Sunday, 29 November 2009

29 Nov: Day ride to Melbourn and Hinxworth

Alasdair Massie writes: Hail was bouncing off the tarmac on my way to the start of the ride. Just three other riders had braved the elements and were to be found sheltering under a tree at Brookside. We picked up one more at coffee. The hail stopped, and after a little deliberation we set off, down the DNA path to Shelford. As it turned out the weather gods were smiling on us. Great anvil head storm clouds filled the sky from horizon to horizon, dramatically picked out by shafts of sunlight in between, but we managed to dodge all of the showers.

After coffee in Melbourn I came out to a flat tyre. Something small and sharp has obviously embedded itself deep into the tread because I have had a succession of punctures over the last week – all in the same place (that tyre is now in the bin).

The puncture set us back a bit so after a pretty ride to Orwell, we put our heads down and rode straight down the A603 past Wimpole and then down the B1042 as far as Wrestlingworth. You can tell it is getting close to Christmas, the road out of Cambridge had been very busy for a Sunday morning, and it didn’t really ease up until after lunch. Not that it was ever a problem, it just disturbed the ambience of the ride a little.

Farrowby Farm is one of my favourite lunch stops. We used to take the children every so often, walk them round, show them the pigs, and then go into the cafe to lunch guiltily off one of their brethren (the pigs’ brethren I hasten to add, not the childrens’). It was just starting to spit with rain as we reached the cafe door, and the heavens opened up as we ate. Isn’t it a nice feeling to sit in a warm cafe while the rain beats down outside ?

With perfect timing the rain stopped as we paid our bills. I won’t say that the sun came out, but it was dry and pleasant. We split, briefly, on the way to Ashwell and can now confirm that it is quicker to go straight through the village than to wind down Love Lane. Quicker, but not so pretty.

My tyre went flat on me one last time just after Kneesworth, and after all the attention it had received over recent days, the valve head snapped off. Great, 15 miles from home, starting to rain, just getting dark, and the valve has snapped. Surprisingly it survived all the way home but has now joined the tyre in the bin.

It was a dark, wet ride home from there. The rain got steadily heavier as we splashed our way over Chapel Hill and through Barton, back to Cambridge. After a night on the radiator my gloves were still wet the next day. But what the hell, it was an eventful ride, good scenery, gentle terrain and a great lunch stop. Thanks to Mike S for leading it. Alasdair Massie

Monday, 23 November 2009

22 Nov: Day ride to Wilburton and Ely

Gareth Rees writes: It was a day of attrition. Our leader, Tom, was in hospital. (Get well soon, Tom.) Then Joseph dropped out almost at the start, with a dodgy chainring hanging on by its last couple of bolts. So Rupert led the remaining five of us along the towpath down the Cam to Clayhithe, then through Waterbeach and Landbeach, and up Long Drove (with its many bumps where expansion joints have separated) to the Twenty Pence Garden Centre at Wilburton, where we were joined by Vic, Adrian, and Bob.

Bob reported that the cafe at Tesco in Ely (where we intended to go for lunch) had closed, being replaced by a Costa Coffee. So there was a general consensus to go on to Wicken Fen and have lunch there. Shortly after coffee, Mike (I think) got a puncture, and we agreed to split up, with six of us taking the longer route round via Coveney, and the others going direct.

The skies were getting darker as we headed north, but Rupert opined that we might escape a drenching, as it looked to him as though the wind had blown the stormclouds away to the north. Famous last words! As we turned east from Coveney toward Ely, it began to pour, and we were soon soaked through. Mike and Bob decided to stop at Ely and return to Cambridge by train, while Rupert, Simon, Averil and I decided to skip lunch and return home direct.

At the junction of the A142 with the towpath we met the others who had come direct from coffee. They had tried the towpath but were doubtful about attempting the narrow gravelly path in the driving rain and strong headwind. And who can blame them? It was pretty miserable: even when the rain stopped, there was still the strength-sapping southerly wind blowing uninterrupted across the fens, and the water squelching in our gloves and shoes. I had 54 miles on my computer when I got home, but I have been less tired on rides twice as long. Gareth Rees

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Sunday, 22 November 2009

22 Nov: Afternoon ride to Abington

Cambridge continues to have some of the best weather in Britain. Whilst the north-west continued to suffer from record rainfall and flooding, here in Cambridge we had a dry and bright but windy afternoon. Rather to my surprise, six riders turned up at Brookside for this afternoon's ride. Ian led us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton. The sun came out and we were riding in golden sunshine.

At Barton we turned south to Haslingfield where we climbed Chapel Hill. The descent down the other side was directly into the wind, so we had to pedal downhill to keep our speed up.

At Barrington we turned left to Foxton where we crossed the railway and A10 and continued to Fowlmere and from there over the A505 to Chrishall Grange. This section was directly into the wind. The headwind itself wasn't too much of a problem; gusts of wind that tried to blow us off the road were more of a challenge. Fortunately at Chrishall Grange we were able to turn east towards Ickleton, and had the wind behind us at last. The sky had clouded over by now but it remained dry and mild, though the numerous large puddles told us that there had been heavy rain earlier.

From Ickleton we took the road to Hinxton and the cycleway along the A1303 to the outskirts of Sawston. From here we went through Pampisford before joining the A505 for half a mile, after which we turned off to Abington. On the outskirts of the village Simon had a puncture; Jacob stopped to keep him company whilst the rest of us continued the short distance to the Comfort Cafe.

The Comfort Cafe had freshly-made cake on sale and we sat down with coffee and cake to wait for Jacob and Simon, who arrived soon after.

After tea we returned back to Cambridge. It was now totally dark, so following the off-road track to Babraham was quite challenging. At Babraham we rejoined the road and rode through Sawston, Stapleford and Great Shelford before joining the DNA path to Addenbrooke's and finally Hills Road towards the City Centre. I was home by about 6.25pm after having ridden 34 miles. Not bad for the wettest week in modern English history!

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Cycling in South Brabant

Mike Stapleton has recently returned from a couple of weeks in the suburban village of Ginneken near Breda in the Netherlands, and was very interested by the provision for cycling there. Mike has written an interesting article describing what he saw. Read it here (PDF, 1MB).

Sunday, 15 November 2009

15 Nov: Day ride to Newmarket and Stradishall

Joseph Sugg writes: Today's ride headed east. We were very thankful that yesterday's wind had dropped off almost completely and that the sun had come out. It was also warmish - what more could you want?  - and so there was a healthy turnout of ten at Brookside.

Bob was our leader today and led us out of Cambridge via the millenium cycleway. Just before we reached Bottisham, Simon had a puncture. Averil found a novel way of looking for the hole (see photo). It was at this point that we were thankful it had rained yesterday!

Having fixed the puncture we rejoined the main group and carried on through Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck, turning off onto the Dullingham road. I hadn't done this road for a while, which is a handy cross country route linking the Swaffham road and Dullingham. We had to turn off before Dullingham due to the time and head straight into Newmarket. It took an age to get served at Wetherspoons - apparently this is how they keep costs low!

When we left Newmarket there were six of us left, quickly reducing to two. Having been held up at the clocktower, Mike S and myself could not see Bob and his charges anywhere. We decided to carry on and took the direct route past Kirtling and through Cowlinge, reaching Tubby Ts cafe at Stradishall at 1 o'clock. Bob and co arrived fifteen  minutes later after a tour of Newmarket. The wait to order was very slow here too. However once ordered, the food arrived in five minutes, which is pretty impressive.

Tubby Ts cafe, (see photo) has had a makeover. It is now much smarter than before and serves the type of food us cyclists like; with a comprehensive menu, including all-day breakfasts and a specials board, you can't fault it.

With the dark nights well and truly here, no-one fancied the ride back from tea so we all headed straight home. I set off with Averil and Ian and set a good pace home, going through Gt Bradley, Brinkley, Six Mile Bottom and Fulbourn. A thoroughtly enjoyable day. Joseph Sugg.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

CTC membership problems

Did you join or renew your membership in September? If so, please read this announcement.

CTC membership renewal problems

Did you join or renew your membership in September?

