Sunday, 19 February 2017

19 Feb: Sunday afternoon ride to Melbourn

Simon writes: Far back in the midst of a riverboat building project in a barn, a mate and I kept a makeshift kitchen, trying to fry eggs with one hand whilst wielding a welding torch with the other.

Our respective girlfriends decided to pay us a visit and their first comment was "Don't you boys ever do any washing up?" To which we triumphantly replied “Yer, we tried that but it made the bowl dirty so we gave up”

In a not dissimilar vein our club Secretary has said on several occasions recently, "Simon, you should clean your bike!"

The fear is the prospect of fighting a losing battle, against the muddy water that every ride starts with on the river tow path (from said afore mentioned boat) in a rainy season. Nevertheless, here is the photographic proof that it was treated to John's gentle but persuasive directive.

Setting off from Brookside this week was a quintet consisting of Phil N, John E, Neil S, Paul D and yours truly.

With a westerly wind the route planned was to leave Cambridge on the busway south and the DNA path, without any detour, to allow us time to spend on some of the hills south of the A505. The theory goes that wind drag increases exponentially with speed, so if we're only crawling up a hill at say 6mph, it wouldn't feel as strenuous as trying to do 14mph on the flat into it. The shelter offered by the hedgerows on the hilly lanes diffused the rest of the wind and, hey ho, it worked.

So, starting with Coploe Hill as far as Royston Lane, we picked up Quickset Road and a slight drop in altitude to pass through Elmdon.

A short climb out of Elmdon skirted the north side of Chrishall and on to Heydon. For the next three miles past the Heydon Grange Golf course I don't think any of us turned a pedal for the descent back to the A505. The Fowlmere road doesn't quite link up directly, forcing us to do exactly half a mile of the A-road, but now with a billiard-table-smooth tarmac and a tailwind that half mile disappeared like a blip.

If you've never taken a break from your saddle for a tranquil stroll around the RSPB reserve between Fowlmere and Melbourn I would thoroughly recommend it.

After tea at Wyevale Garden Centre in Melbourn, Paul insisted that he needed more hills to train for an anniversary climb up Snowdon (not on that Dolan road frame I hope) and voted we return via Barrington's Chapel hill. As always, this plays to Phil's convenience as that's where he hails from but blow me if he didn't ride over it with us and then back again, just for the hell of it!

See you all next time! Simon Gallaway

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

16 Feb: Thursday ride to Newport and Clavering Lakes

Edward writes: A touch of spring was in the air for this Thursday's ride to Newport and Clavering Lakes and this was very much welcome bearing in mind the very low temperatures we’ve had recently. In fact the sun was out, blue skies and an expected afternoon temperature in the region of 13-14C. John R (again) led the city start with eight riders and out at Hauxton Averil led a group of fifteen. Noticeable by their absence were some of our Arsenal supporters who, after last night's result, may have considered a day of quiet reflection was in order rather than being out on the bike. On the other hand we were joined by Sharon and Belinda who may have been inspired into action by last week's blog. Whether that's true or not it was good to see them out again. Also guesting with us were Greta's friends Jim and Jill from Stevenage.

Averil led us away from Hauxton in bright sunlight and was soon some distance ahead of the main group causing us to wander if she had been studying Rupert's method of leading by being almost out of sight. After the initial burst she settled into good leadership mode and stopped from time to time allowing us all to regroup. By now we had passed through Whittlesford and had come to Duxford where a slight navigational error sent us up Duxford Grange, rather than to Ickleton, to run parallel to the air museum.

Duxford Grange (Duxford End)

This was a bit unfortunate as the road was very wet and muddy following last night's rain, mainly near the farm half way along. (Averil will clean bikes by appointment only.)

Duxford Grange

Royston Lane

To bring us back on track we turned into Chrishall Grange and then into Royston Lane which is another of our pot-holed third-world roads and great care was needed especially on the descent side. This soon brought us back to Coploe Hill and the short distance up to Catmere End. More dirty roads followed as we made our way through to Telegraph Hill where we descended to Wendens Ambo; this just left a mile or so along the B1383 into Newport.

At Dorrington's we found the city riders already there plus some independent riders including Geoff, Peter W, Jacob, Craig and Frances and probably one or two others. Dorrington's is always popular and with the sun out and a springlike feeling to the day many chose to sit outside.

It was midday when we started again and John took a small group away before Averil led a larger group south along the B1383 to the Henham turning beside the motorway.

As we were leaving Newport Simon had a puncture and he agreed to take a shorter route by himself to Clavering. We turned to rejoin the B1383 at Ugley but this time heading north to the Rickling Green turning. This was followed by Rickling and soon after we found ourselves at Clavering Lakes after a relatively short ride of ten miles from Newport.

The turning for Ugley

The turning for Ugley

Rickling Green


Meanwhile Adrian made his own way to Clavering on one of his off-road routes. We could see him to our right on a hill in the distance. A telephoto lens would have made a good picture.

It was just as well we were early for lunch because we hadn’t made a booking and the twenty-one riders had to wait quite a long time to be served. Simon arrived after everyone else having had another puncture.

It was 2.15 pm before we left for home and during the lunch break the blue skies had given way to an overcast sky and it felt quite a bit cooler. The brisk westerly wind, though, was now more in our favour as we headed north to Langley Lower Green.

Another sign that better weather is on the way is the appearance of snowdrops and aconites in the grass verges, sadly having to compete for attention with all the roadside litter. On our way to Little Chishill, Adrian and Simon left to do some off-road work with all the rest, after Little Chishill, making the last climb of the day into Great Chishill. There we found David T and John R assisting Anne who had also become another puncture victim.

