Thursday, 29 March 2012

29 Mar: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Horseheath

Edward writes: Once again our luck was in and the fine weather continued for this Thursday's ride out to Horseheath. Fourteen riders left Greta's House in Hauxton and, following the format for the last few weeks, we divided into two groups. This time we went out towards Little Shelford where we immediately turned right to take the road to Newton. From here we kept on the B1368 up to Fowlmere where we turned back to Thriplow for a loop through the village and out again to the B1368 and back to Newton. The daffodils in Thriplow are still flourishing and a fine sight it makes, especially under the sun and the blue skies. From Newton we took the road which goes over the motorway to Whittlesford, and in Whittlesford, we did a tour through the village before coming out on the Duxford road. From here it was down to the A505, into the village, round by the factory site and over the ford to enter Hinxton. We then rode by the grounds of the Sanger Institute, crossed over the railway and into Ickleton and thence to the Riverside Barns for our coffee stop.

Riverside Barns, Ickleton

Riverside Barns, Ickleton

Coffee turned out to be a protracted event with the second group not leaving until 11.45 am. With new riders joining us for coffee our numbers were now well over twenty. Among those who joined here was Bob - it was good to see him out again and let's hope it won't be too long before Myrtle is able to join us again. With twenty plus customers arriving we somewhat overwhelmed the little cafe, hence the delayed start for the trip to Horseheath.

The first group set off at least fifteen to twenty minutes before the second group could leave and from Ickleton we took the short farm track to Coploe Hill and a lovely ride through to Catmere End.

Coploe Hill

This is a favourite with many people and with good reason, with fine weather, not too much wind and great views. After Catmere End it was the familiar ride down Chestnut Avenue, past Audley End mansion and into Saffron Walden, and unusually, not stopping, but passing straight through for the ride out on the Ashton Road. As with most roads out of Saffron Walden this is a steady climb and as usual the views are worth the effort.

From Ashdon we then went through Bartlow and up to the A1307 for the climb up to Streetley End. The hedgerows are now bursting into life with an abundance of celandines, some wild violets, and in people's gardens aubretia is out. All this and the blossoms, and the fine weather made for a very pleasant ride.

After Streetley End it was just a short hop into Horseheath and lunch. The first group had arrived quite a bit earlier than the second group and this had the effect of spreading the work load of the bar staff. Of course we all sat outside and enjoyed a relaxing lunch.

Old Red Lion, Horseheath

Old Red Lion, Horseheath

As is usual, some made their own way home and this left about ten to follow Greta for the ride back to Hauxton. This took us over the A1307, through Cardinal's Green and on to Shudy Camps. From here we turned right to go back into Bartlow, followed by another crossing of the A1307 and into Linton. We took the back road round Linton, past Hildersham and over the A1307 (again) and into Gt. Abington. We took the footbridge and farm track to go into Babraham, followed by the cycle way into Sawston and followed this with the cycleway out to Whittlesford and then on to Little Shelford and back to Hauxton where the ride ended. We rode for 52 miles and we thank Greta for another good day out. Edward Elmer

Photos 1,5,9 by Edward Elmer. Photos 2,3,4,5,6,7 by Lynn Brown

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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

28 Mar: Evening ride to St Ives and Houghton

Nigel writes: Now that we're on summer time, our evening rides have become weekly and, for the first time since last autumn, allow us to spent a large part of the ride in daylight. Today had been a very warm, almost hot, day, and when we assembled at Brookside for this evening's ride it was still warm and the sun was still shining brightly.

Five riders turned out for the ride: Gareth, Rob, Paul, John and me. Our destination was St Ives, and Gareth led us north to Orchard Park where we joined the St Ivo cycleway which runs alongside the guided busway.

The ride along the cycleway was fast, with Gareth and Rob both setting a rapid pace.

When we reached the Fen Drayton lakes the sun was low in the sky and the temperature beginning to fall.

It was just becoming dark when we arrived in St Ives. It was 7.40pm so the ride from Brookside has taken a little over an hour. We stopped at The Golden Lion in the main street, where we ordered food and sat for about 45 minutes chatting.

The ride from Cambridge had been quite easy, so Gareth suggested that after we had finished eating we should cycle along the Thicket Path to Houghton, cross the Ouse and return to St Ives via the Hemingfords. By the time we left the pub it was quite dark, so this was an enjoyable and atmospheric night ride.

The return along the busway was another fast, smooth ride on a cool, clear night, with the Moon, Venus and Jupiter clearly visible overhead. I arrived home at 10.10pm, having cycled 37 miles.

