Sunday, 23 May 2010

23 May: Afternoon ride to Saffron Walden

Jaqueline Mountford-Green writes: Five riders joined me at 2.15pm under a cloudless blue sky in a temperature already reaching the mid twenties. By zig zagging through the back streets we crossed Hills Road from Bateman Street, Cherry Hinton Road from the hall and Queen Edith's Way from Spalding Way.

Once on the DNA cycle path we gathered speed, stopping briefly at Shelford Station crossing for the apparently delayed 2pm from Cambridge, before continuing via Whittlesford, Duxford and Ickleton. Here we turned towards Elmdon where a shaded tree provided respite until we had all regrouped.

Three riders decided to take tea elsewhere so the other three enjoyed the downhill journey, under the M11 viaduct, to the stunning views of Audley End. A little climb and we were soon dropping into Saffron Walden and into the tea stop.

By 5.30 only two other riders had joined us and as the majority lived west of Cambridge we planned a return route via Chrishall and Fowlmere. The rolling, tree shaded, lanes provided breathtaking smells of cowslip and lilac and we were soon splitting off to our more direct routes home. Thank you to all for a wonderful ride. Jaqueline Mountford-Green

23 May: Day ride to Barkway, Hatfield Forest and Thaxted

Nigel Deakin writes: Our late summer heatwave continues: today was clear, very sunny, and very hot, with temperatures above 25C all day. So it was no surprise to see a dozen riders at Brookside for today's all-day ride.

Mick C was our leader today, and he led us south to Addenbrooke's and out of Cambridge along the DNA path. Along the way we picked up Toby, who was out on his first ride with us.

This part of the ride is always a sociable affair, with most people riding two abreast chatting to friends.

I'm usually so absorbed chatting that the first part of these rides tends to pass without me noticing where we were going, but I think we headed south to Whittlesford, looped north to Newton and then south again to Thriplow and Fowlmere. After crossing the A505 we climbed up to Great Chishill and then, after a final loop via Nuthampsted (where we caught up with Vic and Adrian), stopped for coffee at Barkway Golf Club. Here we found Greta, John and - I'm delighted to report - Doug. Doug is now back on his bike following his serious leg injuries at Christmas.

It was already so hot that several of us skipped coffee and ordered large cold drinks instead.

After coffee several members returned to Cambridge as usual, whilst the main ride continued on to Lunch. This took us south through Meesden, Brent Pelham and Manuden where we looped back north along a lovely narrow lane to Rickling Green.

We continued through Ugley to Elsenham, where several of us stopped at the shop by the station to stock up on food and drink.

The final stage of the morning ride took us around the edge of Stansted Airport, though it was barely visible behind the trees, to Takeley where we stopped in Hatfield Forest Country Park for a picnic by the lake. By now it was 1.30pm so we were ready for a rest.

After lunch we headed east along the Flitch Way, NCR 16, a former railway, which we followed to Great Dunmow. Although the path is unsurfaced it is OK to ride on, and it was nice to be sheltered from the sun.

At Great Dunmow the railway path ended, and the cycle route deteriorated into the usual poorly-signposted Sustrans mystery ride along some rather poor paths.

East of Great Dunmow the railway path started again, and we followed it a few more miles to Little Dummow where we left it to turn north.

By now it was about 4pm and we were due in Saffron Walden at 5pm, so we split into two groups: a faster group which would head directly to tea, and a slower group which would head straight to Cambridge at a slower pace. I was with the faster groups.

We reached Thaxted at 4.40pm, where we decided to skip the Saffron Walden stop and visit Parrishes Cafe instead. This is open until 7pm and I can recommend it. After a few minutes the slower group caught up with us and joined us in the cafe.

After our final refreshment stop the faster group returned to Cambridge via Ashdon. As our mileage passed the 70 mile mark and then the 80 mile mark we were all waning somewhat, though after Balsham I had second wind and my descent to Fulbourn was quite fast.

