Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Audax rides in September 2012

CTC Cambridge is pleased to announce that on Sunday 2nd September our programme of rides will include three audax rides. With distances of 50km, 100km and 200km there should be a ride to suit everybody. These rides offer an ideal opportunity to try out audax riding, which is a form of cycle touring where riders aim to visit a sequence of controls within a time limit by following a sheet of directions. For more information see here

27 Jun: Evening ride to Thriplow

Nigel writes: This evening's ride was a fast and exhilarating loop through the hills along the Cambridgeshire/Essex border, possibly my best Wednesday ride so far this year. Joining me at Brookside on this hot, sultry and overcast evening were Pete H, Paul, Rob, John F, John E, Tony and Graham.

I warned the group I was hoping for a slightly longer ride than we had been having recently, and we were off, down Trumpington Road and Shelford Road to get to Great Shelford the fastest way possible. The pace was fast, but every time I looked behind me most of the group was right behind me, and a pause by the War Memorial in Great Shelford allowed the remainder to catch up.

We continued to Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford where we stopped once more to reunite.

We continued south to Ickleton and climbed Coploe Hill.

After descending the hill to the Royston Lane crossroads we went three separate ways. Paul took a short cut along Royston Lane, John E turned left for a longer route via Littlebury, and the rest of us pressed on south to Catmere End.

The pace stayed nice and fast as we dropped down the other side, turned right to Littlebury Green and dropped down to the B1039. We followed this for a short distance before turning back north for the climb back up to Elmdon.

From Elmdon it was mostly downhill to Chishill Grange and from there on the level to Fowlmere and Thriplow, where we stopped for a drink at The Green Man. Paul was already there waiting for us. It was only 8.20pm. Unfortunately there was no food available as the chef was ill, but the beer was very good and we sat outside for half an hour with drinks and crisps.

At about 8.45pm we were ready to set off for home. As we rpepared to leave John E arrived looking very satisfied after his rather longer ride and ready for a drink.

The final stage home was still fairly fast, though Newton and Little and Great Shelford and then along the DNA path and busway cycleway back to the station. I arrived back home at 9.20pm, the sky still light, having cycled an excellent 34 miles. We're not a racing club and don't usually pay much attention to speed, but today's moving average speed was 15.6 mph.

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CTC Cambridge Audax Rides

We're pleased to anounce that on Sunday 2nd September our programme of rides will include three audax rides . These are organised by Gareth Rees with the support of CTC Cambridge.

What's an audax? Supervised in this country by Audax UK, it's a form of cycle touring where riders aim to visit a sequence of controls within a time limit by following a sheet of directions. It's not a race: some riders go fast for their own satisfaction, and others squeak in at the last moment.

Climbing the Gog Magogs on the "End of Hibernation" 200 km audax in March 2011.

All three rides start from Orchard Community Centre in Orchard Park on the north side of Cambridge. See below for a map showing where this is.

The rides explore the countryside to the west of Cambridge, crossing the River Great Ouse and returning via St Ives.

There's a choice of three distances:

200 km (124 miles) £5

Starting at 08:00, this ride heads west through Bedfordfordshire into Northamptonshire, visiting Old Warden, Newport Pagnell, and Olney, returning to Orchard Park before 21:24. The gently rolling countryside around Bedford and Milton Keynes should make this a fast ride for experienced randoneers, and a good choice for first-timers. This ride is rated as tough and there's a draft route sheet here (PDF).

100 km (62 miles) £4

Starting at 09:00, this ride visits Gamlingay, St Neots, Little Staughton, and Grafham Water, returning to Orchard Park before 15:48. This ride is rated as challenging and there's a draft route sheet here (PDF).

50 km (31 miles) £4

Starting at 10:00, this ride for beginners takes a loop through the Hemingfords and across the Ouse meadows to Houghton Mill. It has a relaxed time limit, returning to Orchard Park before 14:00. This ride is rated as leisurely and there's a draft route sheet here (PDF).

