Sunday, 28 February 2010

28 Feb: Afternoon ride to Royston

It had been raining heavily all night and all morning, but miraculously the rain stopped completely at 2pm, just in time for this afternoon's club ride to Royston. Not surprisingly there was a small turnout at Brookside: just me, Gareth (our leader today), Mike K and Jacob.

Gareth led us south along Trumpington Road to Addenbrooke's and along the DNA path to Great Shelford. Although there was no rain at all for the whole ride, evidence of the previous night's rainfall was all around us, with wet roads and enormous puddles.

After reaching Great Shelford we followed a loop past the station and then took the road to Whittlesford. Somewhere along the way we stopped to admire a fine display of snowdrops.

We crossed the A505 and continued through Duxford and Ickleton and then up Coploe Hill. Half way up the hill we turned right to Elmdon.

After Elmdon we dropped down to the B1039 and continued on to Duddenhoe End. By now I was riding some way ahead of the group, and perhaps inevitably I lost them briefly before meeting up again at the cricket field on Langley Upper Green. Apparently we had taken slightly different routes through Duddenhoe End. From Upper Green we continued to Lower Green. This marked the most southerly part of today's ride, and it was time to turn north towards Royston.

It was now 4.10pm, with the signpost at Lower Green saying that it was 7 miles to Royston. I suggested to Gareth that we should call Tina and let her know we would be slightly late for tea, but Gareth said that he had arranged tea for 5pm. leaving us plenty of time.

So we turned right and followed the lovely little road through Little Chishill to Shaftenhoe End. Water was streaming off the sodden fields and running down the road in torrents; and when we reached Shaftenhoe End we encountered a huge flood which we had no option but to ride straight through.

After another mile or so we were in Barley, where we picked up the B1039 which took us all the way down to Royston.

We reached Tina's house in Royston just after 5pm, where we found Tina waiting with pots of tea and coffee and a fine spread of sandwiches and home-made cakes. It was good to see Bob and Myrtle were also there; they live just round the corner. Inevitably there was no sign of the day ride - if anyone had ventured out this morning they would have long returned home to dry off. Many thanks, Tina, for an excellent tea.

After tea we switched on our lights and returned home to Cambridge. We started with a short ride north along the A1198 as far as Kneesworth where we turned right onto the quieter road to Meldreth. We had a slight tailwind behind us as we made an easy progress through Shepreth, Barrington, over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield and finally through Barton back to Cambridge. I was back in Cambridge by about 7.30pm after 48 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

Sunday, 21 February 2010

21 Feb: Day ride to Malton, Hinxworth and Waresley

It was snowing when I rode across Cambridge to Brookside for the start of today's all-day ride. It wasn't settling, but it was definitely snowing. So I wasn't that surprised to find that only four others waiting at the start: Tom (our leader), Alasdair, Mick and Brian. We set off along Barton Road for Comberton; it soon stopped snowing but it remained dull and damp and there was a coating of slush on the road.

At Comberton we turned left into South Street which took us down to the A603. We crossed over and continued through Harlton to Haslingfield. We climbed Chapel Hill and dropped down into Barrington, where we turned right for Orwell and the road to Malton. At Malton Golf Club we stopped for coffee.

I think Malton Golf Club is one of my favourite coffee stops, one where we always seem to get a friendly welcome from the staff. There's a full menu of food and drink; Alasdair chose a bacon baguette whilst I ordered a toasted teacake, which we ate whilst I browsed the Sunday papers.

After coffee Brian headed home whilst the rest of us we continued west via Meldreth and Kneesworth. At Bassingbourn we split into two: Mick continued to Litlington and the shortest route to Lunch whilst the rest of us turned right for a longer route via Shingay, Guilden Morden and Ashwell. At about 1pm exactly we arrived at Farrowby Farm just west of Hinxworth where we found Mick and another Brian (Brian from Bedfordshire, on his tricycle) already well into their lunch.

The food at Farrowby Farm is entirely satisfactory. I enjoyed a hearty cassoulet for £5.95, followed by cake and custard.

