Sunday, 27 February 2011

27 Feb: Afternoon ride to Saffron Walden

Jacqueline writes: As I rode to the start of today's afternoon ride the sun was high in a blue sky, and a wind that would dry most things was heading to our destination. It was difficult to believe that two local football clubs had waterlogged pitches but something worth bearing in mind when planning routes.

Five riders headed over the railway cycle path and down Radegund Road, and were joined by a sixth before we left Cherry Hinton. We continued onto Fulbourn and reached our highest point of 116 metres at Balsham before turning right towards Bartlow. My plan had been to investigate 'Mark's Grave' where we crossed the Roman Road, but one of the riders said that the area would be very muddy today and a prettier way would be through Streetly End and Cardinal's Green.

We had made good time to Balsham so the detour sounded a pleasant alternative to a muddy field. The lane we turned off, past Steetly Hall, was certainly picturesque even providing us with a couple excercising their horses. Crossing the A1307 was not a problem and we were soon in the beautiful contryside between Haverhill and Saffron Walden that provides not only the Roman Road, but Harcamlow Way, a dismantled railway, moats, mills, and tumuli and whilst one rider suffered two punctures, five of us had a good opportunity to enjoy the scenery and chat.

The sky was now grey and as the sun dropped so did the temperature. We turned up the pace and headed for our tea stop but were still a good half hour behind schedule. Not surprisingly we missed the day riders but thoroughly enjoyed the food, service and fire.

We left the Temeraire in two groups. One to accompany our Royston member as far as possible and one to escort our new rider back to known roads.Thanks to everyone for their support in making this a fantastic day. Jacqueline.

Saturday Introductory Rides

Our popular Saturday morning introductory rides have now restarted. These are shorter rides that are suitable for everyone and are a great introduction to the club for new riders. They will be held on the first and third Saturdays of each month until the autumn. See the rides lists for details.

27 Feb: Day ride to Barkway and Braughing

Nigel writes: We awoke today to bright sunshine. The weather forecast was for "sunshine and showers", and although we did get both, there was definitely more sunshine than rain. However, despite the sun, a moderate but cold northerly wind reminded us that it was still February. When I arrived at Brookside for today's ride I found six other riders waiting: Averil (today's leader), Mick, Bob, Peter D, John and Joseph. Averil led us south-west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton.

At Barton we turned left for Hasingfield where we climbed Chapel Hill. There was a fine view back over Cambridge from the top - a big improvement on last Sunday when there was no view from the top at all. We then dropped back down to Barrington.

From Barrington we continued south to Shepreth and Fowlmere, before crossing the A505 to Chrishall Grange. Here we began to climb up again, up to the ridge that marks the southern edge of the county.

We followed this ridge through Heydon and Great Chishill before sweeping back down again to Shaftenhoe End (along one of my favourite switchback descents).

A final pretty loop through Nuthampstead brought us to our coffee stop at Barkway Golf Club. Here we found Greta, Adrian, Doug and Mike St. It was now well after 11, so after a coffee and Kit-Kat we were soon back on our way.

We continued south to Anstey, where I spotted this enamel sign on the side of a cottage:

The final section of the morning tooks us through all the Pelhams (Brent, Stocking and Furneux). This corner of Hertfordshire is rather less hilly than the border regions to the north, and offers some very pleasant quiet lanes.

Our lunch stop today was the Brown Bear in Braughing, which we reached almost exactly on time at 1pm. As we approached Braughing the weather started to change. The sky began to cloud over and by the time we arrived at the pub a heavy drizzle had begun to fall.

Already in the pub were David and Joan who had made their own way there, and before long we were joined by Bob and Myrtle and one or two others, making about a dozen at lunch in total.

When we emerged from the pub about an hour later it was still raining and we feared we were in for a damp afternoon. As a result we decided we'd skip the planned tea stop in Saffron Walden and return back to Cambridge, but still by a pleasant route.

We retraced our steps back to Furneux Pelham and Stocking Pelham, where we left our morning route and branched off to the east to Berden and Ricking before finally turning north towards Cambridge. After about half an hour the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and the sun emerged again, and although we were now riding into a cold headwind it was a nice day again.

The final part of our route home took us through Wicken Bonhunt and Arkesden. When we reached the B1039 just north of Arkesden we met a lone cyclist wheeling her bike along the road. She had a puncture and was walking home whilst contemplating the relative attractions of fixing the puncture compared to a five-mile walk. Fortunately Mick and Averil solved her dilemma by generously offering to mend her puncture.

After this short pause we continued along the B1039 for a few hundred yards before turning left onto what everyone seems to refer to as the "road over the little hill with the radio masts". A further climb took us up to Catmere End and the three-mile switchback (another favourite of mine) down to Ickleton.

At Ickleton we were now back in the Cam Valley and a level, and very familiar, route through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. I was back home at 5.10pm after having cycled 65 miles.

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

24 Feb: Thursday ride to Barley

Edward writes: At long last we were greeted by spring-like weather when twelve members met at Haslingfield Church for our Thursday ride. What is more, the weather continued to improve throughout the day.

Greta got us into the swing of things by starting the ride up Chapel Hill before descending into Barrington, through Shepreth and over a particularly busy A10 to arrive at Fowlmere.

From here we took the long way to Newton by going via Thriplow. The daffodils are starting to bud and let's hope the organisers of the Daffodil Weekend have good luck and have chosen the weekend when the flowers are at their best. They certainly have an unenviable task to set the day so far in advance, not knowing how the weather will affect growth. This year's event is 26th and 27th March.

After going through Thriplow and Newton we turned right at the Queen's Head and headed for Whittlesford where we turned right and crossed the very busy A505. (When isn't it busy?) After twelve riders safely got over we were in Duxford, then onto Ickleton and Ickleton Barns where we stopped for our coffee break.

With the better weather this made a particularly pleasant pit stop and most of the group sat outside. Bob, Myrtle and Adrian were already there bringing our numbers up to fifteen.

After coffee it was back into Ickleton for the ride up Coploe Hill and today everything looked so much better with the sun shining over the fields. This brought us to Strethall where we waited for everybody to catch up and then on to Littlebury Green.

After this it was the steep climb up to Duddenhoe End and our first puncture. Luckily Mike was on hand plus a band of onlookers, and Eva was soon on her way again. As the group was so large some pushed on but before we got to Langley, Myrtle also had a puncture but it wasn't long before Mike was on hand again to get her on her way.

It was now time to make for our lunch break and we were able to make steady progress via Little Chishill to arrive at The Chequers in Barley. Our numbers had grown again and best estimates say we had twenty-one people at lunch. Some sat outside enjoying the spring-like sunshine but we all enjoyed a very good, reasonably priced lunch.

After lunch some went their separate ways home but nine continued on to Barkway, Great Chishill and Heydon and then to enjoy the descent off the north-east Essex hills and a following wind down to Ickleton. It was then a short ride to Hauxton and Greta's where the ride finished with a total of 51 miles. This was a very enjoyable day; sunshine and rising temperatures change everything. As ever thanks to Greta for leading the ride. Edward Elmer

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

22 Feb: Seniors' Tuesday Ride to Shepreth

Peter Rowell writes: George, Clive and I met at Trumpington Park and Ride site to start our ride to Shepreth.
We started along the path beside the main road, after we had passed the M11 roundabout there was a tailback of traffic as we approached Hauxton. We soon found out why, the path was being relaid and widened.

Path under construction

Eventually we were directed onto the road through the works area (the lane was closed and traffic lights were doing alternate directions of traffic on the other lane).

Finished part of the path

We then continued on the widened path which ended at Hauxton turn. We carried on to Harston and I found that railings at the other end of Harston, on the bend, had been run into and were overhanging the path (care needed at this point especially after dark). On to Foxton crossing then to Barrington where we stopped for coffee at the bus shelter. After coffee we continued to Shepreth, through the village crossing over the A10 towards Melbourn taking the first left to The Green Man, where we were joined by Vic Skelton and Mike Stapleton for a good lunch. After lunch George and Clive went home via Fowlmere and the Old Coach Road. Vic and I went back via the A10 (Path).

Our lunch venue
These pictures were taken from a video recording on the move, so are not as sharp as stills would be. Peter Rowell.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

20 Feb: Afternoon ride to Newnham

Nigel writes: Our goal this afternoon was to ride to Jim's house in Newnham, about a mile from our starting point at Brookside, and to spend two and a half hours doing so. I phoned Jim from the start to tell him that there were six riders on the afternoon ride, but no sooner had I finished than two more turned up.

I led the eight of us south out of Cambridge to what is now grandly referred to as the Addenbrooke's Biomedical Campus, and along the DNA path to Great Shelford.

We took the road to Little Shelford and then continued south through Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. It was a dull, overcast day, and quite cold. But although there was no trace of sun, there wasn't any rain either, and only a slight wind.

Ickleton was as far south as we had time to go today, so here we turned west, along the appropriately-named Grange Road to Ickleton Granges and Chrishall Grange.

