Sunday, 30 December 2012

30 Dec: Sunday all-day ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today was probably the best day of the Christmas holiday so far: instead of the heavy rain of earlier in the week, today was clear, dry, sunny and mild, with only a south-westerly wind preventing this from being a perfect winter's day. As a Christmas treat today's ride started at 10am, allowing an extra half-hour in bed. I arrived at Brookside to find over a dozen riders waiting to start: the combination of fine weather, the leisurely start time and the opportunity to burn off some Christmnas calories make this one of our largest rides of the year, with over twenty riders at lunch.

Rupert was our leader today. He led us from Brookside, west along Fen Causeway and across Lammas Land to Newnham.

We joined the Barton Road cycle path and followed it out of the city.

We turned onto the B1046 and rode through Comberton, Toft and Comberton to Caxton. With a steady headwind we made slow progress, but it didn't matter: we didn't have far to go today and we could concentrate on what we always do for the first hour or two of a Sunday ride: chatting to the other riders who we knew, and introducing ourselves to those who we didn't.

From Caxton we continued west to Great Gransden where we turned onto the road to Abbotsley, Just before Abbotsley we turned north: the wind was behind us at last, and we made faster progress to Croxton and Graveley. Here we paused to allow the group to reform and to give Rupert a chance to discuss whether we should take a shortcut via Hilton or continue on the planned route via Offord D'Arcy.

With the sun still shining brightly we decided to stick to our original plan, so we all turned west for a few more miles into the wind to Offord D'Arcy. There we turned north once more, and with the wind behind us again I found my speed increasing as we rode through Offod Cluny to Godmanchester. Just beyond Godmanchester we turned onto Eastside Common for the final mile to Hemingford Abbots. This had  probably been flooded earlier in the month but today there were just a few large puddles.

Our lunch stop in Hemingford Abbots was the Axe and Compasses. Rupert had booked a table for ten but several more riders turned up and we were probably over twenty in all. Fortunately there was plenty of room and the pub staff looked after us all splendidly.

This pub is becoming a regular stopping place for the club: we had tea here in May and have stopped here on an evening ride in both September and October. I think we all agreed that we thought it was hightly suitable and I expect we'll be back here several times in 2013.

After lunch we all returned back home, most of us to Cambridge. We had originally planned to ride into St Ives and join the busway cycleway but due to long-term deep flooding between there and Swavesey we took the "old" route instead. This took us along Low Road to Fenstanton. We had heard this was flooded as well, and the signs said "road closed", but we thought we'd ride on and take a look.

The road did turn out to be flooded, but the water wasn't very deep and I watched a couple of cars splash through at speed. Even better, the pavement cycleway - which I normally never bother with - was above the level of the water and we could get past easily. Only for one short section did we need to ride through water, but it was only an inch or so deep and proved no problem.

From Fenstanton we continued through Fen Drayton to Swavesey where we joined the busway cycleway.

Whenever I turn onto the busway towards Cambridge the sudden lack of motor traffic gives me a relaxing "I'm almost home" feeling and today was no exception. It's an understandable feeling but it is rather inappropriate since we still had about ten miles to go, some of it into the wind. Nevertheless the final hour of the ride was pleasant and uneventful. I arrived home at about 3.30pm, the sky still light, having cycled 49 miles.

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Thursday, 27 December 2012

27 Dec: Thursday ride to Melbourn and Saffron Walden

Jim writes: "Life is like riding a bicycle", thought Albert Einstein, "in order to keep your balance you must keep riding". I beg to differ. On a cold, windy morning, with the rain pouring down, most well balanced people were luxuriating in bed, enjoying the over-indulgence of Christmas week, and dreaming of the long hot summer days when it would once again be sane to venture out on an all-day ride. Not so the extremist faction of the Cambridge CTC which I found huddled in Greta's kitchen when I arrived for the Thursday ride, already soaked to the skin and thinking 'what moment of madness persuaded me to get on my bike this morning?'.

