Thursday, 31 May 2012

31 May: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Stradishall

Edward writes: Today under overcast skies it was a surprise that only six riders showed up for our ride out to Stradishall. We started our ride at Greta’s house as she had let it be known that she would like us to start the Hauxton rides from her house as it gives her an opportunity to see us.

Today we were led by Mick C and we left Hauxton and made our way through Little Shelford and into Whittlesford where Mike B briefly joined us as his intention was to do off-roading. We took the cycle way from Whittlesford to Sawston and thence to Babraham.

Abington: Crossing the field from the A11 bridge

In Babraham we crossed to Abington by way of the farm track and footbridge over the A11. Going along this track and also in Abington we met numerous groups of Parkside school children who were beginning their hike back to Cambridge following a couple of days’ camping in Abington. Some not looking too happy at the prospect of an eight mile walk to Cambridge. After Abington we took the back road to Hildersham and then turned for the climb up to Balsham and then on to West Wickham, Streetley End and finally Horseheath and the Old Red Lion Inn, always a favourite coffee stop.

Horseheath: Coffee in the Old Red Lion

At coffee we were joined by Doug, Adrian, Geoff and Jacob and rejoined by Mike B. After coffee and biscuits we left Horseheath, but without Adrian, Doug and Mike B, and retraced our route back to West Wickham and then turned right towards Carlton but turning right again just before the village to take the road to Little Thurlow. This is always a pleasant road, being very narrow and a feeling of rural isolation. In Thurlow we turned right again and took the similar road which leads out to the A143 and a mile or so along here brought us to Tubby T and his transport cafe which was our lunch stop.

After lunch we turned on to the narrow lanes which were to lead us via the delightfully named Trotting Horse Lane to Brinkley but not before we stopped to put on our rain gear as the promised afternoon rain looked imminent.

Preparing for rain

In the event the rain only amounted to a light drizzle. After Brinkley we went down into Six Mile Bottom and then on to the Wilbrahams. En route we said goodbye to Geoff, Jacob and Richard. The remainder headed towards Cambridge by way of Newmarket Road and to over Stourbridge Common and then the cycleway beside the river to Midsummer Common, Jesus Green and then on to the Backs before going through Grantchester and finish the ride at Great Shelford. Our thanks to Mick C for his leadership and we rode for 53 miles. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

30 May: Evening ride to St Ives

Peter writes: My heart sank as I looked out at the rain pelting down shortly before 6pm, but as it had more or less gone off by 6.15 I headed out to Brookside.

There were four of us – Andrew, John, Tiia and myself. As we decided on our route the sun came out and I realised it was very warm! Jackets tucked into bags we set off across Midsummer Common and up Arbury Road to the Kings Hedges extension of the guided busway. We had a glorious, leisurely ride into the sunset up to St Ives and a drink at the Golden Lion, where Mike K was waiting for us.

Afterwards we all headed back down the busway as the sun set, with Tiia setting a fast pace.

I arrived at home at around 9.45 after cycling 30 miles. Peter Hutchison

Sunday, 27 May 2012

27 May: Afternoon ride to Gamlingay

Paul writes: Mike, John, Tiia and I left from Brookside at 14.02 and picked up Jacob outside Wolfson College on yet another hot sunny day accompanied by a moderate South Easterly breeze.

Our route was via Barton, Haslingfield, Barrington, Orwell from where we doubled back via Malton to Meldreth. The temperature proved very pleasant whilst on the move but we heated up during the drink stops and looked for shade.

We continued via Bassingbourn, Litlington,Steeple Morden, Guilden Morden, Wrestingworth and Cockayne Hatley. Here, Jacob took us on a short cut down a track past Cockayne Wood and on to the Gamlingay road as we were behind schedule.

We duly arrived at the Gamlingay Boot Inn to find Tom and Bob from the all-day ride waiting for us.

