Sunday, 31 July 2011

31 Jul: Afternoon ride to Ashdon

Tina writes: Four men and four women made up the group of cyclists, led by Bob B, setting off from Brookside this afternoon down Trumpington Road, cutting through Porson Rd to Long Road and then picking up the cycle path beside the guided busway and across to the DNA path.

Just before Shelford Station we turned left into Mingle Lane, following NCN 11 through to Sawston, turning left past the Village College and heading out on the Babraham Road along the ‘new’ cycle path.

In Babraham village we branched right on to a surfaced farm track, pausing to admire a classic car that had turned in ahead of us. Concrete pavers gave way to the rutted track leading to the bridge over the A11 where we paused for a drink and group photo.

Back on smooth surface, we turned left past the Cambridge Language School, stopping briefly to see the giraffe and then cycled on, enjoying quieter country lanes with the A11 safely behind us, through Little Abington and on to Linton. Crossing the A1307, we headed on to Bartlow with ripening fields of wheat on either side, bordered by a selection of colourful wild flowers – flat heads of white yarrow, purple knapweed and blue scabious.

From Bartlow we followed the gently undulating ‘Camps’ road, branching right uphill towards Steventon End and then sweeping downhill to Ashdon and ever-popular village museum. Day riders Nigel and David W had already arrived, joining George who had cycled direct and were just carrying their trays round to the garden. Large pots of tea and delicious home-made cake never disappoint hungry cyclists and luckily there were just enough slices of coffee and walnut to go round!

The main group set off towards Cambridge, taking the road via Bartlow, West Wratting, Six Mile Bottom and back along the A1303 cyclepath. David was cycling back to Haslingfield and I joined him on a scenic route via Saffron Walden, Littlebury, Catmere End and then across to Ickleton Granges. We parted company as he turned north at Chrishall Grange towards Duxford, while I toiled uphill through Heydon, Great Chishill and then across to Barkway and Therfield, with a final freewheel down over the Heath to Royston.

Thanks once again to Bob for a very enjoyable ride. Total mileage (for the group): 41 miles. Tina Filby

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31 Jul: Day ride to Saffron Walden, Finchingfield and Ashdon

Nigel writes: Today was bright and warm from the start, and with a hot, dry, day forecast I was surprised to find myself alone at the Brookside, with no-one turning up to join me for today's all-day ride. After a few moments Rupert arrived, but he was there to give me a package, not to join the ride. But at least it meant that I had someone to wave me off as I set off towards the planned morning stop in Saffron Walden.

Rupert had reminded me that many of the day ride regulars were away on the club's week-long trip to the Yorkshire Dales. However I carried on alone to the morning coffee stop in the hope that other members would join me there.

My route south took me first to Great and Little Shelford and onto the road to Whittlesford. As I was riding on my own the pace was a little faster than usual so when I reached Duxford I allowed myself a diversion via Hinxton before continuing to Ickleton, where I stopped to take a photo of St Mary's Church. One day I will return and inspect its Norman interior, which Pevsner describes as having "few equals in the country".

From Ickleton I continued south, climbing Coploe Hill and the hill beyond it to Catmere End. From there it was downhill almost all the way to Audley End House (below) before the short climb back up to Saffron Walden.

In Saffron Walden I stopped at The Temeraire, the planned coffee stop. There were no other bikes outside so I ordered a pint of orange juice and sat outside to plan the rest of my day and to wait for anyone else to turn up.

After a few minutes David W turned up. He was equally surprised to see no-one else there. However this now meant I had company for the remainder of the ride, and as the appointed leader for today, I now had someone to lead.

Finchingfield, our planned lunch stop, is about 13 miles east of Saffron Walden. Instead of riding there directly, we took a big loop to the south. This took us through Debden and Debden Green and along a short section of off-road byway (below) to Broxted.

At Broxted we turned eastwards, along some lovely quiet lanes through Tilty, Duton Hill and Lindsell.

