Sunday, 28 June 2009

28 June: Day ride to Newmarket, Bury and Balsham

Today was expected to be hot but overcast with a risk of sporadic heavy showers. In the event it turned out to be hot, with periodic spells of sunshine, and dry. Leading the first stage of today's all-day ride was John Lumbers, who led half a dozen of us eastwards out of Cambridge taking the most direct route: Hills Road, Cherry Hinton Road and then Fulbourn Road to Fulbourn, which meant that we were very soon out in countryside on the way to Great Wilbraham. From there we continued to Little Wilbraham and the long road to Six Mile Bottom. There we turned right and set off up the long but gentle hill that leads past Wadlow Farm.

Half way up the hill we turned left, and John led us north past the peaceful Woodland Cemetery to Dullingham. From there we joined the B1061 for our final descent into Newmarket, which was fast and enjoyable. Our coffee stop at about 11.15am was at the National Horseracing Museum, where we met seven other members.

After coffee we split into two main groups. John turned back towards Cambridge with several others, whilst I led a group of six on to Bury St Edmunds. We left Newmarket along the Moulton Road, which is a long but pleasant climb with racecourses on both sides and fine views of the town behind us.

From Moulton we continued to Gazeley and Higham Upper Green before following a tiny lane to Barrow. From here the road leads directly to Bury. On the way we passed through the tiny village of Little Saxham, where I was very interested to see that the church there had a very striking Norman round tower.

When we reached Bury we headed straight for the Abbey Gardens, an attractive park with the abbey ruins in the centre. We wheeled our bikes into the park and settled down near the refreshment kiosk to eat our sandwiches.

After lunch the six of us split once more into two groups of three. Mike S led one group more or less directly to Balsham, whilst I led the remainder a more circuitous route. We headed south out of Bury towards Nowton and a meandering route that took us through Pinfold End and Mickey Green ending up eventually at Hartest. These lanes are always a favourite on club rides: quiet and intimate.

From Hartest we rode up the hill to the isolated hamlet of Someton which we inspected briefly (church nothing special) before descending again to Hawkedon. By now it was about 4.00pm and time to press on to tea so we stopped dawdling and continued through Dunston to Stradishall. Here we crossed the A143 and took a back-road diversion via Cock and End before returning to the A143. This was very quiet as we followed it for a mile or two past the two prisons, enjoying its exceptionally smooth surface. Soon we turned right towards Thurlow and we were back on tiny lanes once more.

Just beyond Thurlow, on the road to Carlton Green, we met the afternoon ride going in the opposite direction. "We're taking an extra loop" cried Jacob. From Carlton Green we took the road to West Wickham and the final descent and climb to Balsham, where we arrived at The Bell about ten minutes before the afternoon ride.

Also at tea was Mike S and several others who had gone there directly, making about fifteen in total. Another splendid tea and then a fast descent from Balsham back to Cambridge. Some people find the Balsham Road boring, but for me it is offset by the fact that even the level sections are fast. At Charterhouse Bridge over the A11 I reached 30mph and, even after the road levelled off, I was able my speed above 20mph all the way to Fulbourn. I arrived back in Cambridge at 6.40pm. On a hot day that was never so hot to be uncomfortable, my total mileage was 77 miles.

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Monday, 22 June 2009

21 June: Day ride (car assisted) from Easton on the Hill

Bob Billingham writes: We marked the longest day with a "car assisted" ride from Easton on the Hill, which is on the Northamptonshire/ South Lincolnshire border, with rides led by George Stevenson who used to ride with the club when he lived near Cambridge. There were seven of us on Sunday morning at 9 pm outside George's cottage at Easton: John and Greta, Doug, Adrian, Vic, me and of course George S. the leader. (The previous day I took the train to Ely and rode 55 miles to Thurlby Youth Hostel, where I met Doug, who had cycled over 90 miles from Stevenage).

