Monday, 30 April 2012

Award of Len Nice Trophy

Rupert Goodings (left) is presented with the Len Nice Memorial Trophy by George Rich, Chairman of CTC Cambridge.

The Len Nice Memorial Trophy is awarded to the member who, in the opinion of the committee, has done the most for the club during the previous year. This year it was awarded to Rupert Goodings, our runs secretary. The presentation took place at a committee meeting on 28th April 2012.

More information about the Len Nice Memorial Trophy may be found here.

29 Apr: Afternoon ride to Ickleton

Ian writes: This afternoon's ride was to the Riverside Barns Cafe at Ickleton. The weather had been so atrocious in the morning that the day ride had to be cancelled. With the forecast set to improve, I was still happy to take a ride out tentatively. It just meant planning a route that was not too far away from Cambridge if it did turn out to be miserable.

Four other riders were intrepidly awaiting todays adventur'e at Brookside. After some fettling of waterproofs and overshoes, we headed off towards Barton in persistent but not especially heavy rain. The wind was mercifully calming down also.

From Barton we took the left to Haslingfield, turning left down New Road to the southern end of Harston (chance to bail and go home point no. 1). As it turned out, the rain was now down to a drizzle and the skies were looking brighter out towards Newton. So, we headed for the hills via Newton and Duxford.

At the far end of Duxford, we turned off down Grange Road and left again for the climb to Elmdon. By this time the rain had stopped. Small rivers were formed at the side of the road and at one point you could almost call the outflow from the fields a waterfall. The sheep and lambs seemed indifferent to the conditions, happily munching away at the nice green grass.

From Elmdon, we descended to tea to find the Riverside café somewhat more riverside than usual. The garden centre by the entrance was pumping flood water back into the river which was nearly bursting its banks. In spite of this, there was now blue sky visible and it was pleasant enough to sit outside with cake and coffee.

The high water levels left us with only one reasonable choice of route back to Cambridge: v the ford at Hinxton of course. There was 5 to 0 unanimous vote. The ford was in its full glory, with the water flooding the road and parts of the footpath for a couple of hundred yards either side of the river. One part appeared blocked. The first brave soul, Peter, made it through with just one soggy foot down. The second volunteer, Paul D, was not so lucky. His front wheel went down a hole, causing him to perform something that looked like a cross between triple toe loop and a Fosbury flop and end up sitting in ten inches of water. However by bow the remaining three of us could now see the best line to ride through the flood and so made it across without problem, though I can recommend Shimano gore-tex winter boots for their ability to remain dry inside despite being fully submerged.

It was now a simple journey via the Shelfords back to town. Mike K had a visit from the Punc**re fairy, so I waited with him while he repaired it, arriving back at Cambridge at about 6.30pm. In total, I had 37 miles on the clock. Ian Driver

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Club holiday in Norfolk

Mike writes: Greta organised a holiday for the club at Castle Acre. About eighteen people attended, some for the whole time and others for just a day or two. Peter brought his camper van and parked in the main street.

We stayed at the Old Red Lion Hostel which has been run for over 30 years by Alison who gave us a great welcome. It had large dormitories and staying there was like stepping back in time. There was a large well-stocked kitchen with a large area for breakfasts, and a communal room with books and a TV. There were also two big grey cats who were determined to get our attention. We enjoyed our stay.

Castle Acre: the castle

The ride up was surprising: we started out in strong winds and rain but it almost immediately dried up and the wind was behind us all the way. We stopped at Fordham Garden Centre for Coffee, and before we left the sun came out. We carried on through Mildenhall and Lakenheath to Hockwold, where we had lunch at the New Inn. There was a shower while we were there but it was dry again when we left. We continued via Weeting and Cockley Cley to Swaffham where we found an excellant cafe, the Pedlars Hall. The staff there were wonderful and it was really good value. After tea we continued to Castle Acre via the ford near the Priory.

We had all our evening meals at the local hotel, The Ostrich. On the first night we had sixteen people in the group and an animated conversation took place during the meal.

