Tuesday, 27 April 2010

25 Apr: Afternoon ride to Gamlingay

Here are two photos of this afternoon's ride. Tim Holmes has sent in this photo of this afternoon's ride, taken at the top of Chapel Hill between Haslingfield and Barrington.

Peter Hutchison has supplied this photo of the ride at Great Gransden Mill:

View this route on a larger map

Sunday, 25 April 2010

25 Apr: Nigel's Birthday Century: Day ride to Waresley, Riseley and Gamlingay

Nigel Deakin writes: To celebrate my recent birthday I decided to start out with today's all-day ride, call at the same coffee, lunch and tea stops, but to take an extra-long route in-between these stops to increase my mileage to 100. The day started dull, overcast and cool, with four other riders waiting at Brookside at 9am. Ian was the leader today, and headed out west towards Coton.

As we rode along I contemplated for the last time whether or not to make a breakaway. But I was full of energy and as we reached Coton asked whether anyone else fancied a slightly faster ride to coffee in Waresley. Jerry agreed, and we went ahead, taking a loop via Madingley and Dry Drayton before dropping back down to the old A428 which we followed to Bourn. As we rode along it started to drizzle quite heavily. After passing through Caxton and Great Gransden we arrived at Waresley Garden Centre at 10.30pm. There were several members waiting in the cafe, and the rest of the group, which had taken a more direct route, arrived soon afterwards. My odomater failed somewhere along the way, but my GPS gadget reported that I had ridden 18 miles. Less than a fifth of my target 100 miles.

As we left the cafe I announced my plan to ride ahead and take a longer route to lunch. I headed west out of the village along the little lane that passed over Lily Hill. The rain had stopped but the roads were quite wet.

I continued into St Neots, where I misjudged my location and briefly got lost in a housing estate in Eynesbury. But I soon found the main road and headed through the town centre and over the Ouse bridge to Eaton Ford. There I turned west towards our planned lunch stop at Keysoe, taking a diversion via Little Staughton and Great Staughton to increased the mileage a little. As I approached Keysoe I caught up with Ian and the main group, and we arrived at the Chequers in Keysoe to discover that it was closed for most of April. Some people had left the group at coffee; Joan and David W had joined. David asked a local resident for an alternative pub and we rode on to have lunch at the Fox and Hounds at Riseley, which was large but welcoming. My GPS gadget now reported 44 miles. Less than half my target, but we were less than half the way through the day.

After finishing my meal I said goodbye to the group and again went ahead. Ian's plan was to drop down south towards Great Barford and Sandy. However this was too short for me, so I headed on westwards, intending to drop down west of Bedford.

Just south of the pub I passed these dishes.

I continued west to Sharnbrook, where I was struck by the change in the local building style. Unlike in Cambridgeshire, the villages here built from stone.

By now the clouds had cleared, the sun had come out, and it was becoming a fine afternoon. I passed through Harrold Country Park, where I stopped for an ice-cream. Just beyond here I had technical trouble with the GPS gadget and so switched back to using the Odometer, which has now started working again. But with the two together I knew how far I had gone.

Eventually I rode into Bedford from the west. The road into the town wasn't especially pleasant, but the in the town centre I was rewarded with the opportunity to ride along the river.

I followed NCR 11 east out of Bedford. The riverside path in Bedford turns into a path along a disused railway line, which offered a pleasant traffic-free ride almost all the way to Sandy.

It was now 4.45pm and I realised I was not going to reach Gamlingay in time for tea. But I carried on, leaving the railway path at Blunham and heading north to cross the A1 at Tempsford. Then east to Everton, up the short, steep Everton Hill (one of the few hills near Cambridge marked by a chevron on the OS map). I reached Everton just after 5pm. Hoping to arrive at tea in time for the last few sandwiches I continued on to Gamlingay, only to make a wrong turn on Gamlingay Heath which took me down to Sandy instead. I arrived at The Cock, Gamlingay at 5.30pm. As I walked in, the landlord took one look at me and said "you're too late".

There was a good turnout at tea, so all the food had indeed gone. The group soon left, leaving me on my own to eat a scotch egg and drink some orange juice, and ponder my mileage. My long diversion west of Bedford, has added in quite a few extra miles and I was now on about 72 miles. 28 to go!

It's about 15 miles from Gamlingay to Cambridge so I needed to put in another diversion on the way home, so instead of the usual route via Bourn I took the road through the Hatleys to Croydon and Wimpole.

