Sunday, 11 October 2015

11 Oct: Sunday ride to Fordham and Chippenham

Nigel writes: With summer time ending in just two weeks' time there seems to be a feeling in Cambridge CTC that we'd better make the most of the fine days we're having now, since winter is just around the corner. That's certainly how I feel at the moment, but the surge in turnout for some of our recent Sunday rides suggest that others feel the same way. Today was a good example of this: a cool, crisp day, and a forecast of clear skies and sunshine, brought out eight riders at Brookside, two more joining along the way and yet more joining at coffee.

My fellow-riders at Brookside were Mike CC, Ian D, Ian W, Stan, Vin, newcomer Mike B, and John R who was our leader today. We were heading east, so we set off towards Parker's Piece and down to the river.

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

We followed the river east along Midsummer and Stourbridge Commons before turning away from it towards Fen Ditton.

Stourbridge Common, Cambridge

At Quy we paused briefly to rendezvous with Andy and Sarah (who brought our number up to ten) and then made a beeline along the B1102 to Lode where we joined the Lodes Way.

Turning onto White Fen

Despite the sunshine it was still really rather cold, and I think several of us had some difficulty in deciding how many layers to wear. I decided the temperature wasn't going to warm up for a while to stopped to put on my jacket, after which I felt much more comfortable.

We continued along the Lodes Way, crossing the new bridges over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode and Reach Lode before dismounting to carry our bikes up the steps and over the bridge at Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. Will the long-promised cycle bridge ever be built here?

Crossing the footbridge over Burwell Lode

We were now on the edge of Wicken Fen, so we rode around the edge of the reserve and past the visitor centre (where the afternoon ride was due to stop for tea later today) and into Wicken Village. We turned right onto the A1123 and followed it for three miles to Soham. This is a relatively major road but it is rarely a problem and this morning was very quiet. Indeed I didn't really notice it, since I was listening to tales of Sarah's and Andy's recent cycle tour across the Balkans.

A few miles beyond Soham we reached Fordham, where we stopped for coffee at Simpson's Nurseries. Already at the cafe were Joseph, Conrad, Geoff and Keith, and we all spent a very pleasant half hour or so sitting in their courtyard eating cakes and drinking coffee. We usually visit this cafe in the winter, so it was nice to be able to sit outside in the increasingly-warm sunshine for the first time.

Coffee at Simpson's Nurseries, Fordham

After coffee we performed the usual shuffle, with some riders heading back home and others continuing on to lunch. I carried on to lunch, and since the designated lunch was only about half an hour away John took us for a loop through Isleham and Mildenhall before turning back along the B1102 towards Worlington.

The road to Isleham

We continued to Freckenham, turned left to Chippenham, and stopped for lunch at La Hogue Farm Shop and Cafe.


Already at the cafe were Eva and Jim. I think this has become one of the club's favourite lunch stops: there's a good range of rather interesting food, orders are efficiently taken and speedily served, and the size of the place means they are never overwhelmed by our numbers. Once again it was warm enough to sit outside and eat in the sunshine,

Lunch at La Hogue Farm Shop and Cafe

After lunch everyone set off back west towards Cambridge. Today was a two-stop ride, so John announced he would be taking the group south into Newmarket and then on towards Dulllingham. This would have brought the total mileage to about 65 miles. I, however, decided that it was such a nice day that I wanted to stay out and ride a little further, so after taking a final photo of the group as they rode along the estate road around the southern edge of Chippenham Park, I set off eastwards.

Everyone else heads home past Chippenham Park

Before I reached the public road I stopped, put my camera in my bag, consulted my map to decide where I was going, and then set off again. Second later, and unknown to me, my camera rolled out of my bag and onto the concrete road.

A few moments after taking the previous photo and setting off in the other direction, my camera dropped out of my bag. It rested here for over an hour.

I didn't have a route planned. All I knew is that I wanted to do more than 80 miles to help me reach my Eddington Number target. I decided to head south-east, following the B1085 over the A11 and A14 to Kentford. I continued south to Gazeley where I decided to turn east once more, following the NCN 51 cycle route with a vague idea of heading towards Bury St Edmunds.