Peter, Adrian, Doug and Greta at the Buttermarket in East Lexham

The Buttermarket in East Lexham

On the Wednesday we split into two groups led by Adrian and Mike C. Mike led the fast group to the coast at Blakeney and found a good cafe on the quayside. They did nearly 70 miles. Adrian's group went to Reepham where there is an old station with a large cafe and a shop. There was some rain on the way home but with a following wind it was relatively easy we did 50 miles. As soon as we got home the weather cheered up.

East Lexham: The church

On Thursday we again had two groups. Mike C went to Bircham Mill and then on towards the coast, returning about 6pm. They had a wet ride, as they found one of the heavy showers. The slower group led by Adrian was relatively lucky. They had intended to ride to Wells. Their ride meandered through the lanes avoiding Fakenham. We arrived at Sculthorpe soon after midday and found the Sculthorpe Mill Inn. We stopped there for lunch, which was excellent.

Sculthorpe Mill

Sculthorpe Mill: the ford

After lunch we continued to South Creake, mending a puncture on the way. It started to rain and this continued for about half an hour when the weather improved with some sunshine. Passing though Great Massingham we spied the Dabbling Duck and stopped for tea, which was served in from of the fire in the bar, after which we continued on back to Castle Acre completing a 40 mile ride.

Adrian, Greta, Peter and Doug at the Dabbling Duck

The Dabbling Duck

There were nine riders who did the return ride incluing Mike C and Adrian. Mike Stapleton

Saturday, 21 April 2012

21 Apr: Morning ride to Horningsea

Nigel writes: I thought I'd skip my normal Saturday morning chores today and instead start my weekend off with the shortest and most leisurely ride on the club's weekly calendar. The forecast was for sunshine and showers, but the rain never amounted to much and we had a pleasant and relaxing ride. I arrived at Brookside to find six other riders waiting in the sunshine: Julia, Ian, Mike S, Mike K, another Nigel, Anne and Angela.

Julia was our leader this morning, and started by leading us west over Garret Hostel bridge and along Burrell's Walk and Adam's Road to the start of the Coton path.

We only followed the Coton path for the short distance to the junction with Clerk Maxwell Road. Here we turned north for a long clockwise loop around the city, via the university observatories, Storey's Way, Oxford Road and Gilbert Road to Chesterton, where we turned onto the path along the north side of the River Cam.

We followed the river north all the way to the bridge at Clayhithe. The river was busy with all sizes of boats, from rowing eights down to solo canoes, but the path was relatively quiet, especially beyond Bait's Bite Lock.

As we left the city behind we could see the rain approaching, and a few minutes later it arrived. Fortunately it was just a short, light, shower and in any case we didn't have much further to go.

Soon we reached Clayhithe, where we crossed over the river and followed the road south to Horningsea, where we stopped for coffee at Peter D's house.

Although the rain had stopped, Peter suggested that instead of sitting outside in his lovely garden we sat inside in the conservatory, where we were served with coffee, tea and some lovely home-made (and home-grown) rhubarb cakes.

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge via Fen Ditton, where Julia took us across a handy bridleway which brought us out at the northern end of the village. As we rode along Green End I spotted a bicycle-shaped garden feature and stopped to take a photo.

From Fen Ditton we took the Wadloes Path to Cambridge and the Jubilee Cycleway across Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common to the city centre. I was home by about 12.30pm, having cycled a very pleasant and leisurely 15 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

All photos except 7 and 12 by Julia Hochbach.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Rides in June

In our June rides list we hope you'll notice our big new feature. Rides lists now include a ride grade and an estimated mileage for most of the rides. See here for a description of the various gradings.

We are using this new feature to distinguish two different Sunday all-day rides on the 3rd and 17th of June. On both days there is a longer challenging all-day ride alongside the usual moderate all-day ride. So if you want a bit more of a challenge over the summer, then why not try out the longer ride (but do note the earlier start time of 08:30am). Please help us to trial this new idea by choosing your ride to suit your ability and also by supporting both the all-day leaders. On both days, the afternoon ride is the usual moderate ride and all three rides meet up for tea.