We then turned north. Just north of Chrishall Grange we turned left onto the road to Fowlmere and immediately stopped to allow Mike Sl, who had stopped at the previous junction, to catch up. However when he did so he sailed straight past our ride road without stopping, despite my shouts. Manquan sprinted after him but was unable to catch up with him, and so we carried on without Mike to Fowlmere.

At Fowlmere we turned left to Shepreth and Barrington. Here we climbed Chapel Hill, our sole hill of the ride, before dropping down to Haslingfield. We continued to Barton and then joined the A603 cycle track back towards Cambridge. Just after we crossed the motorway we turned right to Grantchester, from where we followed the path across Grantchester Meadows to Newnham.

At Jim's house in Newnham we found Jim, Val, four riders from the day ride and two others who had ridden there directly. As always the food was excellent and we had a cheery and pleasant gathering. After tea I only had a mile or two back home, which I reached at about 5pm after having cycled about 32 miles.

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Friday, 18 February 2011

17 Feb: Thursday ride to Gamlingay

Edward writes: Although we were met by a sunless, overcast day, twelve riders assembled at Haslingfield Church for our ride to Gamlingay. We quickly warmed up with the climb up Chapel Hill and down into Barrington before heading through Shepreth and Meldreth. Although it was overcast, conditions were good for cycling; it wasn't too cold and, perhaps most importantly, barely any wind.

After Meldreth, we crossed the A1198 and continued through Bassingbourn, Littlington, Steeple Morden to Ashwell where we stopped for coffee. Some of us made for the old tree with the bench around it only to be accompanied by the sludge-gulper clearing out the drains; others stayed in the main street. Our numbers swelled to fifteen, including David and Joan who were recently back from their winter break in Singapore, Thailand, etc.

Once we got going again we made for Hinxworth before making a detour through Dunton, where Greta wanted to check if the March Hare pub would be able to accommodate us on future trips.

We made our way to Gamlingay via Sutton and Potton. It was good to see so much hedge planting in this area, not only along the roadside but also, in one or two instances, across the fields. It will be nice to have the protection these hedges will provide once they have matured. The sun did make one or two half-hearted attempts to break through but the overcast conditions prevailed.

At lunch at The Cock in Gamlingay our numbers grew again with twenty-one members - a good lunch-time trade for the pub.

When it was time to go we split up to go our separate ways home. However, before going David showed us a salmon he had caught. Actually, not caught but found on the roadside in Potton, wrapped in newspaper and already gutted. Cycling trips in distant lands must be good for one's self-sufficiency!

I rode back with Mike, Jim, Averil, Eva and Joan through Longstowe, Bourn, the Eversdens, Harlton and on to Haslingfield. Mike, Averil and I then went back via Harston, Newton and Whittlesford and Shelford, leaving Averil with the trip into Cambridge. As always our thanks are due to Greta for all her hard work in organising our weekly trip. I did 55 miles. Edward Elmer

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Would you like to go End to End?

Mick Cousins and Bill Perry are planning to ride the "End to End" (Land's End to John O'Groats) in May this year, and are inviting CTC members to join them. If you're interested, contact us and we'll put you in touch. Six members (including Mick) did this ride in 2008 and had a wonderful time: read about it here

Monday, 14 February 2011

13 Feb: Afternoon ride to Waresley

Ian writes: With a weather forecast of strong winds, grey sky and a strong possibility of rain, I was delighted to see four other riders at Brookside for the afternoon adventure to Waresley Park Garden Centre.

The ride a couple of weeks ago had taken the direct route, so for variety, I opted for a longer route via Cambourne. We headed off past the Mill Pond and onto the Coton cycle path to take us out of town with the wind reasonably behind us and dry tarmac. We made good progress as we headed along the path of the old A428. We couldn’t help noticing the amount of snowdrops that had flowered. Signs of yellow were also appearing on the tops of daffodil stalks. The road here is a little dull on an overcast day, the plan was always to put a large loop in at the far end of the ride to see some different roads that we seldom get to cycle on.

We were at Cambourne in good time, so we turned right to begin a loop via Papworth Everard and onto Hilton. Here we turned left to head to Gravely. It was approaching Gravely that the full force of the wind really hit us, slowing the pace dramatically. You know the sort, pedalling downhill where you normally take a freewheel break.

We fought the wind pretty much all the way through Croxton and Abbotsley, even taking turns on the front to try to shield each other in places. To add to the joy, the rain now started but remained mercifully light. We arrived at tea about 15 minutes late with the slow pace, well and truly ready for one of their generous slices of cake. The Banoffee Pie certainly hit the spot for the ride back, I must admit, the “I don’t want to play this game anymore” wind had taken it out of me.