Bob returned direct towards Royston the rest of us followed the direct route via Longstowe, Toft and Barton Road back to Cambridge. My total distance including riding to and from Oakington was 53 miles arriving home at 18.45. All had an enjoyable mishap free ride on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Paul Dover

Thursday, 24 May 2012

24 May: Thursday ride to Waresley and Old Warden

Edward writes: Today was the day we had been waiting for - warm, little wind and a promise from the forecasters of sun and high temperatures, such a change from the cold and cheerless days since the sunny weather of March. At Haslingfield eleven riders assembled, including Tony H one of the four who last week successfully completed the trip from St David’s in Wales to Lowestoft.

We set off by going over Chapel Hill and into Barrington, always a good start to get the blood circulating. From Barrington Green we turned right and made our way up to Orwell and through to the A603, and quickly turning into the road that leads up to Wimpole Hall. We rode along the rather messy track through the grounds and out at the other end to bring us into Arrington. By now the sun was out in force and the views over the surrounding, mainly yellow, fields were very special. After Arrington we went through Croydon and eventually the stiff climb up the hill to take us on the road to the Hatleys.

Croydon Hill

After both of the Hatleys we were soon in Gamlingay, followed by the short run down to Waresley Garden Centre for coffee. This not being a Tuesday meant we had to pay for our coffee! The garden centre is being extended and building works are in progress but there was still room for us outside making for a very pleasant break. At Waresley we were joined by eight others bringing our total to nineteen, although not everyone came with us for the ride down to Old Warden.

Arriving at Waresley

Coffee at Waresley

We left Waresley at 11.45 and made our way back towards Gamlingay before turning off to head through Everton and then on to Sandy. Just after we joined the cycle route through Sandy David had a puncture in his front tyre which he fixed in no time at all and we were soon on our way again.

Sandy: puncture repair

The cycle route took us round Sandy and led us on to the former railway for a mile or so and on to the road to Moggerhanger. Through here to Old Warden is lovely country and made for great ride through Northill and Ickwell with its maypole and cricket ground, making it a very English setting. Not only are the villages very pretty but the blossoms are still out and the smell from the hawthorn was very evident. And if that wasn’t enough there are all the wild flowers in the roadside, including buttercups, vivid blue speedwell and some oxeye daisies. At 1 pm we arrived at the Shuttleworth Collection and, of course, were able to sit outside to enjoy our lunch and watch the activities of the airfield.

We left Shuttleworth at 2 pm and made our way east by way of the quarries near to Broome and then on to Langford before making the long, steady climb up to the water tower where we crossed the A1 which took us into Hinxworth and back on to more rural roads for the four mile trip to Ashwell where we arrived at just before 3 pm. Ashwell, of course, required a stop for cake and a cup of tea/coffee and a sit down under the tree opposite the museum. After a break of twenty minutes or so we left Ashwell and set off for the final leg of our journey which took us through Steeple Morden, Littlington and Bassingbourn. The girls, Averil and Sarah, really got the bit between their teeth and accelerated away quickly and it was in no time at all before we were again climbing Chappel Hill and the final descent into Haslingfield where the ride ended at about 4.15pm having travelled 55 miles. It was a long wait for a day like today but it was worth it. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

23 May: Evening ride to Barrington

Nigel writes: Summer seems to have arrived at last, and a hot afternoon was followed by a very warm evening. Eight riders turned up at Brookside for this evening's ride: Julia, Peter D, Mike K, John F, Rob, newcomers Tiia and Daffyd, and me. We set off south from Brookside, down Trumpington Road and left into Barrow Road.

This brought us onto Long Road where we joined the Busway Cycleway to Addenbrooke's and the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we turned towards Little Shelford and the long road south to Whittlesford. The speed was satisfyingly brisk from the start, and Julia seemed every bit as energetic as she was last week.

We rode through Whittlesford and continued to Duxford, where Julia suggested we take the road to Hinxton. This passes through a ford, and as usual we used the footbridge rather than risk slipping in the slime.

We continued on to Ickleton and the climb up Coploe Hill, at the top of which we paused for the customary group photo.

After dropping down the other side of Coploe Hill we turned right onto Royston Lane, a long, undulating and very lovely lane marred only by the bumpy surface. This brought us to Chrishall Grange. It was now about 8.10pm, which gave us just enough time to ride through Fowlmere and Shepreth to arrive in Barrington and our pub stop at the Royal Oak just after 8.30pm.