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Sunday, 25 March 2012

25 Mar: All-day ride to Stradishall, West Stow and Snailwell

Nigel writes: With an area of high pressure directly overhead, and expected to remain over the while country for the rest of the month, today's weather forecast was for bright sunshine and warm temperatures. So when I got up for today's first ride following the clocks going forward I put on shorts, a thin top, and fingerless mitts. I could see that there was still a bit of early morning mist around, but I didn't expect it to amount to much. It was only when I was already half-way to Brookside that I realised that I had made a big mistake. It was in fact freezing cold: about 5C, foggy, and with a bitingly cold wind. But it was too late to go back: I was down to lead the ride today, and I didn't want to be late.

When I got to Brookside I found about half a dozen other riders waiting. A rather smaller turnout than in recent weeks, which I attributed to the 9am start which, taking into account this morning's clock change, meant we were departing 90 minutes earlier than last week. So a special credit to Pete H, Gareth, Zhiqing, Tom, Martin and Jerry.

I led the group south-east out of Cambridge along Hills Road, past Addenbrooke's and as far as the turn for Wort's Causeway. There we turned left for the long but fairly gentle climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn. As we left the built-up area it became apparent that it was really rather foggy. However as we climbed the hill I became rather more preoccupied with the fact that I was really quite cold and my fingers were rapidly becoming frozen.

When we reached Fulbourn we turned onto the road through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom, where we began the long climb up to Brinkley. Eventually the fog began to clear but the sky stayed overcast and the temperature remained very cold, and my fingers too frozen for me to take many more photographs.

After Brinkley we continued to Carlton, Carlton Green and the lovely narrow lane to Little Thurlow.

After splashing through the ford there (about an inch deep) we took the equally lovely lane east that eventually meets the A143 near Highpoint Prison near Stradishall. After a short distance along the main road we stopped at Tubby T's cafe for coffee. There we found a number of members already waiting, whilst others joined us a little later: if I remember correctly we met Adrian, Joseph, Edward-the-blogger, Doug, Rupert and John S. I ordered a hot chocolate and a large wedge of bread pudding (a bargain at 65p) and sat down to thaw out.

Whilst we were sitting in the cafe the cloud at last cleared and the sun came out, and the day was suddenly transformed. Afterwards various members made their own way home. Adrian and Zhiqingli set off for the lunch stop, leaving early to allow them to take a slower pace, and a few minutes later I followed them with Gareth, Tom, Martin, Rupert and John S.

With the sun now shining the day was transformed: the temperature rose steadily to around 15-18C and our ride through quiet Suffolk lanes to to our lunch stop was delightful.

We stopped for lunch at the Anglo-Saxon Village near West Stow. This is set in a country park by a lake, with a large area of forest (The King's Forest) immediately to the north.

This was our first visit to the cafe here, and I think it was entirely satisfactory. Service was a little slow but the menu was just fine (I ordered a jacket potato with beans) and we were able to eat our lunch sitting in the sunshine.

After lunch we has a fairly short stage to our afternoon tea stop. We set off west, past the edge of the forest, to Lackford.

Our route took us through Cavenham, Tuddenham and Kennet where we turned onto the B1065 which took us over the A11 to Chippenham. When we got there it was 3.05pm and we would be very early for tea, so I took our group on an extra loop via Badlingham Manor and Freckenham before returning back to Chippenham. From here it was just over two miles to our afternoon tea stop at the George and Dragon in Snailwell.

A few minutes later Peter D arrived with the afternoon ride: there were 18 on that ride, making a total of 24 in all. Fortunately we had both phoned the pub beforehand to give numbers and there was plenty of food and we had a most enjoyable 45 minutes or so sitting in the pub garden.

After tea we all returned to Cambridge. We were now 24, so I gained a large number of new cycling campanions to chat with. However with such a large group we fragmented somewhat: my group took a route through Landwade to Exning, where we turned onto a farm road which I had not used before, but which was very nice (photo below).

When we reached Burwell our group divided with Peter D taking a group the short way home along the B1102 whilst Gareth led a smaller group into the fens to Reach where we joined the Lodes Way to Lode.

After a final few miles through Bottisham, Quy and Fen Ditton I was home by 6.20pm, with the sky still clear and the warm sun still shining brightly, having cycled an excellent 87 miles.

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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Perne Road roundabout: room for improvements

A county council consultation on a proposed “continental” redesign of the Perne Road/ Radegund Road roundabout has just closed. The current layout of this roundabout allows vehicles to use the fastest and most direct line through the roundabout, which means that speeds are high and it can be hostile for cyclists and pedestrians. This roundabout lies on a main cycle route that is used by both commuters and school children crossing from Birdwood Road to Radegund Road and it is a known accident site for cyclists.

The proposed new layout (see below) significantly reduces the space for traffic around the roundabout and tightens both the exits and entries into the roundabout. The design follows guidance from the Department for Transport on making roundabouts more cycle-friendly. The change in geometry will ensure that drivers keep their speeds low, and this should improve safety for both pedestrians and cyclists, particularly for on-road cyclists.

