Sunday, 30 September 2012

30 Sep: All-day ride to Stradishall, Horringer and Newmarket

Gareth writes: There was a strong south-westerly wind today (the Met Office says it was 23 mph) so with lunch near Bury St Edmunds, it was clear that we were going to have an easy morning followed by a tough afternoon.

There was a good turnout at Brookside, including lots of new riders, but then it became clear that the Cambridge University Cycling Club were holding their first ride of the year. After disentangling the two groups, there were eight of us.

We rode to Stradishall via Fen Ditton, Six Mile Bottom, West Wratting, and Little Thurlow. At Stourbridge Common a sparrowhawk was causing some consternation among the pigeons and crows. At Six Mile Bottom we met lots of cyclists heading east, ushered up the hill towards Brinkley by a reflective-jacketed marshal. It was the Cambridge to Norwich bike ride (organized by Bike Events; £19 entry and £25 coach back). We turned right instead and took the hill to West Wratting, where we watched the wind turbines spinning in the wind.

Wadlow Wind Farm near West Wratting.

Near Little Thurlow.

At Tubby T's the coffee machine was out of order, so we had tea. I lost four riders who were heading back to Cambridge, but gained Geoff, who had cycled over from his home in Cheveley. I chose a hilly route going east via Stansfield, Boxted and Hartest to Shimpling before turning north to Horringer.

Hartest Hill.

This was my first visit to the Six Bells, and I think it is OK. The loose gravel in the parking lot caused Geoff to crash (luckily without injury) but we will know better next time. The staff were busy and took a while to get our orders right, but the food was good.

With the wind now in our faces, making progress was very tiring, so I decided to break the journey into stages with an extra stop for coffee at Lizzy's Coffee Shop in Risby. This café is a favourite with the other club for its huge scones, and it would make a good lunch stop for us in the winter months when we don't want to go so far from Cambridge (at 28 miles it's just a bit too far for the afternoon ride).

From Risby it was a tough 12 miles into the teeth of the wind, but we arrived at the Golden Lion just as the afternoon riders were locking up their bikes.

Near Dullingham.

A windy 83 miles in all.

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

27 Sep: Thursday ride to Wimpole and Sandy

Edward writes: This morning sixteen members met in Haslingfield for our ride out to Sandy via the Autostop at Wimpole. We welcomed back Sue after her successful completion of the End to End and just bursting to tell us all about it. Averil, our leader, led us out to Harston and then over the hill into Newton. In Newton we turned right and joined the B1368 up to Fowlmere. Although slightly cool early on the day started to improve and we were to have good weather throughout the day and the little breeze caused no problems. From Fowlmere we took the direct route down to the A10 which was busy and it took some time to get everyone across.


This brought us into Shepreth followed by Meldreth where we turned right to go on the two mile stretch through open fields to Orwell. It’s noticeable how much the fields have changed with the harvest in, and many prepared for their new crops. At times it looks a bit bleak with only brown fields with little of the colour from the days of summer. From Orwell we turned on to the A603 and made our way to the Lazy Dayz transport cafe, for once not occupied by the police. More importantly, though, we found Myrtle who had made the journey on her own. It was good to see her out again and let’s hope it’s not too long before Bob is back in the saddle.


After coffee we went up the A603 before turning off for Wendy, Shingay and then up to Guildern Morden. Now the road became more undulating as we made for the A603, in its B1042 phase, at Wrestlingworth where we turned left along the B1042 to the Eyeworth turning.

Now followed a nice ride into Sutton under sunny skies, with great views of the countryside from the high points on this stretch.


Eventually this brought us again to the B1042 beside the John O’Gaunt Golf Club and into Carthegena Road. At the end of this road we took the track though the woods to join the road into Sandy but leaving it to go over the railway bridge and right into the town centre. Our lunch stop was Gunn’s Bakery, and as usual some had lunch in the cafe whilst others had their sandwiches outside in the sunshine.


After lunch Howard discovered a puncture in his front tyre and Mike C led the team to fix the problem and we were soon on our way again. We retraced our steps over the railway and continued on up to Everton. The weather was still doing its best for us and cycling was a real pleasure as we rode on through Waresley (not stopping at the garden centre), Great and Little Gransden followed by Longstowe.


Rupert left us at the Kingston turning and the remainder carried on to the Eversdens, and in such clear weather the wind turbines at Balsham could be seen in the distance. This left us with yet another crossing of the A603 which brought us to Harlton and finally Haslingfield. We had covered 49 miles and a special thanks to Averil for leading us on such a splendid ride. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

26 Sep: Evening ride to Thriplow

Rob writes: I was joined at Brookside by John and Swigbert for our evening ride which - after a few showers during the day - turned out to be mostly dry and very pleasant. We headed south, along the DNA cyclepath, through Sawston, Whittlesford and Duxford. After Fowlmere, I was riding in front and missed the most obvious route to Thriplow - adding a few extra miles - but John and Swigbert didn't seem too bothered, since it was a lovely evening to be out and about! After eventually arriving in Triplow, we enjoyed a pint at "The Green Man" which has become a favourite for our Wednesday evening rides.