We were back in Cambridge by 7.20pm, after having cycled 92 miles. Nigel Deakin

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Photos 1, 6 and 9 by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

19 May: Evening ride to Fen Ditton

What a difference a week makes! Whereas last week's ride was sunny but cold, today's ride started out overcast but very warm - and it brightened up as the evening went on. It was very warm: I soon realised I was over-dressed. Five riders turned out for today's ride: Nigel, Ian D, Damien, Cheryl and Gareth.

We started the ride by heading out of Cambridge along the river to Clayhithe.

At Clayhithe we doubled back along the road for a mile or two before heading off-road on bridleways and a section of the dismantled railway towards Lode. This was the route we first explored last August.

From Lode we followed a loop through the fens: this took us across White Fen and the new bridge across Swaffham Bulbeck Lode before returning to Reach and Swaffham Prior. By the time we reached Bottisham it was about 8.45pm. To save time, we decided to skip the proposed pub stop in Little Wilbraham and stop at The Plough in Fen Ditton instead. We sat with our drinks in the garden beside the river, noting how warm it was compared with last week's ride.

When we finished our drinks we returned back to Cambridge, which was only a couple of miles across Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common. I was back home at 10pm, after riding 26 miles.

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Sunday, 16 May 2010

16 May: Day ride to St Ives, Glatton and Hemingford Abbots

Tim Holmes writes: My first day ride started with a dash down to Brookside in order to make the starting time of 9am. I was greeted by several cyclists whom I assumed were all seasoned day riders. Only having so far been on afternoon rides I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The way it works is this - the day is basically split into three main rides, Before Coffee, Before Lunch then Before Tea. Each leg is designed to carry with it some form of food or drink based reward. That works for me.

The BC leg took us out of Cambridge along the Coton cycle path. On reaching Coton we made our way through Madingley and then Dry Drayton. The weather was cloudy, alternating with spells of warm sunshine and cold wind with occasional spots of rain. At this point the group headed south towards Hardwick, turning west once over the A428 then turning south again at Childerley Gate adding a loop through Highfields and Caldecote before turning north again at Bourn and heading back across the A428 towards Knapwell.

The road that once made up the A428 are now very quiet and great for cycling. Also good for teaching one's children to drive as well BTW. The narrow, country road continued north through Conington before taking us through the underpass beneath the A14 bringing us out by Fenstanton clock tower, it's main bus stop. From here we took the back road to St Ives, taking us past Jones' Boatyard before we crossed the (busy) roundabout over the A1096. A couple of hundred yards more and we arrived at our Coffee Stop.

Ian's cake and coffee were great and I suspect we probably stopped longer than we ought. As a result we were more or less forced to take a direct route to our Lunch stop. Traveling west from St Ives, we crossed the River Great Ouse at Houghton Mill. The lock was being filled as we crossed, bringing with it several spectators as a single narrowboat was traversing upstream from Huntingdon. Once over the river we made our way through the village of Houghton, which is much quieter since the A1123 bypass was completed a few years ago - it was once the main thoroughfare for traffic between Huntingdon and St Ives.

We exited Houghton along its easterly exit, crossed the A1123 and made our way up the long hill towards RAF Wyton. This section was quiet busy, with one or two moronic drivers taking umbrage at our group cycling two abreast. Most however were fine, and we even came across another cyclist group coming the other way - one would like to think it was the local CTC off to visit Cambridge...

Just after Abbots Ripton the road runs parallel with the Great Northern rail line for a short while, before bearing westwards then forking with the righthand branch taking us on to Sawtry.

The road became much quieter after this turning, and the views were quite something, it was a clear day and it was possible to see across to Yaxley and Peterborough to the north. We crossed the A1(M) and after Ian consulted his map we were soon on our way to Sawtry, and then on to Glatton were we stopped for lunch.

For those who've been on an Sunday afternoon ride, Lunch is not like Tea. For one thing, I was still pretty full of cake from Ian's house, and I also hadn't come prepared. Four of the other riders had packed their own lunch. I opted for ginger beer in the sun, and hoped I'd be able to last out until tea.

This second leg (BL) had taken us about 15 miles, so on resumption we were all raring to go. Ian selected a route down towards Grafham Water, and this section proved to be the quietest.

