Sunday, 25 October 2009

25 Oct: Afternoon ride to Fowlmere

The Sunday afternoon rides continue to go from strength to strength, with fourteen riders assembling at Brookside for today's ride to Fowlmere, despite today being the day the clocks went back one hour. Julia led us through the crowded streets of the City Centre, over Garret Hostel Bridge and west out of the city to Coton.

Although the temperature was very mild, we were cycling into a stiff, blustery wind which made our progress more strenuous than usual. As we left the city it started to rain, quite heavily, but it was just a quick ten minute shower, after which the sun came out and it remained dry for the remainder of the ride. The headwind remained, however.

At Coton we turned south towards the A603 and picked up the cycleway to Barton. Somewhere along the way Julia stopped to take her jacket off, leaving her at the back of a long line of cyclists. When we reached the Comberton turn the group, not realising the leader was behind it, carried on along the main road, despite shouts and gesticulations from the rear that this was the wrong way. I sped ahead myself and called on the group to turn back. We retreated and took the road to Comberton instead.

After Comberton (above) we continued to Toft before taking the turn to Kingston. Our new direction meant a stiff headwind was replaced by a stiff sidewind, and both Tina and I were almost blown off the road as a result.

After passing through Kingston (above) we continued on to the Eversdens and Harlton, the wind now properly behind us at last. When we reached Haslingfield we climbed Chapel Hill and as we descended into Barrington enjoyed superb views of the countryside in the late afternoon sun.

From Barrington we continued to Shepreth. For the second time the group was ahead of the leader, with me near the front. At Shepreth I took the turn towards Fowlmere; only when we waited at the A10 crossing did Julia catch up and tell me she had planned to turn right in Shepreth and take in an extra loop. Bit it was too late to turn back now and we continued slowly into Fowlmere, arriving at the Queen's Head slightly early at about 4.20pm.

At tea we met two more from the day ride and three who had ridden directly, making a total of nineteen at tea. We had booked for twelve, and unfortunately the pub was (not unreasonably) unable to provide extra food and drink with no notice, so we shared what food there was.

After tea we switched on on our lights and road back to Cambridge. We followed the B1368 through Newton before taking the right turn to Little Shelford. With the wind fully behind us now we made rapid progress. At Great Shelford we took the DNA path to Addenbrookes and arrived back in the city centre at about 5.50pm, after riding a distance of 32 miles.

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Sunday, 18 October 2009

18 Oct: Afternoon ride to Balsham

On this cool but sunny autumn day, fifteen riders turned out at Brookside for this afternoon's ride to Balsham.

Richard Broomfield had the task of leading this large group today, and led us carefully south through Trumpington to Great Shelford where we turned right to Little Shelford and Whittlesford, forming a long snake as we spread out along the road.

After passing through Duxford and Ickleton we climbed Coploe Hill (above) before stopping to rest at the top and wait for everyone to arrive (below).

We then dropped down the other side and turned east (below) towards Littlebury.

This involved another climb followed by a fast descent into Littlebury. From here a further climb and another descent down Windmill Hill took us into Saffron Walden.

Richard had originally intended to follow the B1052 through Little Walden to Linton but we were ahead of time and so decided to take the longer but quieter road to Ashdon. This is a gentle but long climb and the group once more became spread out.

At Ashdon we continued north to Bartlow. By now the sun was getting low but still shining brightly, casting dappled shadows across the road as we rode through some woodland.

North of Bartlow we crossed the A1307 and made out final ascent to Balsham, where we stopped at the Bell for tea. George, Peter, David and Steve were waiting for us, having travelled there directly. After a few minutes Adrian arrived with Mike S, Mike K and Tom from the day ride, making a total of 23 for tea. Despite having booked for half this number we were well catered for and there seemed to be plenty of sandwiches and cakes.

After tea we all returned to Cambridge, with the sun low in the sky but still shining. This is essentially downhill, and we split up into groups of various speeds, with Richard making sure no-one was left behind. I was back home in Cambridge by 5.55pm. It was still daylight: probably the last time this year I will return home without needing lights. After a fine autumn ride, the mileage was 37 miles.