For the rest of the Sunday rides, we continue with the usual mix of destinations, aiming to go a bit further afield for tea to take advantage of the long evenings. This means we can revisit those wonderful Church Hall teas in Braughing and Wicken. There's also a special train-assisted ride on the 24th June which will take the train to Kings Lynn and ride back via Ely.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

18 Apr: Evening ride to Stow-cum-Quy

Gareth writes: With a cold wind blowing from the east under dark clouds, and scattered showers forecast all evening, it's not a surprise that the turnout for this evening's ride was low. In fact, there was just me and John. We have very different riding speeds, but on the other hand neither of us objects to riding on our own, so I proposed that we split up. John said he was going to do a figure-eight ride through Upware and Wicken and then back along the Lodes Way. I preferred to do it the other way around, so as to do the off-road sections while there was still light. So we bid goodbye.

New River at Wicken Fen.

It was a good evening for bird-watching. There was a sparrowhawk near Quy Mill, and then a kestrel taking advantage of the wind to hover over a field near Lode. Then at the bridge over Burwell Lode I spotted a bird-watcher on the dike scanning the horizon with her binoculars. Following her line of sight I was treated to a short-eared owl hunting over the open farmland. And then at Wicken Fen a barn owl flew out of the trees and along the path in front of me.

On the road north of Upware John and I crossed paths again. We waved at each other and rode off into the twilight.

View CTC evening ride to Stow-cum-Quy in a larger map

Thursday, 12 April 2012

11 Apr: Evening ride to Great Wilbraham

Gareth writes: The Met Office radar images were showing scattered rain showers over Cambridgeshire all evening, and there was a light drizzle as I cycled from work to Brookside. But seven optimistic riders turned out and we were rewarded with a beautiful evening, with the clouds clearing away to the southeast and the sun casting long shadows along the lanes.

I took us out of Cambridge to the east, along the river to Fen Ditton, and then NCN51 through Bottisham to Swaffham Bulbeck, where we turned southeast towards Dullingham. The fields of rape are just coming into flower, and there are already May trees in bloom—perhaps brought on by that spectacularly warm weather we had in March (the third warmest on record). There were chaffinches in the hedgerows, and a kestrel was hunting in a field of wheat.

From Dullingham we turned southwest past Westley Waterless, and at the crossroads near Brinkley Wood we went straight on, and then turned right onto a public byway that forms part of the Icknield Way long distance footpath. This byway is rutted and muddy in places but passable with care, and we soon came out onto the road again, near Spike Hall.

Here Simon discovered that he had punctured, and we took a breather and watched the sunset while he grappled with the chain tension on his fixed-gear bike.

Waiting for Simon to fix his puncture.

I had planned to take another bit of off-road (the byway down the hill from Wadlow Farm to the chalk pit), but with darkness descending I thought it would be safer to take the road via Six Mile Bottom.

Descending Chilly Hill in the gathering gloom, with the lights of Cambridge in the distance.

The temperature dropped rapidly after sunset, and the descent of the aptly named Chilly Hill cooled us further, so it was with numb fingers and toes that we arrived at the Carpenter's Arms in Great Wilbraham. The landlord and chef were very hospitable, keeping the kitchen open to serve us chips and moussaka, which warmed us up for the quick ride home via Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton. The Carpenter's Arms could be a new favourite evening stop for us.

Photos by Klaas Brumann.

View CTC evening ride to Great Wilbraham, 2012-04-11 in a larger map

Sunday, 8 April 2012

8 Apr: Afternoon ride to Ickleton

Julia writes: The weather did not look too promising on this Easter Sunday, with grey skies and showers forecast throughout the afternoon; and with many people presumably on holiday or engaged in family activities, I wondered how many people might turn up for the afternoon ride which I was supposed to lead. The turnout was better than I expected, however, and we set off in a group of 9 riders just after 1.30 pm. I like the hills to the south of Cambridge and often choose to lead rides in this direction, and I had planned a route with as many hills as I could fit in between Cambridge and our tea stop in Ickleton. I wondered how popular this choice of route would be on a day like this, when the rain and wind make everything seem more of an effort than under a clear, sunny sky. But I decided not to change my plans just yet and to see how we would get on - short cuts would always be an option later if we got desperate.