After neatly avoiding the B660 we came across a beautiful Kite, with it's triangular tail in clear view. It followed us for a while before a steep descent sped us away from its territory. We then caught a brief glance of some wild animals as well passed Hamerton Wildlife centre,

As we made our way south we missed out turn to Barham and ended up at Leighton. As we didn't really want to be cycling along the A14 we thought for a moment that we'd have to retrace our steps, until we consulted the map and realised that we could take an off road track to get us back onto a more cycle friendly way of crossing the A14.

We were soon looking down a hill across the A14 at the village of Spaldwick, with it's attractive church spire. It is also home to The George - perhaps a lunch stop for some other time? After Spaldwick there was another long, steepish climb to the village of Stow Longa. We took the road down to Kimbolton, turning off down a short off road section down to Grafham Water. We followed the waterside track for a short while, with it's views across the water - we could see across to the watersports centre, where a couple of medium sized yachts were sailing - good to see someone enjoying the wind!

Once we reached the car park at Hill Farm we were able to join the road up to Grafham village, where we said goodbye to three of our number as they made their separate ways home to Cambridge via Paxton.

There were now three of us who made our way past the ancient Brampton Wood, over the A1 and through the village of Brampton to Huntingdon. We passed through Hinchinbrooke (the hospital at which my youngest was born some 18 years ago) before passing under the A14 and Huntingdon Rail Station. We crossed the road to join the cyclepath that took us over the stone bridge the separates Huntingdon from Godmanchester (you can apparently still see the scratches in the bridge made by Cromwell's soldier's as they sharpened their swords). We were quickly through Godmanchester, which being a Roman Settlement predates it's bigger neighbour Huntingdon by several hundred years.

We passed back under the A14 for yet another time - at this point the A14 takes the route of the old Huntingdon to Cambridge railway. Godmanchester used to have it's own railway station with the line running through to St Ives, however only the section after this point forms the guided busway. It is possible though to walk the route of the line, and we came close to it as we followed the 51 cycleway across the fields between Godmanchester fishing lakes and Hemingford Abbots. We were soon at the Axe and Compass, and enjoying one of the best teas I've experienced so far. The Hemingfords are two lovely villages that are well worth exploring, as is the town of St Ives. The other pub I'd recommend is The Cock, where on Monday evenings they have live folk music.

At tea we were joined by the afternoon riders, and separated into three groups with different routes back to Cambridge. I elected to follow the Guided Busway all the way from St Ives to Histon - by this point I'd cycled about 70 miles and decided a direct, simple route home would be best. By the time I returned home to Girton I'd clocked up 83 miles. Tim Holmes

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16 May: Afternoon ride to Hemingford Abbots

The recent cold spell seems to have passed, and today was warm and sunny. So I was not surprised to see eleven riders turn out for this afternoon's ride to Hemingford Abbots, including several new faces.

It was nice to see a variety of bikes, including the first tandem I had seen on a club ride for some years.

Peter H was our leader today. We started by heading west out of Cambridge along the Coton path.

From Coton we continued to Madingley, where we turned south for a big loop. This took us through Comberton to Harlton, where we returned back north through the Eversdens, Kingston (where we stopped for ten minutes for somebody to mend a puncture) and Bourn.

From Bourn we continued north, across the old St Neot's Road and on to Knapwell and Conington. At this point we turned back south to Hilton, where we joined a long section of bridleway past Topfield Farm and over the A14 to Hemingford Grey. This was rather bumpy though it was dry and perfectly cycleable, and a welcome alternative to the more familiar route through Fenstanton.

From Hemingford Grey it was only another mile or two to Hemingford Abbots, where we stopped for tea at the Axe and Compass. There we met Ian W and Tim from the day ride, and Steve G who, as usual, had ridden there directly.

Hemingford Abbots is a pretty village which I have cycled though several times before whilst following NCR 51 from Godmanchester to Cambridge. However I think this is the first time the club has visited the Axe and Compass for tea. First impressions were very positive: this pub has easily the best cycle parking I have ever seen in a pub, anywhere: in the garden were two neat rows of Sheffield racks.