As we sat eating our lunch the weather brightened up and by the time we were ready to move on the sun had come out. After lunch we went our various ways. Tom, Mick and I were ready to head home but not directly, so Mick suggested we return to Hinxworth and then turned west over the A1 to Langford before turning north through Broom and Old Warden to Moggerhanger. Just north of Moggerhanger we turned east onto the former railway route which now forms National Cycle Route 51. (Note the typically useless signs in the photo below).

By now the sky had cleared, the sun was shining brightly and it was really a very nice afternoon.

Soon we reached Sandy. From there we continued east through Everton towards Waresley. This was the designated afternoon tea stop. We hadn't intended to stop here but by the time we passed the Garden Centre there it was approaching 4pm, the planned tea time. By now I was tiring somewhat, and so was Ian, so we decided to stop for a cup of tea. Mick, demonstrating the remarkable cycling stamina for which he is renowned, said his goodbyes and continued on home without stopping.

At the Waresley Park Garden Centre we met the afternoon ride: Gareth, Chris, Ian D, Mike K. Mike Sl had been out earlier but had retired after sustaining a puncture.

We finished tea at about 4.30pm. The sun was low in the sky but still shining brightly. The afternoon ride had only done about 20 miles so Gareth suggested a circuitous route home. Tom and Ian decided to take the direct route, leaving Gareth, Mike K, Chris and me to ride along the lovely road to Lily Hill before returning south to Gamlingay.

From Gamlingay we continued through the Hatleys and down Croydon Hill to Arrington.

With the sky now darkening we rode past Wimpole Hall and then back to Cambridge along the usual route via Orwell and Barrington. A second crossing of Chapel Hill took us to Haslingfield, where Chris turned right on his way home to Sawston. This left Gareth, Mike K and me heading back to Barton. Mike was suffering a slow puncture and was stopping periodically to add a bit more air. Somewhere along the road to Barton he and Gareth must have stopped, because by the time I reached Barton I was alone. It was now completely dark. The sky was clear and the stars were clearly visible. In consequence it was also getting quite cold, so I continued to Cambridge on my own, arriving home at about 7pm. My mileage was 84 miles, my longest this year, on a remarkable day that started with snow but ended with clear skies and bright sunshine. Not bad for February!

View this route (partly but not all a GPS track) on a larger map

Thursday, 18 February 2010

18th Feb: Thursday day ride to Gamlingay

Joseph Sugg writes: Thursday rides begin at either Haslingfield or Hauxton at 9:30 am (check runslist for details). Today the start was at Haslingfield Church which meant a 7 mile ride to get to the start. It was a cold and crisp morning. Rupert caught up with me on the way there and by the time we left there were nine of us, a very good turn out for a winter Thursday, although turnout in the summer is often in the high teens.

We set out towards Harlton and the Eversdens and from there rode through Kingston to the B1046. The roads were icy in places, due to overnight frozen surface water, and Greta and John decided to stop at Bourn Golf club. The rest of us carried on towards the original planned coffee stop at Cambourne.

We carried on through Bourn and up the hill, then over the A428. A left and a right took us to Knapwell. Then a left at the crossroads to Elsworth before another left in the village. This took us back down to Cambourne and back across the A428.

We stopped for coffee at Morrisons. The coffee and cakes here are very reasonable and not bad quality either. In the cafe we met Bill from Ely who had made his own way to Cambourne.

After enjoying coffee and an eccles cake we walked out of the supermarket to be greeted by sleety rain. By now it was also considerably colder. We carried on out the southern end of Cambourne and through Caxton via the ford, which was in flood again.

We continued towards Great Gransden. When we reached the village Rupert and Arnie turned back and left the six of us to continue through the sleet past Waresley Garden centre and on to Gamlingay, finally arriving at a very welcome sight: The Cock at Gamlingay.

The Cock is a regular haunt of the club, especially in the winter, popular both for lunch and tea stops. There was a good winter menu on offer, including vegetable soup and fishermans pie. We were greeted by a roaring fire which we used to dry out our damp clothes. Little did we know we were going to get a lot damper.