The dull morning had turned into a glorious evening, but I was getting tired and my progress was slowing down. I stopped in the grounds of Wimpole Hall to sit down and have a rest.

I continued through Orwell. Even with this diversion I was going to get home with only 90 miles on the clock, so I needed another diversion. So just after Orwell I turned right to Malton and Meldreth. At Shepreth I turned right again and dropped down to Fowlmere. Surely, this would add in enough extra miles? My calculations suggested it would be touch and go, so I added in a loop via Thriplow. Fortunately I was enjoying second wind and my pace had sped up.

I continued through Newton and the Shelfords. Again, my mental calculations told me my mileage was still too low. So I headed for Trumpington where I wearily turned left to Grantchester. As I rode through the village I decided that even this diversion wasn't long enough, so I turned left again and headed along Coton Road up to the A603 roundabout. I was now on 96 miles, so it was safe to at last turn home towards Cambridge.

By now the sun was low in the sky, clearly visible on the horizon as I rode north out of Grantchester. I knew I didn't have lights but reckoned that I would have ample time before that became a problem.

My final approach was along Barton Road and across the river to the common near Brooklands Avenue. Half a mile to go. As I approached Brookside I was on 99.75 miles, so I took one final loop via Bateman Street to Hills Road, to arrive at last at Brookside at 8.15pm. From there it was less than a mile back home.

Later that evening I pieced together my route. My mileage was actually 109 miles, so including the journey home I had ridden 110 miles on the day. I'm not sure why I had made such a big miscalculation, but there was clearly no doubt that I had achieved my Birthday Century. Nigel Deakin

View this route (part manual, part GPS) on a larger map

Sunday, 18 April 2010

18 Apr: Afternoon ride to Stechworth

Tim Holmes writes: The afternoon ride started with a frantic bit of packing during which I realised that my new saddle bag, although larger than my old one wasn't really suitable to hold my cycle jacket for the return journey. I decided to risk the weather not turning too cold on the return leg and dressed accordingly for the warm sunshine, having left myself only 15 minutes to dash from Girton down to Brookside.

This must have been my sixth or seventh afternoon ride, and I'm starting to be able to differentiate between the regulars and the newcomers. After a few minutes after the scheduled start time we headed south along various cycle paths and routes, taking
in the cycle way past Addenbrooks, neatly avoiding any serious traffic until we were well out of the city and enjoying the south Cambridge country.

Abington, just after crossing the A11 bridge

Having been brought up in the hills of Derbyshire I often miss a good hill, so it was a nice change to climb out of Linton past the Chilford Vineyard on our way to Balsham. There were no shortage of quiet, picturesque villages today, complete with Thatch cottages, quaint churches and interesting looking pubs.

Checking the map in Linton:

I must confess to spending time gazing up at the clouds wondering if I'd see any passing clumps of volcanic ash drifting over from Iceland...

Stopping for a drink in West Wratting:

Eventually, after a few checks of the map by our group leader, we arrived at
The Marquis Of Granby, for tea, sandwiches and cake... Whilst here, I was asked about my bike - it is a 2009 Giant Defy 4 which I bought from Chris's Bikes in Girton last year. I'm very pleased with it.

After tea, we made our way back to Cambridge. This is where my lack of cycle jacket came into play, as it was noticeably cooler. Fortunately I joined a group of two other cyclists who were keen on adopting a brisk pace back, so I was able to generate sufficient body heat to keep comfortable. As we rode through Stourbridge Common the sun finally made a welcome return.

My odometer indicated I had covered about 49 miles when I returned home to Girton. Tim Holmes

Photos by Tina Filby.

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18 Apr: Day ride to Stradishall, Clare and Stechworth

On yet another glorious spring day, I rode to Brookside expecting to see a repeat of last week's huge turnout; in the event only Mike K and Averil turned up for what proved to be my best day's cycling so far this year.

Mike was our leader today, and he led us east across Parker's Piece and Midsummer Common down to the river.

We then followed the Jubilee Cycleway to Quy.

From Quy we took the road to Little Wilbraham and Six Mile Bottom. The weather was clear and sunny, with only a slight breeze. However the breeze was still quite cool, and I stopped to put on an extra layer - which I soon took off again as the morning warmed up.