Tea itself was excellent, with sandwiches, cake, chocolate brownies, and scones with cream. With fifteen at tea we were slightly above the booked numbers, but the staff prepared an extra plate of sandwiches without fuss. The price of £4 each was very satisfactory. I hope we return there again.

After tea the sun was still shining and it remained warm. As usual we divided into several groups taking slightly different routes home. The group I was with rode back to Hemingford Grey and then north to St Ives, where we joined the guided busway which we followed all the way back to Cambridge.

Along the busway, only one section of the cycle track remains flooded, though the sections that were flooded during the winter remain rather muddy in places. As usual, I soon gave up on the bumpy track and switched to riding along the smooth concrete guideway itself.

We reached the outskirts of Cambridge at about 7pm, and I was home by soon after 7.20pm, the sun still shining, and after having cycled 48 miles.

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Rides lists in Google Calendar

Details of all our rides are now available via Google Calendar. If you use Google Calendar or another calendar program that allows you to view shared calendars in iCalendar format then you can display our rides on your own calendar. Full details here.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

12 May: Evening ride to Newton

Our second midweek evening ride of the season was held on a brighter evening than the first one, and the sun was shining brightly as we rode west out of Cambridge towards the setting sun. As with last week, four riders had turned out for the ride, though my companions were different from last week: Ian D, Damien and Cheryl.

This evening's pub stop was to be in Newton, so I suggested a loop to the south of Cambridge. So we headed west to Barton, through Haslingfield and over Chapel Hill to Barrington.

From Barrington we continued south, to Shepreth and Fowlmere and then across the A505 to Chrishall Grange. With only a few clouds in the sky, the fields were bathed in evening sunlight, making this a lovely ride.

It has been a cold week, and this evening was no exception, so we were all dressed in the types of clothing that we would have typically chosen for a winter ride rather than one in late spring.

At Chrishall Grange I checked the time. It was 8.20pm. It was time we turned back north, but since the evening was so beautiful, and the lanes around here so nice, we agreed to continue south for just a little further, allowing us to make a loop via Ickleton Grange to Ickleton.

By the time we reached Ickleton it was approaching 9pm and we stopped to turn on lights and don extra clothing, since with the sun now setting the temperature was falling noticeably.

At about 9.25pm we reached Newton, where we stopped for a drink at the Queen's Head. I have known about this pub for years but have never visited it, so it was nice to be able to experience its simple, unspoiled interior and a fine pint of Adnams beer drawn from one of the barrels that sits behind the bar (there are no handpumps). Damien, who was sensibly drinking orange juice, ordered a plate of bread and ham.

After a pleasant half-hour chat we got back on our bikes. Ian went off to his home nearby whilst the remaining three of us continued on to Cambridge. It was by now completely dark, and the temperature was now freezing. Astonishingly for the middle of May, our toes and fingers were aching as we rode the final seven miles to Cambridge via the Shelfords and the DNA path.

We parted company in Hills Road: Cheryl for the station, Damien for a further hour's ride to Cottenham, and me for a five-minute journey home. I reached home by 10.50pm, rather later than expected, after having cycled 32 miles.

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Sunday, 9 May 2010

9 May: Afternoon ride to Dullingham

Nigel Deakin writes: May is starting out unusually cold, but with today starting brighter and dryer than yesterday we had a good turnout of eleven riders for today's afternoon ride to Dullingham. Our rides continue to attract new faces and today it was nice to be able to welcome Craig.

I was the leader today, and as I had quite a long ride planned, I chose a quick and straightforward route out of Cambridge, along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's and then left along Wort's Causeway and over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

From Fulbourn we took the familiar route to the Wilbrahams and Six Mile Bottom. At Great Wilbraham Jacob and Mike K took an off-road shortcut whilst the rest of the group took the longer route via Little Wilbraham.

At Six Mile Bottom we turned right and climbed up the hill to Wadloe Farm, where we turned left again to Weston Colville.

From Weston Colville we continued east to Little Thurlow before turning north to Great Bradley (where I had to stop to fix a puncture) and then west back towards Dullingham, where we arrived at The Boot just after 5pm.

