Thursday, 30 December 2010

30 Dec: Thursday ride to Waresley and Gamlingay

Edward writes: The Thursday group met again after what seemed like a long break, the last two rides having been cancelled because of the weather conditions. Seven of us gathered at Haslingfield Church and most seemed eager to get a ride in after the enforced inactivity, not to mention the Christmas celebrations. It's nice to report that we had one new rider today: welcome Daniel - we hope you enjoyed the ride enough to come again.

Greta led us off up to Barton, where we crossed the Wimpole road and went on to Comberton. Here we turned right and headed up the appropriately named Long Road to join the old St Neots road at Hardwick before heading back again down to Toft.

The weather, which started dull and overcast, showed no signs of improving, and in fact became even more unpleasant with murkiness all round us bringing with it a persistent chill factor. However, we pressed on and when we got to Bourn we were met by Edgar and John. Also Rupert arrived, having fixed his puncture - or was he just late out of bed? Now we were a group of ten and we carried on to Caxton Great Gransden and eventually to Waresley Garden Centre, a not unfamiliar coffee stop.

After coffee, and because we were so close to Gamlingay, our lunch stop, we did a loop round to Abbotsley and came back to Waresley and then heading off to Gamlingay and lunch at The Cock. At lunch we were joined by some more members who had been out riding independently, so we provided the pub with a good lunch time's takings.

At 1.45pm we left the pub to return home. Outside, the misty drizzle was even more heavy and our bikes were extremely damp. From Gamlingay we headed through the Hatleys and Croydon, Arrington, Orwell, Barrington and back to Haslingfield.

The official ride was 40 miles. Edward Elmer.

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

19 Dec: Unofficial morning ride to Great Shelford

About two inches of snow fell in Cambridge yesterday evening. There wasn't any more snow overnight but with the roads and paths still covered in snow, and with the temperature still -5C even at 9am, Gareth sent out an email to cancel today's day ride and rode to Brookside to notify anyone who hadn't seen it in time. I rode over as well to see what conditions were like.

When I arrived at the start I found Gareth and Brian (-from-Beds) discussing what to do.

Gareth suggested we cycle to Scotsdale Garden Centre for coffee, along main roads which seemed reasonably passable. There was very little traffic, and what motorists we did encounter were driving slowly and cautiously and seemed to accept our need to ride in the middle of the road where the passing of cars had cleared a path through the snow.

We arrived at the garden centre at 10am to discover that it didn't open for another 30 minutes.

We decided to continue into Great Shelford and then try riding back to Cambridge via the DNA path. This turned out to be covered in rutted snow and completely uncycleable. We decided to walk instead, which was rather pleasant.

When we reached the Addenbrooke's Road bridge we rejoined the road and cycled back into Cambridge to Nigel's house for coffee. Our route took us over the station cycle bridge, where the evidence of its heated ramps was unmistakable.

My mileage today was 8 miles, of which only 7 miles was actually spent cycling. But it was nice to be out, the landscape was lovely, and it was good to be able to forget about Christmas shopping for a few hours.

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Sunday, 12 December 2010

12 Dec: Christmas lunch ride

Our goal today was to have a pleasant morning's ride to Bourn Golf Club, eat a substantial Christmas lunch at the restaurant there, and return home again. Of the 22 members booked to have lunch, eight turned up at Brookside at 9.30am, ready to work up an appetite.

Today started off bright and sunny, and despite a frost overnight it was well above freezing. Still cold, but much milder than during the week. Lovely weather for a winter ride, in fact.

I (Nigel) was the leader today. We set off west out of Cambridge along Barton Road to Barton, where we took the road to Haslingfield. We then climbed Chapel Hill and dropped back down again to Barrington.

A right turn in Barrington took us to Orwell, where we stopped to wait for slower riders next to a house where Santa was already paying an early visit...

Just beyond Orwell we crossed over the A603 and continued to Wimpole Hall, where we ride past the stable block and right through the grounds, passing in front of the Hall itself. When we came this way exactly a year ago we came across a delightful display of vintage bicycles, with riders in vintage costumes (photos here), as part of Wimpole's annual "Victorian Christmas" event. Today we spotted a few people walking around wearing victorian costumes, but no victorian cyclists.

