Monday, 27 July 2009

26 July: Day ride to Debden, Great Dunmow and Helions Bumpstead

Mike Stapleton writes: Today's all-day ride was led by Joseph who set out to provide an interesting ride. The first part of the ride took us via Linton and Ashdon to reach the Spar shop at Carver Barracks via country roads.

There were about eight or nine riders at the Spar Shop, where Mike S, John T, John L and Greta joined the group for coffee. After Coffee the latter three had to return home, and Joseph led the remainer out through Debden after which he turned west towards Henham to avoid Thaxted and our usual route.

Joseph then took us down the narrow lane near Cherry Green to Broxted. This is so small it has gravel down the middle in places. From Broxted we headed south into the lovely country just east of Stansted Airport. (It will be a terrible loss if the second runway is built and we lose all these lanes). We rejoined the usual route near the Eastons and continued on the lanes to the edge of Dunmow, where we had lunch by the Doctors Pond in the lovely Tea Tree Cafe. The pond is is quite large and has a claim to fame in that it was used for testing the first self-righting lifeboat. It is now used by ducks geese and fishermen; we saw some quite large fish caught whilst we were there.

After lunch Joseph took us out onto the Flitch Cycleway leading towards Rayne. The route starts just off the main road going south, as the original route of the railway was lost when the new roads were built. The initial approach is quite hard to locate and crosses a dry ditch on a single narrow plank. Once over this obstacle it all gets easier and there is a good track back up to the old railway.

From here to Rayne is a lovely ride with good surfaces except that the bridge over the Felstead road has been removed and you have to drop down onto the road and then back up again onto the railway path. We carried on to Rayne where there is a Cafe and Visitor Centre in the old station. We then turned north onto the old main road and headed west and north to Shalford. The lanes to Shalford are very quite and not too hilly.

After Shalford, Joseph took us up the hill to Waltham Cross which I assure you is not in London. There are miles of lovely lanes that meander up and down the hills and finally brought us into the village of Finchingfield past the church and down the steep hill to the bridge. We could see the location of the new cafe there but did not have time to check it out - it's on the green to the left of the road to Great Bardfield.

We cycled on from Finchingfield past the Windmill and thrn turned up the hill by Spains Hall, which looks as though it is a Tudor mansion and is now used as a Conference and Wedding Centre. The climb over the hill was relatively easy and we arrived just on 5 o'clock at the Three Horseshoes at Helions Bumpstead where we met the afternoon ride for a super tea. There were fourteen at tea.

Many thanks to Joseph for a really good route and perfect timing. Mike Stapleton.

Tea Tree Cafe, Great Dummow:

Leaflet about the Flitch cycle route

Sunday, 26 July 2009

26 July: Afternoon ride to Helions Bumpstead

Eight riders turned up at Brookside this afternoon for one of the longest afternoon rides of the year, to Helions Bumpstead. It was a warm but dull afternoon, with rain moving steadily across the country towards us. In the event it remained dry all the way until tea, when a light drizzle arrived.

Today was the day of the London to Cambridge Cycle Ride, and whilst we waited at Brookside we watched hundreds of riders pass on the final leg to Midsummer Common.

As ride leader I led the group south out of Cambridge to Trumpington and Great Shelford where we turned for Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford and Duxford.

Our destination lay over to the east. However, due the lack of suitable roads leading in that direction we continued south to Ickleton and climbed Coploe Hill to Catmere End. From there a short descent and then a further climb over the "transmitter road" before dropping down to the B1039.

After riding south for 13 miles it was now time to turn east. We followed the B1039 into Audley End, crossed the B1393 and continued into Saffron Walden. This is a handsome town but quite busy with narrow streets and it was good to get through it and onto the road to Ashdon. When we reached Ashdon, Jacob and Mike K left the group to take an off-road route whilst the rest of us turned right to Steventon End and the lovely Olmstead Green loop (below) before arriving at Helions Bumpstead for tea at the Three Horseshoes.

Here we met George and Peter who had driven and Steve who had ridden directly. Soon Jacob and Mike arrived followed by Mike S, Averil, Adrian and Joseph from the all-day ride: a good turnout for one of the highest-quality teas of the year, with plenty of well-made sandwiches and two enormous and delicious cakes (the carrot cake was specially praised).

After tea we returned in various groups to Cambridge. I led the main group back via Linton and Abington, then over the A11 footbridge to Babraham and finally through Sawston and Stapleton onto the DNA path back into Cambridge. The whole journey back was accompanied by light drizzle but it was so light we hardly noticed it after a while, and it didn't spoil an excellent afternoon's ride of 49 miles.

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Friday, 24 July 2009

New rides list for August

The rides list for August 2009 has been updated, with revised rides on Sunday 9th and Sunday 16th August. (Note this is the second update).