At the pub we met a large contingent from the day ride, plus George and Steve G, making about twenty in total. We had only booked tea for twelve, but the landlady rose to the occasion and prepared extra plates of sandwiches with only the smallest of grumbles, and we all had plenty to eat.

After tea the we all returned home our separate ways. I rode with half a dozen others via Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham. the ride back was lovely: by now the clouds had cleared and the sun was shining brightly. I was back home by 6.45pm, after having cycled 45 miles. Nigel Deakin (More photos below)

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Photos below by Julia Hochbach

Friday, 7 May 2010

CTC AGM: Last chance to vote

CTC members are reminded that if they want to vote on the proposal to convert CTC into a charity, their voting form needs to arrive next Thursday 13th May, which is 48 hours before the AGM on Saturday 15th.

Voting is easy. Either use the form enclosed with the last issue of Cycle magazine, or print the form here.

To learn more about the debate on charitable status, read the case in favour and the case against.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

5 May: Evening ride to Barton

Our first midweek evening ride of the year was held on a overcast but dry evening, and four riders were at Brookside for the start: Nigel, Tim, Ian W and Jacob. These rides don't have a formal leader so we agreed an approximate route at the start.

We headed south out of Cambridge to Trumpington and Great Shelford, where we took the turn to Little Shelford and the road towards Whittlesford. I had been planning to turn right just north of Whittlesford for Newton, but Jacob suggested an off-road alternative. This is a bridleway track that heads west from a point south of Little Shelford and leads over the motorway directly to Newton. It was surfaced all the way, but was rather bumpy with a loose gravel surface much of the way.

From Newton we continued west to Harston and the road to Haslingfield. As we left Haslingfield, Jacob suggested a second off-road diversion, down to a footbridge over the Cam and then into Haslingfield. This was an attractive route, rather shorter than the earlier section. It was rather smoother, too, except for a short section of loose gravel on the approach to Haslingfield.

From Haslingfield we continued west, to Harlton, the Eversdens and Kingston. There was no wind, the sky was brightening up, and Jacon was setting a strong pace. At Kingston Ian turned off north towards home, whilst Jacob, Tim and I turned east towards Toft, Comberton and Barton, where we stopped for a pint and a chat at The Hoops. Afterwards we returned to Cambridge. I was back at Brookside by 9.45pm, after cycling 22 miles.

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Monday, 3 May 2010

2 May: Afternoon ride to Litlington

Ian Driver writes: Sunday afternoon was cold and blustery, but the rain had stopped by 1 o’clock, so at least the afternoon ride to the Crown at Litlington would be dry. The strong ewind had dried the roads remarkably quickly, always a bonus.

Eight riders were at Brookside for the afternoon ride. Two people I had not seen before (so I thought); apparently one had stamped our cards at the Mildenhall Audax last year. Another a Sustrans Ranger around the Ely area, so a delightful mix of familiar and new faces.

We headed out of Cambridge via the DNA path to the Shelfords, then Newton and on to Thriplow. The daffodils have all died back now pretty much but it’s still a pretty village and the hedgerows gave us some shelter from the fierce wind on the surrounding roads. We continued on to Fowlmere, turning right to cross the A10 and on to Shepreth and Meldreth. 2 riders left us here to do their own thing, meeting us later at tea.

At Meldreth, we took a right turn to take us to Orwell. This was a right turn on to exposed land with the full force of a strong wind straight into our faces. This strung us out so we took a breather at Orwell while the group reassembled.

From here we made our way to Wimpole Hall. This was oddly quiet for a bank holiday weekend. This suited me fine as it allowed us a peaceful passage through to see the lambs and cows. We exited the far side of the Wimpole estate, joining the quiet roads from Croydon, Shingay and Abington Pigotts through to tea.

We had a vary welcome surprise at tea when we were met by Mike S and his wife who had driven him there. Mike was on crutches, but seems to be making an excellent recovery with his partial hip replacement.

Tea was as good as any I’ve had anywhere with home made cakes, plenty of sandwiches and picky bits. We were joined by two from the super day ride giving us, I believe, 13 at tea.

After tea, we took a direct route back via Bassingbourn, Melbourn and retracing our route from Fowlmere.

45 miles on the clock at the finish. Ian Driver.