It was still quite light, and very warm, and we sat outside with our drinks and some shared bowls of chips.

Afterwards we turned on our lights for the climb over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield and the final few miles via Barton to Cambridge. I arrived back home at 9.50pm, having cycled 34 miles.

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Sunday, 20 May 2012

20 May: Afternoon ride to Ashdon

Peter writes: It was a cloudy afternoon but mild and pleasant, as we left Brookside and headed down Trumpington Road. I decided to take the group out along the DNA path, to Stapleford, Sawston and the bridge over the A505 into Abington, as a reasonably quick but quiet way out of town. We stopped to admire the giraffe in the garden on the way into Abington which looked very clean and neat, as if it had been groomed recently. Then we paused in Hildersham to look at the bronze girl on a swing.

Barely were we on our way again before John F had a mechanical problem – one of the jockey wheels in his rear derailleur had fallen out! Luckily he found not only the jockey wheel but also the bolt to hold it on, so a few minutes’ work with an allen key got him back on the road. While we worked on it, Mike Stapledon turned up and joined the group. This took enough time that I decided we had better go direct to tea in Ashdon, rather than take one of the loops I had semi-planned, in case the day ride finished all the cake.

When we arrived, there was a very large group there, but thankfully still cake available. It was so good that I had two pieces, and I was not the only one! I counted 23 bikes parked outside and I am not sure that I got them all. Here is a photo with John, who was also impressed how many there were:

Outside the Ashdon Museum
On the way back I joined Nigel and some others on a route back through Saffron Walden, see his report of the day ride for more about that. Peter Hutchison

20 May: All-day ride to Stradishall, Sible Hedingham and Ashdon

Nigel writes: Today was overcast and cool: unpromising weather for my full first day's cycling for a couple of months. Perhaps as a result there were only seven of us at Brookside, including Phil our leader for today, ably accompanied by Linda. Phil led us swiftly out of Cambridge down Mill Road, along the Tins path, through Cherry Hinton and on to Fulbourn. Here we started the long climb east up to Balsham.

From Balsham we dropped down and climbed back up to West Wickham before turning north to Carlton Green where we turned east once more for the lovely lane that leads to Little Thurlow.

From Little Thurlow a further narrow lane took us to the A143 which we followed for a short distance past the prisons before stopping for morning coffee at Tubby T's cafe. Here we found Adrian and after a few minutes were joined by Vic.

Tubby T's is a popular motorcyclists' cafe, serving hearty fried meals. Outside in the car park was a police information stall promoting safe motorcycling. I mentioned to someone that if they were really interested in the welfare of motorcyclists they should also be warning them of the perils of eating too many full English breakfasts...

After coffee we continued on towards our Lunch stop. We continued east along the A143 for a further mile or so before turning right towards Denston.

We passed through Denston and turned south towards Poslingfield and a series of quiet country roads that took us eventually to Clare.

We rode through Clare and continued through Ovington and Tilbury Juxta Clare to Great Yeldingham. Here we joined the A1017 south for three miles to Sible Hedingham, where we stopped for a rather early lunch at the Corner Cafe.

I always enjoy havng lunch here: the food is cheap. the portions are very large, and the proprietor always seems pleased to see us. Whilst we were eating we were joined by John S.

It was only just after 1.30pm when we set off again. Phil's route took us west along yet more tiny little lanes to Toppesfield.

We continued west through Stambourne towards Steeple Bumpstead.

We continued to Helions Bumpstead and the loop via Olmstead Green to Ashdon, where we arrived a little after 3pm for a rather early tea at the Ashdon Village Museum. The cafe here is always a club favourite, with good-value cakes of very high quality. I sat outside with the others and enjoyed a very fine spicy apple cake. I has just finished eating when Pete H arrived with a large group of cyclists on the afternoon ride. In addition Doug and David W turned up, apparently doing their own ride today. With so many people arriving it seemed rude to depart so I ordered a second cake and joined them.

After tea we returned back to Cambridge. As usual we split into various groups for the final leg home. Jacob suggested a direct but off-road route along the Roman Road which appealed to several people, whilst Pete and I suggested a leisurely loop via Saffron Walden and had half a dozen takers. The remainder set off in ones and twos in various directions.