Just past Lindsell we met the B184 where we turned north towards Finchingfield. This took us through Great Bardfield, where I spotted that the village "cage" was open. This a single-cell prison, built in 1816, for "drunk and disorderly men and women". One of the benefits of riding in a group of two is that it is much easier to make impromptu stops like this than when riding with a large group.

When we reached Finchingfield I bought some cold drinks and sat down on the village green to eat my picnic lunch. The green was busy with people, including several other cyclists and dozens of motorcyclists, for whom this is a regular rendezvous.

After lunch we continued on our way. Our planned tea-stop was in Ashdon which is north-west of Finchingfield, but we set off in the opposite direction for a loop to the east. This took us along some exceptionally quiet and pretty lanes, and even David (who has cycled absolutely everywhere) was impressed.

Out route took us south-east through Waltham's Cross to Shalford where we turned east to Blackmore End and then north to Toppesfield and Stambourne. We continued north-west through the Bumpsteads and the Olmstead Green loop before arriving at Ashdon Village Museum just after 4pm.

Already queueing up for his tea and cakes was George, who had arrived just before us, and a few minutes later Bob arrived with about eight people on the afternoon ride, making about eleven in total. The friendly, volunteer-run cafe at this whimsical museum of village life offers a good selection of home-made cakes and is a perennial favourite with the club.

After tea we all headed back home, which for most of the group meant back to Cambridge. We split into several groups on the way back; my group took a route north through Bartlow before climbing up West Wratting, from where a lovely fast descent took us down to Six Mile Bottom.

When we reached Little Wilbraham the group divided once more, with most of the riders continuing to Quy whilst Cheryl and I turned left to Great Wilbraham, Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton. I was home by 6.50pm, having cycled just over 88 miles, making this my longest club ride this year.

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Thursday, 28 July 2011

28 Jul: Thursday ride to Reed, Ardeley and Nuthampstead

Edward writes: Today looked promising for cyclists. The skies were a bit overcast but there was very little wind and temperatures were expected to be in the low twenties. Again, about a dozen riders met for this popular Thursday event and we set off up Chapel Hill followed by the fast downhill into Barrington and then into Shepreth before heading for the busy A10. Once across we then made for Fowlmere and over the other busy road, the A505. This was followed by the long climb up to the Elmdon turn, although we, in fact, headed towards Heydon and the long sweep downwards through the narrow country lanes and finally reaching Barkway followed the delightful climb up to Reed with the wonderful views over thesurrounding countryside down below us. This lead us to the Silver Ball transport cafe on the A10. Here we were joined by Brian B and Doug and, briefly, by Geoff.

After our break we headed towards Sandon and through various twists and turns back to the A10. This five or six mile stretch is really first-class riding, extremely rural with very little traffic and an abundance of wild flowers. Once at the A10 we were on it just for a minute or two before turning off for Throcking and more rural countryside to pass through Cottered and finally arriving at our lunch stop at Church Farm at Ardeley. By now the sun was probably at its hottest and many of us enjoyed lunches out in the open.

After lunch Brian B left us but we were joined by Tony who had cycled over from St. Neots and we made for home via Great Munden, Westmill and Aspenden before stopping in Buntingford to admire the topiary, ie rabbits cut into a yew hedge.

Out of Buntingford we took the Wyddial road with its many twists and turns and undulations and arriving a The Woodman in Nuthamstead where we stopped for afternoon tea. This is wonderful countryside and sometimes it's worth recalling that Nuthamstead was one of the alternative sites to Stansted for London's third airport. Had that happened what would our cycling be like now!

From Nuthamstead we made rapid progress via Barley and the B1398 to Flint Cross, over the A505 and into Fowlmere, Newton and Hauxton where the ride ended. Again our thanks are due to Greta for another highly enjoyable day out. We covered 61 miles. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

27 Jul: Evening ride to Newton

Nigel writes: Tonight was a perfect summer's evening for cycling. Sunny, cool, and virtually no wind. As usual, eight riders were at Brookside for the start of the ride: Jacob, Mike K, Tony, Kit, Conrad, Ian, John and me.