We left Wimpole, crossed the A1198, and continued west. This took us through Arrington and Croydon, up Croydon Hill and through East Hatley and Hatley St George. Just beyond the second Hatley we turned right (north) onto a quiet narrow link road which took us up Fullers Hill to the Gamlingay - Gransdens road.

We then turned back east towards our lunch destination, riding through Little Gransden, Great Gransden and Caxton before arriving at Bourn Golf Club exactly on time at 12.00pm.

Christmas Lunch was a most enjoyable and sociable event. It was nice to meet both familiar faces (including Edgar and Maurice whom I hadn't seen for quiet a while) and some unfamiliar faces. My table spent much of the meal discussing our plans for some long rides in 2010, such as whether we would attempt the dauntingly-long Hauxton 300km Audax in April.

Afterwards we returned directly back to Cambridge (or wherever else we lived). We started off at a gentle pace but before very long Gareth overtook at speed and John and I took the bait. After a while we slowed down to a more comfortable pace but it still wasn't long before we were back in Cambridge. I was home by about 3.45pm after having cycled 37 miles.

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

8 Dec: Thursday ride to Orwell

Edward Elmer writes: Another cold day, but this time it was bright with some sun and seven of us gathered at Greta's for our ride, which was in fact last week's ride, not to Barley, as advertised. We took the long way round to reach Malton Golf Club for coffee. Our route was through Little Shelford, Whittlesford, Newton, Fowlmere, then over the A10 to Shepreth. From here instead of going the quick way to Malton, we went on to Barrington and then up to Orwell before turning left to go back towards Meldreth and then made our coffee stop at the golf club. The break was most welcome as the cold was by now starting to bite.

After our break we then went to Meldreth and headed for Bassingbourn before going on to Littlington and Abington Piggots. By now the temperature had lifted a little and conditions were quite pleasant, making us all pleased that we had made the effort to get out on our bikes.

We now went through Shingay and Wendy and then briefly on the A1198 (Ermine Way) before turning right and briefly again, onto the A603 to make the turn into Orwell. The Chequers was our lunch break - our presence certainly increased did wonders for their lunch-time trade.

After lunch Brian left us to go home and after Barrington Geoff and Rupert headed home by going over the hill and the rest of us went on to Foxton where Peter and Greta went back to Hauxton and Mike and I went back through Thriplow and Newton before heading home. Edward Elmer

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Monday, 6 December 2010

Rides in February

The rides list for February is available using the link here or on the left.

We continue to operate a full programme of rides throughout the winter months (weather permitting), with rides every Tuesday and Thursday and with two rides on Sundays. Rides are shorter to reflect the reduced hours of daylight. But we have a number of "home teas" at members' houses on Sunday afternoons to tempt you out. These are on 6th and 20th February.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

5 Dec: Afternoon ride to Waresley

Today was a welcome respite from the current freezing spell. It was still quite cold, only a few degrees above freezing, but the sun was out and the roads and paths were clear of ice. This was enough to bring out nine riders for this afternoon's ride to Waresley. However with another freezing night forecast I suggested that we had a shorter-than usual ride today to allow us to get home before it got too cold. We would ride directly to the planned tea stop, have tea, and then ride straight back.

I led the group west out of Cambridge along the Coton cycleway and then up Madingley Hill to Hardwick.

Just beyond Hardwick we joined the former A428 which we followed all the way to Caxton Gibbet. A short section along the A1198 took us to Caxton.

Just after we entered Caxton we turned into St Peter's Street which is a pleasant lane around the back of a village with a ford half-way along it.

From Caxton we continued to Great Gransden where we took the lovely lane to Waresley. We arrived at the Garden Centre at 3pm. This is always a nice place to visit, with a good selection of cakes in the cafe, and the atmosphere today was enhanced by the sound of carol singers. We ordered hot drinks and cakes and had a pleasant chat for half an hour before setting off back to Cambridge.

We departed from Waresley in the daylight but the sun soon set and the temperature began to fall. Gareth went off for a more roundabout route back whilst the rest of us took the direct route back through Caxton and Bourn (where Daniel and I splashed through the ford at Caxton End) and then along the B1046. We were back in central Cambridge by 5pm, after having cycled a respectable 36 miles.