How to register

Unlike our normal rides, all riders need to sign up for these rides by completing an entry form and paying the appropriate fee. You can sign up for the rides on the Audax UK website by following the links above, or contact Gareth if you have any questions.

The River Tea Rooms on the River Great Ouse, St Ives.

Where is Orchard Community Centre?
Orchard Community Centre is on the northern edge of Cambridge, about 2.5 miles from the City Centre. See the map below.

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rides in July and August

The July and August rides lists are now available. We've planned some longer rides on Sundays to take advantage of the longer days and allow us to explore farther afield.

There are three Sunday rides of particular note. On 22nd July we ride into deepest Bedfordshire for a lunch meet with South Herts CTC at Marston Moretaine Millenium Country Park. On 29th July we have a longer ride to Stisted in Essex. And when a sunny day is almost guaranteed, on 12th August, we have a home tea in West Wratting to look forward to. In addition our normal programme of rides continues on other days.

24 Jun: Afternoon ride to Wicken

Nigel writes: This afternoon was warm and and dry but with quite a persistent westerly breeze. It started off quite cloudy but the sun soon came out and stayed out for the rest of the afternoon.

I was the leader today and led our group of seven riders south out of Cambridge along the busway cycleway to Addenbrooke's. There we turned onto Wort's Causeway for the climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

We continued through Great Wilbraham and Little Wilbraham to Bottisham. From here we followed the "old" NCR11 route to Wicken. This took us through Swaffham Bulbeck and into Swaffham Prior.

After Swaffham Prior we rode throgh Reach and Burwell before turning north into the fens.

We then rode around the edge of Wicken Fen to Wicken village.

Our tea stop this afternoon was St Laurence's Church in Wicken, which is at the eastern edge of the village. When we arrived we found a large group of cyclists already there. In addition to Conrad and about half a dozen from our own all-day ride there was a larger group of twenty cyclists from the Veteran Cycle Club. We parked our bikes as respectfully as we could in the churchyard and entered the church.

Tea was served in the nave of the church itself. We loaded our plates from the excellent spread of sandwiches and cakes and sat down in the pews to enjoy it. It felt a bit strange to be eating in a church but the vicar was there to make us very welcome.

After making a donation to pay for the cost of tea we left and returned back to Cambridge.

Our route home was via Upware, the Lodes Way, Lode, Bottisham and Quy. We were riding into the wind for much of the time which slowed us down somewhat, but it didn't bother us much: we didn't have far to go, it was warm and sunny, and we were all feeling pretty relaxed.

Poster on NCR 11 advertising teas at Wicken Close-up view

I was home at 6.15pm, having cycled 42 miles.

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24 Jun: All-day ride (train-assisted) to Castle Rising, Denver and Wicken

Conrad writes: Three other cyclists (Richard, Li and James) joined me at Cambridge Rail Station at the earlier time of 0840 hours to catch the 0905 train to King's Lynn for this morning's train-assisted all day ride. The weather was ominous with dark clouds and strong southerly winds, so I was not surprised to find a smaller than usual turnout. As it happened, the group was an ideal size as we could make use of the very generous group discount of 50% for a party of four.

We arrived at King's Lynn just before 10am. Instead of having coffee at the train station, I had planned to lead the ride to Castle Rising to the north-west where I had found a charming tea room during my recce ride a few weeks earlier. Then, I had taken the intuitive route to Castle Rising which involved following the main A148 road, but Richard pointed out that there was a quieter cycle route that started in the opposite direction but would eventually lead to Castle Rising through several pleasant parks.

We were about a mile away from Castle Rising when the heavens opened and I experienced one of the heaviest downpours in my short time riding with the CTC. Thankfully, the Unique tea room was close by and we had cake, coffee, and some bacon sandwiches while waiting for the rain to stop.

We also had time to walk around part of the castle grounds, or at least the part that afforded us some view of the castle without us having to pay the admission fee.

From Castle Rising, we retraced our route back to King's Lynn. From there, it was a matter of cycling through the relatively quiet side streets, using the cycle path to negotiate a very large roundabout and then joining the NCR 1 route just before the Power Station. From here, it was just a case of following the blue cycle signs. We made good progress through Watlington and Downham Market, where we went through a very narrow off-road section to reach a cycle-bridge that got us across the main road into Denver.

