Sunday, 31 January 2010

31 Jan: Afternoon ride to Chesterton

I arrived at the start point with a plan for a route out along the river and back along the guided busway, but Gareth reported that the riverside path was very muddy and someone else complained that the busway was boring. So after a short discussion of alternative routes I led our group of eight out of Cambridge along Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road. We climbed Lime Kiln Hill and enjoyed the fine views over Cambridge at the top. After a short descent on the other side we turned left onto Wort's Causeway and a second climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

It was cold and dull. I had been worried that the roads might be slipperty, but although there was an occasional patch of snow remaining from yesterday, and there were icy puddles besides the road in shady corners, generally the roads were dry.

From Fulbourn we took the familiar route through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom. There we turned left onto the A1304 which we followed for a mile until we turned right onto the unsurfaced road to Westley Bottom. After a few more miles we reached Dullingham.

At Dullingham we turned left to Swaffham Bulbeck from where we returned back to Cambridge via Bottisham, Quy and the Jubilee cycleway.

Tea this afternoon was at Julia's house in Chesterton, which we reached about twenty minutes late. Here we met George, Janice and Ian and some friends of Julia's who had ridden with us last summer. The spread of sandwiches, savouries and cakes was most impressive. "I wanted to prove that vegetarian food doesn't have to be boring", said Julia. Indeed it doesn't, as today's spread proved.

After tea it only took ten minutes to get home; I was back by 5.30pm, after having ridden about 30 miles.

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Sunday, 24 January 2010

24 Jan: Afternoon ride to Abington

On a grey winter's day, four riders turned out for this afternoon's ride to Abington. Although it was dull and overcast there was no wind and it was not especially cold.

Peter H led us out Cambridge along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's, where we turned left for the gentle climb of Wort's Causeway over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

At Fulbourn we took the road to Great and Little Wilbraham and from there continued to Six Mile Bottom. At Six Mile Bottom we took the road towards Brinkley. This is another gentle climb, with nice views back towards Cambridge. At the cross-roads half-way up we turned right and rode along the edge of the hill on that nice little lane past the Woodland Cemetery to Weston Colville. On the outskirts of the village we stopped for Peter to check the map.

There was time for an extra loop via Weston Green and West Wratting before we rejoined the B1052 to Balsham.

We rode throgh Balsham and Peter looked out for the left turn that would lead us to Hildersham. However I was at the front and rather carelessly took the group left slightly too soon, onto the road to Linton instead.

After a few minutes we approached Linton. Jacob pointed out that we would need to go all the way round the Linton one-way system to get onto the road to Hildersham, and proposed we took a short-cut through the Chilford Hall vineyards instead.

The road through the Chilford Hall estate is private, but we decided that our excuse was that we were investigating the cafe. The cafe was closed, and the only people around were a few ramblers, but the sun had at last come out and it was very pleasant to ride past all the sculptures that decorate the vineyard, cafe and conference centre. Having reached the closed cafe we carried on along an empty, narrow, road which took us down to the Linton - Abington Road.

At Abington, with the sun still shining, we stopped for tea at the Comfort Cafe, where we all ordered tea and toasted teacakes.

After tea we returned to Cambridge via the footbridge over the A11 and the unsurfaced path to Babraham. This can be a challenge in the dark, but although the sun had now set there was enough residual light for us to be able to avoid getting stuck in a rut. At Babraham we rejoined the road and completed our journey home via Sawston, Stapleford, Great Shelford and the DNA path to Addenbrooke's. I was home by 5.45pm, after having ridden 37 miles.

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Monday, 18 January 2010

17 Jan: Afternoon ride to Waresley

Ian Driver writes: There were two other riders waiting at Brookside for the 1.45pm start of Sunday's afternoon ride to Waresley Garden Centre. These were Peter and Daniel.

Sunday was clear and bright with lots of blue sky and little wind, making it pretty much ideal cycling conditions. The snow and ice has completely melted on the roads now so the riders could relax and enjoy the milder conditions.

We decided to take a fairly direct route as the garden centre café is winding down by four o'clock, I didn't want to risk a tar and feathering by missing the cake stop while leading my first ride, so we headed out on the Barton road and along to Comberton and then Bourn.

At Bourn we headed up to Caxton where we were amused to see the small ford at Caxton End looking more like a river than a road with a good foot of water ploughing through. We decided to go around, no surprise.

From Caxton we headed down to Great Gransden. Were had 45 mins to spare here so we decided to take in a loop via Abbotsley.

At the garden centre café we met Jacob and Mike who had made their way to the afternoon tea independently, so we were now 5. The apple and blackberry pie seemed to be the order of the day. Not especially cheap but a good sized slice, so it was reasonable value.

After tea we headed off via Gamlingay and Longstowe rejoining our route out.
Due to the earlier start, were still in twilight up to Longstowe. When the sun did finally set, all wind disappeared and we were treated to a fantastic view of Orion low the clear winter night sky.