The road from Gazely to Higham and on to Barrow is a delightful ride, and somewhere between Higham and Barrow I stopped to take a photo of the road ahead. I unzipped my bag only to discover that my camera was nowhere to be seen. After a couple of minutes of denial, during which I repeatedly rummaged through the bag and tapped my pockets in the hope that it would reappear, I decided I had no option but to ride the eight miles back to the point where I used my camera last.

Along the way I checked all the places where I had stopped to read the map, hoping that I had absent-mindedly left it somewhere, but there was no sign of it and with an increasingly heavy heart I arrived back at the concrete road by Chippenham Park where I had left the others. To my great relief I spotted my camera immediately at the side of the estate road. It must have fallen a metre or so onto the ground but it appeared undamaged,.

Other members will be aware of the importance I place in creating a pleasingly-shaped GPS track. If I had headed home now I would have left an unsightly stub representing my ride to Barrow and back. I therefore decided the best way of rectifying this was to ride this section of road a third time and then carry on east. Fortunately this was no burden at all: the weather was delightful, and beyond Kentford the route was too.

I stopped to take a photo of this inviting section of road, only to discover I had lost my camera

When I reached the point where I had discovered the loss of my camera I stopped to take the photo I had wanted to take over an hour ago. I then carried on. It was now about 3.45pm so I decided to abandon my plan to visit Bury and instead turned south towards Wickhambrook. There I turned west towards Cambridge, following country lanes through Farley Green and Cock and End before reaching the A143 near Adam's cafe. The cafe was closed, but the shop next door was not, so I stopped to stock up on chocolate for the journey home.

I left the A143 and turned towards Little Thurlow. This was followed by Carlton Green, Weston Colville, West Wratting and Balsham. From here a tempting 10 mile descent to Cambridge beckoned, but I was keen to round my mileage up to 100 so turned south for the descent to Hildesham. This was followed by an enjoyable but totally unnecessary digression through Abington and along the A505 cycleway all the way to Whittlesford Station. Crossing the railway here entailed carrying my bike over the station footbridge, but once over it was a familar cruise home towards the Shelfords and into Cambridge.

I arrived home at 7.30pm, having cycled just over 100 miles. My Eddington Number remains 79; however I now need to complete just one more 80-mile ride before it will reach 80, my target for this year. Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 8 October 2015

8 Oct: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Bardfield

Edward writes: Last weekend the forecasts seemed to be telling us that the weather was on the change and last Thursday there was every reason to believe that it would be the last in such wonderful sunshine. Not so; early morning today was certainly a bit nippy with overnight temperatures down to about 4 or 5 degrees centigrade, but by the time we met in Hauxton the sun was out and the sky was blue with only a light northerly wind. Pretty good conditions for another good ride.

Gathering at Hauxton

Before we set off we welcomed two more riders making their debuts with us, namely Mia and Mike P. Ian W was today's leader and some task he had in front of him with at least twenty-four riders to shepherd along the lanes to Newport for coffee and to the Blue Egg at Great Bardfield for lunch.

Naturally we set up two groups and Ian led the first away with Rupert taking charge of the following group. Newport is about sixteen miles from Hauxton and Ian chose the more direct route through Whittlesford and down to the A505 so that we could be sure of arriving for coffee by 11 am. In Duxford went through the factory area, over the railway and the ford where Mike CC wasn't inclined to demonstrate his skill at riding through the water, and so we all went over by the little bridge.

This took us to Hinxton, back over the railway into Ickleton where we came face to face with our old friend Coploe Hill. With the breeze behind us this presented no problems and the great throng arrived safely at the summit and a short rest in the lay-by. Whatever the season the surrounding countryside always looks good from up here and today the fields were in their autumn colour being prepared for the next season's crops.

Coploe Hill

Coploe Hill

Coploe Hill

Catmere End followed and we turned towards Littlebury Green but before the actual village we turned onto the narrow lanes which, after a bit of climbing, lead to the rapid descent to the edge of Wendons Ambo. It's always nice going through this quiet little village which seems so far removed from the busy B1383 and railway which run nearby.

Towards Wendens Ambo

We soon came to the B1383 and a mile later we were all arriving at Dorrington's for our first break of the day.

As expected there were more riders there enjoying coffee and unsurprisingly it took some time for everyone to get served and many chose to sit outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun's rays. After coffee there was the usual exchange of personnel but still at least twenty-two set out for the next session. This took us further along the B1383 until the turning for Henham just before the motorway. We now began a really nice rural run through Henham and onto Broxted Hill where the hill took everyone by surprise catching many in too high a gear and unable to keep going with no other choice but to push the bikes to the top.