So we set off along Barton Road and to Haslingfield, turning right after the church to tackle the first hill: Chapel Hill between Haslingfield and Barrington. This climb took us up to only about 50 metres above sea level, yet it felt as if we were cycling straight into the cloudy sky. A steady, dense drizzle lay over the area by now, and the view from the top was somewhat less rewarding than usual. We did not stop as we often do at the top of the hill, but carried right on and down the long descent into Barrington. The rain eased off a bit as we rode through Shepreth and then took a little loop via Frog End to Fowlmere. From there we continued to Chrishall Grange and then, finally, up into the "proper hills" around Elmdon. Despite the wet weather, I really enjoyed the ride: There were still some daffodils and tulips around, the blackthorn and forsythia bushes by the sides of many country roads are in full bloom, birds were singing and my legs felt strong and pushed the pedals round easily as we climbed up to Elmdon, reaching dizzying heights of 125 metres above sea level.

At Elmdon, I suggested various options for the rest of the route to tea. No short cuts needed: Everyone seemed to be up for a few more hills, so we dropped down a bit along Essex Hill and then turned off left to go up again to Littlebury Green. From there it was another short descent followed by one or two little climbs to get to Catmere End and the top of Coploe Hill, before we swooped back down again on Coploe Road towards Ickleton. Just after crossing the M11 there is a farm track going off to the right, which brought us out on Frogge Street, right opposite the Riverside Barns. We arrived there just before 4 pm and sat outside (it had stopped raining by then) to enjoy our teas, coffees and cakes.

There were no day riders at tea (perhaps they'd had enough of getting wet?), but Bob from Royston joined us there and rode back home with Tina afterwards. The rest of the group returned to Cambridge the usual way via Hinxton, Whittlesford, the Shelfords and the DNA path. I arrived home, which is a mere 11 metres above sea level, around 6 pm, having cycled 39 miles and feeling quite satisfied. Had I not been leading the ride, I am not sure I would have gone out today - and I am glad I did, as it was really enjoyable to be out in the fresh air and experience those April showers first hand. Julia Hochbach

View this route on a larger map

Saturday, 7 April 2012

7 Apr: Saturday morning ride to Grantchester

Tina writes: Today's forecast had promised a cloudy, but dry morning and so it was. There were even some sunny interludes, to encourage thoughts of sitting in the garden at Grantchester for morning coffee. Seven riders Mike S, Cathy, Howard, Nigel, Simon, new rider Jen and I set off along King's Parade and down Hostel Garrett Lane to cross the river and then onwards to pick up the Coton footpath. Spring was definitely in the air with hedges still white with sloe blossom and daffodils along the verges.

From Coton we headed up the hill towards Madingley and stopped to chat briefly with two riders, members of Shrewsbury CTC, who were cycling up the guided busway to St Ives, via Dry Drayton and Oakington. Turning left at the roundabout, we continued for a couple of miles and then turned to cycle down through the pretty village of Hardwick, enjoying the Spring sunshine and the quiet road flanked on either side by fields of green wheat growing strongly despite drought conditions. In Toft, we turned back towards Comberton and Barton where we crossed the A603 to find the bridleway to Grantchester. Mike S had assured me this would be fairly dry and was certainly preferable to the busy M11 roundabout and road option.

The bridleway took us across some fields, bridged the M11 and then brought us into Grantchester just opposite the Rupert Brooke pub. From here it was a short ride to the Orchard Tea Gardens, where we collected our cakes, scones and drinks and did indeed sit out in the garden among the flowering fruit trees. Small chaffinches and a robin hopped around looking expectantly for crumbs.

Clouds and a chill wind prevented us from lingering too long and we set off again along the Grantchester Meadows path enjoying the riverside scenery, arriving back on the Barton Road at about 12.30pm, where we dispersed in various homeward directions.

Thanks to everyone for coming and hope Jen will join us again on another ride. Total distance: 15 miles Tina Filby

View this route on a larger map

Sunday, 1 April 2012

1 Apr: Ride in the Derbyshire Peak District

Adrian reports on today's car-assisted ride in the Derbyshire Peak District, which explored the Tissington, Monsal and Manifold trails: Eight members (Averil, Mick C, Bill, John S, Neal T, Zhiqingli and her daughter Sophie, on her first time out with the club, and me), travelling in three vehicles, made an early start from Cambridge to meet at Tissington station in Derbyshire for today's ride. It was a lovely clear morning: there had been a frost overnight and it was still cold, but the sun in a cloudless sky was making a positive difference to the temperature.