Peter had a bit of a mechanical at Bourn which took us a while to fix, so the group split. The bike was fixed and we returned to Cambridge in reasonable time.

By the time I got home I had 38.5 miles on the clock, so the cake had been well deserved. Ian Driver

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Monday, 11 January 2010

During this icy weather

There's nothing like a cycle ride to warm you up, so despite this cold, icy and snowy weather we are continuing to hold as many rides as possible. But it looks too slippery, especially on the minor roads that we like to use, we will cancel rides, usually the day before.

To confirm whether a ride will be held, check this website or phone the ride leader (most of whose phone numbers are given on the January rides list) or contact the appropriate rides organisers. Announcements will be also be made to our members' email forum.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Sunday 10th January: rides cancelled

The cold weather continues. The forecast for Sunday 10th suggests that we will continue to get light snow showers. Many roads are still poor. Both rides on Sunday 10th January are therefore cancelled. Let's hope the weather improves soon!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

3 Jan: Day ride to Newmarket, Stradishall and Saffron Walden

There were six riders at Brookside for our first ride of the new decade: Joseph, Averil, Richard, Martin, Alasdair and Nigel. Joseph offered to take the lead. The sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly, there was no snow on the ground, and the roads in Cambridge didn't seem icy. However there had been a heavy frost overnight, and it was still only just above freezing, and Joseph pointed out that rural roads would be slippery and suggested that we stick to main roads today. Wise advice.

So when we headed east out of Cambridge we eschewed the normal riverside route and followed the main East Road and Newmarket Road instead. Only when we reached the edge of the city did we join the cycle path alongside Newmarket Road. Although this didn't seem too slippery, it was covered with ice crystals and we cycled warily.

The route to Newmarket was along B-roads all the way. At Quy we joined the B1102 through Lode and the Swaffhams to Burwell, where we turned on to B1103 to Exning and Newmarket. These busy roads seemed quieter than normal; no doubt the cold weather had encouraged people to stay in bed a little longer than usual. Or perhaps everyone was fed up with shopping. In any case, this was a pleasant ride; the sun continued to shine brightly (as it did for the entire day) and there was no wind, so once we had ridden a few miles we were warm and comfortable.

We stopped for coffee at Waitrose, Newmarket. This was my first visit and it seemed very pleasant. Afterwards we continued east, taking the road to Moulton. This passed between racecourse training grounds and climbs gently, offering fine views of the town.

As we rode on through Suffolk it was clear that unlike further west there had been snow overnight. Although the road we were on was clear, side roads were covered with snow and ice. After Moulton we turned right onto the B1063 to Dalham. Here Joseph has planned to turn left onto a minor road but it looked too slippery and we continued to Lidgate. There, a possible right turn to Cowlinge looked treacherous (below), so we continued on the main road.

Despite having to stick to main roads, there was very little traffic and with the sun continuing to shine brightly the day was bright and the ride cheerful.

The B1063 took us through Wickhambrook to Stradishall, where we turned right onto the A143 for a couple of miles to Tubby T's cafe. Here we found Adrian and John T tucking into a all-day breakfast.

Although Tubby T's is in a handy location in the middle of some fine cycling country, and I will no doubt visit again many times, I can't say I'm a fan. The menu is composed almost entirely of fried food, and despite being almost empty (no motorcyclists today) service was rather slow. So it was at lunch that I decided that I needed to put on a few more miles to burn off all those chips. Most of the group was planning to return to Cambridge after lunch, but Alasdair said he wanted to continue to Saffron Walden and I said I would come too.

We all set off together and took the road from Sowlry Green to Great Thurlow.

At Great Thurlow everyone else continued west whilst Alasdair and I turned left on the B1061 towards Kedington and Sturmer.

At Sturmer we joined the minor road to Steeple Bumpstead. This is normally a charming little lane but today it was a technical challenge; it was icy most of the way, and required concentration and luck to stay upright. Fortunately we did, but it was good to see clear roads again at Steeple Bumpstead. From there the B1054 took us all the way to Saffron Walden, where at about 3.45pm we stopped at the Temeraire.

At the Temeraire we were joined by Gareth, who was the only afternoon rider, making this the first tea stop I have had in which day riders outnumbered the afternoon crowd.

For the route home we took the most direct route we could: Littlebury, Great Chesterford, Ickleton and the usual way home through Whittlesford and the Shelfords. I was home by 5.45pm. My cycle computer had failed, no doubt due to the low temperatures, but my GPS gadget showed that Alasdair and I had ridden a very satisfactory 68 miles.

Today's bright sunshine had protected us from the freezing temperatures, and I wasn't uncomfortably cold at any point. However when I emptied my (untouched) water bottle at home, I noticed that ice was floating at the top.

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