We set off south out of Cambridge to Trumpington and Great Shelford, where we turned right to Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford. We crossed over the A505 and continued to Ickleton. Here I had planned to climb Coploe Hill, but Mike K had suggested we take a different route for a change and so we started the long climb to Elmdon.

About half a mile before we reached Elmdon, Jacob turned off left onto a byway to Catmere End, whilst the rest of us continued on-road through Elmdon and down to Wendon Lofts before climbing back up to Littlebury and Catmere End, where Jacob was waiting for us.

The two mile descent from Catmere End over Coploe Hill to Ickleton is one of my fabourite rides near Cambridge, and in the late summer sunshine even the Essex praries looked lovely.

When we reached the top of Coploe Hill we stopped for the traditional photostop before dropping down to Icketon.

From Icketon we were back on the flat again. We continued north to Whittlesford before turning left to Newton where we stopped for about half an hour at the Queen's Head. Here we met Nick J who had ridden there directly.

After a relaxing drink and a mug of brown soup we returned back to Cambridge. Jacob headed north to Harston and another off-route, leaving the rest of us to stick to the quiet road route via the Shelfords and the DNA path back to Cambridge.

I was home by 9.50pm, after having cycled 34 miles.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

26 Jul: Seniors ride to Fenstanton

Peter writes: George and Clive met at the Park & Ride site (Madingley Road) and rode to Hardwick for coffee and a chat. The three of us then made our way on the old A428 to Knapwell turn and Knapwell.

High Street, Knapwell

We continued to Elsworth mill where we decided on a detour to Elsworth, Brook Street.

Brook Street, Elsworth

Continuing to Conington, it was suggested that we approach Fenstanton by the A14 underpass.

Fenstanton, approaching the underpass

Not wanting to ride through the narrow High Street we did another detour around the old village (Church Lane and Church Street), coming out at the East End of the High Street we then went to Fen Drayton and the Three Tuns for Lunch.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

24 Jul: Afternoon ride to Cherry Hinton

Tina writes: There were nine riders (including a record five women!) at Brookside on the first promisingly sunny afternoon we have had for several weeks. Mike K, our leader today, took us south down Trumpington Road, cutting through Barrow Road to Long Road. We rode past Addenbrooke’s and picked up the DNA path to Shelford and then following the road south, we cycled on through Whittlesford and crossed the busy A505 to Duxford. Here we encountered several groups of riders on the homeward stretch of the London to Cambridge ride, many wearing their distinctive pink t-shirts (and even one on our return journey sporting a pink tutu!).

From Duxford we headed past the turning to Ickleton and onwards and upwards to Coploe Hill, where we paused to re-group, admire the view and enjoy a refreshing drink after the climb. The road undulated gently, past golden fields of ripening wheat climbing finally up to Strethall and Catmere End. The weather was perfect for cycling, sunshine and blue skies dotted with clouds ensuring it was never too hot.

Descending the hill past Strethall, Sarah came off her bike after bouncing out of a pothole and sustained some nasty cuts to her knee, elbow and hand. A kind lady from a nearby cottage came out with a supply of plasters and once mopped and patched, Sarah valiantly carried on. (Paul had earlier slid sideways off his bike as we slowed for traffic lights, having forgotten he was clipped into pedals and grazed his elbow and leg.)

We joined the B1039 and cycled along as far as the Elmdon turn, riding up the hill to the village and then swooping down and back through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords, retracing our outward route up the DNA path to Cambridge. We then crossed Hills Road into Nightingale Avenue and here Cheryl and I lost the main group and rode on down Queen Edith’s Way into Cherry Hinton High St and left into Mill End Road, arriving just before the others at Conrad’s house.