Between Langley and Little Chishill

Between Langley and Little Chishill

After Great Chishill it's all downhill for more than two miles to Flint Cross on the A505. The last few miles took us through Fowlmere, Thriplow, Newton and Little Shelford. With the ride at an end at 4pm, those doing the full circuit back to Hauxton would have cycled 47 miles. Our thanks to our two leaders, John and Averil. Edward Elmer

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

12 Feb: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Wimbish

Nigel writes: The weather today was similar to last Sunday: dull and damp all day. When I arrived at Brookside for the start of today's ride I found seven other riders waiting: Rupert, Alex, Eva, Tom, John R, Nick W and John Seton, our leader for today.

Brookside, Cambridge

It's not far from Cambridge to Ickleton, so I was expecting John to fill the time by taking us on a loop before heading to the cafe. And so it turned out, though since John had forgotten his wallet, the loop was quite a short one, to John's house to collect it, after which we rode more or less directly to our coffee stop at Ickleton Barns. That meant we were there by 10.30am, allowing us plenty of time for a relaxing and sociable breakfast. After a while a number of other members arrived: Mick, Edmind and Adrian.

Coffee at Ickleton

After coffee we re-grouped, with John S leading Tom, Eva, Alex, Edmund and me on to lunch, and everyone else returning back to Cambridge.

About to climb Coploe Hill


Our lunch stop today was the Elder Street Cafe at Debden Barns. I've only been here a couple of times before, but it's already become one of my favourite places to visit, and one of the few where the quality of the food leads some of my companions to reach for the wine list. I think this is a nice feature of our short winter rides: since we're going to be riding home afterwards we're not in a hurry and can enjoy a sociable, leisurely lunch.

Lunch at Elder Street Cafe, Debden Barns

John's "Fen Man's Dockey"

Afterwards we didn't take the shortest route home but instead turned north-east towards Radwinter and Ashdon before turning west towards Cambridge. This involved lifting our bikes over the A11 footbridge at Abington followed by an unsurfaced path across a field to Babraham.

Approaching Babraham

At Babraham we took the opportunity to try out the new cycleway through the Babraham Research Campus which opened last week. This was entirely satisfactory and brought us out on the A1307 opposite the point where the cycleway from Cambridge ends.

The new cycleway through the Babraham Research Campus


When we reached the edge of Cambridge we parted ways and I continued the short distance home, arriving there by about 4pm, having cycled a modest but pleasant 91km (56 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

9 Feb: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Brampton

Edward writes: Although it was very cold in Haslingfield, it was a cold with a really raw feeling about it, but there hadn’t been an overnight frost which relieved us of the concern of icy roads. There was only a trace of wind but it was from a very cold north east which meant it would be facing us for most of the trip to Cottenham. Today's ride would take in Cottenham for coffee and then on to Brampton for lunch with John R doing the honours from Brookside where six riders met and out in Haslingfield nine riders gathered.


After the formalities were completed we started our journey from Haslingfield to Barton and then along Barton Road into Cambridge as far as Grange Road where Averil joined us. We now took a route through Cambridge passing down Sidgewick Avenue, Silver Street, Pembroke Street, Downing Street, Parkside, Clarendon Street and Fair Street which brought us to Midsummer Common. Going through the city makes a change from our usual rural routes, but does require an extra level of vigilance.

Water Street, Chesterton

Water Street, Chesterton

Midsummer Common has had its shared cycle and footpaths widened and this is a big improvement, so congratulations to those responsible. This took us to the river which we cycled beside as far as the Green Dragon Bridge and over to the west side of the river for the four miles of riverbank riding to Waterbeach.

Slap Up junction, Waterbeach

Somewhere in the Waterbeach area we were joined by Peter W. We crossed the A10 taking us to Landbeach and soon after we arrived at the Community Centre Cafe in Cottenham shortly after 11 am. The City group were already well established and also there we found the indestructible Vic plus one or two others who had made their own way there.

By about 11.30am John led his group off but their country cousins spent a further twenty minutes in the cafe and left at 11.50 am. We were a group of eight with Simon joining us having noticed us earlier as we cycled past his residence on the river. We went from Cottenham through Rampton, Willingham and Over and down to Swavesey where we joined the busway. Yasmin left us at Swavesey while we set forth to St Ives. Yesterday it was reported that there were waxwings feeding off the berries on the busway but apparently this was further back nearer to Cambridge so we were not lucky enough to see any. When we reached St Ives we went straight through the town and joined the Thicket Path to Houghton Mill.

Ouse Meadows

We crossed over the meadows into millionaires' row in Hemingford Abbots to go down to the common and shortly after into Godmanchester. We successfully navigated our way through to Huntingdon and onto the road out to Brampton where we came to Frosts Garden Centre for lunch and once again we found those city slickers having nearly finished their meal and ready for their homeward journey. We found this a good lunch stop with a nice variety of food and their hot soup of the day was much in demand on such a cold day.

With the time at 2.20pm, and Susan and Avril still talking, we needed to get out into the cold and start our return journey which would be over twenty-five miles. We left the Garden centre on the B1514 up as far as the A1 where we were able to turn into Buckden. (Sharon and Belinda where were you?). We had to wait for three trains at Offord Cluny letting us get cold again before setting off through Offord Darcy. We made the climb up to Graveley and the temperature was still only two degrees and when the wind was in our faces it was decidedly chilly. We know two riders cycling in somewhat different weather in a country some miles east of here who may be having a laugh at our expense.

Croxton and Great Gransden came next and then Caxton and Bourn. At the Kingston turning we spilt into two groups with some heading for Cambridge and I went with Susan back to Haslingfield where the ride ended at 4.20pm and sixty miles under our belts. This was long for a winter ride but, with light available until 5pm, perfectly doable. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).