Broxted Hill

This road ended at Suckstead Green where we joined the B1051 for a mile or so enabling us to turn to Monk Street which, for many of us, was new territory and very pleasant it was too, but we all too soon reached the busy B184. We crossed this into Richmond's Green and into more familiar ground at Lindsell leaving about three miles to reach Great Bardfield and the Blue Egg for our lunch break.

Monk Street

As usual the Blue Egg was busy, and also as usual, some of us had brought a packed lunch while others ordered a light meal. Nearly everyone sat outside and still able to enjoy the warm sun but by now there was beginning to be more cloud cover.

Leaving the Blue Egg Cafe

At 2 pm it was time to start again and this took us back into Great Bardfield where we joined the very quiet lanes that lead, via Waltham's Cross, into Finchingfield which under the bright sunshine looked particularly appealing.

The windmill at Finchingfield

From Finchingfield our route home took us past Spain's Hall on the five mile stretch down to the B1054, on into Helions Bumpstead and the loop round Olmsted Green, Bartlow and into Linton.

To Helions Bumpstead

Olmstead Green to Bartlow

We were just left with Little Abington, the footbridge over the A11, Babraham and Sawston where those going back to Hauxton left us with the last remaining half dozen or so going through Stapleford and Great Shelford.

Crossing the A11 at Little Abington

Today was a lovely ride along many quiet lanes and our thanks to Ian for all his efforts in making it such a success. All would have cycled a minimum of 62 miles. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 4 October 2015

4 Oct: Sunday ride to Meesden and Much Hadham

Nigel writes: It's October now, but the combination of a day of fine, sunny weather, a couple of particularly fine food stops and an excellent route allowed me to enjoy one of the best club rides for some time.

I arrived at Brookside to find that my companions for the first stage of today's ride would be Alex, Mike CC, Rupert, Stan, Edmund, Andy, Carol and Eva, led very ably by Ian D.


We set off by cycling to the station to pick up the busway, with a very moderate pace allowing to do my usual thing and sprint ahead to take photos.

On the busway

On the busway

On recent rides I've been looking out for good vantage points to take photos of the other riders from above. The new footbridge over the railway at Great Shelford is one such point, but today I decided to try the Addenbrooke's Road bridge over the railway. It's certainly a good vantage point, but probably a little too far away.

The link from Francis Crick Avenue to the DNA path

This is the club's fourth Sunday ride since switching to the new "2-stop" format which involves a slightly later start at 9.30am and dropping the afternoon tea stop. We're still getting used to the new arrangements and watching carefully how well it's working. Ian explained that since we had no afternoon stop he'd be aiming for a late arrival at coffee followed by a similarly late lunch, allowing us to get in a decent amount of cycling before heading straight home after lunch.

A late arrival at coffee was probably inevitable anyway, given a 9.30am start and over 20 miles to go. Ian led us led us a fairly direct route, following the usual route south through the Shelfords and Whittlesford as far as Duxford before turning onto Grange Road, the long, straight road that runs west to Chrishall Grange.

A long, gentle climb took us up to Hertford Lane End where we turned left, riding through Elmdon before dropping down to Wenden Lofts. These are familar roads but in recent months I've ridden them mostly on evening rides, in the opposite direction, so this was a pleasant change.

Climbing to Duddenhoe End

A short section of B1039 took us to the turn for Duddenhoe End and an easy climb up to that village and on through Langley Upper Green to Meesden, where we stopped for coffee at the village hall. The elevation here was 139m, making this, rather surprisingly, the highest point on today's ride.

Morning coffee at Meesden Village Hall

By now it was 11.30am and as we arrived at the Meesden Village Hall a large group of members were already getting ready to leave. We went in and purchased cakes or bacon rolls (and in many cases both) before coming back out to enjoy them in the increasingly warm sunshine. The community cafe here is a delightful (and very moderately-priced) place to visit which has quickly become a firm favourite of the club.

Getting ready to set off from Meesden Village Hall

By the time we were ready to set off again it was approaching 12 noon. As usual, quite a few riders set off back to Cambridge leaving just David W, Conrad, Eva, Alex, Edmund and me to join Ian for the next stage of the ride to our lunch stop in Much Hadham.

