Sunday, 27 September 2009

27 Sept: Cambridge 100km Randonee

The Cambridge 100km Randonee is CTC Cambridge's contribution to the world of Audax cycling, a 100km circular ride with route cards, periodic control points and a (very generous) time limit. Compared with last month's Mildenhall 100km Audax this is a boutique affair, with about forty riders this year, and just two from CTC Cambridge, myself and Gareth.

The weather for today's ride can only be described as fabulous. Cool at the start, but quickly becoming very warm, with clear blue skies and constant sunshine for the whole ride. A gentle a breeze, but nothing too demanding.

The start (and end) point for the ride was Hauxton Village Hall, about five miles out of Cambridge. Simon Proven, today's organiser, waved us off at 10am and we snaked out way towards Little Shelford in a long, fast, pelaton.

A right turn in the village took us under the motorway and across to the B1368, which we followed south for about eleven miles. This took us through Newton, Fowlmere and Flint Cross before we entered Hertfordshire and climbed up to Barley and Barkway, where we turned right to Reed. I normally find the B1368 a bit dull, so it's probably best taken at a fast pace, and a fast pace was how we took it. Inevitably the ride spread out along the road as the faster riders disappeared into the distance but I think Gareth and I were still somewhere in the middle by the time we arrived at Reed, where Peter, George and Tina were staffing our first control point outside the Silver Ball cafe.

We were soon on our way again, south-west to Sandon and then north-west towards the A505. With an elevation of about 500 feet our route across this chalky upland was the highest part of the whole ride. After crossing the A505 we continued to Ashwell. For the remainder of the ride the landscape would be mostly flat. Heading north now, we entered Bedfordshire and continued to Gamlingay. Here we passed a marshall helping riders on today's Oxford to Cambridge bike ride, who were crossing our route. From Gamlingay we carried on to Waresley, where Gareth and I stopped for lunch at the garden centre. No-one else from the ride was here, but we met a couple of local CTC members and the four of us had a long, enjoyable and, in my case, rather large lunch sitting outside in the warm sunshine.

As we finished lunch we looked at our watches and were slightly alarmed that we had stopped for 75 minutes, rather longer than we had planned. But we reminded ourselves that this was not a race and we were well within the time limits of the ride.

We continued north through Croxton to Graveley, where we stopped at our second control point. This was staffed by Mike and Ian, who informed us that there were only a few riders left behind us. I drank several cups of lemon squash but (because of that large lunch) declined the complimentary chelsea bun.

By now we were well past the half-way point of the ride, and both Gareth and I were slowing down. Fortunately the remainder of the ride was straighforward and familiar; through Hilton to Fenstanton (the northern extremety of the ride) and then south-east to Knapwell and Bourn.

Just after Bourn we found ourselves following the route taken by the Oxford to Cambridge ride. As I overtook one rider I asked him what time he had started: 7.15am, 80 miles ago, was the reply.

Nigel and Gareth approach the Graveley control point (photo: Ian Driver).

The B1046 from Bourn normally takes us back home to Cambridge. But today our destination was Hauxton, so we turned right to Kingston and followed a route through the Eversdens and Harlton to Haslingfield and Harston, where a short section along the A10 brought us back to Hauxton Village Hall just before 4pm.

I handed in my route card and sat down to drink a couple of cups of tea (declining yet another offer of a chelsea bun). I was ready to ride home now, but Gareth was keen on a few more miles and rode off towards the club tea in Littlington. I rode back to Cambridge, where I arrived home (with the sun still shining brightly) at 4.45pm. Mileage today was 67 miles on the offical ride, but including the ride from Cambridge and back my total distance was 77 miles.

Although there were only two CTC Cambridge members on the ride, many more were helping out at the start and staffing the control points. Grateful thanks are due, then, to Simon Proven, event organiser, and half a dozen other club members who gave up the opportunity to go out cycling on a gorgeous sunny day to help.

View this GPS track on a larger map

1 comment:

  1. Yes, thanks to Simon and Mike for organizing a very smooth operation, to Ian for making tea and running the control at Graveley, and to Peter, George and Tina for running the control at Reed.

    On the way back from the CTC tea at about 18:30, we met the last two riders on the audax at the junction of the A603 and the road to Haslingfield. They were well out of time, but Simon kept reopened the finishing control to stamp their cards. Better luck next time.

    I had 104 miles for the day.