Su-lyn had done us proud with a tempting array of cakes and savouries and although the afternoon riders were rather late arriving, there was still plenty of food left. The day riders were just leaving, conveniently vacating their chairs in the garden and we admired Conrad’s luxuriant vegetables and two friendly cats, while we tucked into a welcome tea. George and Steve stayed to chat and we all left around 6.15pm - George hoping to catch the highlights of the closing stage of ‘Le Tour’. Thanks to Conrad and Su-lyn for a fantastic tea and relaxing interlude in their garden. Thanks to Mike for a great ride, along quiet roads through some beautiful countryside and lovely views. Total distance: 37 miles. Tina Filby

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

19 Jul: Seniors ride to Dullingham

Peter writes: Although the forecast was for rain in the afternoon we decided to chance it. It was a beautiful morning and it was pleasant riding in the sunshine. We took the route to Swaffham Bulbeck where we had our coffee at the War Memorial. From there we crossed the A14 and A1304 to Dullingham.


We had a good lunch at The Boot (more than most of us could manage). After lunch we returned to Cambridge via the A1304 and A1303 (Nine mile hill).

George & Clive

Vic & John

Sunday, 17 July 2011

17 Jul: Afternoon ride to Caxton

Jacqueline writes: The rain was doing a good imitation of a sheet as seven waterproof clad riders met for the afternoon ride today. After waiting a short time for the worst to pass we set off to Trumpington but were teased by the sun to remove our protection at the end of Cantelupe Lane. Mechanical problems delayed us a while so another shower meant that we climbed Chapel Lane with our extra layers but again the sun persuaded their removal as we turned towards Orwell.

Through Wimpole Hall, Croydon and East Hatley before a thunderstorm demanded waterproofs on, and a few minutes of shelter, but as we passed the old Gransden airports we were rewarded with the dramatic shades of blue's and greens that can only be experienced after enduring such a storm. Time was moving on and the smell of tea awaited, so a cursery glance by all but two of the group, at the 17th century windmill, as we hastily climbed to the Cross Keys. Thank you all, for your company. I hope to see again you soon. Jacqueline Mountford-Green

Saturday, 16 July 2011

16 Jul: Introductory ride to Oakington

Tina writes: Despite an ominous morning forecast, nine people, including new riders Arthur and Chris, assembled at Brookside ready for the challenge of ‘heavy rain’. The first light spots were falling as we cycled up Trumpington St, through the centre of town and down Garrett Hostel Lane to cross the river. Students nattily attired in boaters and toting for punting business looked as if they were in for a quiet morning!

At Richard’s suggestion, we detoured along Grange Road, turning past the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences and returning along A1303 Madingley Road, then through West Cambridge ‘campus’ to pick up the Coton path. By this time serious rain had set in, but we continued up through Coton village and then crossed the A1303 and on to Madingley where a row of attractive thatched cottages lined the road. We turned left along Dry Drayton Road, trying to imagine how nice the view across fields would have looked on a fine day. Just before the village, we branched right along Park Lane where parts of the road were awash with water and then emerged on to the busier high street, leading up towards the A14. Just before the dual carriageway, we turned right, up and over the A14 noting the welcome Oakington signpost.

Unfortunately our route was marred by several impatient drivers and deep puddles along each side of the road, so we were relieved to reach Oakington Garden Centre and a dry oasis inside the Olive Tree café. Bob B decided to return home, but the rest of us ordered hot drinks with various cakes and scones and sat chatting for about 45 minutes, in the vain hope that rain might ease.