Sunday turned out warm and sunny. George had worked out some good rides, which took us through the grounds of Burleigh House and around the best of South Lincolnshire's rolling countryside, using a combination of quiet lanes and off-road tracks. We stopped for a good lunch at a garden centre near Baston. During the afternoon we stopped at Castle Bytham, where there were street markets around the village and numerous other organised events. Eventually we arrived back at Easton on the Hill at about 4.40pm, where were served tea and cake by George's wife in their pleasant sun-trap garden. Bob Billingham

Sunday, 21 June 2009

21 June: Afternoon ride to Ashdon

It's midsummer already, and there were fourteen riders at Brookside to celebrate it with today's afternoon ride to Ashdon. It was warm, with the gentlest of breezes and quite bright despite the cloud: fine weather for cycling, and no surprise we had such a good turnout. As usual we had an impressive variety of bikes: Ian and I on folders, an assortment of hybrids, a couple of road bikes, several classic tourers including Pete on a brand new Dawes Galaxy as well as Mike on his recumbent, Stan on his three-speed and Simon on his "fixie".

Julia, taking the role of leader for the first time, led us south out of Cambridge along the Trumpington and Shelford roads to Great Shelford, where we made the familiar right turn to Little Shelford.

From Little Shelford we continued as usual to Whittlesford and Duxford (above). Here we turned left to Hinxton, where I sped ahead to take photos at the ford.

Gareth and Simon splashed through without difficulty (see photos), but Mike Sl on his recumbent slipped over on the notorously slimy streambed and tumbled into the water. No damage was apparent to rider or bicycle, but Mike retired home to dry off.

From Hinxton we continued to Ickleton and a long but gentle climb over the hill to Elmdon.

From there we had a fast descent to Wenden Lofts. Then left for a short distance before a further left turn and another rather steeper climb to Littlebury Green using a road we rarely use in this direction. From there we had a long, fast and enjoyable descent to Audley End house.

We continued into Saffron Walden and out again on the road to Ashdon, which we reached at about 4.15pm.

We had tea at the Ashdon Village Museum, where we met George, Mike St, John T and Steve. We purchased tea and home-made cake from the friendly local volunteers (I had a small pot of tea and an enormous slice of carrot cake for £2) which we enjoyed sitting outside in the late afternoon sunshine.

After tea Julia led the group back to Cambridge. At Bartlow a few riders continued straight on towards Balsham (and no doubt a fast sprint along the Balsham Road) whilst the majority turned left towards Linton and Abington.

As we rode along we began to spread out, so I suggested to the group that given the number of newcomers on the ride it would be nice if we stayed together. So I was slightly embarrased to realise, somewhere beyond Linton, that my group of four front-runners has become detached from the main group, which was nowhere to be seen. Deciding there was no point in waiting we continued, through Abington and over the A11 footbridge to Babraham, and finally through Sawston, Stapleford, Great Shepreth and the DNA path to Cambridge. After a very pleasant summer afternoon's cycling, I was back home at 6.15pm. Total mileage: 43 miles.

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21 June: Afternoon ride to Ashdon: more photos

Gareth Rees has sent some more photos of this ride. For the full story, see 21 June: Afternoon ride to Ashdon.

Just after the ford at Hinxton:

In the hills near Littlebury:

On the DNA path just south of Addenbrooke's:

Photos by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0

Sunday, 14 June 2009

14 June: Day ride to Waresley, Danish Camp and Gamlingay

Joseph Sugg writes: Today's ride was heading west. We started from Brookside at 9:00am. John Lumbers was our leader. There was a good turnout, with at least ten at the start, including two newish faces.

We headed out of Cambridge via Grange Road and along the Barton Road to Barton. We continued through the village along the the Barton Road until we reached the Wheatsheaf crossroads where we turned right to Eversden and Kingston. We passed a number of race marshalls along the way, who told us that the riders were just five minutes behind. We never saw them; perhaps we were going too fast!