At Six Mile Bottom we followed the A1304 for a few hundred yards and then turned off for the long climb past Wadlow Farm to West Wratting. As we rode through the village we were overtaken by a couple of faster cyclists and as they rode past I accellerated to join them. I had expected not to be able to keep up with them for more than a few hundred yards, but they were in fact not going especially fast and I was able to stay with them, chatting pleasantly, as we rode to Carlton Green and then to Little Thurlow, where our routes parted.

At this point I remembered that Mike and Averil had been planning to take a different route and so I continued on my own to the coffee stop at Tubby T's Cafe, Stradishall. Geoff was waiting there with his brand new bike (a birthday present to himself) but with no-one else. After a short while Mike and Averil joined us, having taken a slightly longer route via Witherfield.

After coffee Averil returned to Cambridge with Geoff, leaving just Mike and I to continue to lunch in Clare. It only took us half an hour to get there, via Denston, Assington Green and a particularly lovely lane to Poslingford.

The sun was still shining brightly, the sky was clear and it was becoming quite warm, so when we arrived in Clare we stopped at the Co-op to buy sandwiches and sat down at a bench in Clare Castle Country Park for a picnic.

By a happy coincidence there was a tricycle-mounted mobile cappucino stand only a few yards away so I was able to round off my lunch with a freshly-prepared latte.

After lunch we explored a little more of the country park. The park has two focal points. The most obvious is the ruined castle, which stands on a mound in the middle of the park. If we hadn't had our bikes with us we might have climbed the steps to the stop. The other focus of the park is the old railway station, which retains its building and platforms, and a fine iron bridge over the River Stour.

The trackbed is now a path. We followed it for about half a mile to the edge of the village.

Back on the road, we continued east to Pentlow and then north to Cavendish and Glemsford.

The road from Glemsford to Hawkwdon is about four miles of undulating, twisting, single-road, and is in my view one of the loveliest lanes in the whole area. What makes it special is not the fact that it's traffic-free and peaceful, but the constantly changing views it offers as you ride along it. And as you approach Hawkedon, it offers a splendid ford.

At Hawkedon we sat down at a bench outside the church to relax for twenty minutes. I ate a sandwich whilst Mike went into the church to inspect its attractive wooden ceiling. We then continued north and west and, after another hour or so of gentle-paced cycling we arrived at Stechworth, and tea at The Marquess of Granby. Here we found George and David S, and Mike S and his wife (Mike is recovering from a broken hip and had arrived by car). After a few minutes Simon FM arrived with a large group from the afternoon ride. It was nice to see that the sunshine had brought out several new faces.

Although we were above the booked numbers for tea, there was plenty of food and tea was a pleasant and convivial affair.

After tea we returned home to Cambridge via Dullingham, Swaffham Bulbeck, Quy and the Jubilee Cycleway once again. I was home by just after 7pm, after having ridden 81 miles at a relaxed pace on a beautiful warm spring day.

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Saturday, 17 April 2010

Even more rides in May and June!

CTC Cambridge will be doing even more cycling than ever this spring and summer, with up to seven rides a week. We're introducing regular rides on Wednesday evenings, to allow people who've been cooped up indoors all day to make good use of the long summer evenings. And we're introducing some extra-long rides on Sundays. See the May and June rides lists for details.

As always, our rides lists are subject to change, but you can always obtain the latest version from this website (see links on left). If a ride is cancelled it will normally be announced here. In addition, members who are subscribed to our email discussion list will be notified by email.

Monday, 12 April 2010

CTC Cambridge Annual Dinner

The CTC Cambridge Annual Dinner will be held on Friday 7th May at The Unicorn in Church Lane, Trumpington. 7.30pm for 8.00pm. All members are invited. Tickets cost £15, which includes a £2 subsidy from the club. If you'd like to come, make your choices from the menu here (pdf) and contact Bob Billingham on 01223 412926 or email rgbill at talktalk dot net.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

11 Apr: Day ride to St Neots, Tilbrook and Conington

On the warmest weekend of the year so far, I expected a good turnout for today's day ride, and that was what we got, with fifteen turning up and the majority staying for the whole day. The day started out bright, though it was quite cloudy, and warm enough for me to wear shorts for the first time.

Today's leader was Adrian. He led our long group west out of Cambridge along the Coton path to Coton and then, after a pleasant diversion via Madingley and Dry Drayton, onto the main St Neot's road (the old A428) heading west.