My group climbed out of Ashdon before dropping back down into Saffron Walden. We continued past Audley End House to the B1363 before turning onto Chestnut Avenue, the long, gentle and attractive climb to Catmere End and the long descent over Coploe Hill to Ickleton.

At Ickleton Pete suggested we go via Hinxton to see whether the flooding that he had encountered on our Sunday afternoon ride on 29th April had gone down. When we reached the ford there was no longer any flooding but the river was still in full spate. As usual we rode over the footbridge rather than risk slipping over in the green slimy ford.

From here it was just a case of riding the familar last few miles through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. There was a bit of headwind and I was beginning to flag, but there wasn't far to go now and I arrived home at 6.45pm, having cycled 82 miles.

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Thursday, 17 May 2012

17 May: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Bardfield

Adrian writes: Today's ride started at Hauxton Green. Before the ride three of us called in to see Greta at her house nearby (she is now home and looking well). There were ten of us on the ride today, which I was going to be leading.

We left Hauxton and rode south through Little Shelford, Newton and Thriplow to Fowlmere where we turned left to cross the A505 to Chrishall Grange. We continued up the hill to Chrishall Village where we turned left at the cross-roads before dropping down to the B1039 and the road to Wendens Ambo.

When we reached Wendens Ambo we split up on our way to our planned coffee stop in Newport. Some went there directly along the main road, whilst Rupert, Geoff and I took an off-road route which avoided the road.

After coffee our route took us through Henham and then via Sibleys and Broxted Hill to Sucksted Green. There we turned left on to the B1051 for about a mile to Armigers before turning right to Monk Street. After crossing the B184 (left and right) we continued to Richmond's Green, Holder's Green, Templards and Lindsell, where we met the B1057.

Here we split up again, with most of the group deciding to stay on tarmac and follow the B1057 to Great Bardfield before turning south to the Blue Egg Farm at Parkgate for lunch. This left Doug and me to enjoy a slightly longer route via Bardfield Sailing which included a short section of off-road riding.

After lunch the route home was via Great Bardfield, Bridge End, Beslyn's, Hawkspur Green, Little Sampford church, Great Sampford and Radwinter.

At Radwinter crossroads we split up again. Some wanted to go home via Saffron Walden, while the rest of us went home via Ashdon, Bartlow, Linton, Abington, over the A11 via the footbridge to Babraham and finally to Sawston and the cycle path to Whittleford. There we said goodbye to Mike S before continuing back to Little Shelford where the ride ended. Thanks to all who were out today. Our mileage was about 70 miles. Adrian Lee

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

16 May: Evening ride to Fen Ditton

Nigel writes: On a perfect spring evening, six riders turned out at Brookside for this evening's ride to Fen Ditton: Julia, Paul, Mike K, John, newcomer Stuart and me.

This evening's route was a simple loop to the east. We rode out of Cambridge along Hills Road before turning left onto Wort's Causeway which we followed over the Gogs to Fulbourn. From there we took the road through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom. We continued up the hill to the crossroads near the Woodland Cemetery before turning left towards Dullingham.

The pace at the front was quite fast: Julia was feeling energetic this evening, and Stuart was clearly a strong rider, so we spread out somewhat along these long straight roads, though the front riders always stopped to wait for the rest of the group, and no-one was left behind.

At Dullingham we turned left once again towards Swaffham Bulbeck. From there it was just a short distance through Bottisham and Quy to Fen Ditton.

The sun was still shining when we arrived at Fen Ditton, where three of us stopped for a quick drink and a bowl of chips before returning back to Cambridge. I was home by 9.40pm, having cycled 31 miles.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

15 May: Ride from Easton-on-the-Hill (car-assisted)

Adrian writes: Five members met at George Stevenson's house at Easton-on-the-Hill in Northamptonshire for today's ride through the Rutland and Linconshire lanes. . Four came by car: Mick C, Ed, Zhiqing and me, while Doug K arrived on his bike. Doug had ridden up the previous day and stayed overnight at Thurby.

