Wednesday, 30 June 2010

30 Jun: Evening ride to Horningsea

I had to work late this evening, so couldn't be at Brookside in time for the 7pm start of tonight's evening ride. However Gareth called and told me where the group was going, so when I was able to leave work at 7.10pm I sprinted eastwards out of Cambridge along the Jubilee Cycleway to catch up with Gareth, Cheryl and new rider John at the entrance to the Quy tunnel.

It was a hot, humid evening, and it seemed like a good opportunity for a bit of off-road exploration rather than an evening of high-speed training. So after cycling via Quy and Bottisham to Swaffham Bulbeck we took an off-road route alongside the north side of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode until we reached the new bridge from White Fen. This was my first time along this path: it's only a public footpath, and although it's not particularly uneven it was covered in long grass, making it difficult to see where to ride.

When we reached the bridge to White Fen we relaxed and followed this familiar route back to Lode. From there we followed the old railway line and a series of bridleways to Horningsea.

After a short distance along the main road we reached the Plough and Fleece in Horningsea, where we stopped for a relaxed drink. Afterward, John and I rode back to Cambridge whilst Cheryl and Gareth headed north to Waterbeach station. I was home by 10pm after having ridden 19 miles.

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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

20 Jun: Afternoon ride to West Wratting

Peter Hutchison writes: There were just four of us at Brookside at 2.15: Eva, Mike Sl, Jacob and myself. We phoned ahead to warn the tea place to expect fewer people than twelve but they had already made tea! I had decided that we should try to get as far as Helions Bumpstead if time allowed, so I led the ride straight out of town through Trumpington and Stapleford to Sawston. We crossed the A11 over the footbridge outside Babraham and continued through Abington, Hildersham and Linton to Bartlow.

The weather had started off windy, cool and grey, but by now the sun had come out and it had turned into a beautiful, mild afternoon and we soon removed our jackets.

At Bartlow, we decided we had time to do the full loop to Helions Bumpstead, so turned right down to Ashdon. We sped past field after field of crops growing high, and the verges were full of bright red poppies and wild roses. The only motor vehicle we saw on the Olmsted loop past the transmitter (see photo) was a tractor.

Jacob and Mike took an off-road shortcut to bypass Helions Bumpstead but Eva and I continued down and through the village and met them the other side. We then continued and arrived at West Wratting at just after 5, to be greeted by Steve and David S, making 6 for tea. We made a fairly creditable dent in the excellent spread, and some of us took some home.

After tea, everyone except me wanted to get straight home so they headed back through Balsham and Fulbourn. I decided I wanted a longer ride as it was one of the longest days of the year and fathers’ day in to the bargain, so I took an extended loop via the Woodland Cemetery to Dullingham, then through Newmarket, Exning, Burwell, Reach and home from there. By now it was a wonderful evening with soft light and long shadows. Rabbits were practically jumping out from under my wheels and I met several partridges on the road as well.

I arrived home at 8.25pm having ridden 60 miles. Best ride of the year so far? I think so. Peter Hutchison

Monday, 28 June 2010

19-27 Jun - Cycling holiday in Provence (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3.

Friday 25th June: Buis-les-Baronnies - Ste Jalle - St-Auban-sue-Ouveze - Buis-le-Barronies (29 miles)

Today was a relatively gentle day before the big climb up Ventoux tomorrow. Nevertheless we still had a couple of climbs before we dropped down for lunch (followed by ice creams) at Le Bougalou and then a gentle downhill back to the hotel.

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Saturday 26th June: Buis-les-Barronnies - Mont Ventoux (72 miles)

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Sunday 27th June: Buis-les-Barronnies - Orange(35 miles)

19-27 Jun - Cycling holiday in Provence (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2.

Wednesday 23rd June

Today was market day in Buis-les-Barronies, so we spent the morning wandering the streets. In the afternoon some of us cycled out to have ice creams at Le Bougalou, whilst others stayed in town to watch England beat Slovenia 1-0.