We returned to Cambridge via Newton, and chose the most direct route along Tumpington Road, at which point it started to rain quite heavily. I arrived home at 21h45, after cycling a leisurely 26 miles. Rob Cubitt

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Monday, 24 September 2012

Proposed cycling holiday in 2013

Following the success of this year's holiday in Wales, Club member Adrian Lee is organising a cycling holiday in the Durham Dales. All members are warmly invited to join him. This week-long break will be based in a group of five holiday cottages in the pretty village of Frosterley in Weardale. Note that this holiday is not organised by CTC.
  • Dates: Sat 31 Aug to Sat 7 Sept 2013 (1 week)
  • Accommodation cost (sharing): £140 approx
Follow these links for information about each cottage:
For more information phone Adrian on 01223 565834. Please make your bookings (with £20 deposit) as soon as possible.

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14 - 21 Sep: Club holiday in South Wales

Mike writes: Adrian organised our holiday in Wales and as usual it was a great success. The weather was good and one Publican told us it was the first good week in the year. In fact there was only one day when we had a couple of showers

The Holiday House was a old farm high up in the hills overlooking Pontyates. It had fantastic views which changed every time you looked at them. Directly across the valley was the village of Pontyates which is about 2 miles long on a steep hill. None of us ever rode up the hill even coming down was scary. Looking to the west you could see out over Kidwelly to the sea and there were some fantastic sunsets. The road from the nearest village, Five Roads was narrow and the track leading down to the farm was a very rough in places.

The Farmhouse at Dam y Cware

The lane leading to the farm


View over Kidwelly to the sea

The inside of the house was fantastic and the following pictures show it and us enjoying it.

The living room

Getting breakfast

Dave and Dave at breakfast

We visited a great number of local places ranging from Carmarthen in the north to the Mumbles on the Gower Peninsula. Our first day out was to Ferryside and then followed the coastal cycle path to Llanelli before returning to Five Roads via the railway path which is 10 miles of 3 to 4 metre wide tarmacked path. The gradient up to five ways is about 1 in 50 so it is an easy ride. It climbs about 120m in five miles and then flattens out. The original railway was built in 1803 to take coal to the port at Llanelli and claims to be the earliest in the world.

Vic and John on the cycle path

We also visited the Gower Peninsula and the Welsh National Botanic Gardens and lots of cafés.

Doug, Brian, Sarah, Averil, Mick, Vic and Jim outside a café at Cross Hands

In the dome at the botanic gardens

On the last day a number of us climbed a mountain in the Brecon Beacons near Merthyr Tydrl while the others took the train at Pontsticilli reservoir.

The mountaineers

Photo: Adrian Lee

On the train

The engine named Sir Baldwin

We had an absolutely wonderful time. Everyone got on really well and apart from a couple of mechanical problems we had no serious problems. We went out to local pubs for our evening meals and even to the Weatherspoons in Llanelli which was in an old cinema and was very good.

At the Stag

Repairs to Andy's Bike. Note the steep hill on the right which is about 1 in 5

Mike Stapleton

Photo: Adrian Lee

Photo: Adrian Lee

Sunday, 23 September 2012

23 Sep: Afternoon ride to Fen Ditton

Ian writes: Today’s destination for tea was Julia’s at Fen Ditton. Unfortunately the weather had decided to disrupt this treat with a forecast of heavy, persistent rain and driving winds.

For once, the weather forecast was spot on. Unperturbed, I headed off for a 2pm start, hoping the rain would ease off. It didn’t. I was fairly surprised to see two other riders turn up, Tina and John E. I had designed the route to have a bailout junction that would take ten miles off the route if things continued to stay foul. The others agreed, so after a quick call to Julia, we set off into the wind and rain whistling tunes from Les Miserables.

We made our way over to Station Road then along the guided busway and through Addenbrookes. From here we turned onto the familiar left turn to take us over the Gogs to Fulbourn. The wind didn’t seem too bad on the climb, but once over the top, the wind hit us head on, driving the rain into us. We continued through Fulbourn along the Wilbraham Road through Great Wilbraham to Little Wilbraham.

At Little Wilbraham, it was decision time: do we go right into the driving rain and wind to climb to Six Mile Bottom? or do we go left and bail out for a fast route to tea?

Cold and wet fingers made this an easy choice, so we turned left getting onto the cycle track on the side of the Newmarket Road and on to Fen Ditton.