With such a large group many of us were seeing old friends for the first time for several months, and I spent most of the first hour of the ride chatting and didn't really notice our smooth progress, which I later realised was assisted by a tailwind.

We followed the St Neots road past Cambourne before turning right (north) to Elsworth and then left (west again) to Papworth. We then followed the B1040 past Papworth. Unfortunately part of this road has been stolen to form the A1198 Papworth Bypass, and we had a mile or two of uneventful main road riding.

We turned off the main road and were soon on quiet roads again, which took us through the wonderfully-named villages of Yelling and Toseland.

After a few more miles we reached St Neots, where there was some confusion as to where the coffee stop was. With Adrian riding towards the rear the front riders headed through the town centre for the Ambience Cafe in the riverside park. Most of the group had coffee there, whilst several others including me returned to the town centre where we found Adrian sitting down for coffee at the Market Cafe.

This was my first visit to the Market Cafe. It is a classic old-fashioned cafe with a large breakfast menu; I ordered cheese and toast for about £2.20.

As we were getting ready to depart Geoff and several others turned up from the group that had stopped at the Ambience Cafe, ready to set off for towards lunch. After coffee, about half a dozen people returned to Cambridge. However half a dozen others joined the ride at this point, making a group of about fifteen of us continuing to Lunch.

We headed north out of St Neots to Little Paxton, where we crossed the Ouse and then joined a little road, closed to traffic, to Hail Weston.

Along this road we encountered a ford. It looked quite deep and slimy. Alasdair splashed bravely through, whilst the rest of us wheeled our bikes over the footbridge.

At Hail Weston we joined the B645 (the old A45) for a few yards before turning off for an off-road diversion via Pastures Farm.

We then rejoined the B645 before turning off again for a short diversion via Dillington before once again rejoining the B645. This road was extremely quiet; it was hard to remember that this was the main route from Cambridge to Birmingham until relatively recently. With lunchtime approaching we followed the B645 through Kimbolton, round its infamous sharp turn (below), arriving at The White Horse, Tilbrook at exactly 1pm.

After a leisurely roast lunch we continued west for a short distance before turning right (north) for turning east for a big loop north of Huntingdon. By now the sky had partially cleared and the sun was shining. However the wind had picked up and we soon found ourselves riding into quite a strong headwind, which remained our constant adversary for the next couple of hours.

This section of the route was along completely unfamiliar roads, which was a most pleasant change. After heading east for about an hour we crossed the A1 and eventually found ourselves riding through the pretty little village of Wennington

We then turned south towards St Ives. Somewhere near RAF Wyton I decided the pace of the group was getting a bit slow for me, and so I went ahead. No doubt the prospect of being late for tea had also crossed my mind. After a while several others joined me in my breakaway group. Riding more quickly now, we sped along into St Ives, over the Ouse on the old bridge and on to Fenstanton. Here we crossed the A14 using the subway and rode the final mile or two to Conington, which I reached at 5.15pm: 15 minutes late.

At tea we found Julia and the afternoon ride, plus George and Steve who had arrived separately: about ten in all. There was enough food left for us, however, and also for several more who arrived after a further 10 minutes.

After tea the sun was still shining. We returned home to Cambridge in two separate groups. Most of the group followed Adrian south through Knapwell to the old St Neots road and back that way. I led a smaller group north to Fen Drayton to join the guided busway track.

After briefly getting lost in the Fen Drayton nature reserve we joined the guided busway track and followed it all the way back to Cambridge. This was my first ride along it in daylight.

I soon became fed up with the bumpy cycle track and rode most of the way on the concrete guideway.

As before, this route is annoyingly bumpy but it is certainly very quiet and peaceful, and before long we were back in Cambridge. I was home by about 7.25pm, having ridden 89 miles.

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Sunday, 4 April 2010

4 Apr: Afternoon ride to Royston

Ian Driver writes: I didn't know how many to expect on Easter Sunday (if any!), but as it turned out, two other riders turned up: Peter, who hadn’t been out since the Autumn so a welcome return, and Mike K, so the ride was on. I noticed the Cross Keys pub at Brookside is no longer and a Japanese restaurant is opening.

I wanted this to be a bit of an Easter special, so I took the ride out along the DNA path (we waved to Addenbrookes to spare a thought for Mike S and hope he has a speedy recovery), through the Shelfords and Newton to Thriplow. I thought the daffodils and spring lambs would be nice and Eastery.

