to lunch. But the bitter headwind and the hills made our progress very slow and we were all suffering a little bit. There was ice on the pools of water in the roadside ditches, and on the tops of the hills there were piles of hailstones on the verges and occasional heaps of slush in the shadows. ‘Winter miles count double,’ they say, and today we felt the truth of that saying.

On Ickleton Road in Duxford there was a heron by the side of the road. It didn’t seem all that keen to fly away, and just hopped across the road into the field on the other side. Injured, maybe, or just cold like us? On the hill up to Heydon, we met a couple of horse riders coming down towards us, and slowed down to give them plenty of room. But just as we were coming together, a pair of roe deer leaped out of the hedge and ran across the road behind the horses. One of the horses must have seen the flash of movement out of the corner of its eye, and bolted straight towards me. I too leaped off my bike and into the ditch by the side of the road, but the rider skilfully got the horse back under control, and no harm was done.

The hill on Quickset Road, with Elmdon in the distance.

It was about 11:25 by the time we reached the Woodman at Nuthampstead. Here half the riders turned back, leaving me, Steve, Chris & Conrad to go on to lunch. The wind was still blowing coldly across the Essex hills, but a red kite was enjoying the updraft, swooping over the lane as we approached Anstey. Here we turn left and took the road through Meesden and the three Pelhams (Brent, Stocking, and Furneaux), arriving at Braughing at about 12:55. My head was drooping and I really felt beaten up by the weather by the time we reached the pub.

The Brown Bear was packed to the rafters, and we had to queue up a bit to order food, but it was nice to sit by the radiator and get some warmth back into our fingers and toes.

Rain was forecast for 15:00, but it was already drizzling as we left the pub at about 13:50, and it gradually increased as we headed north. But with the wind now at our backs we made excellent progress up the B1368 and over the ‘Col du Barkway’ and were back in Cambridge at about 15:30, having ridden 100 km (62 miles).

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Rides in March and April

The first signs of spring are arriving and, right on cue, our March and April ride lists are now available.

On Sundays during March we continue to hold a single "winter ride", stopping for morning coffee and lunch before returning to Cambridge, but please note that the start time of these rides changes to 9.00am to allow a slightly longer ride as the weather improves. In April the rides change into "all-day" rides with the addition of a mid-afternoon tea stop. Our Sunday afternoon rides also start in April, joining the all-day ride at the mid-afternoon tea stop. Look out for our first booked afternoon tea in West Wratting on 19th April (details).

Meanwhile our Thursday rides take a radical turn on 16th April with a ride to Ely (details). This is the first time a Thursday ride has ventured this far into the fens. We also continue with Wednesday evening rides once a month as well as regular Saturday introductory rides and Tuesday seniors' rides.

As usual, we need leaders for some of these Sunday rides - these are marked as "leader needed". We would also welcome some new leaders for the Saturday introductory rides: our regular Saturday leaders are happy to stand down, or to tag along and offer help and advice. In both cases, please email the runs secretary (Rupert) to volunteer (contact details here).