At Denver, we passed the still-functioning windmill (if you are ever there, stop to try out their bread), the giant sluice before reaching the lunch stop at Jenyn's Arms where we found Brian M and Daniel waiting for us.

After lunch, we cycled to Ten Mile Bank, where we left NCR11 and went to Ely via Littleport instead. At Ely, we rejoined the NCR11 along the river and reached Wicken just before 4. We were soon joined by a large contingent of veteran cyclists and the afternoon ride. After 30 minutes, we returned to Cambridge via the well-trodden and, in this case, very muddy route through Wicken Nature reserve and the fens.

We covered 65 miles, making this one of the shorter all-day rides of the year. I recommend this ride to anyone, like myself, who is leading an all-day ride for the first time, or anyone looking to make the transition from the afternoon ride to the all-day ride. Conrad Chua

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Thursday, 21 June 2012

20 Jun: Evening ride to Barton

Peter writes: I write this on a classic 21st June: cool, rainy and long. It's hard to remember as far back as the warm, sunny 20th June when we had that evening ride to Barton. Eight of us met, then, at 6:30 prompt, at Brookside: Tiia, Chris, Neil, Conrad, Klaas, John, Rob and me. Warm though it was, Rob made a last-minute decision to supplement his skimpy tri vest, nipped home and was back in three minutes. Off we headed, usual Wednesday-evening pace (13 - 15 mph). In the absence of Nigel Julia, Ian or any other of our experienced leaders, I got the job of leading, because I had a map. That’ll teach me.

Route: briefly beside the Guided Busway past Addenbrookes, DNA path to the Shelfords, thence to Whittlesford past the beautifully refurbished Tickell Arms, Duxford, beside the ford to Hinxton, Ickleton, then the straight and little-trafficked tiny roads to Ickleton Grange and Crishall Grange, Fowlmere, Foxton (crossing the A10 while the level-crossing gates were down, so in complete safety), up to Barrington and across everyone’s favourite hill into Haslingfield, then to the White Horse at Barton for five plates of chips (four piled high with grated cheese, which our resident nutritionist Rob estimated would up the calorie count from 500 to 800).

Negligible wind, no aggressive motorists, pleasant company, and after all those chips, no calorie deficit either. By about 9:20 we were back in Cambridge, about 27 miles in all. Peter Davison

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

17 Jun: "Challenging" all-day ride to Clare, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket

Nigel writes: This week we had the second of our "challenging" all-day Sunday rides, held in addition to our normal "moderate" ride. The weather was much better than the previous ride: warm and sunny, but quite windy, which led to a 50% increase in turnout for the 8.30am start: Gareth, David W and me.

With the weather looking good for the day, I was hoping for a decent mileage today, and I think Gareth had the same idea. So with little ado Gareth set off out east of Cambridge the most direct way possible: down Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road. At 8.30am on a Sunday there was hardly any traffic around. We continued along the same road to Fulbourn and then on to Balsham. Gareth was on strong form again and set a strong pace at the head of our little peloton. A strong tailwind help blow us at some speed though West Wickham, Withersfield and Kedington.

Changing maps in Kedington

After Kedington we continued on to Clare, which we reached at a satisfyingly early 10.15am. This was where we planned to stop for coffee, but although Clare has several tea shops it was apparently too early for any of them to be open, and so we bought some snacks from the co-op and sat in the sunshine Clare Country Park to enjoy them.

Mid-morning picnic in Clare Country Park

After half an hour in Clare we set off once more. Gareth's route took us north to our lunch stop in Bury St Edmunds along an endless series of lovely narrow lanes that I had never visited before, an dincluding what was my first ascent of Hartest Hill for quite a long time.

A couple of miles East of Shrimpling Street gareth took us off-road along a public footpath which ran around a disused airfield. (I later discovered that this was the remains of Lavenham/Alpheton Airfield. More about its wartime past here (pdf)). It was perfectly cycleable though rather potholed, and Gareth found himself with a puncture.