Thursday 24th June: Buis-les-Baronnies - Vaison-la-Romaine - Sablet - Beaumes-de-Venise - Malaucène - Buis-les-Barronies (61 miles)

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Continued in Part 4

19-27 Jun - Cycling holiday in Provence (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

Monday 21st June: Buis-les-Barronnies - Brantes - Montbrun-les-Bains - Ste Jalle (50 miles)
Outside the hotel:

Riding through Buis-les-Barronies:

Coffee in Brantes:

Lunch at a boulangerie in Montbrun-les-Bains:

Our second big col of the day: Col d'Aulan

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Tuesday 22nd June: Buis-les-Baronnies - Puyméras - Villedieu - Valreas - Buis-les-Baronnies (58 miles)

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Continued in Part 3.

19-27 Jun - Cycling holiday in Provence (Part 1)

On Saturday 19th June, eleven members of Cambridge CTC travelled to France for a week of cycling in Provence.

We went there on the European Bike Express , which picked us up at South Mimms services, which is about three miles from Potters Bar railway station and is easily reached by NCR 13 (and with no need to cycle on busy roads).

Sunday 20th June: Orange - Buis les Barronies (35 miles)

After a night on the coach we were dropped off at 7am in Orange. We immediately stopped for breakfast at a Boulangerie nearby (I was amazed that it was open this early on a Sunday morning).

We then spent the most of the day cycling to our Hotel in Buis les Barronies, which we reached at about 3pm.

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Continued in Part 2

Friday, 18 June 2010

Rides in August

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

As always, our rides lists are subject to change, but you can always obtain the latest version from this website. 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.

Details of our rides in September and October will be published in the second half of August.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

16 Jun: Evening ride to Dry Drayton

Midsummer is only a week away now, and at last the weather is beginnning to reflect the time of year. This evening was warm and sunny, with clear skies which remained all evening. At Brookside this evening I found Simon, Cheryl and Daniel.

This evening's route was a simple loop to the south and west. We headed south to Addenbrooke's and along the DNA path to Great Shelford. We continued to Little Shelford and Newton before turning west to Foxton and Haslingfield. I hadn't been planning to climb Chapel Hill, but Daniel accepted my joking invitation to ride to the top and back, and Simon and Cheryl joined in. Once at the top, we admired the clear views back towards Cambridge before speeding down back to where we had started.

We continued west through Harlton to the Eversdens and Kingston before turning north to Caldecote and Highfields.

It was now about 8.40pm but the sun was still above the horizon, and it was still shining brightly when we arrived at The Black Horse in Dry Drayton at exactly 9pm. There we found Ian W waiting for us.

We sat outside the pub enjoying a drink whilst the sun set. Clear skies meant the temperature was dropping rapidly, and by the 9.30pm when we left the pub it was both dark and quite cold. We returned to Cambridge via Madingley, Coton and the Coton path. Eventually we rode along Garret Hostel Lane, past a long line of elegantly-dressed ball-goers queueing to get into Trinity Hall May Ball. In the congestion I got separated from Cheryl, and waited for her in Trinity Lane. When she emerged she was wheeling her bike: the exertions of crossing Garret Hostel Bridge had caused her chain to snap. Fortunately we were in the City Centre now, so I left Cheryl to walk to the station and returned home. I was back by about 10.15pm, after having ridden 30 miles on one of the loveliest evenings of the year.

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Sunday, 13 June 2010

13 June: Day ride to Hinxworth, Old Warden and Gamlingay

Today was the first time I've led a day ride, so I was quite nervous about it, and did a lot of preparation. I bought a map holder, planned a route and wrote out a route sheet.

It was an overcast morning, with a little drizzle. There were five riders at Brookside, and with coffee 23 miles away at Farrowby Farm near Hinxworth, I took the direct route, out on Barton Road, through Haslingfield, over Chapel Hill, through Shepreth, Bassingbourn, Litlington, Steeple Morden and Ashwell. On the way to Hinxworth we passed John and Greta and picked up Bob and Myrtle, and there were more riders waiting for us at the farm, some of whom had come up from Stevenage.