We left Tissington station at about 9.30 am, heading north up the trail for a coffee stop about nine miles away at the Parsley Hay cycle hire and coffee shop. The views were lovely and clear across the hills to the east and west and high above Hartington from Hartington old station which is a mile away. At coffee we sat outside in the sunshine admiring the countryside before setting off on road east to pass 'Arbor Low Henge', Conksbury with its steep hills up and down, and on to the town of Bakewell. We didn't stop in Bakewell but continued up to the old station on the Monsal trail, where I thought there was a café for a lunch stop. However there wasn't, so Averil asked a walker if there was a place along the trail and was told there was one about a mile or so away at Hassop station. This was in the direction we were going and we were soon there, with three of the group finding somewhere to eat their sandwiches and the other five of us ordering a meal from the café. Again we all sat outside, eating out meals in the lovely warm sunshine.

After lunch we continued along the Monsal trail towards Buxton, passing Little Longstone, where some of the club stayed a few years ago on a CTC Birthday Rides week. At that time the Monsal trail ended here as far as cycling was concerned (unless you were prepared to carry your bike for a few miles) because the old track ran through several tunnels here and when the line was closed the tunnels were boarded up and no one was allowed through them. However in 2011 the Peak District National Park opened them up after spending £2.5 m repairing them. This was one of the reasons why Mick C and I wanted to do this ride today, and what a good job they have made of them, lights and a solid surface to ride on!

The first tunnel we went through was the Headstone Tunnel, at the exit of the tunnel you are in Monsal Dale and are on the magnificent Monsal viaduct. As this is as famous landmark there were lots of people with children wandering about, walking and biking and taking photos, we had to be very careful not to run into them.

After the next tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, at 800 metres the longest on the trail, and the one after it, we arrived in Miller's Dale and the Millers Dale imposing viaducts. This part is very pretty, with the river Wye and villages in the valley and the trail with us up high on one side where we can look down onto them. The trail continues through more tunnels and crosses the river Wye as we travel through Blackwell Dale, Cheedale and onto Wyedale, just before Wyedale the trail turns off the old railway track (as the line is still used by a quarry) and follows the river below for 1 km before reaching a main road, the A6 which was not to busy. We had to ride along this road in single file for about a mile before turning off left up a quiet lane but with a very steep double hairpin to Cowdale and then cross the A515 to Heathfield Nook where we turned left and picked up Sustrans route 68, passing BrierlowBar garage with its book shop and café and then up a long climb to Ferndale followed by the B5053 to Longnor. At a crossroads after Longnor we turned down a narrow lane with grass growing down the middle, to pass through Ludburn and on to Hulme End and the station there where we stopped for afternoon tea, this is the northern end of the Manifold Trail. During tea we agreed to continue all the way down the Manifold trail to Tissington instead of taking a shorter route through Wetton to Tissington, although it was now 3.30pm.

On finishing tea we went down the Manifold trail, which is Sustrans route 54 all the way to Waterhouses. This route is used by families with children on bikes and is a very narrow and tarmac old railway track and parts of it are used as a normal road with a single lane tunnel in the middle with no traffic lights which could be quite dangerous for them, we had no trouble though on our way down to Waterhouses. At Waterhouses we turned left on the A523 uphill for about half a mile and left again up a steeper hill to Calton, in Calton we turned left again up a gradual climb onto open moorland and then a lovely long decent through a farm to Rushley and then on to Ilam. After Ilam we went to Thorpe by a very steep hill at bottom of which Avreil's chain got stuck between the chain rings, but Mick C was on hand to release it in no time at all (this being the only problem all day). After Thorpe it was only about half a mile to get back on the Tissington Trail, we turned north on it and in a mile we were back at Tissington station, it was now about 6.00 pm and we had cycled 54 miles.

After packing away the bikes and saying goodbye we all headed back to Cambridge. Thanks to everybody who I believe enjoyed the trip and well done to Sophie on her first ride with us. Adrian Lee.

Additional photos by Neil Taylor below: