Sunday, 31 October 2010

31 Oct: Afternoon ride to Shepreth

Ian writes:On my way to Brookside for the start, a heavy rain shower saw me stopping under a tree to put on Gore-Tex trousers and jacket. Here we go I thought, I’ll be sitting at the start with water dripping off the end of my nose with no one for company, but hey, at least I get twelve portions of sandwiches and cake all to myself at tea.

How wrong I was! Seven other riders turned up and the rain stopped. Bravo.

The Green Man in Shepreth is only 8 miles from Cambridge, but as the clocks went back and we would be arriving in the dark, being close to Cambridge was welcome. This left almost too many choices for routes. As it’s now well into autumn and the leaves will soon be gone from the trees, it was an obvious choice to head for the most tree-lined lanes with the greatest array of colours.

We headed along the DNA path to the Shelfords, through Whittlesford and onto Duxford. At Duxford we turned to follow the quiet lanes that run parallel to the A505. There is enough of a climb here to afford some nice views over the surrounding fields.

From here we crossed the A505 through Fowlmere on over to Shepreth. The tree lining was certainly giving us a fix of autumn browns and reds. Onwards to Barrington and left to Orwell.

Turning left again at Orwell we passed the golf club with some ominous dark grey clouds looming and the light fading fast. It was time to head for the tea. On the borders of Meldreth and Melbourn, the heavens did open, so we sheltered under the A10 bridge until the worst had passed. It was only a couple of miles to tea now and it was almost completely dark. George R and a couple of others were waiting at the Green Man and a few from the day ride soon turned up for a welcome tea on a damp and dark evening.

41 miles on the clock by the time I was home. Ian Driver.

31 Oct: Day ride to Barkway, Puckeridge and Shepreth

With the clocks having gone back in the early morning, we all had an extra hour in bed this morning. This might explain why, despite an overcast sky and a bit of drizzle, we had eleven riders at Brookside for today's ride: Mick, Joseph, Averil, Pete, Brian-from-Beds, Tom, Joseph, me (Nigel), Cheryl, John, Conrad and Adrian, who was our leader today.

Adrian led us south out of Cambridge to Trumpington and from there to Great Shelford, where we turned right for Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford. Along the way we picked up Greta, making a total of a dozen riders. Not bad for a dull, drizzly morning at the end of October!

We continued south and crossed over the A505 to Duxford, Hinxton and Ickleton. Here we left the Cam valley behind and began to climb, first to Elmdon and then via Heydon to Great Chishill, which at 146m was probably the highest point of today's ride.

A steep descent and a series of switchbacks took us quickly down to Shaftenhoe End Normally this is a carefree, exhilarating descent but there was a lot of mud and water on this road today and we were all much more cautious than usual.

A lovely loop via Nuthampstead took us to our morning coffee stop at Barkway Golf Club. Here we found Doug and Vic.

After coffee several riders returned directly back to Cambridge, leaving about eight of us to continue to lunch in Puckeridge. I fancied taking this part of the ride at a slightly faster pace so, after checking the route with Adrian, went ahead via Anstey, Great and Little Hormead, Furneaux Pelham and Braughing, arriving at the Crown and Falcon in Puckeridge at a little after 12.30pm.

I always like having lunch here: this is a comfortable, friendly pub, with a good, inexpensive menu, and the food is served with care and efficiency. I was half-way through my Moussaka when the rest of the group arrived: apparently a punchure had slowed the group down.

After lunch it started to rain, and we all put on our wet-weather gear. Today was turning out to be a duller and wetter day than I had expected. Several riders decided to return directly to Cambridge, leaving Adrian, Averil, Cheryl, Tom, Brian-from-Beds and me to continue on the main ride.

Adrian's route took us north via Westmill to Buntingford and then north-west to Sandon, where we stopped to allow Averil to mend a puncture. Fortunately the rain had stopped by now, and we saw no more rain for the rest of the day.

After a brief discussion about the best way to cross the A505 we headed for Slip End, where the crossing of this fast and busy road is relatively straightforward.

From here we continued north to Ashwell and then east, with steadily darkening skies, through Litlington, Kneesworth and Meldreth. By the time we reached Shepreth at 4.45pm it was quite dark. Two riders headed off home leaving the rest of us to find the Green Man. It turned out that Adrian did not know where this was, so we spent an anxious few minutes riding up and down each road in turn until Adrian stopped a local dogwalker for directions.

The Green Man is in fact on the other side of the A10, just off the road that leads into Melbourn. When we arrived at about 5.10pm we found over a dozen riders already enjoying tea. Fortunately the pub staff made extra sandwiches and there was ample food for everyone.

This was our first visit to The Green Man in Shepreth and I am pleased to report that it was rather good, with interesting sandwiches and an impressive variety of delicious gooey cakes.