The selection of destinations made route-setting quite a challenge. Old Warden is only about 9 miles from Hinxworth, and Gamlingay only 9 miles from Old Warden. I wanted to take a big loop southwards into the Bedfordshire countryside west of Hitchin, but how to get across the A1? My first thought was to try to cross at grade next to Farrowby Farm. There's a gap in the central reservation here that makes it possible. But Nigel convinced me that it would be too dangerous (Joseph said he had done it once, but had had to wait more than ten minutes before a gap appeared). So I decided to retrace our steps to Ashwell and then head down to Baldock and cross under the A1M on the road to Norton.

At Ashwell a byway over Partridge Hill provides a shortcut from Hinxworth Road to Claybush Road without going through town. It gets a bit muddy at the Claybush Road end—it wouldn't be a good idea to try it in wet weather.

In the photo you can see that the clouds were getting pretty dark, and it wasn't long before it rained, fairly gently, for about 20 minutes. But soon it passed over, and the rest of the afternoon was sunny.

At Snailswell I took a bridleway that crosses to Holwell and saves a couple of miles of A600. This is a good-quality road: if the Google Streetview car can get down it, then certainly we can!

Sorry about the poor quality of these photos. I'm trying to see if my mobile phone camera is good enough, but the answer is clearly "no"!

The lanes north of Shefford are really gorgeous. At one point, a sparrowhawk flew right over us. This led to a discussion of raptors we had known, and I said that I had never seen a buzzard near Cambridge. At that moment, two buzzards flew low over the field on the right.

This loop took a bit longer than I was expecting, and we didn't get to Old Warden until about 13:45. "So you got here at last," said Greta. So I decided to compensate by cutting short the next section. I had planned to take a loop up to St Neots and back down again, but I didn't think there was time for that. So I took a loop west over Greensand Ridge to Cardington and back again.

At Cardington the skyline is dominated by two enormous airship sheds. One was built in 1915 for the construction of the R31 and R32, two rigid airships intended for fleet defence. The other was originally built at Pulham in Norfolk and was dismantled and moved to Cardington in 1928. The scale of these sheds is quite extraordinary. My first view of them as I came over the ridge was obscured by trees, and I thought, "That's a big barn".

But then they came properly into view, and it was clear that they were several miles away and huge.

We crossed the A1 at the roundabout at Sandy, and cycled up Cox Hill, which is a beautiful road. Shame about the "No vehicles" sign at the entrance. I presume this is a mistake and should have been "No entry to motor vehicles", since there's also a sign saying "No through road (except cycles)".

I overestimated the time it would take for this leg about as severely as I had underestimated it for the previous leg (the westerly wind made short work of the return from Cardington), and at 16:00 we were at the Cock at Gamlingay. I tried to persuade the others to take a short loop and come back for tea, but they were keen to get home. And with 70 miles cycled from Brookside at this point, who can blame them? I took the loop on my own, through Great Gransden, Waresley, and Lily Hill, getting back just in time for tea.

I had 107 miles for the day.

13 Jun: Afternoon ride to Gamlingay

On a warm, bright afternoon I was surprised to find only five others at Brookside for this afternoon's ride to Gamlingay. Perhaps the overcast skies and the threat of thunderstorms later on had put people off. Or perhaps there was a football match on the TV. In any case, the six of us - Mike K, Mike Sl, Simon F, Ian, and Pete had a fine ride.

I was the leader today, and chose a route which took us south-west to Barton and Haslingfield, where we climbed over Chapel Hill to Barrington. There was a noticeable headwind, though it didn't seem too much of a problem.

We continued in the same south-west direction through Shepreth and Meldreth to Kneesworth, where we crossed the A1198 before continuing through Bassingbourn and Litlington to Steeple Morden. The limit of our south-westerly traverse was Ashwell, where we turned north onto the narrow, meandering lane that continues, without interruption by side roads, for four miles to Eyeworth. Mike K kept warning of rain ahead but in fact it brightened up, with the sun at last emerging from behind the cloud cover. It remained sunny all the way to tea.

Tea was at The Cock in Gamlingay. There we found David S, who had cycled there separately, and Mike S who had come by car. After a while Gareth arrived, the sole remnant of the day ride, making a total of nine at tea.