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Friday, 3 December 2010

Sunday 5th December

Due to the weather conditions, the all-day ride on Sunday 5th December has been cancelled.

We will still have an afternoon ride the same day, though this will be shorter than usual. Meet at Brookside at 1.30pm.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

28 Nov: Unofficial afternoon ride to Elsenham

Nigel writes: Today's club rides were cancelled last night due to the freezing temperatures and the prospect of ice and snow. That was probably wise, but as today turned out to be fine and sunny I thought I would go out for a ride anyway and invited other members to join me at Brookside for a 1.30pm start.

When I arrived at Brookside there was no-one else there so I took the opportunity to take a photo showing the ice on Hobson's Conduit. Averil arrived on foot a few minutes later to notify people that the official ride had been cancelled. This turned out to be unnecessary, as no-one else turned up except for Gareth who was ready to go for a ride with me.

The temperature was about 1C but the sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly, and continued to do so for the rest of the day. I suggested we ride south for a couple of hours to Elsenham and then catch the train back. This would allow us to have a decent ride in pleasant countryside but avoid the need to cycle back after sunset when the temperature would no doubt drop back below freezing.

The route we took was fairly direct, and, for the first part, on familiar roads through the Shelfords, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. From there we climbed Coploe Hill to Catmere End. It was really rather nice riding in the bright sunshine, with virtually no wind.

We then dropped down to Littlebury Green where we turned left for the little road over the hill past the transmitter. There had been no ice on any of the roads up until now but this little lane was quite frosty so we took this hill cautiously.

Another hill took us to Arkesden where I stopped to consult the map for the first time as we were now on less familiar roads. We continued through Wicken Bonhunt, Rickling and Rickling Green, where I stopped to switch on my rear light. Although the sun was still shining it was now very low in the sky and the temperature began to fall. Fortunately it was only a few more miles through Ugley Green to Elsenham station, which we reached at 3.35pm.

This left us a comfortable fifteen minutes to struggle with the ticket machine and purchase our tickets before the 1550 train arrived to take us back to Cambridge. We arrived back in Cambridge at 4.20pm and I was home a few minutes later, after having cycled a modest but enjoyable 26 miles.

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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sunday 28th November: Rides cancelled

Both our rides on Sunday 28th November are cancelled due to the freezing temperatures and the forecast of ice and snow.

25 Nov: Thursday ride to Carlton and Kedington

Edward writes: Nine riders gathered at Greta's house on a very cold and unpleasant morning, each probably wishing the others had stayed at home. This was a particularly good turnout and we set off and made our way back through Great Shelford, over to the Gogs and up over the hill to Fulbourn.

From here it was to Great Wilbraham. (Geoff had previously cycled from here to Hauxton, so he got to know the road pretty well). Although it was very cold the wind was not too strong and didn't cause us any problems as we made our way to Six Mile Bottom, over the A11 and the railway and the long climb up to Brinkley.

The next village was Carlton where we stopped for coffee. This was kindly provided by Gwen and Malcolm along with a delicious chocolate and beetroot cake - what a good combination. It was also nice to feel warm again and when it was time to move on there was a distinct reluctance to leave the comforts of a warm house and get on the bikes again. However, that's what Thursdays are for so we braced ourselves and set off again, joined by Malcolm and Peter, making for Lt Thurlow and Gt Bradley, before arriving at our lunch stop at The Barnardiston Arms in Kedington.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and then it was time to make our way home. This was through Withersfield, West Wickham, where Averill had a puncture, but our expert repairmen fixed it in no time at all.

We were soon on our way again, through Balsham, Abington, Babraham and Sawston. What a pleasure to ride on the new cycleway between these last two villages! I recorded 47 miles. Edward Elmer

Monday, 22 November 2010

21 Nov: Afternoon ride to St Ives

Ian writes: I followed my Audax ride on Saturday with leading the Sunday afternoon ride the following day. On Saturday I had seen nothing but thick fog. Sunday, fortunately, was a different story: the fog had cleared, the rain stayed away and we had a very light breeze with sunny intervals.