At least with the wind on our backs we made some progress, arriving at Julia’s at about 3.40pm. Ian opened the patio door for us which felt like a biblical ray of light shining out in our damp and windy world. The heating was on, the tea was waiting and the smell of home made quiche, sandwiches and cake made it all worth it.

Shortly after, John S and Daniel joined us from the all-day ride. We enjoyed a lovely cosy tea. Many thanks to our hosts.

After tea, we followed the river back to Cambridge via the most direct route. Only 28 miles on the clock, which felt like plenty. Ian Driver

23 Sep: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Clare and Fen Ditton

(Updated) Nigel writes: Despite the forecast of heavy rain for later in the day there were eleven riders at Brookside for today's all-day ride, though only two intended to stay on for lunch. The intrepid all-day riders were John S (leader) and Daniel, whilst the fair-weather riders were me, Tracy, Phil, Linda, John, Pete, Conrad, Ian and Julia. Since lunch was a fair distance away John S took a fairly direct route to the coffee stop in Saffron Walden.

We set off south along Trumpington Road to Long Road and then through Addenbrooke's to join the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we took the road to Little Shelford.

We continued south through Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton.

Up until this point the route had been completely flat. However beyond Ickleton the landscape becomes more undulating and interesting. We then climbed Coploe Hill - surely one of the easiest and most pleasant hills on the area - and passed into Essex.

Resting on the Cambridgeshire - Essex border

We continued along a lovely single-track road to Catmere End before dropping back down again along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House. A short final climb brought us into Saffron Walden and our coffee stop at The Temeraire.

In the pub we were soon joined by Edward, Adrian, Mick and Doug, though they were here just for the coffee and not to join the ride.

After coffee John S and Daniel continued on towards the lunch stop in Clare whilst most of the others turned back towards Cambridge, either to avoid the promised rain or to do something else with their day. Tracy and I stayed with the "official" ride as far as Radwinter and then turned off for lunch in Hempstead and a car-assisted lift home. Nigel Deakin

John continues the report: Daniel and I left Saffron Walden and took the quiet route to Radwinter accompanied by Nigel and Tracy, setting off towards Ashdon before turning right onto Redgates Lane and left onto Wills Ayley Lane. At Radwinter, the day ride realised it had no idea where the home tea stop was, having left all details behind, so it took a dedicated team effort to read and transfer a phone number in the absence of reading glasses.

From Radwinter we went through Great Sampford, and then along near-empty lanes towards Cornish Hall End, and Ridgwell, feeling rather smug because the anticipated rain that had clearly frightened the other riders had not arrived. This feeling continued as a few spots started to fall, and then was finally washed away as the rains started in earnest around Ashen, and we stopped to “cape up”.

We arrived in Clare just as the church clock struck 1.00, and adjourned to The Cock for lunch. An unintended benefit of the recent smoking ban meant there was a handy lean-to to keep our bikes dry. Once inside we were told the “specials” on the board were not available and were offered a Sunday roast from a limited menu. Pub Sunday roasts are often a bit like school dinners, with shoe leather meat, over-cooked floppy vegetables and glutinous gravy. This Sunday lunch was quite different, with braised carrots, perfectly cooked lamb and proper gravy.

After waiting to make sure the rain really had set in, we proceeded through the puddles to Kedington, Great Wratting and Thurlow. We then took the agonising decision to shorten the planned ride and stay out in the rain for fewer miles, cutting out Dullingham and Swaffham, so we instead headed to Brinkley and Six Mile Bottom and on to Fen Ditton via Quy. As always, the road past the Wilbrahams brought out some admirable demonstrations of straight line speed from car drivers, in spite of the 20mph recommended limit because of the recent surface dressing.

Once we got to Fen Ditton, we were about to call to find out where tea was, when Daniel was spotted in his fluorescent cape and we were welcomed in to Julia’s house. Here we met the afternoon riders and others, and were offered some fantastic food. I could tell I was in a thoroughly civilised house, as there was a bicycle standing in the kitchen! Leaving was hard, as it involved donning cold wet shoes and colder wetter gloves. Thanks to Julia for the wonderful spread she laid on for us all!

Arriving home I had cycled 120km (74 miles) in all. I was pleased I was down to lead the ride, as it got me out of the house, whereas common sense would otherwise have led me to stay at home by the fire. John Seton

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

19 Sep: Evening ride to Barrington

Nigel writes: Today had been a crisp, sunny, autumnal day so I was surprised that there were only four of us at Brookside for this evening's ride: Swidbert, Ros, John E and me.

Today's ride was a clockwise loop to the far south. We headed south along the usual route through the Shelfords, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. The sun was still shining when we left but with sunset at 7.04pm it was soon gone, and by the time we reached the top of Coploe Hill it was getting dark (thugh not quite as dark as it looks in the photo).