At the pub we met Richard from Bedford. Bob and Myrtle arrived a little later. If you come out on a Thursday you will meet a range of people who you won't see at weekends. We stayed in the pub for a while, enjoying the warmth, and it was a wrench when we finally had to go.

The normal plan on a Thursday is to get back mid-afternoon, so we usually head back by a fairly direct route (we tend to go a little further in Summer). Thus, we used the well travelled B1046 to get back to Cambridge. This route takes you back via Longstowe, Bourn, Toft, Comberton and Barton and back into Cambridge. The weather became progressively worse the further we went. By the time I got home I was pretty wet, and very glad to get back in the warm. I was back by 3:00pm with a total mileage of 51 miles. Joseph Sugg

Sunday, 14 February 2010

14 Feb: Day ride to Wicken Fen and Wilburton

Joseph Sugg writes: I turned up at Brookside this morning to find four others braving the cold. However for once there was no ice on the roads. Adrian led us out along Newmarket Road before turning off to join the Jubilee cycleway. Along the way we picked up Rupert, who had correctly guessed the route we would take.

Our route took us through Fen Ditton to Bottisham and from there to Lode. Lode is a pretty village which we rarely cycle through. Our route north of Lode took us into the Fens, along empty farm roads and along the new cycleway across White Fen before joining the road to Upware.

At Upware we crossed over the busy A1123 onto the minor road (the Sustrans route) to Wicken. At the Wicken Fen cafe Vic was waiting for us. National Trust cafes are notoriously pricey but £3.00 for a coffee and a scone didn't seem too bad at all.

After Wicken we rejoined the Sustrans route to Ely. The tarmac bit was very dirty and the stretch before the bank was quite slippery, but negotiable. However once we were on the top of the floodbank we could enjoy the Fens at their best. I find the Fens one of the best landscapes in the UK, and we passed several young swans in the fields.

We cycled through Ely and then across the busy A10 to reach the Coveney road. Coveney is perched on one of the few hills in the area, and is a peculiar sight as you ride towards it. From Coveney we rode across the A142 and on to Wilburton. We stopped at the Twenty Pence garden centre in the village. It was a long time since I have been there and, like most garden centres, it now has a huge cafe which was packed when we arrived. However the cafe was very efficient and the food is reasonably priced.

There wasn't a lot of choice for the route back. We rode down the Cottenham road before turning onto Long Drove, a quiet concrete road which leaves you pretty shaken up by the time you reach the end! Then we turned towards Landbeach and the A10 crossing over to Milton. We went through Milton and joined the riverside path back into Cambridge.

The weather was changeable today. Although it was largely dry there was the odd shower - and it was very cold. Thank you Adrian for a good day's ride in the Fens. Total mileage 54 miles. Joseph Sugg

14 Feb: Afternoon ride to St Ives

It was another cold, overcast winter's day so it was perhaps not surprising that only five riders turned up at Brookside for this afternoon's ride to St Ives: Averil, Alasdair, Mike Sl, Mike K and me. I was the leader today, and had chosen a route which consisted of a big clockwise arc. We headed out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, where we turned left to Haslingfield.

At Haslingfield we turned right to Harlton and confinued through the Eversdens and Kingston to Bourn.

The weather was very dull, with a gentle breeze which make it seem quite cold. After a while it started to drizzle, and for a short while there was a bit of hail. The group set a fast pace, probably because the dreary weather mean there was little point in hanging around.

From Bourn we headed north, across the old A428 to Knapwell. When we reached the cross-roads north of Knapwell we were only a few miles from tea. However due to our fast pace we still had over an hour to spare, so we turned west for a loop through through Elsworth and Hilton to Fenstanton. At some point the drizzle stopped.

At Fenstanton we crossed under the A14 using the subway and, after a couple more miles, arrived at Ian's house in St Ives. Despite having ridden 25 miles we were still 25 minutes early, but we were happy to sit in the warm of Ian's sitting room waiting for Ian to make the final touches to his sandwiches and cakes.

Waiting at Ian's were Simon P, Julia, George, Peter, Mike S and Doug (plus, of course, Ian). Doug is still recovering from the serious injuries he received when he was hit by a car before Christmas, and it was very nice to see him out and about.