Five other riders were a Brookside for the run to The River Café at St Ives for tea.

We headed out on the familiar path to Barton, Comberton then Bourn. There we took a right turn onto the quieter lanes leading up to the A14. There are a couple of trees hanging onto their leaves, but in general the scene is far more wintery compared to only a couple of weeks ago. The upside is now you get clear views over the fields through the leafless hedgerows. We say birds of prey on two occasions, small sparrow hawks I believe.

We made our way under the A14 using the underpass at Fenstanton and were soon on the outskirts of St Ives. This is the first time I’ve been this way and I was quite surprised by the pretty scene that greeted us as we approached the old bridge.

We stopped to admire the view from the bridge for a few minutes before stopping for tea in the River Café where two survivors from the day ride were re-fuelling.

The return home was via the guided bus way cycle track with the odd excursion around the flooded parts, which were still numerous at the St Ives end.

Brookside to Brookside, just over 37 miles. Ian Driver

Sunday, 21 November 2010

21 Nov: Day ride to Waresley, West Perry, and St Ives

There was a good turnout at Brookside on a cold and clammy November morning, with eight riders plus our leader Tom.

We made pretty good time to coffee, reaching Waresley around 10:45, where we met several more riders who had come directly. It was a good day for sitting in warm cafés drinking coffee and watching the clouds scud past outside.

Climbing the short hill to Bourn on the way to coffee.

But time drew on and eventually when we made our move Tom and I found that we were the only riders going on to lunch—the other eleven were planning to head straight back to Cambridge.

We took the beautiful road over Lily Hill, and as we passed the turning to Abbotsley, we started to pass runners, joggers (and some walkers). These were the tail enders in a half marathon organized by the Riverside Runners of St Neots, which had an amazing turnout of 855 runners!

Tail enders of the St Neots half marathon, heading for Eynesbury Hardwicke. Walk 100 m, jog 100 m, walk ...

As we headed northwest towards St Neots, the runners got more numerous (and faster), with marshals encouraging them along their way.

A couple of miles further up the field, the runners are a bit fitter.

In St Neots we bid farewell to the runners, crossed the River Great Ouse, and headed up the B645 towards Great Staughton. My map of this area is showing its age: it still labels this road as the “A45”, which hasn’t been the case since 1994.

From Great Staughton we took quiet lanes up to the Harbour View Restaurant at West Perry, where we met Adrian and Vic, who had come direct.

Dinghy sailors enjoying a breezy day on Grafham Water.

We left Grafham Water at about 13:40, and made quick progress, pushed along towards Buckden and Offord Cluny by the north-westerly wind. We found ourselves in Hemingford Abbots at about 14:45, rather early for tea, and it seemed a shame to spend the time waiting in the café when we could be cycling, so we stopped to figure out if there was a short loop we could do. As we peered at the map, a couple of joggers came past. “Just go straight home,” they advised. But we were made of sterner stuff, and took a short loop to Conington and back.

Tom checks the map on the cycle path from Godmanchester to Hemingford Abbots.

The River Tea Rooms on the River Great Ouse, St Ives.

The River Tea Rooms in St Ives serve excellent tea and cake (though fairly pricy: I paid £4.25). We explained to the proprietor that we had been out all day. “Do you really enjoy it?” she asked. “No,” I replied, “It’s a punishment for sins committed in past lives.”

The afternoon ride arrived after 15 minutes, delayed by a p*nct*re, and then we headed back along the guided busway as darkness, and a light rain, descended.

A short ride today, just 65 miles.

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Saturday, 20 November 2010

20 Nov: Norfolk Nips 100km Audax

Ian writes: This weekend was a bit of festival of cycling for me. With great enthusiasm (and poor planning), I was taking a group to Norfolk for an Audax on the Saturday and leading the Afternoon Ride on the Sunday.

Due to colds etc, only myself and Rob C rode the Audax. A picture can say a thousand words apparently, so here is a picture of Cromer Pier taken from the cliffs right above. And so ends the report of what we "saw" of Norfolk...

Fortunately Sunday was a different story. Ian Driver