We've changed the lunch stop on 9th August, as the Fishing Lodge at Clavering Lakes is unsuitable for those members who prefer to bring sandwiches rather than purchase food. We'll be visiting the Prince of Wales at Green Tye instead.

You can view the latest version here.

Monday, 20 July 2009

19th July: Day ride to St Ives, Grafham Water and Caxton

Mike Stapleton writes: In spite of a poor weather forecast of sunshine and showers we had a good turnout at Brookside. There were eleven starters, including Doug who had arrived early from Stevenage aided by a following wind. The ride was led by Mike Cousins who led us out via Senate House Passage with some difficulty as there were a huge number of foreign visitors with no road sense whatsoever: they were walking down the paths six abreast. We got out to the Coton Path without incident.

We noticed that some resurfacing has taken place on the path over the motorway which is good news. We continued out along the cycle path to Hardwick. Much to our surprise Mike took us down through Highfield and Caldecote. Highfield has serious traffic calming with some 18 road humps. I understand we were early so Mike had put in a loop. We went through Bourn and back up to the A428 and took the road down to Knapwell, Conington and Fenstanton. We had a little rain on this section so we were glad to get to St Ives and Ian's house for coffee without getting seriouly wet.

Ian did us proud and we had a great coffee session in his house. The cakes were fantastic - better than most booked teas. We were not keen to leave but by then the sun had come out so we set off through the Hemingfords. There is a section of vicious road calming between the Hemingfords which really shook us up. Then on by the cycle path to Godmanchester where we turned left along the river and up over the hill to the Offords. We had to wait at the level crossing for a couple of trains before carrying on past the mill and the marina to Buckden.

By the time we left Buckden the rain had started again and kept on until we got to the cafe at Grafham Water. At Grafham we met Adrian and Vic who had come out via St Ives. No sooner were we in the cafe than the sky opened and it really poured. We were glad to be inside. There was a little sailing and a few hardy fishermen on the lake which we could see at times between the showers.

Eventually the rain eased off and we started off going south. The weather improved and the sun came out. We had a comparatively easy ride up to Bushmills where the ride split up with four carrying on towards Great Barford and four taking the shorter route via St Neots. The St Neots group stopped at the riverside park for the obligatory ice cream. They continued east through Abbotsley, where there was a scarecrow festival. See here for pictures of these and many more scarecrows. We then carried on with the wind behind us to Great Gransden and Caxton where tea was at the Cross Keys. As soon as we got into the pub the rains started again. We had twelve for tea by the time everyone had arrived. The rain stopped in time for the return ride to Cambridge. Mike Stapleton.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

19 July: Afternoon ride to Caxton

Today's tea stop was in Caxton, about ten miles west of Cambridge. So when we set out from Brookside I was surprised and intrigued to find Bob leading us east, in precisely the opposite direction.

There were only three of us on today's afternoon ride, Bob, Gareth and me. Everyone else was no doubt put off by a forecast of heavy showers. Despite that, it was warm and bright as we headed east across Cambridge towards Midsummer Common and along the river. We crossed over the new Riverside Bridge and continued through Chesterton before meeting the river once more by the Penny Ferry pub. From here we joined the path along the north bank and followed it all the way to Clayhithe.

This path is normally congested with walkers, runners and cyclists but today it was deserted, no doubt due to the threatening weather. As a result this was a lovely, relaxing ride along a beautiful section of river.

At Clayhithe we left the river and followed the cycle path to Waterbeach Station and from there into Waterbeach. From here we began our ride towards Caxton, following a big anticlockwise arc that took us through Landbeach and the fen-edge villages of Cottenham, Rampton, Willingham and Over.

From Over we turned south towards Swavesey, and into the path of a strong blustery headwind which became our constant adversary all the way to Caxton.

Just before Swavesey we crossed the route of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, and stopped to admire its ribbon of concrete stretching into the distance.

From Swavesey we continued south-west into the wind, over the A14 and to Boxworth and Elsworth where we turned left towards Caxton Gibbet. Somewhere beyond Elsworth we caught up with Jacob who had come out on his own. The final section to Caxton Gibbet involves a short section of new cycle track alongside the A428.

From Caxton Gibbet it was a short run downhill into Caxton. Until now the afternoon had remained dry, with patches of sunshine, but now it started raining and it was good to arrive at the Cross Keys for tea.

With a good turnout from the day ride and from several others who had cycled there directly, there was a full dozen at tea. This is one of our best and friendliest tea stops, with an enormous quantity of food which we were unable to make more than a token impact upon.

The rain passed, and the ten or so miles back to Cambridge were dry. I arrived home at about 6.40pm, having seen only about five minutes of rain (but several hours of wind), and a total mileage of 42 miles.

