Sunday, 25 January 2009

25 Jan: Afternoon ride to Barton

It was a dull, damp day so there were only three of us at 2.15pm at the start point, Brookside in Cambridge.

Although it was dry when we set off it soon started to rain, and we headed down through Trumpington and the Shelfords to Whittlesford in steady drizzle. Somewhere north of Whittlesford I had a puncture, though this was quickly fixed. Then we continued to Duxford and Ickleton where we turned west along that long stright road that takes you to Ickleton Granges. By then the rain had stopped and it remained dry for the rest of the ride, though we had to ride through a succession of shallow floods (huge puddles).

Then we turned north (and a slight tailwind) via Chishill Grange, Fowlmere, Shepreth, Barrington (Chapel Hill) and Haslingfield to Barton, where we called in at Burwash Manor Farm (the appointed tea stop) just after 4.30pm. Although this was still open we decided not to stop and carried on home to Cambridge. I was home by 5pm. Distance: 29 miles.

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Sunday, 18 January 2009

18 Jan: Day ride to Malton and Gamlingay

Another Sunday day ride with Cambridge CTC. Today was yet another mild and sunny day, though rather more breezy than in previous weeks. Seven of us met at 9.30am at Brookside in Cambridge, from where our leader took us via the Shelfords, Whittlesford, Newton, Fowlmere and Shepreth to coffee at Malton Golf Club in the tiny hamlet of Malton, where we met another two club members. This was my first visit, and I am pleased to report that as a coffee stop it is entirely satisfactory, with coffee and a toasted teacake costing me £2.25.

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We didn't leave Malton until about 1145 so our leader modified his planned route to take us directly to Gamlingay via Croydon Hill and the Hatleys, where we met another two members at the Cock. Lunch here (again a first for me) was very nice: a pork roast and a pint of Abstention Ale cost me about £9.50.

After lunch I rode back to Cambidge, enjoying a tailwind most of the way. It was still sunny when I reached home just after 3pm. Distance: 46 miles.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

11 Jan: Day ride to the Thousand Guineas and Newmarket

As the weather forecasters predicted, a complete change in the weather arrived this morning: following a cold frost overnight, today was very mild and (in the morning) lovely and sunny.

We departed as usual from Brookside, Cambridge at 9.30am. Adrian led six of us (me, Mick, Ian, Julia, Peter D and Martin) east out of town along NCR 51 through Quy, Bottisham, Swaffhams Prior and Bulbeck, Reach and Burwell, before we stopped for coffee at the Little Chef at the "Thousand Guineas" service area where we met Vic and Geoff. This service area is actually on the A14 but we came in the back entrance and had no need to go anywhere near that busy road.

I had forgotten that Little Chefs still existed, so when we walked in it (and found it completely empty) it was interesting to discover that they are much the same as they have always been. I had scrambled egg on toast and a cafetiere coffee for just under £7.50.

After coffee Adrian led five of us to Newmarket via a circuitous but very nice route that took us through Snailwell, Chippenham, Red Lodge, Kentford and Moulton.

We had lunch at the The Golden Lion (JD Wetherspoon), where we found yet another two members. I had a steak and ale pie and a pint of Tiger for a mere £6.49. Astonishing value.

Then after lunch, with the sky clouding over, various people peeled off to go home by different routes, leaving Adrian leading me and Mick the official route home via Saxon Street, Stetchworth, Dullingham, Six Mile Bottom and Quy to Cambridge. I was Home by about 4.20pm. 55 miles in all.

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Sunday, 4 January 2009

4 Jan: Day ride to Barkway and Puckeridge

Today's all-day ride was quite a long one for the time of year, and I was looking forward to burning off some Christmas and New Year over-indulgence. So I was surprised to find that there were just three of us at Brookside: me, Geoff (the leader) and Bob B. We headed south via the Shelfords, Duxford, Chrishall Grange, Heydon, Great Chishill and Nuthampsted to coffee at Barkway Golf Club where we encountered Mike S, Mick C, Doug and Adrian. It was quite cold: probably only a degree or two above freezing, which made our toes and fingers glow for the first hour or so. However there was very little ice on the ground except along a few sunken lanes which, being constantly wet from water draining off the fields above, were a bit slushy. We passed rather more runners than usual along the way - obviously quite a few people had made a new year resolution to get more exercise.

After coffee Bob returned to Cambridge whilst the rest of us carried on together. I was feeling energetic and so went ahead via Great and Little Hormead, Furneaux Pelham and Braughing to Puckeridge and the comfortable and friendly Crown and Falcon. This is a pleasant pub serving good cheap food. Geoff and Mick arrived shortly after me. They had stopped to allow Mick to mend a puncture and then come by the more direct route, causing them to overtake Mike S, Doug and Adrian who came the same way as me and arrived a bit later.

After lunch we set off south to Standon (really a suburb of Puckeridge) and then crossed the A120 before turning east via Wellpond Green to Little Hadham. Then we turned north, back across the A120 to Stocking Pelham. Somewhere along the way Geoff and I noticed that we had dropped the others, who we presumed had had a mechanical problem of some kind. Attempts to contact Mike and Adrian by radio-telephone proved unsuccessful, and given that we didn't know how far back they were, we decided to carry on to Clavering, Arkesden, Catmere End, Ickleton and back to Cambridge.

I found the the ride back quite hard work. The sun never came out all day and as the light decreased the temperature fell again. By about 3.30pm I was beginning to get not only a bit cold but also rather more tired than usual, probably because this is my longest ride for a month or two. So I was very pleased to get back home just after 5pm and make myself a hot drink, with a very useful 65 miles on the clock.

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