After Kingston we headed through the fords at Bourn: one dry and one wet! From there we continued through Caxton and Gransden to Waresley, where we stopped at the Garden Centre for coffee. There we met Geoff and Vic and picked up Tony, Martin and Brian.

We continued past Gamlingay to Everton and through the woods to Sandy where we joined Sustrans route 51 to Bedford. We continued to Willington where we sat by the lock eating lunch and watching the boats passing through. We then continued on to the cafe at Danish Camp to have a very reasonably priced coffee. I even got ice in my water bottles at no extra cost!

After lunch we split into two groups. Greta took a group directly back to Cambridge via St Neots, leaving seven riders in my own group. We continued to Bedford country park where an event was being held for bike week. We stopped for a while to pick up some much-needed frame touch-up paint and admire some expensive bikes.

We left the park via its southern end and rode under the bypass to Cardington, where we passed the large Airship Hangers. These are very impressive and well worth seeing. Brian left us soon after and we continued past the Shuttleworth museum. Our route then took us past Broom and through Langford and over the A1 to Edworth. From here we headed to Sutton and Potton before reaching Gamlingay in good time for tea.

I was the sole day rider left at tea as the others went straight home. After tea we charged home along the quickest route. I did 15 miles in about 55 minutes. Total mileage: 73 miles. Joseph Sugg.

14 June: Afternoon ride to Gamlingay

A fine warm day brought out seven riders for today's afternoon ride. Despite the tea stop being well to the west of Cambridge, Bob intriguingly led us south out of Cambridge, to Addenbrooke's and the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we continued south through the Shelfords to Whittlesford and then by a pleasantly zig-zag route to Newton and Thriplow, where our direction swing round towards the west, first to Foxton (where we crossed the A10 at the level crossing) and then to Barrington. "Well, that's a devious way to avoid cyclng over Chapel Hill" remarked Simon.

It was warm and sunny, but still very comfortable for cycling with a slight crispness in the air keeping us cool as we rode along. It was only when we stopped that we noticed just how warm it was.

From Barrington we continued west to Orwell. Here, due to a slight misunderstanding on my part Simon and I separated from the main group, which crossed over the A603 and took an off-road route through some woodland on the edge of the Wimpole estate. Meanwhile I followed the road from Orwell to the main entrance to Wimpole, where we waited a few minutes for the main group to join us (see photos above and below).

Then through the grounds of Wimpole Hall itself to Croydon, where we climbed the very short Croydon Hill to East Hatley and Hatley St George. Somewhere along here Jacob led a breakaway party off-road, taking a short loop round the back of Hatley Park. Meanwhile the main party continued to Gamlingay, where we arrived at The Cock PH at about 4.45pm.

At tea we met George, Peter, Mike and a surprisingly large group from the day ride, most of whom didn't stay for tea. Despite this there were thirteen or fourteen at tea.

Afterwards we rode back directly to Cambridge via Longstowe, Toft (with the mandatory diversion via the church), Comberton and Barton. Total mileage: 46 miles.

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Monday, 8 June 2009

Bike week 2009: see us at the cycle fair

Next Saturday, 13th June we'll be at the Cycle Fair on Parker's Piece, part of the Cambridge Town, Gown and Country Show 2009.

The Bike Fair is organised by "Cycle Cambridge", to celebrate the start of Bike Week which runs from 13 - 21 June and Cambridge's "Cycling Town" status.

We'll be in the Cycle Fair marquee along with cycle traders and other information stalls. The event runs from 10am to 6pm and we hope to be there for most of that time (volunteers needed).

Other attractions will include:
  • BMX display team with children’s stunt workshops
  • Local and international bike retailers
  • Dr Bike
  • Cycle security team
  • Cycle orienteering competition - run by Outspoken
  • Competitions, bike retailers, free maps and bike goodies
Full bike week programme (pdf).