Sunday, 21 May 2017

21 May: Sunday ride to Hare Street and Thaxted

Nigel writes: There was a feel of early summer today, with warm sunshine for the whole of the day. Warm enough for me to set off to Brookside with exposed arms and knees for the first time this year. And about time too, given that we're in the second half of May. When I arrived at Brookside I found Alex, Eva, Tom, Cheryl, Joseph, John P on his first ride with us, Andy and Sarah.

Brookside

Our leader today was Sarah, with Andy acting as co-leader. The first stage of today's ride would take us to one of our most distant coffee stops in the village of Hare Street. To get there they led us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, where we turned left to Haslingfield.

Being overtaken on Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

We climbed Chapel Hill before dropping back down to Barrington. On the hill we were overtaken by a group of faster cyclists, the first of many others cycling groups that we met during the morning.

Approaching Shepreth

Fowlmere

We continued to Shepreth, crossed the A10 to Fowlmere and continued south to Chrishill Grange. Here our first climb of the day begun, the long but very gentle climb to Chrishall. Once at the top we maintained our elevation through Heydon, climbing very slightly to reach Great Chishill, the highest village in Cambridgeshire.

Great Chishill

There were so many other cyclists around in Great Chishill that it was clear that there was some kind of event going on. This was the Paul Simon Homes Road Race, which was based at the Village Hall.

We ignored the marshalls and continued straight across at the crossroads to drop down onto the glorious roller-coaster that took us down to Shafenhoe End. There we turned left for Nuthampstead.

Between Shaftenhoe End and Nuthampstead

Between Shaftenhoe End and Nuthampstead

Between Shaftenhoe End and Nuthampstead

We continued through Nuthampstead to Anstey and on via Great Hormead to Hare Street. Along the way we encountered riders on another cycling event. This was clearly a different event: unlike the riders earlier these ones didn't display race numbers on their bikes, and they seemed a bit slower. I stopped to ask a marshall. This was a charity bike ride for Isabel Hospice, with a choice of 50km or 100km rides (ha!)

We stopped for coffee at the March Hare cafe. It was very busy, with several large groups of cyclists already there. Although there was plenty of space to sit, and the staff seemed to be working as quickly as they could, they were clearly a bit overwhelmed and some of us had to wait quite a long time for our refreshments.

Coffee at the Match Hare Cafe, Hare Street

Afterwards we set off again, this time heading east towards our lunch stop in Thaxted.

Between Furneaux Pelham and Manuden

We reached Thaxted at about 1.30pm, which I thought perfectly reasonable on a two-stop ride. We stopped for lunch at Parrishes Restaurant. It was very quiet when we went in. They seemed pleased to see us, and directed us to the large table that Sarah had reserved for us earlier. Adrian was already installed and eating his lunch.

Lunch at Parrishes Restaurant, Thaxted

Thaxted

After lunch we set off back north to Cambridge. We followed the B184 to Saffron Walden, where the ride appeared to disperse. Andy and Sarah had invited us all to tea at their house in Great Chesterford, but when I reached it I found that only John and I had taken up the offer. After a very pleasant cup of tea and slice of cake John and I continued back to Cambridge via Ickleton, Hinxton and Whittlesford.

Thaxted

I arrived back in Cambridge just after 5pm, having cycled 118 km (73 miles).
Nigel Deakin



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Thursday, 18 May 2017

18 May: Thursday ride to Newmarket and West Stow

Edward writes: When we met in Hauxton the weather was set fair for us. After yesterday's very welcome deluge, today we enjoyed very calm conditions and there being almost no wind made for almost ideal riding conditions. Back in the city Rupert was in charge of a group of nine whilst back in Hauxton Susan assumed command of thirteen for our ride out to Newmarket for coffee and then on to West Stowe for our lunch break. Before we left we had a chance to welcome Sarah who was making her debut on a Thursday having previously been out on a Sunday afternoon ride.

Hauxton

Susan promised us that the ride to Newmarket would be 26 miles and a further 14 miles to West Stowe. Soon after leaving Hauxton we ran into the familiar Great Shelford problem of a lengthy wait at the level crossing.

Waiting for a train in Shelford

After the crossing it was the DNA path and a short diversion through the Ninewells housing development before beginning the climb from Worts Causeway over the Gogs into Fulbourn. This was soon followed by the Wilbrahams, Bottisham and both the Swaffhams. This was a familiar route to most of us as we made for Reach, Burwell and Exning and entering Newmarket by way of Hamilton Road which hosts many of the horse racing facilities. We arrived at the Horse Racing Museum at about 11.50 am to find that the city group had fled and flown.

Newmarket

Newmarket

We had coffee booked in the Tack Room but it seems that the Tack Room and the little kiosk outside are part of the same organisation so it doesn’t matter where you buy your coffee. As we were a bit late in arriving Susan cracked the whip and we were on the road again at 12.40 and this took us on the road to Moulton which starts with a long climb out of Newmarket going past the Gallops.

Moulton to Gazeley

Moulton to Gazeley

Once at the top we were able to appreciate the fabulous countryside and as we passed the hedgerows the scent of the mayflower was very strong. Not only that some of the wild flowers are starting to show in the grass verges, at least those that the local council hasn't put a mower through.