The majority of the Club had obviously had the sense to stay at home, and there were only five of us who set off, with Mike C leading, towards our coffee stop at Phillimore Garden Centre in Melbourn. He took us via Newton and Harston to Haslingfield, over Barrington Hill (was it Churchill who said "If you're going through hell, keep going"?), on to Orwell, and then through Meldreth, to Melbourn where the one thing that had kept me going – the thought of a steaming coffee and a warm mince pie, perhaps even a toasted tea cake, followed by a sensible decision to take the shortest route home – was dashed. First, came the sign at Phillimore Gardens saying CAFE CLOSED, which proved to be less of a disaster than I first feared, as another garden centre with a cafe was open just down the road. Even better, it had an excellent overhead heater, below which we spread ourselves out, and I felt for a moment, through delusion or delirium, almost like a sunbather on the Med. I was alerted to the less happy reality when I heard a consensus among my fellow riders in favour, not of calling for a taxi home (which I would have favoured), but of cycling on to The Temeraire in Saffron Walden for lunch. I must at this stage have been partly successful in my efforts to transcend the whole experience, as I forget the exact route we took, though I think we went through Fowlmere, across the A505, and over the hill towards Littlebury, turning right up to Catmere End. In any normal circumstances, I love this little pocket of open countryside, and when I mentioned that to Mike, he agreed that he also thought it was very nice ... during the summer. From Catmere, we pottered down to Audley End and on into Saffron Walden, where – what a nice surprise -- Peter W was waiting, having cycled from West Wratting on his own, for which I thought he deserved a larger prize than a Wetherspoons pub lunch.

Finally, as we left for home, we were rewarded for our earlier stoicism by the sight of the cloud disappearing, the rain receding, and the sun beaming down on us, as we wended our way home through Littlebury, Little Chesterford, Ickleton, Hinxton (where a car still lay in the flooded river), Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords. At my garden gate, my computer read 54 miles, but in my opinion the ride was worth a lot more.
Jim Bamberg (standing in for Eddie, our regular Thursday blogger).

Rides in January and February

Now the snow has gone all our rides are back to normal. See our January and February rides lists for details.

As it's still winter and the weather can be unpredictable, our scheduled mid-morning, lunch and mid-afternoon stops stay relatively close to Cambridge. This allows a shorter ride if the weather is poor.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

23 Dec: All-day ride to Wilburton and Ely

Nigel writes: Today offered a brief respite from all the recent rain. It was dry all day, and although mostly dull and overcast the sun did put in an appearance in the afternoon. It was also remarkably mild - about 10C all day. A perfect opportunity for a little light exercise ahead of the inevitable Christmas over-indulgence. Also at Brookside I found Averil, Rupert and Conrad our leader.

Today was planned to be a short ride: coffee in Wilburton, lunch in Ely and then back home to Cambridge. Conrad led us north through the city centre, past King's College where a BBC outside broadcast van stood ready for the afternoon's carol service.

We continued north up Castle Hill (which we remarked would be the biggest hill of the entire day) and along Huntingdon Road to Girton Corner. From here we took the road to Girton and Oakington where we turned right for Cottenham. At Cottenham we joined the B1049 which we followed north to Wilburton. This is not a particularly nice road but today it was mostly quiet.

At Wilburton we stopped for coffee at the Twenty Pence Garden Centre. This was my first visit. I had wondered whether it would be a cut-price version of Poundland where everything was 20p but, alas, it was just another garden centre selling rather overpriced coffee and cakes.

Already in the cafe were Adrian and young Vic and we were soon joined by Will, Brian, Lynn and Cheryl.

There were few other customers; Santa sat in a shed outside, waiting for visitors. Averil spotted some snow falling outside the window and rushed outside to enjoy it.

After coffee we carried on north to Ely. We were now a somewhat larger group than before. We didn't have far to go and despite going via Coveney and Little Downham we arrived there at about 12.15pm. As we cycled along we passed large areas of flooded fenland, but the road itself was dry.

We had lunch at the Cutter Inn down by the river. Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge. We followed NCR 11 along the Ouse floodbank and then along the unsurfaced farm track further south. We had been worried this might be flooded but the worst we encountered was some mud and a few large puddles.

The ride home via Upware and Lode was surprisingly hard work: the southerly wind which had sped our progress in the morning was now directly against us. Fortunately we didn't have far to go and I arrived back home at about 3.15pm (in time to wash the mud off my bike before it got dark), having cycled 49 miles.

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Sunday, 16 December 2012

16 Dec: Ride to Christmas lunch

(Photos added) Nigel writes: Today was the day of the club's Christmas Lunch at the George and Dragon in Elsworth, which meant a later start and a more leisurely pace than usual. The weather was good for mid-December: dry, sunny, still and relatively mild: perfect conditions for a gentle and convivial ride.

I was the leader today, and led out group of ten north-west out of Cambridge along Huntington Road to Girton. After passing through the village we turned right towards Histon.