The proposed design has a good safety record in Europe, where it is usually combined with a peripheral cycle path around the outside of the roundabout. But there are some complicating factors here: this location has relatively high levels of traffic and the proposed design does not include any off-road cycle paths. There are good reasons for excluding the off-road cycle paths from the design: firstly, all of the existing cycle routes are on-road cycle lanes; and secondly adding any off-road paths would significantly increase the construction costs.

We met with the cycling officers on 16 March to discuss the proposed design and our CTC response to the consultation. We broadly welcome the new design because the core design objective of reducing the vehicle speeds should make this a safer junction for pedestrians and cyclists. But neither CTC, nor Cambridge Cycling Campaign are confident that the proposed design is the best option. CTC asked for two “modest” changes to the design: firstly to modify the new build outs so that cyclists can ride over these build outs to bypass stationary traffic at peak times (we think there is a risk of new “pinch points” at the entry and exits of the roundabout). Secondly, to include “desire-line” pedestrian and cycle crossing points on both Perne Road arms (currently, crossings are only proposed for the Birdwood Road and Radegund Road arms).

During the meeting we were shown some alternative designs that had been considered and rejected, including some designs with various off-road cycle path elements. These off-road options have some attractive elements, but there are also some reservations with any of the off-road alternatives. For example, the transition from the on-road cycle lane onto a peripheral off-road cycle path would introduce inconvenient sharp bends at the entry and exit points. Also, a peripheral cycle path would require two separate cycle crossing points on the Perne Road arms. As a result, we prefer the on-road option (keeping cyclists on the main carriageway). This preference is in line with general CTC policy, and the reduced vehicle speeds should make this option even safer.

The conclusion of the meeting was to look again the proposed design, both to look at some possible improvements and also to consider a possible temporary trial of the design (where part of the design is implemented with concrete blocks rather than by permanent construction). We see benefits if this trial can be achieved at low cost: this will allow the key elements of the design to be tested with real traffic to find out if it works as expected (and what doesn’t work!). We intend to stay involved in this project and to continue to work with the council to search for a good design. Hopefully, the lessons learned from this trial can then be applied to other roundabouts in Cambridge.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

22 Mar: Thursday ride to Malton and Hinxworth

Edward writes: Another Thursday, another fine, warm day and another challenge as at least eighteen cyclists met at Haslingfield for this Grade 3, Moderate ride. Today we welcomed David who was joining us for the first time. It was decided to set off in two groups and two separate routes to Malton Golf Club for the coffee stop. Greta led off with the first group and went towards Harston and a second group left Haslingfield by way of Chapel Hill. At the bottom of the hill we turned immediately left at the church and headed for Foxton and the level crossing at the A10. We left Foxton and headed up to Fowlmere where we turned back towards Thriplow which gave us a chance to admire the many daffodils, the previous weekend was the daffodil festival, and a fine show was still on display.


We did a loop of the village and returned to Fowlmere and this was followed by the road past the bird reserve and then into Melbourn. At the lights we turned right for the trip over the railway and into Meldreth to be quickly followed by the turning up to Malton Golf Club.

Malton Golf Club

As has been said before we are always assured of a friendly welcome and today nearly everybody sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine. At coffee we were joined by Doug, Mike S and Brian. After coffee we went off in two groups and made for Orwell. The first group led by Greta turned towards Wimpole Hall, whilst the second group stayed on the A603 before turning off to take the road through Wendy and on to Guilden Morden. Everything was in our favour, a long straight road and a following breeze, and of course the sunshine.

Guilden Morden

At Guilden Morden we turned towards Ashwell, still with a following breeze, thus making this morning a real pleasure for cycling. After Ashwell the remaining four miles were quickly covered and we arrived at Farrowby Farm in Hinxworth at about 12.45 pm. By arriving in two separate groups we eased the pressure on the staff at the farm and meals arrived with little delay.

Farrowby Farm, Hinxworth

Sadly, we heard that Greta had decided to return home, so after lunch we decided on the route to take and who would lead the separate groups. Rupert led off with the first group and Mick C led the second group and Mike S also took a group which was to take a more direct route home. After arriving back in Hinxworth village we turned left and headed towards Dunton and Eyeworth and now, for the most part, we faced the breeze, but cycling was never difficult. At Eyeworth we turned left on the road to Sutton and then on to Carthegena Road past John O' Gaunt Golf Club. At the end of this road, instead of taking the road to Potton, we went through the woods to join the road from Everton to Sandy. We turned towards Everton and then via Gamlingay Heath and then Waresley. Here we said goodbye to Doug and David W who couldn't resist calling in for a cup of tea. This left the remaining seven to go home via Gt Gransden, Caxton and Bourn. Instead of going on to Haslingfield we went through Toft, Comberton and Barton. From Haslingfield to the Coton turning was 62 miles.