Approaching Anstey

One advantage of having no afternoon tea stop is that it doesn't matter if you have lunch a bit late, and I was very pleased that instead of rushing directly to Much Hadham Ian had plotted a delightful loop via Buntingford and the lovely Westmill - Nasty - Dane End loop before turning back east once more.

Cherry Green: turning to Nasty and nice Great Munden

We crossed the old A10, and continued east to Barwick, where the ford is one of the widest and deeepest we regularly visit. It's a bit slimy but I was able to ride through without slipping over. Everyone else, however, decided that it was safer to take the footbridge.

Bridge over Barwick Ford

There were a lot of sports cyclists out today, no doubt as keen as we were to make the most of the last good day in the current spell of fine sunny weather. We also encountered dozens of sportive riders coming the other way, riding what I now know was the Hertfordshire 100.

A few minutes later we reached Much Hadham and stopped for lunch at Hopley's cafe. I'd been here once before and was looking forward to my second visit: this is a very pleasant cafe in a small nursery serving excellent light meals.

Waiting for lunch at Hopley's cafe in Much Hadham

After lunch it was time to return back north to Cambridge. I was briefly tempted to meet the afternoon ride for tea in Hare Street but that would have involved retracing our route from the morning so I stayed with Ian and the others for a very enjoyable and nicely-paced ride back though Little Hadham, Clavering, Arkesden, Catmere End and Coploe Hill. By now the morning chill had completely disappeared and it was now feeling pleasantly warm.

When we reached Ickleton I decided to separate from the group and put in a few extra miles. If I had stayed with the others my mileage for the day would have been 73 miles. However with my personal Eddington Number target in mind, whilst they continued straight on to Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords, I turned right towards Hinxton and followed the A1301 cycleway towards Sawston.

After a short pause for coffee at McDonalds at the A505 roundabout (which was interrupted by the roar of a Vulcan Bomber flying overhead) I turned onto the A505 cycleway to Abington. From there a short climb up to Balsham was followed by a long, fast, descent back down to Fulbourn. I continued on into Cambridge, calling at Brookside before heading home. I arrived home at 6.05pm having cycled 83 miles. My Eddington Number remains at 79 for now.

Vulcan over Sawston

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4 Oct: Sunday afternoon ride to Hare Street

Ray writes: I stepped in at the last minute to lead today's ride to Hare Street. It was a beautiful sunny day and warm enough for shorts and short sleeves when I set off. I arrived at Brookside to find Simon and a new rider, Susan, waiting on the bench. A few minutes later John E turned up, then Gina, making us 5 - not a great turn-out on such a nice day, but perhaps not helped by the lack of an advertised leader.

We took the usual route down Trumpington Road and onto the busway to Addenbrookes, then the DNA path as far as the railway station in Great Shelford. Next came Little Shelford and Newton; we were making a bee-line for the A505 crossing at Flint Cross, but this didn't stop us from taking a detour through Thriplow.

Shortly after crossing the A505, we started the long climb to Great Chishill. Susan had been worried about keeping up with the group but she was right on my tail at the top of the hill, where we stopped to wait for the others. From Great Chishill, we enjoyed the gently rolling lanes through Shaftenhoe End, Nuthamstead, and Anstey, arriving at the tea stop in Hare Street almost dead on 4pm, where we shared a pot of tea and a delicious plate of small cakes.

I think this was the first time this year I've ridden this route, and it was nice to rediscover these undulating wooded lanes. They are especially pretty with the autumn sunshine filtering through the leaves.

To make the most of the nice weather, we took a slightly longer route back to Cambridge, heading east through Ferneux Pelham, Stocking
Pelham and Berden before turning north for Clavering and Arksden. The temperature was dropping now and I stopped to put on a long-sleeved top, then we continued on minor roads through Duddenhoe End for the climb up to Elmdon.

Our last climb of the day was on the road between Elmdon and Ickleton, but we were rewarded with a fast descent into Ickleton. When I'm leading, I always take the route through Hinxton to Duxford - it's a mile farther than the direct road, but a much more pleasant ride.

By now the sun was setting and we were riding with lights. Gina left us at Whittlesford for home in Sawston, and Susan dropped off in
Little Shelford. It was 7.30pm when I got home to Arbury, having covered 58 miles (the round trip from Brookside was 54 miles). Ray Miller

Download this route (GPX).