Sunday, 7 February 2016

7 Feb: Sunday afternoon ride to Waresley

John writes: Today’s problem was a south-westerly gale! On 10th May last year a too-ambitious route for the conditions meant we reached Waresley after the Garden Centre had closed. To avoid a repeat mistake I chose a direct route. We took the cycle/foot path to Coton followed by the shared path beside the A1303. This brought us to Hardwick. From there we descended to Toft, having to pedal hard despite the fact that we were going downhill.

The start at Brookside

From Toft the quiet and sheltered Church Lane led us to Bourn and the equally-sheltered route through Caxton End which brought us onto the road to Bourn Mill, Caxton and Great Gransden.

Despite the strong headwind we reached the Garden Centre seven minutes ahead of schedule. Disappointingly all the fruit scones had been sold (just like at St Ives two weeks ago!).

Tea at Waresley Park Garden Centre

After an enjoyable 40 minutes we set off into the wind again towards Gamlingay. From there we enjoyed a pleasant ride home via the Hatleys, Croydon Hill, Wimpole Park, Orwell and Chapel Hill with a following breeze.

We reached Cambridge at 5:30 after an approximately 40 mile ride. John Ferguson

7 Feb: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Hinxworth

Nigel writes: Today was yet another rather mild day in what has been a remarkably mild winter so far, though we quickly discovered that the warmth of the early morning sunshine was completely offset by a cold southerly wind which blew into our faces for most of the morning. Nevertheless, it was not a bad day for a bike ride and when I arrived at Brookside I was joined by Edmund, Tom, Rupert, Ian W, Seb and Alex our leader.

Lammas land, Newnham

We set off west from Brookside, along The Fen Causeway and across Lammas Land to Barton Road. However Alex declared that he was bored with the Barton Road cycleway and so when we reached the junction with Grange Road we turned north and picked up the Coton cycleway for our route out of town.

On the Coton cycleway

After Coton we climbed Madingley Hill using the cycleway alongside the A1303 and, when we reached the top, turned onto the old St Neot's Road.

Madingley Hill

The old St Neot's Road used to be the A45 to Birmingham, and although it is now much quieter and used mainly by local traffic it visually still has a bit of a "main road" feel. Nevertheless it's a very useful route and today we followed it to Hardwick (where a pause for Tom to fix a puncture allowed us a brief rest from the wind) and on as far as the turn to Bourn. There we said goodbye to Ian and headed south into Bourn before turning west once more onto the road to Caxton.

Before we had set off, Alex had shown us his latest gadget: a tiny GoPro camera which he had mounted on his rear rack pointing backwards, and which automatically took a photo every thirty seconds.

On the Caxton Road (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

When Alex got back home he discovered that a bungee cord had obscured part of the frame and he could only use a small part of the image. Nevertheless it provides an interesting camera position and should give us some good photos in the future. (Photo above, more photos below).

Between Great Garsden and Waresley

We continued from Caxton to Great Gransden where we turned onto the rather nice lane that leads to Waresley.

Approaching Waresley (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

Between Great Garsden and Waresley

We reached Waresley at about 11am. After 90 minutes cycling into the wind we were ready for a break, but today we were not due to visit the garden centre here. Instead we joined the B1040, enduring the full force of the southerly wind for the final two or three miles to Gamlingay and our coffee stop at Woodview Farm Cafe.

Breakfast in Gamlingay

Already in the cafe was Adrian, and a few minutes later we were joined by Conrad and by Mike. Although the cafe serves a good selection of cake, most of us were in the mood to order from the extensive breakfast menu instead.

After about half an hour we were ready to set off once more, with Alex, Edmund, Seb, Adrian, Mike, Seb, Conrad and me carrying on to lunch in Hinxworth, leaving Rupert and Tom to enjoy a wind-assisted return to Cambridge.

Cockayne Hill

We continued south along the B1040 to Potton and turned east towards Cockayne Hatley and Wrestlingworth. This gave us the opportunity for a brief respote from the wind and a lovely wind-assisted ascent of Cockayne Hill.

Cockayne Hill

Cockayne Hill (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

Wrestlingworth was followed by Eyeworth where we turned onto a minor road towards Ashwell. I remember this as a lovely quiet lane, but today it was another slog into the wind and its delights were rather lost on us. But apart from the wind, it wasn't a bad day: dry, mild and bright, and in any case we didn't have far to go before we arrived at Hinxworth and, a few minutes after that, at Farrowby Farm where we stopped for lunch.

Lunch at Farrowby Farm, Hinxworth (Photo: Seb Cosnefroy)

After lunch at Farrowby Farm, Hinxworth

Setting off from Farrowby Farm

After lunch we set off back east towards Cambridge. At last we had the wind behind us, and our speed increased markedly: instead of plodding along at 10-12 mph we were sailing along at up to 20mph. We returned to Ashwell and then took a direct route east via Steeple Morden, Litlington, Bassingbourn and Kneesworth.

Northfield Road, Ashwell (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

We crossed the A1198 and continued eastwards to Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington. As we cycled through Barrington (the longest green in England, Alex reported) Alex announced that after climbing Chapel Hill to Haslingfield, instead of our usual and oh-so-boring route via Barton he would be turning right for Harston and the A10. I countered with an alternative proposition, which to turn right in Barrington to join the A10 at Foxton. This would allow us to try out the newly-opened cycleway along the A10 between Foxton and Harston. It would also allow us to skip Chapel Hill, not that this was my purpose, oh no...