I took a loop in Thriplow along Church Street then Farm Lane followed by Lower Street. This gave us the best view of the flowers and the lambs and always cheers my humours.

We then headed through Fowlmere and crossed the A505 on the start of a climb that would take us through Heydon, Great Chishill, Barkway and Reed. It was here the wind began to bite. This is a fair old climb with a strong wind in the face, but the views at the top are a nice reward. Stevenage CTC had taken me along this road on the week before on the "Start of Summer Time" Audax. I never fail to see other riders along here and I never tire of the view back to Cambridge.

We headed across the A10 and reed and on to tea at the Heath fitness centre café.

After tea, we were in a mood for a fairly direct route back. I took us through Royston and onto the cycle track that leads along the side of the A10. You soon cross the A10 off this track and into the back of Melbourn for the lanes home. I left Mike and Peter to return home to Foxton. Mike and Peter went back through Thriplow for a second look. This is a gem right now and would recommend it to any ride passing by in the next few weeks.

41.22 Miles on the clock. Ian Driver.

4 Apr: Morning ride to Reed

I rode across Cambridge in light drizzle to find four other riders waiting at Brookside for the 9am start of today's day ride. Mick was our leader today, and took us on a relatively direct route to our coffee stop in Reed. We headed down Trumpington Road before cutting across to Addenbrooke's where we picked up the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we followed the minor road that led first to Little Shelford and then to Whittlesford. The first few miles were quite cold, but the drizzle soon stopped and the day became brighter after a while.

Just north of Whittlesford we turned right and looped back north to Newton where we picked up the B1368, which we followed all the way to Barkway.

At Barkway we turned right for the final few miles to Reed, and our coffee stop at the Silver Ball cafe.

Outside the cafe we found two other members, making a total of seven at coffee.

The Silver Ball cafe is an old favourite for local cyclists and motorcyclists, with a group from Cambridge Cycling Club already tucking into a late breakfast. I ordered a mug of coffee and a large plate of beans on toast, which together cost a very reasonable £3.20; it was delivered quickly and efficiently. I'm pleased to report that the owners are currently in the process of reconstructing the toilets, which were rather squalid and inadequate before.

After coffee the main group continued to lunch at Church Farm, Ardeley near Stevenage, whilst I returned to Cambridge via Thirlfield, Litlington and Kneesworth. I was home just after 1pm, having ridden 44 miles.

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

1 Apr: Thursday ride to Gamlingay

I had the day off work today, and as the sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly this morning I decided to join the Thursday ride for a change. This started from Haslingfield Church at 9.30am. I had an engagement in Cambridge at 9am and so couldn't make the official start of the ride. Instead I left Cambridge at 10.30am intending to meet the group at Gamlingay for lunch.

The weather was beautiful, but it was cold and I was riding into quite a fierce headwind. From Cambridge I followed the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, where I turned left for Haslingfield. I passed the official start of the ride at about 11am, 90 minutes after the offical start. From here I climbed over Chapel Hill to Barrington where I took the road to Orwell.

As I entered Orwell I met the main ride: they turned into High Street Orwell about 100 yards ahead of me. There were about ten riders, led by Greta. They had taken a loop from Haslingfield via Newton, Thriplow, Shepreth and Malton, with a coffee stop at Malton Golf Club.

The group continued up to the A603 which we followed west as far as the A1198. We crossed the A1198 and continued to Wendy. "Windy, more like" said somebody as we toiled into the wind.

We continued through Shingay to Guilden Morden, where we turned north towards Wrestlingfield and Cockayne Hadley. The group had by now spread out and split into a number of separate groups. Most riders continued west to Potton, whilst my group continued north along the bridleway (with the woods offering a welcome respite from the wind) to Hatley Road, where we turned west for the final mile or two into Gamlingay.

At The Cock we met several more riders, making about 15 members in total at lunch.

As we stepped out after lunch we discovered that the sun had gone and that the wind had brought rain over from the west. We headed straight back home, with Geoff setting a rapid wind-assisted pace through Longstowe, Toft, Comberton and Barton. Geoff turned off towards Grantchester whilst Rupert and I continued into Cambridge. I arrived home at about 3pm, after having cycled 41 miles. Those who had ridden with the main group would have covered an additional 11 miles (from and to from Cambridge).

My route in purple. Route from official start in red. View this route (part from GPS, part from map) on a larger map