Thanks to all who took part and especially those who led at various times. Edward Elmer

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Sunday, 18 March 2012

18 Mar: Afternoon ride to Waresley

Ian writes: Todays afternoon ride was to the ever popular Waresley Park Garden Centre Café. First things first, the Weather report. Sunshine and showers for the afternoon, rain possibly becoming persistent towards 3 o’clock. Tea was scheduled for 3:30. Only one thing for it, straight there route and if the weathers OK, do a nice loop at the café end, if the weathers lousy, early tea.

5 other riders were at Brookside hiding under a tree as the first shower of the day had begun, except for Mike K who was relaxing on the bench resolutely ignoring a little bit of rain. It soon passed and we headed of along the Barton road to take a right turn through Comberton. The wind was noticeable with a chill to it from a Northerly direction.

Onward to Bourn on the B1064 and a right turn to take you up to Caxton. The rain had done little to increase the flow in the ford and the whole group chose to ride through. The second shower of the ride soon came and went without too much damage.

From Caxton you are soon past the windmill and arriving at the Gransdens. It was only three o’clock and the shower had passed, so we decided on the Abbotsley loop. Just past the church in Abbotsley, the sky started to look really quite angry. A quick unanimous vote was take by everyone in the group except the ride leader J and off to tea they headed with me chasing after, just before the heaviest shower of the day set in. Not daft this lot. We arrived just as it began to rain properly.

Tea was up to its usual high standard. The café was busy, presumably as it was Mothers Day, the day ride arrived at about the same time giving a good number at tea.

On the return home, the riders rearranged groups and I headed of with Tina and Mike S to the South Cambs area where we all live. Gamlingay and the Hatleys being the preferred route. The sun had come out now giving us a very pleasant ride home with the yellow of Daffodils really shining through in the afternoon light.

I left the others to pass through Croydon and then the grounds of Wimpole Hall. It’s Lambing time right now. If you can pass by in the next couple of weeks, do so.

I was home by 18:30 with 43.79 miles on the clock. Ian Driver

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18 Mar: All-day ride to Woodhurst, West Perry and Waresley

Nigel writes: Today started cloudy and dull, with a forecast of rain. In the event we didn't get much more than a few patches of drizzle in the morning and some light rain in the early afternoon followed by clear skies and sunshine. But it takes more than the prospect of a bit of dampness to stop members of CTC Cambridge having a ride, and when I arrived at Brookside there were about ten people waiting. Rupert was our leader today and led us west and northwest out of Cambridge along the Huntingdon Road to Girton.

We continued from Girton to Oakington where we turned onto the busway cycleway.

There was quite a strong westerly headwind, so I was not sorry that when we reached the B1060 a couple of miles further on we left the cycleway and turned north towards Wilburton.

After passing through Wilburton we continued along the B1050 for two or three more miles until we reached Earith, where we crossed the River Great Ouse.

At Earith we joined the A1123 for half a mile before turning off onto the B1050 to Colne. Here the main group turned left for Bluntisham and our coffee stop at The Raptor Foundation near Woodhurst. I, however, was riding ahead of the group and overshot the turn and only realised that I had lost the group as I approached Somersham. I continued into the village and onto the B1086 which took me to the coffee stop from the north. Despite my route being at least two miles further I still reached the cafe before the others.

After coffee we continued west to Broughton, King's Ripton and then south to Huntingdon.

Huntingdon is not a very cycle-friendly town, with some busy roads and confusing one-way streets - and some very poor pavement cycleways. However Rupert, with just a little help from Jim, was able to navigate us confidently through the town centre and out towards Brampton. As we rode along here we noticed dozens of cyclists riding the other way on the 80 mile Wiggle "No Excuses" Sportive 2012

The final miles from Brampton to Grafham are along a pleasant quiet road, though on this occasion it was busy with hundreds of cyclists going the other way.

We arrived at our lunch stop at the Harbour Restaurant in West Perry at about 1.30pm. It was very busy, perhaps because of Mothers' Day, but the service was efficient and we didn't have to wait long for our food.

It was approaching 2.30pm when we set off after lunch. Rupert led us to Waresley along the shortest route: the B661 to Great Staughton and then along the B645 to St Neots.

At St Neots we crossed the Ouse on the new Willow cycle bridge from Eaton Socon to Eynesbury and then continued to Waresley via Lily Hill. We arrived at the garden centre at 3.45pm to find Ian D and the afternoon already ahead of us in the long queue for coffee and cakes.

As we sat in the cafe the sky cleared and the sun came out.

Afterwards we returned to Cambridge via the direct route via Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn.

I arrived home just before 6pm, having cycled 74 miles.

Photos 1,5,6,7,8,10,12,13 and 16 by Julia Hochbach.

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