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Notice of AGM

Our AGM will be held on Sunday 1st November at 5.00pm at Hauxton Village Hall, preceded by tea at 4.30pm. All members are invited.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

13 Oct: Senior Cyclists' ride to Saffron Walden

Peter Rowell writes: Starting from the Park & Ride at Trumpington we proceeded to Ashdon via Hauxton, Shelfords, Sawston, and Abington, were we stopped for coffee.

Unfortunately we could find no seats in Abington so had to sit on the roadside to drink our coffee. We carried on through Linton and Bartlow to Ashdon, to be greeted by "We've got the builders in and can't do any meals". We carried on to Saffron Walden, meeting Vic coming into Ashdon from that direction. We then all went to The Temeraire for lunch. On leaving The Temeraire we were asked if we had a good lunch, by the chap from The Rose & Crown at Ashdon, who was walking his dog down the hill in Saffron Walden. Returned to Cambridge via Coploe Hill. Peter Rowell.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

11 Oct: Afternoon ride to Waresley

Gareth Rees writes: It was a cool and overcast afternoon, with autumn well and truly underway: the harvest is in, the fields are ploughed and bare, and leaves are falling from the trees. There were eight riders at Brookside, plus Phil, who was about ten minutes late and who chased us as far as Longstowe before giving up and making his own way to tea.

We headed out via Barton Road, Haslingfield, and then onto a route we rarely take, through Harlton, the Eversdens, over the hill to Kingston, and up to Longstowe. A strong westerly wind made the exposed section west of Longstowe a bit of a slog, making us glad when we dropped down to Gamlingay. The air was fantastically clear, with, I think, the start of the Chiltern hills visible on the horizon beyond Biggleswade.

From Gamlingay we headed northwest on a roller-coaster of a road over Tetworth Hill (above) and Lily Hill (below) to Waresley, arriving at about 16:20. Which was just as well, since they stopped serving at 16:30. Something to note for future visits.

The return journey via Great Gransden, Caxton, Bourn and Toft, was much quicker, with a strong tailwind, and we were back in Cambridge by 18:00, having done just over 40 miles. Gareth Rees

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

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

November and December Rides Lists

The rides lists for November and December are now available.

A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton consultation exhibitions

Mike Stapleton. CTC Cambridge Area Right to Ride Co-ordinator, writes:

The Highways Agency has supplied me with the outline planning documents for the A14 improvements.

There are about 50 large drawings showing the changes to existing infrastructure and the new roads that are to be built. I will make these available to anyone who is interested. They show some important details which the Right to Ride Group will address during the consultation period. One of the details that appears on these drawings is that the cycleway that was originally promised between the Dry Drayton turn and Lolworth appears to have been removed from the plans. Furthermore the provisions for cyclists at the Dry Drayton turn are unsatisfactory. There may well be other parts of the design that we should consider and possibly raise official objections. This is a huge consultation and it would be very easy to miss important details which we might be able to get changed at this stage.

There are exhibitions in Cambridge and Huntingdon as follows:

Huntingdon Racecourse Brampton, Huntingdon, PE28 4NL

Friday October 9 from 2pm to 8pm
Saturday October 10 from 10am to 8pm
Sunday October 11 from 10am to 6pm
Monday October 12 from 10am to 8pm

University Arms Hotel, Regents Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AD

Thursday October 15 - Saturday 17 October from 10am to 8pm
Sunday October 18 from 10am to 6pm

Please try to attend one of these. Please direct your comments to me or one of the Right to Ride team.

This is highly important as it will have a major affect on cycling between Cambridge and Huntingdon in the future.

I intend to attend the exhibition on Friday 16th October.

Mike Stapleton. Cambridge Area Right to Ride Co-ordinator.

Monday, 5 October 2009

4 Oct: Day ride to Newmarket, Lackford Lakes and Burwell

Mike Stapleton writes: Today's all-day ride was only supported by three riders, including a new rider who had previously tried riding with the Town and County C.C. and found them a bit fast.

In spite of the low numbers we had an excellent ride out to Lackford Lakes. We went out via the railway station and the Tins path to Cherry Hinton. The Tins path is much improved but is still narrow in places. The lake beside the path looked very nice in the Sunshine.

We carried on following the traditional route via Reach and Burwell to Newmarket. At Newmarket we stopped for coffee at the Horse Racing Museum, which has an excellent cafe, decorated with a large number of racing scenes painted on the walls.