After tea, again wishing to avoid the runs of previous weeks, I took the group on the route via Gamlingay and Longstowe. From hear we are on the well trodden path to Bourne, Comberton and Barton to home.

When the battery packed up on the GPS near Trumpington, I was showing 43.9 miles. Ian Driver

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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

6 Feb: Afternoon ride to Chesterton

Tina writes: It was still windy (though not as ‘gale force’ as it had been on Friday) but, undeterred, nine people arrived at Brookside for the afternoon ride.

Mike K led us north over Midsummer Common and along the river where several rowing ‘eights’ were out training. We crossed Stourbridge Common and headed up NCR 51, through Fen Ditton and on to Newmarket Road. With the wind behind us most of the way, the going was easy, and we tried not to think about the inevitable headwind on our return journey.

We turned off the A1303 towards Little Wilbraham, where a diagonal side wind slowed the pace as we practised leaning sideways to keep the bikes upright! Just over the A11, we turned right for a few hundred yards along the A1304 before forking quickly left on to a quieter road signposted for West Wratting. We enjoyed several miles of traffic-free lanes and gentle undulations which provided some welcome shelter from the wind. While Mike dropped back to make sure everyone was OK, three riders shot off up a hill to the right, but a few shouts from the leader soon brought them sheepishly back, as we turned left!

Taking a sharp left at the top of a hill, we headed back towards Dullingham and met a party of four day riders led by Ian W; Adrian and his two ‘puncture repair supporters’ passed us a few minutes later.

From Dullingham it was a straight ride back to Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham where we retraced our tracks along the A1303 cycle path, this time battling into a fierce headwind. With great relief, we turned into the more sheltered Newmarket Rd P&R and then back across Stourbridge Common.

When we reached the Green Dragon bridge, instead of continuing along the river into the city, we took a right fork over the bridge to Chesterton, where Julia had produced a colourful spread which promised our entire 5-a-day in a single meal. There was plenty of salad as well as dips, open sandwiches and cakes - courgette and pistachio offering a mouth-watering combination! Only two surviving day riders (Ian & Adrian) and George joined us for tea, making twelve in total.

Thanks to Mike for a great ride (about 30 miles in total), which certainly blew away all those cobwebs. Thanks also to Julia for a delicious tea! Tina Filby

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Rides in April

Please note that following the change to summer time the Sunday afternoon rides start at 2.00pm, 30 minutes later than during the winter, and the Sunday all-day rides start at 9.00am, 30 minutes earlier. Sunday tea stops in April are now at 4.30pm. See the rides lists for April for details.

On Wednesday 13th April our mid-week evening rides return. Meet at 6.30pm at Brookside. Rides continue each week until the autumn.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

3 Feb: Thursday ride to Orwell

Edward Elmer writes: When we gathered at Greta's the weather was overcast and still quite cool. However, eight riders left Greta's and before we had got through Hauxton eight had become ten, which was another good turnout for this popular ride. We made our way towards Little Shelford and turned right into Newton Road, to go under the Motorway and then on to Newton. From here we headed towards Thriplow and took the long way through the village to take the road to Fowlmere.

The breeze was starting to get a little stronger, but it was mainly on our backs so did not cause too many problems. Going out of Fowlmere we did the usual dance with danger and crossed the A505. Luckily, today, it wasn't too busy. We then went to Chrisall Grange followed by the long climb heading towards Elmdon. Unfortunately, at some point on this climb, the chain on John's bike broke. Fortunately, Mike was on hand with a spare link to make the repair. Whilst the main group waited at the top and not knowing of the events down the hill, Bob got a puncture and once again Mike was on hand to offer assistance. It was decided that the main group should push on leaving Mike, John and Bob to catch-up at the coffee stop which was at Barkway Golf Club.

We arrived at Barkway via Heydon, and Shaftenhoe End, a particularly hilly route. At the coffee stop we were soon joined by Mike, John and Bob and also Doug was already there, making our group up to eleven.

After our break we rode into Barkway, turned left to go along the B1368, through Barley down to Flint Cross to go over the A505 again to head for Fowlmere, then down to the A10 and into Shepreth, turning right in the village to arrive at Orwell for lunch, where we found Tony, who had to start out late, was already eating his lunch!

From Barkway to Orwell we mostly rode in glorious sunshine, and what a difference it makes to the surrounding countryside. Let's hope we have more of this to look forward to as we get closer to springtime.

After lunch Greta made her way back to Hauxton whilst five of us decided on a loop over Barrington Hill, Harlton, the Eversdens, dropping Brian off as we went through, and on to Kingston before joining the B1046 to go back to Cambridge via Toft, Comberton and Barton. My mileage was 54 miles. Edward Elmer

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