The new Foxton-Harston cycleway along the A10

The new cycleway was wide, smooth and straightforward, and is extremely welcome. Currently it ends just south of Harston and the route through Harston remains a choice of a poor-quality pavement cycleway or a rather unpleasant main road. Fortunately it was Sunday afternoon and traffic was light, and we were able to remain on the road without any unpleasant moments or close passes. Just north of Harston we left the A10, completing our journey into Cambridge by following the track across Trumpington meadows and cycleway along the the guided busway. I arrived home at 4pm, having cycled 58 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 4 February 2016

4 Feb: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Newmarket

Edward writes: This Thursday was another chance to try a dual start ride with Alex once again volunteering to lead from Brookside and Rupert to lead from Hauxton. This Thursday our ride included the always popular Old Red Lion in Horseheath and then on to the Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket. The weather in the morning wasn’t great, with intermittent drizzle, but at least it wasn’t cold.

Fourteen riders assembled at Greta’s house and it was nice to see her looking so well and tanned after her spell away. With fourteen we left Hauxton in two groups and went out to Whittlesford where we picked up the cycleway into Sawston and subsequently the cycleway to Babraham.

On the Sawston Cycleway

Rather than go the farm route from Babraham to Little Abington, Rupert chose the A505 cycleway to Great Abington and out to the A1307 at Hildersham.


Unfortunately Rupert’s intended route from Hildersham to Linton was thwarted by a road closure so instead we climbed up to Balsham which was followed by West Wickham and Streetley End and arrived in Horseheath after seventeen miles at a perfect 11 am.

Hildersham to Balsham

We stopped for coffee at The Old Red Lion. As was to be expected, with those who rode out independently and the arrival of the group from Brookside, we more or less took over the all the available space. As usual we were treated to teas and coffee and, of course, a variety of goodies; always very good here.

Balsham to West Wickham

After coffee the plan was for Alex to lead a group, not necessarily those who came out with him, on a shorter fifteen mile route to Newmarket via Dullingham and Rupert to lead his group on an eighteen mile circuit via Kirtling and Saxon Street. Rupert’s group retraced its steps back to West Wickham and with the wind behind us made our way over Wratting Common. Just before Carlton we turned off for the ride over to Little Thurlow but a smaller sub group carried on to Carlton and went top Newmarket via Burrough Green and Dullingham.

Carlton to Little Thurlow

Rupert’s group climbed up to Great Bradley and on to the lovely quiet roads which prevail in this area. Despite being hit by the occasional drizzle the temperature in fact had started to rise and it was all very pleasant as we came first to Kirtling and soon after Saxon Street.

Near Kirtling

We are now used to seeing all the early daffodils but we now have so many trees on early blossom and if only the sun could have made an appearance how much nicer it would have looked.

Saxon Street

After Saxon Street it was more or less downhill all the way to Newmarket where we arrived at 1pm to find once again we had overwhelmed the museum cafe. Fortunately they had been forewarned of our arrival, if not such a large number, but they still gave us their friendly service and they dealt with it all very well.

At 2pm we had all eaten and it was time to leave; Alex had taken his group out at 1.30 pm, there being no chance of the two groups combining. We went out onto the high street so that we could get on the road for Exning. Exning is about a mile and half from Newmarket and once there we took the B1103 up to Burwell while another sub group chose the less busy Heath Road but we were all able to meet again on the way to Reach.


Next came Swaffham Prior, Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham and the cycleway alongside the A1303 up to Stow-cum Quy.

Swaffham Bulbeck to Bottisham

Just beyond Quy, as we approached the underpass of the A14, we came across Adrian helping David with a puncture (where did they come from?), and this gave an opportunity for Mike to offer his usual assistance. While we were there we saw an Easyjet low overhead on the approach to the airport and we wondered if it could be Charlie in the pilot’s seat (probably not, he's probably somewhere much more exotic).

Repairs by the A14

When all was fixed we carried on to Airport Way where Rupert declared the ride over, leaving those for Cambridge and those for South Cambridge to go their separate ways. From Hauxton to here was 50 miles and a special word of thanks to Rupert who kept himself in sight all the time and even at times rode with the peloton. Edward Elmer

Alex adds: Eight of us set off from the Brookside start this morning: David T, John E, John R, Li, Mia, Sheila, 'Vin and me. We left the city via Hills road and then turned on to Worts Causeway for the climb over Gogs (where we met John S). We then took the familiar route through the Wilbrahams and on to Six Mile Bottom. Here instead of going straight on as usual I took us south west along the London Road for a little while, turning off to climb up to West Wratting. To my surprise, I'd never ridden this way before – it's a nice ascent onto the Newmarket ridge.

By the time we got to West Wratting it had started to drizzle heavily, and when we arrived in Horseheath we were quite damp through. Rupert's group had got there several minutes earlier and were looking both dry and full of cake. As usual Horseheath offered us sweet delights and before long we were re-fuelled and ready to head off again into the drizzle. Rupert offered an 18 mile route to lunch; I a 15 mile one.

I led my group back up to West Wratting and then we rode along the quiet lanes past the Woodland Cemetery towards Dullingham. The damp weather had cleared now and some patches of blue sky and sun cheered the landscape up and made for pleasant cycling.

We rode east beyond Dullingham and entered Newmarket on the Woodditton Road, arriving in good time and (as expected) well before Rupert's group.

Most of the city start cyclists could get away from lunch promptly and for the ride back to Cambridge I took a fairly direct route through Exning, Burwell, the Swaffhams and Quy, taking us back into Cambridge alongside the Newmarket Road.

When I arrived back home I found I had ridden 87km (54 miles). My metric Eddington number is now 82. Alex Brown.

Photos by Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Rides in Jan and Feb

We've now published our rides lists for January and February.

On Sundays we have two rides. An all-day ride departs at 9.30am, stops for coffee and lunch and then returns to Cambridge. An afternoon ride departs at 1pm, stops for tea at 3pm, and then returns. Both rides will aim to get back before dark but please always bring lights. (more)