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Saturday, 18 July 2009

18 July: Saturday invitation ride

Our Saturday morning rides are intended to be particularly suitable for newcomers, and in CTC parlance are referred to as "invitation" rides. Mike Stapleton writes: We had a really good invitation ride this Saturday: all the more surprising in that the weather had been wet and was still cool and breezy at the start.

We had a total of eight riders today: three new riders and five regulars. We rode out to Burwash Manor in Barton, which by the time we arrived was bathed in sunshine. We had coffee at the café and then visited the shops. (One of us bought a bottle of wine at the wine shop at the back of the café.)

After coffee we carried on towards Haslingfield, passing the Radio Telescope on the way. My son, when he was young, always refered to the aerial dishes as Planet Plates. Here is one of them:

We soon reached Haslingfield, where we stopped to check out the sundial in the grass. This is not obvious and, unless it is pointed out, you would miss it. We had one of our new riders checking it out. It even has compensation for the months of the year. We had to wait a little while for the sun to come out.

We returned to Cambridge via the Shelfords and the DNA path, arriving back at Addenbrookes at 12.30pm. It had been a very relaxed ride which met with the approval of all the riders. This has been one of the best invitation rides we have had, and we hope it leads to some of the new riders joining us on our regular rides. Mike Stapleton.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

12 July: Day ride to Saffron Walden, Great Saling and Thurlow

Joseph Sugg writes: There were seven of us at Brookside, including a rider who was up from Southend for the weekend.

We set off towards Shelford and picked up John on the way. We proceeded to Saffron Walden, via Whittlesford, Duxford, Ickleton, Catmere End and Audley End. The road was closed but this didn't stop cars coming down to try and get through. We saw countless cars turning round, which was very funny.

Coffee was at Wetherspoons in Saffron Walden. There we met Mike S. Afterwards we started off towards Debden.

The ride split, with a faster group, including myself, going ahead. We continued to Thaxted, then turned right onto the B1051. We took a left down a pretty, narrow lane towards Duton Hill. We crossed the B184 and went through Little Cambridge to Lindsell. Then we turned right onto the B1057 and left onto a small country road, before taking a track (start point TL 678 254) which came out at Andrews Field. This is a small airfield with a grass landing strip. The meals were very good indeed, and cheap.

As usual the ride split after lunch with the majority heading home. Myself, Mike, Mick and Averil carried on. Our route took us through Shalford Green, Rotten End, Blackmore End to Toppesfield:

We carried on through Stambourne to Ridgewell and Ashen to Stoke by Clare. Here we turned right up a rarely used road to Boyton End and Keddington. This bit was quite hilly. In Keddington we stopped at the shop for an ice cream and spotted a fox (see photo) on one thatched roof and ducks on another one.

After this much needed break we rode the short distance to tea in Thurlow. Tea was ok. Then home. Quite a long ride home tonight, arriving at 7:10pm. Total mileage 82 miles. Joseph Sugg.

12 July: Early morning ride to Stetchworth

Peter Hutchison writes: The planned early morning ride met at 7.30am at Brookside. There were just two of us, Tom and myself. We rode out along NCN 51 through Fen Ditton, and then turned off before Bottisham along the road down to Six Mile Bottom, under cloudy skies with just a hint of drizzle, but warm enough that it was very pleasant riding.

The roads were practically empty once we had left Cambridge behind – a welcome change to the same roads later on in the day. After Six Mile Bottom, we turned left to Dullingham, and did a circle via Cheveley through the lovely rolling, wooded countryside. By the time we stopped for a snack on the bench on the green at Stetchworth, the sun had started to show its face and promised a beautiful day.

We opted for the road route through Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham, and were back at Cambridge Airport at around 10.45, at which point we went our separate ways. We met a couple of large groups of cyclists on the way, but still very little motor traffic. Total door to door mileage 40 miles (to and from West Chesterton).

I’ll repeat the ride later in the year if there is interest. Peter Hutchison.

12 July: Afternoon ride to Thurlow

Today was another warm Summer's day. The forecast was for isolated showers but these never materialised and it stayed warm and sunny all afternoon. Ten people turned up for today's afternoon ride. The appointed leader was indisposed so I hurredly devised a route and led the group east out of Cambridge along the river to Fen Ditton and Quy.

Here we split temporarily into two groups. Jacob and Mike K continued to Bottisham where they turned right onto a long farm track that led, after three miles, to the railway level crossing at Westley Bottom. Meanwhile I led the remainder of the group along the parallel road to Little Wilbraham and Six Mile Bottom, where we turned left along the A1304 and then right along a short section of unsurfaced road to the level crossing, where we stopped to wait for the off-roaders.

A few minutes later Jacob and Mike arrived and we continued up the hill (below) towards the cross-roads where we would turn left for Dullingham.