After an excellent tea we headed back home. After some discussion we agreed to follow the Guided Busway back to Cambridge.

This was the first time I had ridden the entire length of the guided busway. Between St Ives and Fen Drayton the cycle track was flooded so we rode along the concrete beams of the busway itself (which isn't, of course, in use yet). This was lovely and smooth but it was mentally tiring to have to concentrate on not falling off the edge of the narrow concrete path.

Once we were past the area of flooding we switched to the cycle track. This is unsurfaced and rough in places but fairly straightforward to ride along, even in the growing darkness. By the time we got to Oakington (well I think it was Oakington: there are no signs telling you were you are) Simon and Averil had had enough of the bumpy track and turned off onto the road, whilst Mike K and I continued along the busway cycle track through Histon, under the A14 to Cambridge. The busway track is bumpy, muddy and dull (especially in the dark), but you can't fault the complete absence of traffic which makes it a very peaceful, uneventful and quiet ride.

I left the busway track at CRC, a mile before the end, and returned home via Chesterton and the Green Dragon bridge. I was home just before 7pm, after having ridden 40 miles.

View this part GPS track, part manual route on a larger map

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Should CTC become a charity?

At the 2010 AGM of CTC (the national organisation) there will be a vote on CTC Council's proposal for CTC to become a charity. The February/march issue of Cycle magazine featured arguments for and against. Former CTC National Councillor Mike Stapleton gives his views here

Should CTC become a charity?

At the 2010 AGM of CTC (the national organisation) there will be a vote on CTC Council's proposal for CTC to become a charity. The February/march issue of Cycle magazine featured arguments for and against.

Here is a contribution to the debate from Mike Stapleton, member of CTC Cambridge and former CTC National Councillor. This is his personal view; CTC Cambridge itself hasn't taken a view on this issue.

My own position is that I do not object to the move in general terms but will only support it if I consider that the infrastructure to be put in place will be adequate to ensure that the Club side of CTC continues to have the support from Head Offices that it needs.

My understanding is that the Club Members will cease to have direct control of the operation of CTC. They will still be able to appoach the Board of Trustees via their Councillors. There are only 20 Councillors for the whole country and we only have two Jim Brown and Martin Cockersole in the East. I've never met Martin. We only see Jim at AGMs (sometimes). There has been a move to reduce this number still further.

The Board of Trustees is formed from the Council members and it appears to have seven members. I assume it can insist on the direction of the operation subject to the requirements of Charity law. If I was sure that this Board would have proper access to the executive (and Kevin Mayne in particular) then I would be prepared to accept Charitable Status as it brings considerable benefits.

I would like some advise on just what restrictions are applied by accepting Charitable Status.

The access to the Executive is the critical matter. I doubt that any volunteer members of Council will have the time to spend at HQ which would be necessary to observe it adequately. I consider that a representative of the Trustees should attend all major progress meetings and have access to staff when requested. We have to find a way for this to happen. This person would then report to the Board.

The next matter I have concern about is the structure of CTC HQ. Years ago before Kevin Mayne took over as Chief Executive there was a Cycling Development Department with a manager. This was largely disbanded on the grounds of costs and because it did not fit with Kevin's agenda. I think this is the time when we should insist that a Member of Staff be appointed to control those functions of HQ that provide services to the Club. Specifically the Magazine, Membership, possibly Right to Ride and things like equipment reviews, cycling events etc.

There is clear evidence that CTC has failed to control its membership providers, I think there have been four over the last ten Years.

The links between CTC HQ and the sections are tenuous at best. In the past, when I was a Councillor, I provided the link in most of East Anglia but that seems to be virtually non existant now.

The link between Right to Ride and CTC Right to Ride is weak but showed signs of improvement last year when Sam Walton took over the laision. He has left. I get occasional messges from CTC e.g. You have just two days to submit objections to the A14 improvements (This actually occurred early this January). I've been on the case for eight years. I think they are on another planet. I have attended various conferences and though useful at a National level they are useless as far as I am concerned in that they fail to provide the tools I need to address the infrastructure that I have to work with here in Cambridgeshire. The Cycling Campaign and CTC Cambridge Right to Ride are highly effective organisations that work with infrastructure providers. CTC at local level seems to be generally negative in its appoach to Highway providers. Am I just lucky that Cambridgeshire does quite a lot for cycling?