Our leader today was George. We left Easton via a bridleway for a sightseeing tour of Stamford with its lovely stone buildings. While we were there Zhiqing asked George if we could visit Rutland Water reservoir, which he agreed to do.

We went westwards from Stamford, via Gt. Casterton, Empingham and onto the A606 for half a mile before turning into the visitor centre at the dam end of the reservoir. On arrival the cafe was just opening, so we decided to have our elevenses here, sitting outside with a nice view of the reservoir.

While we were having our break a very young duckling came waddling up to the table. There were no parents or other ducks about, so I picked the duckling up and with Mick C wandered around the area to see if we could find its parents. The only ducks we could find were some way out on the water, so we left the duckling near the edge of the water and hoped they would look after it.

Adrian's new friend

We left the visitor centre via the cycle path that goes round the reservoir towards Whitwill visitor centre. We continued through Whitwell village before turning north towards Exton, where we sheltered under some trees from a small shower that did not last long, before continuing round Exton Park to Greetham and the garden centre in the village where we stopped for lunch.

After a very nice lunch stop we turned east and went through Stretton then under the A1 to Clipsham and the Yew Tree Avenue at Clipsham Park Woods. It was raining a bit now, so while the others sheltered under some trees, Zhiqing and I walked some quite some distance along the avenue of trees.

Yew Tree Avenue, Clipsham

As we left the site the rain stopped and we never had any more for the rest of the afternoon. The route back, which was south and with a back wind, was via Holywell Hall to Essendine (where Doug had a puncture), then through Uffington, then west on the A16 back into Stamford.

From Stamford we followed the cycle path beside the A43 back to Easton and George's house, where we had a cuppa and some lovely cakes made by Felicity (George's wife). Afterwards we gave our thanks to George, packed up our bikes, and returned home by car.

Thanks to all who turned up, despite the weather prediction the day before, and to George for leading the ride. Adrian Lee

Sunday, 13 May 2012

13 May: Afternoon ride to Newmarket

Nigel writes: Today offered us clear skies, bright sunshine and warm temperatures. Although it was quite windy, the weather was a welcome respite from all the rain we have been having recently. So when I rode over to Brookside for my first Sunday afternoon ride for over a month (hooray!) I was not surprised to find a dozen others preparing for this afternoon's ride to Newmarket.

Julia was our leader this afternoon, and led us south down Trumpington Road and east along Long Road to Addenbrooke's.

We rode around the perimeter of the hospital and then crossed over Hills Road to join Wort's Causeway. This long but gentle hill, with fine views from the top and a lovely fast descent down into Fulbourn on the other side, is perhaps my favourite way to start a ride.

When we reached Fulbourn we took the road to Great and Little Wilbraham. The wind was blowing from the west so the resulting tailwind made this an easy and relaxing journey.

At Little Wilbraham we turned east onto the long road to Six Mile Bottom.

At Six Mile Bottom we joined the A1304 for a short distance before turning right into the track that leads to the level crossing at Westley Bottom and the short climb up to the cross-roads where we turned left for Dullingham.

From Dullingham it was only about four miles to Newmarket. There we stopped for refreshments at Coffee & Co, a very pleasant cafe just south of the main street. On Sundays this normally closes after serving lunch, but today the owners had kindly agreed to to stay open specially for us. We arrived to find a large group of all-day riders finishing their coffee and getting ready to leave. After they left we took their places and sat outside in the sunshine.

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge. Julia led us north to Exning where we turned west and followed NCR 51 to Burwell and Reach. We were now riding into the wind, which had picked up and was becoming a more and more significant factor in our progress.

At Reach our group divided. Julia led the main group back via Swaffham Prior and Swaffham Bulback to Bottisham, Quy and Cambridge, whilst I rode with a smaller group north into the fens for a slightly longer route via the Lodes Way and the bridge across Swaffham Bulbeck Lode.

This was a very pleasant and quiet route but the headwind had become rather strong and the final miles back to Cambridge were a bit of a slog. Fortunately I didn't have far to go, and arrived home just after 6.30pm, with the sun still shining in a clear blue sky, having cycled 44 miles.

More photos below, by Julia Hochbach:

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