From Dullingham we continued north-east past various stud farms including Dalham Park Stud before turning right to Saxon Street. From here we meandered through the lanes towards Kirtling and Cowlinge, enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

From Cowlinge we continued to Cock and End and the A143, which we followed past the prisons for a mile before turning right once more towards Little Thurlow. On entering the village we rode through its dry ford:

At The Cock we found Mike S and Joseph from the day ride, George and Peter who had come by car and David S and Julia who had each cycled there directly, making sixteen for tea. As always, the food was very good in quantity, quality and variety and served with good humour by the landlady.

After tea we split as usual into two or three separate groups for the relatively long (18 mile) ride home. Mike K, Ian and Julia took a route back via Six Mile Bottom whilst I led a group back via Balsham. We had feared a headwind for our return trip but in the event it wasn't too bad. I was home just before 7pm. Total mileage: 47 miles.

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Photos 2 and 4 by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0

Thursday, 9 July 2009

New early-morning ride this Sunday, 12th July

During the summer we'll holding a small number of short, early-morning rides on Sunday mornings. These depart at 7.30am to allow riders to enjoy the cool of the early morning before the heat of the day, returning back to Cambridge by 11am.

The first of these is on Sunday 12th July. Meet at 7.30am at Brookside. Leader: Peter Hutchison.

Monday, 6 July 2009

5 July: Day ride (car assisted) from Maidwell

Today's all-day ride was another "car-assisted" one, this time from Maidwell in Northamptonshire, about 11 miles west of Kettering.

Joseph Sugg writes: I got a lift from Mike. After setting out from Cambridge we made good progress along the A14, taking about an hour to get there. We arrived first at the car park near Maidwell (SP 755 773) at about 8.45am. We were joined by Bob, Vic, Martin, John, Doug and our leader Adrian.

We set off north along Sustrans route 6, following a disused railway line. We rode through two tunnels, needing lights as it was very dark indeed. There were several potholes hidden in the gloom. We stopped for coffee and a slab of fruit cake after just 5 miles.

After coffee we rode on into Market Harborough. I was interested because my Nan grew up here, and her family have a street named after them: Gardiner Street. Here we joined a branch of the Grand Union Canal which continues on route 6. This bit of the ride was idylic. It was very quiet, and there were views across the valley as the canal was quite high up. We reached the Grand Union proper at Foxton Locks. This is a series of eight locks which take you up to the higher level. This was very impressive.

We left the canal at this point and went up and down several steep hills to Saddington (SP 658 919). Here we had lunch. We found a very nice pub with great views over the valley and very generous helpings of chips.

After lunch we rode through Mowsley, Laughton, Theddingworth, up a very steep hill to Sibbertoft. Here we saw a sign for afternoon teas and decided it was too good an offer to miss. We found the village reading rooms doing a very good afternoon tea, on a par with Braughing.

After tea and fudge brownies we set off towards Naseby. Here we stopped to look at the monument to the main battle of the Civil War. We then rode on through Guilsborough where we got caught up in a steam rally - or at least the cars leaving it. We were glad to leave this behind at Teeton.

We then rode on to Creaton and past Cottesbrooke Hall. We then found a track, which turned out to be very bumpy in places, and followed it all the way back to Maidwell and the car park.

We got home at about 7:00pm, just in time to watch Le Tour. I must say a big "thank you" to Adrian for organizing a very good day out. I would like to encourage other club riders to join us on future car assissted rides. You can usually get a lift from someone, and they are quite different to our normal rides and a great way of seeing new countryside. Distance: a modest 42 miles. Joseph Sugg.

5 July: Afternoon ride to Hare Street

Gareth Rees writes: There were seven riders at Brookside today, including two first-time riders with the club. With the day ride away in Northamptonshire, there was no pub booked for tea, so our destination was the Swan Café at Hare Street in Hertfordshire.

Since we had to get to the café before it closed, Mike Kenny took us on a direct route. No meandering down the DNA path for us today: instead, straight down the A10 to Harston, then the B1368 through Newton and Fowlmere, and then up Flowmere Road (as it's misspelled on Google Maps!) to Heydon and Great Chishill.

Then we turned onto the delightful lanes through Nuthampstead, Anstey and Great Hormead, arriving at the café at about 16:40, with plenty of time for tea and cake by the pond. Jacob and Mike Sleep joined us at the café having arrived by car.

Climbing towards Heydon.

After tea we split up: new rider Lawrence had to get back quickly so sprinted off on his own; Mike led Dave and Simon on a roundabout return journey through Great Chishill and Elmdon, while I led Alison and new rider Melanie on the shortest way home via the B1368.

Climbing up to the sky on the lanes near Nuthampstead.

A beautiful afternoon, with no sign of the rain promised by the Met Office. Total distance: 44 miles. I hope the new riders enjoyed themselves and come cycling with us again.

The relaxing garden of the Swan Café, Hare Street.

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