Kevin has failed to appear at Birthday Rides in recent years and has devolved control of the Birthday Rides to the Tours Company. I have no problem with the Tours Company but Kevin should show his physical support of the events if he is really interested in the Club side of the operation. He should be the figurehead for the Club.

Kevin's agenda is to run the CTC, the National Cycling Organisation, of which the Club is a lesser part. He has seen that there are large benefits in working on a more general level and obtaining grants and tax relief from Government. I have to accept that this is a successful policy and should be continued. The point is that we have to put in place a monitoring structure that will work or Kevin will ride rough shode over us as sure as God made little apples. I apologise for being personal but I do think Kevin is the key and he will apply his own agenda to the operation if we let him.

I don't believe Council sees the matter in this light. I object to Council talking down to us telling us they know what is good for us and we should support them. I also object to the somewhat partisan approach from the objectors. Like everything there is a middle path which could be made to work.

I remind everyone that if the change fails then there is no way back to a Club status. So that assuming that the benefits are sufficient to demand the change I need to be assured that the infrastructure that will be put in place will control the operation of the Club side of CTC adequately even if this is not the major part of the operation.

Mike Stapleton 11th February 2010

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Sunday afternoon rides

Sunday afternoon rides have now returned to their normal start time of 2.15pm. This follows an experiment with an earlier start during January.

Monday, 8 February 2010

March and April Rides

The rides lists for March and April are now available.

Both the monthly rides lists and the full list of all forthcoming rides are subject to change; you can always obtain the latest version from this website.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

7 Feb: Day ride to Saffron Walden and Thaxted

There was a good turnout of ten riders for today's all-day ride, making this probably our biggest ride so far this year. This was despite the weather being dull, indeed dismal. Low cloud filled the sky the whole day but in consequence temperatures were mild. As a result several riders were making their first appearance on a club run since the January freeze.

Coffee today was in Saffron Walden. Joseph took us there on a fairly direct route, via the Shelfords, Ickleton and Coploe Hill. Half-way up Coploe Hill we caught up with the Veterans cycle club with a group of similar size to our own. We greeted each other pleasantly and chatted briefly as we climbed up to Catmere End.

From Catmere End we continued down the hill to Audley End house before making a final short climb into Saffron Walden. On arrival at The Temeraire we found seven or eight club members waiting for us, making a large and convivial group of about seventeen sitting near the open fire drinking coffee and chewing chocolate muffins.

After coffee, most of the people who had ridden there directly rode back home, but Mike S and Adrian joined us to ride to Lunch. They took the direct road to Thaxted, whilst Joseph led the main group a longer route via Radwinter and Great Sampford.

Our speed to lunch along these pleasant, undulating roads was quite high by club standards. This was no doubt partly a result of our splitting into faster and slower groups but I suspect it was also because we were all keen to make up for rides missed due to the weather last month.

At Thaxted the scheduled lunch stop was Poppy's Cafe. However, although Poppy's was open, we decided to visit Parrishes Restaurant instead. I hadn't been here before and can heartily recommend it. The welcome was friendly, the service good, and the menu ideal for a cyclists' lunch stop, allowing me to enjoy the classic cyclists' lunch of baked potatoes with beans and cheese.

After lunch we returned to Cambridge. The weather remained obstinately dull but it was still dry and mild. The most direct route home would have taken us back through Saffron Walden, so instead Joseph took us south-west to Henham and Ugley before turning north to Arkesden. These are delightful lanes but it started to drizzle and our spirits sagged somewhat. After about an hour it dried off and our attention changed from the weather to the fact that we were all getting a bit tired. The final miles via Elmdon, Ickleton and Whittlesford were a bit of a weary plod for all of us, no doubt due to us all being a bit out of practice, so it was a relief to arrive back home in Cambridge at about 5pm, after having ridden a very satisfying 62 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map