After elevenses we escaped from the traffic in Newmarket and climbed the hill over the gallops to Moulton. The views over the hills in this area are fantastic. To make it even better we had a following wind. We soon passed through Kentford and headed over the low hills to Lackford.

This was the first time the club had been to Lackford Lakes. This is a nature reserve created from gravel workings besides the River Lark, a few miles north-west of Bury St Edminds. There are quite a number of lakes here that are invisible from the road. They are used partly as a bird reserve and partly for leisure. There is a visitor centre which doubles as a high class bird hide. It has limited catering, with tea, coffee and a few cakes available.

The staff are all volunteers and are really keen on promoting the area. The site had good cycle parking and benches where we could eat sandwiches. Cyclists are very welcome. There are a number of walks between the lakes which were the result of gravel excavations over the last forty years. There are lots of hides and one of the lakes has a sailing club. The walks are great with large boards explaining the site.

After lunch Averil and I headed west via Icklington and Tuddenham using a little road I've never tried before which was really quiet. Then we took the usual road through Fordham to Burwell where we met the huge afternoon ride. We had a really good day and would recommend the Lakes for a further ride. Mike Stapleton

Sunday, 4 October 2009

4 Oct: Afternoon ride to Burwell

Today was a bright autumn day; after clear skies in the morning, the afternoon was more cloudy - but the sun was never far away. Fortunately yesterday's gales had passed; today there was barely a breeze. Fourteen riders were at Brookside for this afternoon's ride, making it the biggest I have led this year. Jacob agreed to be back marker.

When leading a large group it is best to keep the route simple, to reduce the risk of losing people. Fortunately today's route out of Cambridge was very simple: straight down Hills Road to Addenbrooke's. It was good to be able to try out the new cycle lanes on the bridge over the railway. Just after passing the hospital we turned left onto Wort's Causeway and climbed over the hill to Fulbourn.

We spread out as we climbed the hill but regrouped at the bottom.

In Fulbourn we rode along Haggis Gap (wonderful name) and Pierce Lane to the High Street and the road to Great Wilbraham. As we approached the village Jacob rode forward through the group, soliciting riders keen on taking an off-road diversion. At Great Wilbraham Jacob and three others turned off, leaving ten of us to continue to Little Wilbraham and the road to Six Mile Bottom.

At Six Mile Bottom we crossed the main road and continued along the Brinkley Road, climbing once more. Half-way up the hill we turned left to Dullingham.

From Dullingham we continued east, through the rolling countryside south of Newmarket. After a while the off-roaders caught up with us and we were fourteen again.

After a couple of miles of pleasant undulation we turned north towards Newmarket.

When we arrived at the western edge of the town we crossed over the main road and followed Hamilton Road, a pleasant wide road which runs along the boundary between the town and the Heath. I had planned to follow this road all the way round to Exning Road, but I turned right too early and took Edinburgh Road instead, which took us through a residental area and onto Exning Road a little to the south of where I had intended. (If you examine the map below you can see where I should have gone).

We followed Exning Road out of Newmarket, under the A14 and into Exning itself. By now it was about 4.10pm, so I decided to stay on the B1103 all the way to Burwell rather than take the quieter NCR51 route via Heath Road.

We arrived at The Anchor, Burwell just before 4.30pm. Mike and Averil from the day ride were waiting there, as were George, Peter, David and Steve who had ridden there directly, making a total of twenty at tea. With such a large group I had been anxious that we would run out of food, but I needed not have worried: the landlord had put on an enormous spread for us. Not only sandwiches but also salads, pasta, sausages and sausage rolls, served with plentiful coffee and tea. Cake arrived soon after. An absolute bargain at £4, and there was still plenty left when we had finished.

After tea, we made plans for the journey home. There was plenty of daylight still left on this sunny evening, so whilst I led the main group a fairly direct route home, Gareth led a smaller group on a rather longer route via Wicken.

My group rode back in lovely evening sunshine via Reach, the Swaffhams, Bottisham and Quy. I was back home by 6.30pm, the sky still light, after a distance of 39 miles.

Meanwhile Gareth's group took a loop to Wicken Fen, a bit of Lower Rd to avoid the A1123, then down throgh Upware and River Bank, across Bottisham Lode on the new cycle bridge, then Lode, Bottisham, and back to Cambridge via Stow-cum-Quy and Fen Ditton.

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Photos 1 and 5 by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0