In September, CTC National Office suffered a serious internal data loss problem. Much of the data has been restored but there is a real possibility that any members who either joined or renewed their membership in September may not have had their data properly processed, and may be recorded as not members or lapsed.

Any members who either joined or renewed in September are asked to contact the membership department as soon as possible to verify their membership status.

CTC Membership Department
Address: CTC, PO Box 416, Twickenham, TW1 9DG 
Tel: 0844 736 8451 or 020 8891 8941
Fax: 0844 736 8455

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Senior Cyclists' Group: Rides in Nov and Dec

The Senior Cyclists' Group has revised its planned rides for November and December. Full details here.

8 Nov: Day ride to Malton and Old Warden

Joseph Sugg writes: I arrived at Brookside this morning for a 9:30am start. There were six other riders there, Myself, Mike C, Jacqui, Martin, John, Doug and Ian W. Mike C took over as our leader. We took the Barton road out of Cambridge and headed down to Haslingfield.

After the traditional climb up the lung-bursting Barrington Hill, we turned off towards Orwell. Just before Orwell we took the turning for Meldreth. We stopped along this road at the Malton Golf Club. It is well hidden along this quiet road, but offers a warm welcome and a reasonable cup of coffee. There is reasonably priced food for those that want it.

After coffee we set off on the longer trek to Shuttleworth, having covered just 14 miles to Malton, where we met Brian B. We went to Meldreth and Bassingbourn and Littlington before turning towards Steeple Morden. When we got to Ashwell we turned off towards Hinxworth. We went over the A1 at the Langford crossing and into Langford. Taking a left towards Broom, then a right and a left we arrived at Shuttleworth which is close to Old Warden.

For those who haven't been there, Shuttleworth is an air museum and a fully functioning airfield which has regular airshows. There was no airshow today though. We visited the cafe, which is always open on a Sunday. The food is fairly priced, but fairly standard fare, and you can have a hot meal if you want. Here we met Vic and Tony and two more from Bedford.

After lunch, Mick shot off early to get home, so I led the remaining group of three towards Mogerhangar and to Blunham before crossing the A1 at Tempsford. This led us to Tempsford hill, one of the steepest hills in the area. This took us to Everton. We cycled around Gamlingay and through Waresley to the Gransdens. I went home via Caxton, Bourne, Toft, Comberton and Barton arriving home in Grantchester just after 4pm having covered 65 miles. Joseph Sugg.

8 Nov: Afternoon ride to Waresley

Nigel Deakin writes: There were thirteen riders at Brookside for today's afternoon ride to Waresley. There had been some rain earlier but this had now passed and the afternoon was dry. It started dull but the sun soon came out and for most of the way to Waresley we were riding in pleasant late afternoon sunshine.

I was the leader today. We had to get to Waresley by 4pm so I took a fairly direct route west out of Cambridge, first along the Coton path to Coton (below) and then up Madingley Hill using the cycle path that runs alongside the A1303 (second photo). The ground was covered in leaves, making it sometimes hard to see the edge of the path, and causing it to be slippery in places.

At the top of Madingley Hill we rejoined the road and followed the old main road west past Hardwick until we reached the turn to Bourn.

In Bourn we turned right onto the road to Caxton and Great Gransden. When we reached Great Gransden we were only a couple of miles from Waresley, but it was only 3.40pm so we took in an extra loop via Abbotsley; the final few miles from Abbotsley to Waresley, along a lovely narrow lane which undulated pleasantly, were a delightful way to enjoy the final few minutes of afternoon sunshine.

We arrived at Waresley Park Garden Centre at 4pm as planned. The cafe was very quiet but there was plenty of food left and sat down in the comfortable chairs to drink large cups of coffee and eat hot apple pie and ice cream.

After tea it was now dark, so we put on our lights and returned to Cambridge via Great Gransden, Caxton, Bourn and the B1046 through Toft, Comberton and Barton. There must have been a bit of a tailwind, since we made rapid progress and I was back in central Cambridge by 5.45pm. Total mileage: 37 miles. Nigel Deakin

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Senior Cyclists' Group: Rides in Nov and Dec

The Senior Cyclists' Group has revised its planned rides for November and December.