Having partially dried off, it was even more difficult to get back on our bikes and feel the rain once more seeping through jackets and helmets, but we were pleased to return along the traffic free guided busway with recent tarmac providing a smooth surface. Surprisingly a bus sped past heading towards Cambridge, presumably testing the route for the long-anticipated opening on August 7th. We left the busway just past CRC and continued down Green End Road, through Chesterton and then across the river at the ‘new’ bridge to Riverside. Riders had peeled off as they neared home and only Cheryl, Nigel, Richard and Tina returned to Parker’s Piece just before 1pm, for once devoid of weekend strollers. Hope new riders weren’t too deterred by the weather – next ride can only get better! Total distance: 16 miles. Tina Filby

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

13 Jul: Evening ride to Barrington

Nigel writes: Eight seems to be the magic number for our evening rides. It's never the same eight, but we always seem to have eight riders. Today it was Jacob, Tony, Mike K, Neil, Kit, John, Conrad and me, on a dull and disappointingly cold July evening. With the pub stop in Barrington to the south-west, I offered the group a choice of a westerly or a southerly route. They followed my hint that a westerly route would be a nice change, so we set off west out of Cambridge along the Coton path. This starts off as one of the best and widest cycle tracks in Cambridge...

...though after a short distance it becomes rather narrower, whilst still pleasant and smooth, and still one of the finest cycle routes out of the city.

We were soon climbing Madingley Hill to Hardwick. We continued west along the old A423 before turning south through Highfields and Coldecote to the B1046, which we followed west to Longstowe. Although we strung out a bit along this road, the pace was relatively quick.

At Longstowe we turned south down the A1198 for a couple of miles. This is a major road but there was relatively little traffic this evening. Half-way along this section we were rejoined by Jacob and Mike who had left us somewhere near Bourn and taken an off-road route instead.

Soon we were able to turn off onto a much quieter road to Old Wimpole, eventually arriving at the gates of Wimpole Hall itself. Here I suggested an off-road diversion through the woods of the Wimpole Estate. Tony and Conrad decided to give it a miss and continued along the road to Orwell, leaving the rest of us to have a scenic, if rather bumpy, ride through the woods.

By the time we reached Orwell it was just after 8pm. I had originally planned to head from here straight to Barrington but since this would mean us arriving 20 minutes earlier than planned I suggested we took a loop via Malton, where we stopped to inspect the meridian marker just south of the village.

A few minutes later we arrived in Barrington, where we stopped for a drink at the Royal Oak.

Since it was still quite light we decided to sit outside with our drinks, enjoying the fine views across the village green. However it was rather cold, which I think encouraged us to finish our drinks quickly and head back to Cambridge.

Our route back took us over Chapel Hill, but a tailwind assisted our progress to Haslingfield and allowed us a fast pace to Barton and along the Barton Road cycleway back into Cambridge. I was home by 9.30pm, having cycled 32 miles.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

12 Jul: Seniors Lunch at Shepreth

Peter writes: I had decided to explore an off road route avoiding Orwell Hill on the A603. Vic decided to join me and we started from St Neots Road, Hardwick went through Caldecote to Kingston. Vic remarked that two members from the past lived there. I said I would show him the house where Fred Peterken lived in Cranes Lane (formerly Wildmans Lane). This led us to explore Cranes Lane to Wimpole. It was a bit bumpy but ridable.

A View from Cranes Lane

Cranes Lane toward Wimpole

It is a long lane, approx. 1.5 miles. Having reached the Wimpole road we decided to go to The Lazy Days Cafe (on the A603) for coffee. Having got through Cranes Lane easily we had time in hand and chatted over coffee. Afterwards we set off to go back to the Wimpole Road and ride the lane opposite the road to Wimpole Hall. This was probably the main route from the Hall to Cambridge before motorised transport. Although not surfaced, the lane was of compacted stone and easily ridable.

Looking south and north on the Wimpole Hall lane

This lane is approx. 1 mile long and easily ridable at a reasonable speed. We came out onto the A603 near the Orwell turn. Going through Orwell, Malton, Meldreth, Shepreth, crossed over the A11 onto the Fowlmere road, then turned right into the lane to Melbourn, turning right at the Melbourn end and right again into Dunsbridge Turnpike and our lunch place, The Green Man.

There were nine of us for lunch, which must be a record. After lunch we made our way back to Harston where I left the main group and went home via Haslingfield, Barton and Comberton. I had covered 34.4 miles.