Just before we reached Histon we turned left onto the busway cycleway.

This cycleway is perfect for riding and chatting, so ideal for a ride like this. As we rode along, several buses sped past on the guideway, crammed full of christmas shoppers heading into town. I, however, was very happy to be heading in completely the opposite direction.

When we reached Swavesey we turned left into the village before turning right to Fen Drayton and Fenstanton. We crossed over the A14 and continued through Conington.

A few minutes later we arrived at our destination: the George and Dragon in Elsworth. There were several members already waiting and we were soon joined by several more.

After a most enjoyable Christmas lunch we returned back to Cambridge. I rode back with a group of about six through Knapwell and Bourn and into Cambridge along the B1046. I arrived back home at 4pm, the sun having just set, having cycled 36 miles.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

13 Dec: Thursday ride to Newport and Hadstock

Edward writes: This morning was on the cold side, to say the least. In fact in Great Shelford overnight temperatures had fallen as low as minus 6.3C. This didn’t stop seven brave souls (or foolhardy) arriving at the start for our trip out to Newport and Hadstock. Luckily there was no wind and this helped, and was in contrast to last week’s cancelled ride when the north wind made for a very unpleasant day.

We went out the usual way through Whittlesford to the A505 which brought us into Duxford. There followed Ickleton and the climb up Coploe Hill. This is steady climb but, as always, the views from the top are worth the effort. We stopped at the regular re-grouping lay-by which allowed those with glasses to wipe them clear.

Coploe Hill

Going downhill from here required extra vigilance as, although the roads were mainly dry, there were still patches of ice ready to catch the unwary. We reached Catmere End then turned towards Littlebury Green but turned again into the narrow lane which eventually leads to the long downhill into Wendons Ambo. Once again we were travelling through frost covered fields, many with fieldfares thus making for a very attractive winter’s scene. Without the wind none of us felt particularly cold even with the temperature hovering at about zero all day. Once through Wendons Ambo we joined the old A11 for the run into Newport and coffee. Although the stop was scheduled for R and R Saggers we all went to Dorringtons where some of us warmed up with bacon rolls.

Wendens Ambo

When we left Newport Dave returned home but we were joined by Peter W so we still had seven riders. We went south for a mile out of Newport and turned towards Widdington and then straight through to join the B184. After about a mile on this road we left it to head up to Sewards End and here great care was needed all the way.

Debden-Sewards End

These are very nice country lanes and great for summer cycling but today there were many stretches with a lot of ice on them. All of us got through unscathed and after about four miles of lanes we joined the road down into Ashdon. From here it was through Bartlow and then Hadstock and our lunch stop at the King’s Head. I don’t think this pub has been used much on Thursday rides but we were well looked after, with a good selection of beers and good menu - and warm!



After lunch the view was that we should get home as quickly as possible as it was only going to get colder. Peter left us here and the remainder went into Linton and Hildersham, over the A1307 and into Great Abington. Instead of going over the cycle bridge and the farm we went on to the Four Went Ways roundabout and then into Babraham. This was followed by Sawston and Great Shelford where the ride ended after 44 miles. Despite the cold all seven enjoyed a good day out. Edward Elmer

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Sunday, 9 December 2012

9 Dec: Afternoon ride to Shepreth

John writes: Only three riders, John M, Tony from Meldreth and I joined Mike Kenny’s ride. The weather although warmer than the previous Sunday was less pleasant because of a strong North Westerly wind, but the proverbial “ill wind” helped us to Coploe Hill summit where we stopped briefly in the full gale.

We now followed the same route as on 4th July Wednesday evening ride through Catmere End, and the charming villages of Littlebury Green, Wenden Lofts and Elmdon. Having switched on lights we descended into the wind but mostly downhill, re-crossed the A505 to Fowlmere and thence to Shepreth arriving at 4:00 p.m. We were the only customers at the Teacake Café, who were appreciative of our earlier telephone call to advise them of numbers and ETA. This was my first visit and it was a delightful tea stop with very good cakes.

Emerging from the café at 5:00 p.m. it was now pitch dark and cold. Tony left us for Meldreth and the three of us returned to Cambridge via Barrington (the hill-climb warmed us up), Haslingfield, and Barton.