We climbed past the pack horse bridge to Gazeley where we turned and went through Needham Street and under the A14 near Kentford. We now entered tree-lined roads which gave us welcome protection from the sun and more pleasant country lanes brought us to Lackford and two or three more miles we arrived at West Stowe for our lunch break where we finally caught up with those city slickers already enjoying their lunch.

West Stow

Most of the Hauxton group had sandwiches and sat outside on the benches. Soon after 2 pm both groups set off within a few minutes of each other with Susan’s group heading east before turning south going via Flempton and Risby where we crossed the A14. Although the breeze was against us it was so slight it was barely noticeable which was very different to recent rides when the wind has seemed to have blown continuously, and cold with it.


We continued to make good progress through Little Saxham, Barrow, Dalham, Ashley all the way down to Dullingham.

Ashley

After we climbed out of Dullingham on the way to West Wratting we were treated to the sight of a Barn Owl just ahead of us - what a treat. In fact this was about the time the weather started to change as some dark clouds started to appear in from of us and it became a question of would we make it home before it rained. As we left Balsham on the way down to Hildersham the first spots of rain started to fall although it was so light it hardly mattered. We finished our ride through Abington, Babraham, Sawston and Stapleford and by this time the rain was a bit heavier. The ride finished in Hauxton at 5.20 pm and those doing the full circuit would have cycled a very pleasant 78 miles. Our thanks to Rupert and from those who started from Hauxton a special thanks to Susan as she had worked hard in devising today's ride and was always mindful of everybody’s position in the group. Edward Elmer



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Sunday, 14 May 2017

14 May: Sunday afternoon ride to Wicken

David S writes: After a difficult week for me ("Two funerals and a ...") I woke up on a boat on the River Orwell on Sunday morning to rain showers and a looming problem about getting back in time to lead the ride! Fortunately everything worked out (just) and I met Neil S, Ray M, and two new Sunday afternoon riders Jeff B and Sara H (both experienced and fit riders). With only one navigation mistake, we got quickly out of Cambridge to Chery Hinton and Fulbourn and, thanks to a flat route and a partial tailwind we headed through Wilbrahams and Upware to Wicken at an average of 13mph.

Mark, Lali, Jeff, Sara, Ray, Neil

The Methodist Chapel provided a delicious tea (my favourite tea stop!) where we were joined by Lalita and Mark, who had arrived late at Brookside and followed us to Wicken. As we were leaving, the all-day ride arrived and John ? took a photo of all seven of us (to follow?). Strong headwind slowed us down on the return ride, but with warm sunshine and beautiful views, we forgave everything as we cycled through Burwell, Swaffhams, Quy (NCN 51). The Leader then appointed Ray as Acting Deputy Leader and shamefully deserted his lovely team! They returned along the river, while he cycled home alone along Airport Way.

A perfect Spring ride! David Secher



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Thursday, 11 May 2017

11 May: Thursday ride to St Neots and Kimbolton

Edward writes: The much-longed-for change in the weather finally arrived today. After weeks of the wind being in the north-east it had finally shifted to a more pleasant south easterly direction. As often happens the change is quite sudden and with it came a big rise in humidity. With blue skies and sun it also brought a change in attire with many getting into shorts for the first time this year. Those still wearing longs found it a bit hot to say the least. Out at Haslingfield there were thirteen riders and back in the city Dr John led his group for our long ride out to Kimbolton by way of St Neots.

Preparing to leave Haslingfield

Mindful that this would be one of our longer rides, from Haslingfield we took a direct route out to St Neots which meant Harlton, the Eversdens, Kingston and Bourn. All this came with helpful assistance from the following wind. We took a short break in Bourn to allow for some "stripping off" and some much needed water.

Bourn

Caxton

Then it was straight through to St Neots passing Caxton, Great Gransden and Abbotsley before arriving in St Neots a minute or two after 11am and found four or five who had cycled out independently. Five minutes later the city group arrived swelling the numbers at coffee to about thirty. The Ambiance Cafe had no trouble dealing with all the tea, coffee and cakes they had to serve.

Coffee at St Neots

After coffee both groups opted to follow John's route to Kimbolton and we left the cafe in two groups but not before many chose to head for home. With roughly seven or eight in each group we headed west to Duloe before turning south to make for Colesden. We were now into the best part of our ride; the countryside was at its best, with blossom everywhere and the occasional sounds of skylarks. And the mere fact that the sun was shining and it was warm made all the difference.

A little after Colesden we turned north, still being helped by the following wind, and went through Colmworth and onto Little Staughton. Pertenhall came next and Kimbolton was almost in sight but first we had to deal with Averil's puncture, and where was Mike when we needed him? But we managed and Mike's tuition must have rubbed off as we were soon on our way again enabling us to arrive in Kimbolton at about 1.15pm after 35 miles.

Lunch followed the usual pattern with about eight going into Oliver's for their meal and a similar number eating their sandwiches in the church cemetery!

We all met again in Oliver’s for tea ready to start the return journey at 2.30pm. Both groups started out by travelling east along the B645 as far as the turning for Dillington which, after a couple of steep climbs, took us up to Perry beside Grafham Water.

Now on the B661 we headed to Buckden and the parting of the ways with John's group going home by way of Huntingdon, the Hemingfords and the busway while the South Cambs group opted for the Offords (no wait at the level crossing) and then Graveley.

Graveley

The journey home soon became a repeat of the outward ride and we arrived back in Haslingfield at 5pm, 66 miles after leaving it in the morning. Edward Elmer



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