After tea the sun was still shining and Mike K suggested we returned to Cambridge via Wimpole Hall.

Just east of Wimpole Hall, instead of turning south as usual towards Orwell, we continued east along an off-road track I had not been along before. This is a mixture of footpath (through the Wimpole Estate) and bridleway which took us up to the top of the ridge that runs east-west along here. The track was quite rough, and would probably be quite muddy in wet weather, but a warm evening in early summer was the ideal time to explore it.

This isn't a particularly high ridge (77 metres) but nevertheless we enjoyed fine views as we rode over the top before dropping down on a steep gravel track to Great Eversden. It was a measure of our unfamilarity with this route that when we arrived at Great Eversden none of us was sure what village it was.

From Great Eversden we rejoined the road and continued to Cambridge via Haslingfield and Barton. I was home by 7.15pm (with no sign of the promised thunderstorms), after riding 50 miles.

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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

9 Jun: Evening ride to Fen Ditton

It had been raining all day, but when Simon phoned at 6.30pm I assured him that the rain was about to stop. So when we both arrived at Brookside at 7pm we were both disappointed to find that it was still raining steadily. We set off anyway, ready to cut the ride short if the weather didn't improve. For the first 45 minutes the weather didn't improve, but we carried on anyway. You know how it goes.

Our route this evening was a simple loop: East out of Cambridge to Quy, south-east to Six Mile Bottom, up the hill to Lark Hall and Wadloe Farm and then north past the woodland cemetery to Dullingham. Since it was not an evening for relaxed sightseeing we took the ride at a fair pace. As we climbed the hill to Lark Hall the rain eventually stopped and the sky brightened up a little, and it remained reasonably dry for the rest of the ride, apart for the huge puddles that lay along the road.

At Dullingham we turned north to Swaffham Bulbeck before returning to Cambridge via Bottisham and Quy. On the way we stopped for a couple of drinks at The Plough in Fen Ditton. Total mileage: 33 miles.

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Sunday, 6 June 2010

6 Jun: Afternoon ride to Stechworth

It was a hot, humid, afternoon, with thunderstorms forecast for later. Eight riders turned up for this afternoon's ride: Averil, Richard, Simon, Mike Sl, Ian, Tina, Pete and me. Averil led the group out east along the river and across the commons to Fen Ditton.

With the help of a steady tailwind we made rapid progress.

At Six Mile Bottom we carried straight on and climbed the long hill to Brinkley.

At Brinkley we rested for a few minutes. Without the cooling effect of our self-generated breeze we quickly became hot and it was a relief to be able to set off again.

Averil's route took us on a loop through Great Bradley, Cowlinge and Kirtling before turning back to Woodditton. We paused at the crossroads there for a few minutes as I inspected a sculpture at the cross-roads that I had not noticed before. It was a curious and confusing combination of wind-vane, model of the solar system, and an image of a pair of comic figures sawing through a log of wood, all on top of a cartwheel.

At Woodditton we were close to Stechworth, our planned tea stop, but with 50 minutes left Averil took us on a final loop via Saxon Street and Cheveley before returning west to Stechworth. Here we stopped for tea at The Marquis of Granby.

Also at tea were David S and Steve G, who had ridden there directly, as well as quite a large contingent from the all-day ride. Gareth sat down next to me looking pretty tired; he reported that he had already done 90 miles by that point.

After tea we returned back to Cambridge. Pete and I had planned a longer route via Newmarket but with thunder already audible as we prepared to depart we soon abandoned that idea, and within a minute of leaving the pub the skies opened and we found ourselves riding through a torrential downpour.

The whole group stopped under some trees in Dullingham for several minutes before carrying on to Swaffham Bulbeck, Bottisham and Quy. Although the rain slackened off after a while it continued to rain steadily all the way back, making this my wettest club ride for a year or two. I was soaked and rode fast to keep warm. Fortunately it wasn't very far back to Cambridge. I was back home by about 7.15pm, dripping wet, after having ridden 45 miles.

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