This was a very enjoyable brisk route for a Winter’s afternoon of about 30 to 35 miles with fine views from the top of the Hertfordshire hills. There was very little traffic (Christmas shopping, Manchester City v Manchester United on Sky?). John Ferguson

9 Dec: Morning ride to Waresley

Nigel writes: After last Sunday's freezing temperatures it was a pleasant change to return to more typical December weather: relatively mild and intermittently sunny. less welcome was a moderate but steady westerly wind, though nothing like as bad as three weeks ago. There were nine riders at Brookside for today's all-day ride. The runs list didn't show a leader, but Ian offered to lead us as far as coffee.

Ian suggested we take a direct route to the coffee stop in Waresley, and led us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton. The sun came out and it was really quite mild and pleasant, though the headwind made things rather harder work than we might have preferred.

We turned onto the B1046 which we followed through Comberton to Toft, where we took the customary diversion past the church.

We turned right off the B1046 into Bourn where we turned onto the road to Caxton. This took us past Bourn Mill.

After Caxton there was just one more village: Great Gransden, before we reached Waresley, where we stopped for coffee at the garden centre. About half a dozen members were already there waiting for us.

Waresley is one of the club's favourite coffee stops. This was my first visit since the restaurant area was expanded several weeks ago. A friendly member of staff explained the new layout and proudly told me about the three coffee machines - which will hopefully speed things up at busy times.

After coffee Adrian and several continued west to Lunch at Old Warden. However on this occasion I joined those who were returning to Cambridge. We returned by a rather nicer route than our outward journey, via Gamlingay, the Hatleys, Croydon and the grounds of Wimpole Hall.

As we passed the stables at Wimpole Hall I spotted the members of March Veteran and Vintage Cycle Club, who were proudly displaying a variety of vintage bicycles, and we stopped for a friendly chat.

We carried on through Orwell, Barringon and over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield before retracing our outward route along the Barton Road. I arrived home at about 1.30pm, having cycled a modest but pleasant 37 miles.

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

2 Dec: Afternoon ride to West Wratting

John writes: Sunday afternoon was a perfect day for a Winter cycle ride – brilliant sunshine, neither wind nor precipitation and temperature hovering a few degrees below zero. Only two riders, John M and Mike CC from Over joined me. Already forewarned about ice by Nigel and that none of the day-riders would be at tea I called The Chestnut Tree who agreed to provide tea from 3:30 p.m. and only charge for the three riders. This was possible because they had not yet made any preparations but could not guarantee this for future visits. This was my first visit to the pub since its reopening. It was a splendid tea-stop with ample sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee. We should definitely reuse this.

We followed the familiar route along the right bank of the Cam to the Green Dragon bridge and then via Fen Ditton, Quy, Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck, Dullingham where turned right and headed more or less due South to West Wratting. Wearing a peakless woolly hat I was bothered by the low sun on the latter stage. After the splendid tea we left the pub and sped via Balsham, Little Abingdon, across the footpath to Brabraham. It was now pitch dark and the frozen muddy path required tricky bike handling skills. It got noticeably warmer and cloudier as we approached Cambridge reached via the Shelfords at about 5:30 p.m. The constellations were only faintly visible and the gibbous moon had not yet risen. John Ferguson

2 Dec: All-day ride to Saffron Walden and Thaxted

Nigel writes: This was the fourth Sunday in succession with clear skies and bright sunshine all day - but also the second Sunday in succession where we had to cut the ride short due to adverse weather conditions. It was a bright, crisp morning. The temperature had fallen to -4C in Cambridge overnight, and there was still a bit of frost on the pavements, but with a sunny day in prospect I didn't expect it to amount to anything.

There were ten riders at Brookside for today's ride including Gareth who offered to be our leader today. We set off south down Trumpington Road to Long Road, where we joined the guided busway cycleway.

on the busway cycleway

We took the branch to Addenbrooke's and turned onto the DNA path to Great Shelford.

on the DNA path

From Great Shelford we took the road to Little Shelford and followed the club's usual route to Whittlesford and Duxford.

Crossing the A505 Duxford

We took the direct route from Duxford to Ickleton, which left me wondering whether the route via Hinxton Ford was still flooded as it was last week. From Ickleton we continued south over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. Apart from a short section of slushy ice approaching Catmere End, the entire route was dry and free of ice.

Coploe Hill

The final leg of our ride to Saffron Walden was a long descent along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House.

Chestnut Avenue

We arrived at The Temeraire in Saffron Walden at about 10.45. Doug and Edward were already there, and I ordered a large coffee and a mince pie.