For more information contact Peter Rowell (01954 210692)

Tuesday 10th Nov: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00am (note time) at Trumpington Park and Ride. Bring your own coffee. Lunch is at The Chequers, Orwell. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Tuesday 17th Nov: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00 (note time) at Madingley Park and Ride. Coffee is at Peter's. Lunch is The White Swan, Connington. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Tuesday 24th Nov: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00am (note time) at Newmarket Road Park and Ride. Bring your own coffee. Lunch is at The Boot, Dullingham. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Tuesday 1st Dec: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00 (note time) at Madingley Park and Ride. Coffee is at Peter's. Lunch is at The Monkfield Arms, Cambourne. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Tuesday 8th Dec: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00am (note time) at Santon Downham in Norfolk for a car-assisted ride. Bring your own coffee. Lunch is at The Angel, Larling. Call Peter Rowell (01954 210692) before Sunday 6th to arrange transport if needed. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Tuesday 15th Dec: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00am (note time) at Newmarket Road Park and Ride. Bring your own coffee. Lunch is The Marquis of Granby, Stechworth. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Tuesday 22nd Dec: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00am (note time) at Madingley Park and Ride. Coffee is at Peter's. Lunch is at The Monkfield Arms, Cambourne. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Tuesday 29 Dec: Senior Cyclists' Group. Meet at 10.00am (note time) at Trumpington Park and Ride. Bring your own coffee. Lunch is at The Chequers, Orwell. Leader: Peter Rowell.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Club Christmas Lunch: Sunday 13th December

Book now for the CTC Cambridge annual Christmas lunch! This will take place at Bourn Golf Club on Sunday 13th December. The cost is £18. Please choose from the menu and make your booking with Joseph Sugg (joesugg72 AT

1 Nov: Afternoon ride to Hauxton

Ten riders turned out for this afternoon's ride to Hauxton, where we would have tea followed by the club AGM. There had been heavy rain and stong winds in the morning; by the afternoon the rain had passed and it was beginning to brighten up. The strong south-westerly wind remained , however, and would make this afternoon's ride surprisingly strenuous.

Gareth was our leader today; his route took us south to Addenbrooke's Hospital where we picked up the DNA path to Great Shelford (next two photos).

From Great Shelford we continued to Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford and Duxford. With Gareth leading strongly from the front, it was noticeable how the rest of the group settled into a line behind him, happy for a little shelter from what was becoming quite a tiring headwind. Apart from the wind, it was quite a nice afternoon: the sun had come out, and with evidence of recent leaf fall all over the road it was a pleasant autumn afternoon.

After crossing the A505 we continued to Ickleton, where I experienced a puncture. Rather than delay the group I told them to carry on (taking my GPS tracker with them), leaving me to fix my puncture and then continue via Chishill Grange and Fowlmere to Hauxton, arriving there at about 4.25pm. Without anyone in front to catch the wind, the road west to Chishill Grange was a slow plod, but from there to Hauxton I made good speed with the wind behind me.

Meanwhile the main group continued a little further up Coploe Hill before turning right to Chishill Grange and then returning, like me, via Fowlmere and Newton to Hauxton, arriving at the Village Hall about five minutes before I did.

Greta and John had, as always, prepared a fine tea, finished off as usual by a splendid trifle.

After tea we cleared away the tables and at 5pm conducted the important business of the AGM. This was finished a little before 7pm, after which we all cycled back to Cambridge via the Shelfords and the DNA path once more. The total mileage for the afternoon ride was 32 miles.

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Gareth Rees adds:
As I watched the driving rain lashing my windows this morning I felt very sorry for the day riders and I wondered if the afternoon ride might be washed out too. But the strong south-westerly wind blew the rainclouds away to the northeast and the ride was dry apart from the puddles.

We still had the wind to contend with: it wasn't so bad at first as we cycled on fairly sheltered roads out to Duxford, but when we climbed Coploe Hill and onto Royston Lane it battered us full force. But then the setting sun came out from the clouds to illuminate our progress, and the rain-washed air gave us clear views of the south Cambridgeshire hills, and once we turned for home we had the wind behind us and it was a straightforward run up through Fowlmere, Thriplow, Newton, and Little Shelford to Hauxton. Gareth Rees