After tea we returned back to Cambridge. Instead of the obvious route via Barrington and Chapel Hill we headed in the opposite direction, to Fowlmere, Newton and the Shelfords. I was back in central Cambridge by about 6.45pm, after having cycled 77 miles. As I said, not bad for a dull, drizzly morning at the end of October.

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Rides in November and December

The rides lists for November and December are now available using the links here or on the left.

We continue to operate a full programme of rides throughout the winter months, with rides every Tuesday and Thursday and with two rides on Sundays.

From Sunday 7th November the Sunday all-day rides start 30 minutes later at 9.30am.

From Sunday 7th November the Sunday afternoon rides start 45 minutes earlier at 1.30pm. The tea stop will also be earlier: check the rides list for the exact time, but in general tea will be at 3.30pm.

The senior cyclists' group has published lists which show the Tuesday rides only: November (Tuesday only) (pdf) and December (Tuesday only) (pdf). These rides are also shown in the main rides lists.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Senior Cyclists' Group

The main rides lists have now been updated to include the Tuesday rides of the Senior Cyclists' Group (see links on left).

Rides lists are also available which show the Tuesday rides only: November (Tuesday only) (pdf) and December (Tuesday only) (pdf).

Sunday, 24 October 2010

24 Oct: Afternoon ride to Caxton

Today was yet another fine sunny autumn day. There was a cold northerly breeze for most of the afternoon but the more or less constant sunshine kept the temperature comfortable. There were nine riders at Brookside for this afternoon's ride to Caxton. I led the group south-west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton and from there to Haslingfield.

We climbed Chapel Hill and dropped down to Barrington, where we turned right onto the road to Orwell.

We then crossed the A603 and through the grounds of Wimpole Hall

This brought us to Arrington. We crossed the A1198 and rode through Croydon before climbing Croydon Hill, the second of today's two "proper" hills.

As we rode along the long road from Croydon to Gamlingay the ride stretched out as we each rode at our own pace. At intervals along this road two of our riders (one from the front and one from the rear) decided to turn back, leaving seven of us to continue to Gamlingay, which we reached just after 4pm.

With a full hour left before tea, and the sun still shining brightly, this left us time for a little loop. I took us through Gamlingay Cinques to the junction near Thistle Hill Farm where we at last turned back towards Caxton. This final half hour's riding took us along the quietest and most attractive roads of the whole trip: the narrow lane that climbs over Lily Hill to Waresley, and the wider undulating road from there to Great Gransden.

From Great Gransden it was only three miles to Caxton where we stopped for tea at The Cross Keys. Most of the riders sped ahead and arrived on time, leaving me and the tail of the ride to arrive a few minutes later at 5.10pm. I never worry about being slightly late when we go to Caxton for tea because there is always plenty of food, and today was no exception.

At tea we met Gareth, the only person from the all-day ride who had stopped for tea, and several others who had ridden there directly: Julia, Ian, George, Peter, Steve and David S, making a total of fourteen.

After tea we all returned to Cambridge via Bourn, Toft, Comberton and Barton once again. It was still light when we left the pub at 5.45pm but by the time we reached Cambridge it was completely dark. A full moon rode in the east, obscured by a few light clouds. I was back in Cambridge by about 6.45pm, after having ridden 42 miles.

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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

17 Oct: Afternoon ride to Hemingford Abbots

With constant sunshine and clear blue skies all day, today was a perfect day for a cycle ride. Julia has taken these photos of this afternoon's ride to Hemingford Abbots.

Photos by Julia Hochbach

Monday, 18 October 2010

16 Oct: Saturday morning ride to Coton

Julia writes: There were 11 of us at Brookside for our final Saturday morning introductory ride of the year. This was a great turnout for this time of the year, given that it was quite cool. It was good to see our chairman George and three newcomers.

I had led the first Saturday ride of the year in March (report here), too, which was also a cold day, but bright and sunny throughout. This time we weren't quite so lucky with the weather, as the sunny periods were frequently interrupted by cloudy skies and rain showers.

We cycled along Grantchester Meadows to the village of Grantchester and then turned left onto the bridle way which led us to Barton. The trees in their autumn colours were lovely to look at, but I struggled a bit with the changing weather conditions, putting on my waterproof just before we reached Grantchester, just to take it off after a few minutes as we went along the bridle way in the sunshine.

In Barton, we turned left and went along the High Street towards Comberton. The undulating route to St Neots Road in conjunction with a headwind (and another stop to put on my waterproof again) strung the group out a bit. Once regrouped, given that it had turned wet and chilly once more, we decided to head straight down to the garden centre in Coton, rather than diverting through Madingley village.

By the time we arrived, in bright sunshine, it was almost midday and we were happy about a break with tea, coffee and cakes. Some even made this a proper lunch stop by ordering a more substantial meal.