After coffee most of the group turned back to Cambridge, leaving six of us to continue on to lunch in Thaxted. We took the road to Debden and at Debden Green we turned west for a loop via Henham. This particular road, however, was covered in ice, and within a couple of minutes three of us had slipped over. I think we picked up a few bruises but no great damage was done to riders or bikes. However it became apparent that we should stick to busier roads and cut short the ride to avoid cycling in the dark. Andy, Sarah and Z turned north to Saffron Walden, whilst Gareth, the other Sarah and me carried on to Thaxted, which was only three miles away.

In Thaxted the three of us stopped for lunch at Parrishes Restaurant (rather than the pub mentioned in the runs list). This restaurant is one of my favourites, serving a good variety of light meals of the type that passing cyclists like to eat (I ordered a baked potato and a large pot of tea).

Afterwards we returned directly back to Cambridge, skipping the planned afternoon tea stop at West Wratting. This took us back to Saffron Walden and then north to Littlebury, Great Chesterford, Ickleton and the reverse of our outward trip. We had bright sunshine all the way back, and encountered no further ice. I arrived back home at about 3.20pm, half an hour before sunset, having cycled a modest 51 miles.

Romsey "beach"

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Thursday, 29 November 2012

29 Nov: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Kedington

Edward writes: It was something of a surprise when twelve cyclists met in Hauxton for our trip out to Kedington. The forecast was for a clear, but cold day and an obvious improvement on the previous few days. Unfortunately, just as most of us were leaving our homes there were one or two light showers which would have put a few doubts in people’s minds. It was certainly cold, but we set off with a following light wind on our backs. The wind was in the north and we were basically heading south. So, out of Hauxton and in into Little Shelford and into Newton.

Mick C was our leader today and it was his intention to have a relatively short route to coffee at Ickleton followed by a longer ride through to Kedington. Therefore, after Newton we travelled through Thriplow and Fowlmere to bring us out to a busy A505. After all of us had crossed this road it was Chrishall Grange and then then the narrow lanes which lead into Ickleton and the Riverside Barns for the coffee break.


At coffee there were more arrivals giving us fifteen in total, including Myrtle who had arrived with Doug; it was also good to see Joseph out. Coffee and cake in the warmth was almost a bit too comfortable, making for a certain reluctance to get underway again. However, the deed had to be done and eventually twelve, after the usual comings and goings, set off for Kedington. This entailed a mile or so on the old A11 as far as Littlebury where we turned to join Windmill Hill which runs down into Saffron Walden. We left Saffron Walden with the Common on our right and climbed out on the Ashdon road and into Ashdon itself.

Towards Ashdon

The sun was out and from the height we had gained we had the first of many fine views over the surrounding countryside, showing that all of our seasons, even in winter, have something nice about them. In Ashdon we turned for Steventon End and out into the country and the long, quiet stretches before reaching Helions Bumpstead, which of course, is followed by Steeple Bumpstead.

After Steventon End

This then led onto the road for Sturmer which is narrow but gains height and once again giving delightful views all around. Following all the recent rains it was not surprising that the roads were at times extremely messy and many with water running down from the high ground. After Sturmer and another three miles we were in Kedington and our lunch stop, arriving just after 1pm.

Olmstead Green

As is usual some had sandwiches and ate them outside and then to come in for coffee, whilst others ordered lunch in the pub. Sadly, the pub was unable to cope with us all and it was nearly an hour before the meals were served. It has to be said that we may have contributed ourselves by forgetting to ring in advance to warn them of our arrival, so maybe the message is that we should always ring in advance, especially when we have a large group.

After Helions Bumpstead

Because of the long wait it was decided that the we should split the group with Mick leading those who were ready to go on and leave those who had ordered lunch to follow later, under Rupert’s guidance. Thus the leading group set off and crossed the A143 into Great Wratting where we turned towards Withersfield, to be followed by the trip over Wratting Common. We turned left here to face a very low and very bright sun before arriving in West Wickham.

Wratting Common

There then followed the up hill and down hill into Balsham. Between the A11 and Fulbourn I had a puncture which Mick took charge of and we soon got underway again. We decided that it was best for Sarah and Tony to go on as too many people standing around on this fast road wouldn’t be safe. Not only that the light was beginning its fast descent into dusk, and a rapid drop in temperature. We said goodbye to Averil in Fulbourn and Mick and I went back to Shelford by going over the Gogs and the DNA path from the hospital. This was a very good ride through some our our favourite roads in this Essex and Suffolk border area, so thanks to Mick for another good route. We did 55 miles.Edward Elmer

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