We continued to Catmere End and Littlebury Green before dropping down to the B1039. We followed this west for a few hundred yards before turning back north for the climb to Elmdon. A long descent to Chrishall Grange and a few miles along on the flat brought us to Barrington and our pub stop at the Royal Oak.

We ordered beers and bowls of chips and had a typically convivial 45 minutes before setting off again for home via Chapel Hill, Hadlingfield and Barton. I arrived back home at a slightly later than usual 10.10pm, having cycled a slightly greater-than-usual 37 miles.

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Sunday, 16 September 2012

16 Sep: Afternoon ride to Braughing

Peter writes: On this fine, mild afternoon I was surprised that there were only four of us gathered at Brookside – Tom, John F, John and myself. Our destination was Braughing Church Hall with its (deserved) reputation for excellent home made cake. The prospect of a strong head wind all the way there made us pause for thought on the route. Nobody liked the idea of toiling up the B1368 while being blown backward. In addition, John had a keen desire to visit Nuthampstead, so we quickly decided to go via Fowlmere, Great Chishill and Nuthampstead, with a fall-back plan to stop for tea at Hare Street or the Woodman Inn if the wind proved too much for us.

We made good time as far as Fowlmere and then welcomed the shelter offered by hedges in the back lanes on the way up through Heydon to Great Chishill. As we climbed up from Shaftenhoe End, we began to feel the resistance. It was as if we were being made to work extra hard for our cake! However, the weather and countryside were glorious so we were content to take our time.

Finally we reached Nuthampstead, and here is the picture to prove that we fulfilled John’s dream:

We then swooped down to Anstey, joined the B road near Hare Street and were at tea at around 4.40pm. The day ride had apparently been and gone, but there was still plenty to eat. Shortly afterwards, Tina joined us, having ridden directly from Royston. I chatted with the lady taking the money as I paid for some extra cakes to take home for the family, and she told me that they had had an excellent day, with near record takings.

We rode directly home along the B1368, considerably faster than on the way out even though the wind had shifted round toward the west so wasn’t giving us as much help as I had hoped. I arrived home as the sun set in a blaze of orange to round off an excellent afternoon’s cycling, at around 7.10pm after cycling 51 miles (and it felt a lot further!) Peter Hutchison

16 Sep: All-day ride to Wimpole, Aston and Braughing

Nigel writes: With eighteen club members away in Wales this week, the turnout for today's all-day ride was quite small: Tony, John, recent joiner Mike, leader Gareth and me.

Gareth led us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, where we turned onto the B1046. This took us through Comberton and Toft to Longstowe.

It was dull and overcast and there was a persistent south-westerly headwind which made progress quite tiring, and as we approached Longstowe, John and Mike informed Gareth that they would make their own way and they left the group. This left Tony, Gareth and me to continue west for a loop through the Hatleys, Croydon and Arrington to our planned coffee stop at Wimpole Hall. Here we found Bob and Myrtle and after a short while Brian arrived. We went into the stable block and waited a few minutes for the cafe to open before ordering our drinks and relaxing for a convivial half hour.

Coffee at Wimpole Hall

After coffee Tony, Gareth and I carried on to lunch. This involved riding south, almost directly into the wind. There was a brief spell of drizzle but it soon disappeared and after a while the sun came out. We rode through Wendy, Steeple Morden and Ashwell, crossed the A505 and continued south in an almost straight line through Redhill, Rushden, Cromer and Walkern.

We reached our lunch stop in Aston a little before 1pm. Tony announced he was heading straight back leaving just Gareth and me at lunch.

This was my second visit to this pub (we were here in March) and I quite like it: it is friendly, the menu is inexpensive, with good options such as baked potatoes for visiting cyclists, and there were large bowls of complimentary snacks on the bar.

We emerged from the pub after lunch to discover that the clouds had disappeated and we were going to have a gorgeous warm and sunny afternoon. And with the wind mostly behind us at last the ride to our tea stop was a delightful journey through lovely wooded lanes with the sun casting leafy shadows across the road. As an additional bonus, Gareth's route gave us an opportunity to enjoy three separate fords.

Barwick Ford

Much Hadham Ford

Braughing Ford

We reached Braughing Village Hall at 3.30pm. This was a little early but we were both still a bit drained by the morning's wind and were ready for a rest. As always, there was a good spread of cakes and Gareth and I stayed here for 45 minutes before setting off back for Cambridge at 4.15pm. We had hoped to see the afternoon ride but they weren't due to arrive before 4.30pm so we missed them.

The final leg home was via all three Pelhams, Langley, Elmdon and Ickleton and the usual route from there. Progress was generally quite fast due to the tailwind but I began to flag on the hills and towards the end. Today had turned into a lovely day, however, and the sky was now completely clear. When I arrived back home at 6.20pm it was still warm and the sun was still shining brightly. I hadn't been expecting a long ride today, but I had cycled an excellent 94 miles.

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