While we were eating, a heavy shower passed over, so we got our timing just right! And we made it back to Cambridge along the Coton footpath without any further rain, too. Thanks to everyone who came along, and I am hoping that next year's Saturday morning rides will be just as popular. Julia Hochbach.

Photos by Julia Hochbach

Sunday, 10 October 2010

10 Oct: Afternoon ride to Litlington

Peter Hutchison writes:It was a glorious sunny, warm day – it felt like summer was giving us a bonus and I decided it was a shorts and short sleeves day! So it was not a surprise to find a good group assembled at Brookside. There were ten of us including Paul who had joined the CTC at the Cycle show a few days previously and had decided to get straight in and join a ride. Well done Paul!

I led us straight out of Cambridge along the Barton Road to Haslingfield, aided by a tailwind.

From there we turned up through the Eversdens and Bourn, and on through Caxton End towards the Gransdens. Julia went ahead a few times to take photos (I was glad of that, as I was more focussed on not losing anyone).

Caxton End claimed to be closed but wasn’t. There was just a trickle running across the road at the ford. After Little Gransden we turned south and briefly east, realising why we were making such good time as we briefly experienced the wind in our faces.

We had a great downhill from the Hatleys to Shingay and had time for an extra loop to Guilden Morden before tea.

Tea at the Crown was excellent and they managed to provide extra sandwiches and cakes to feed the 17 of us there – the afternoon 10, 4 from the day ride, plus George, Steve and Cheryl who had gone independently.

On the way back, Paul and I were a little slow to get away so we rode back just the two of us, and had a good chat. The sun was just setting as we came over Chapel Hill, and as we paused for a breather we were able to see a pinkish glow around almost 180 degrees of the skyline.

I arrived home at around 7.10pm, having cycled 48 miles. Peter Hutchison

Photos by Julia Hochbach.

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10 Oct: Day ride to Reed, Woolmer Green and Litlington

Today was a gorgeous warm autumn day. The early-morning haze soon disappeared, to be replaced with clear skies and bright sunshine which lasted all day. A perfect day for an all-day cycle ride. When I arrived at Brookside there were six other riders waiting, including Averil, our leader today.

Averil led us south-west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton. Here we met a visiting American professor who was out for a ride on a nice sports bike but wasn't sure where to go, and who joined us for a few miles before turning back. At Haslingfield we picked up Greta before climbing Chapel Hill and then speeding down again to Barrington.

We continued to Shepreth, where Tim had his second puncture of the ride (his first was at home), and on to Fowlmere, where we joined the B1368 which we followed south past Flint Cross to Barley and then on to Barkway.

At Barkway we turned right for the final few miles past the radio transmitters to Reed where we stopped for coffee at the Silver Ball Cafe.

At the cafe we met Doug, Brian-from-Beds and Mike S, and sat outside in the warm sunshine drinking our coffee and nibbling pieces of mass-produced Bakewell Tart and Eccles Cake, whilst the motorcyclists around us tucked into hearty breakfasts.

After coffee several people left the group and returned back to Cambridge, whilst the main group continued south-west towards the lunch stop at Woolmer Green. Averil's route took us along country lanes to Buntingford. From there our route took us though Aspenden and Westmill to Cherry Green and the wonderfully-named hamlet of Nasty.

This part of the ride was a delight. It was now getting quite warm. The mist had cleared and the sun was shining brightly in a clear blue sky. The lanes were narrow, sunken and enclosed in trees for much of the time. And we had a slight tailwind.

We continued through Great Munden and Dale End to Watton at Stone. From there it was only a short distance to Datchworth and Woolmer Green, where we stopped for lunch at The Fox.

After lunch we headed north, and into a gentle but persistent headwind which impeded our progress all the way to our tea stop at Litlington. Although the weather remained warm and sunny I was now having to put in an effort for the first time, and I was relieved we did not have very far to go.

After skirting the edge of Stevenage for a short distance we rode more or less directly north through Walkern, Cromer and across the A505 to Ashwell. A loop through Guilden Morden, Shingay and Abington Piggots brought us to the tea stop at the Crown in Litlington at about 4.50pm. A large group of afternoon riders was already there, making about fourteen or fifteen in total. We therefore required more than the twelve teas that we had booked, but fortunately the landlady took things in her stride and soon conjoured up some extra sandwiches.

After tea we all returned to Cambridge via Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and then by the reverse of the morning's route. I had feared we would have a headwind all the way back, but it seemed to have slackened and there were plenty of other riders to shelter behind whenever I felt a bit tired. At Barton I turned on my bike lights and by the time I arrived back in Cambridge it was dark, reminding me that despite the summery weather it was actually the middle of October. I was home by 6.45pm having cycled 85 miles in glorous sunshine.

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