Mending a puncture on the remains of Lavenham/Alpheton Airfield

We continued north along yet more tiny lanes, finally to approach Bury St Edmunds from the east. Our final mile or so into the city was along a newly-improved bridleway along the River Lark. Although it wasn't tarmac and slightly sandy it was perfectly cycleable and really rather nice. This met NCR51 coming from the east which we followed for the final few hundred yards - this took us right through the cathedral grounds, a lovely way to arrive.

Well-surfaced bridleway leading into Bury St Edmunds

We found a branch of Greggs near the Cathedral and purchased our lunch. I bought a sandwich, a coffee, and the most notorious hot snack of the year, a Greggs Cornish pasty (served hot, of course). Returning towards Abbey Gardens we met Adrian and a large contingent on the "moderate" all-day ride. They went off to the Queen's Head for lunch whilst Gareth, David, me and later Neil sat in the park eating our lunch.

Artwork "Godspeed" by Jonathan Clark, in the grounds of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, and featured on the cover of the local OS map

After lunch we set off towards Newmarket. Neil joined our group whilst David left it. Riding west for the first time we were now riding into a headwind, which reduced our speed somewhat though we got used to it soon enough and it wasn't much of a problem. Gareth's route was fairly direct: south to Whepstead, west to Chevington and Ousden, north to Dalham and Gazeley (where we passed Zhiqing), and finally west through Moulton to enter Newmarket by descending the long hill in between the training grounds.

Dalham to Gazeley

We arrived at Coffee & Co at 3.45pm and ordered out drinks and cakes. Over the following twenty minutes we were joined by Mike S, the other all-day riders, and the afternoon ride, making a total of nineteen at tea.

Coffee in newmarket

Coffee in Newmarket

After coffee Gareth, Neil and I set off for our final stage to Cambridge. Gareth and I were both keen to make today a 100-mile day. We had covered 77 miles so far, so we needed to make a bit of a loop on the way home. Gareth's route took us north to Exning. As my request we followed NCR 51 out of Newmarket, which I had never tried before. This runs parallel to the dreary Exning Road, and was surprisingly good.

We continued from Exning to Burwell where we turned north towards Wicken Fen.

Wicken Fen

At Wicken we turned west to Upware and then south back across the fens to Lode.

Across the fens south of Upware

Approaching Lode

At Lode we joined the main road back to Quy and then the familar route through Fen Ditton and the Jubilee Cycleway back into Cambridge.

Ditton Meadows, Cambridge

Cycle route obstructed on Ditton Meadows, Cambridge

I arrived home at 6.45pm having cycled an excellent and very enjoyable 105 miles, making this my second-longest ride of the year so far. Thanks are due to Gareth for leading an excellent ride along through some of East Anglia's loveliest countryside.

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Saturday, 16 June 2012

16th Jun: Saturday morning ride to Coton.

Eva writes: Usually my cycle journey from Waterbeach to Brookside takes half an hour but today with a very strong headwind to contend with it took considerably longer. As I battled against the elements I was concerned that the route I had chosen would be too exposed to the wind and I racked my brains to come up with some alternative, more sheltered routes for this morning’s ride.

There were four other riders at Brookside, Nigel, Angela, David and Finn. We had a brief discussion about possible routes and decided to head out on the Barton Road which gave us several options depending on the wind direction. The headwind was very apparent on this part of our journey, so we decided to turn towards Barton which was rather less exposed than my planned route to Haslingfield.

From Barton we cycled through Comberton and continued on to Toft. On the whole the sun was warm and our route was pleasant with the wind causing us very few problems. At times the sky looked a little dark but luckily we escaped rain. At Toft we turned left in to a quiet lane which led us past the church, where we discovered a beautiful, colourful display of flowers which looked so pretty in the sunshine.

From Toft we continued on our undulating route to Bourn and then began heading back towards Cambridge on the old A428 via Hardwick and the cycle path along Madingley Road. With a tailwind assisting our journey we arrived at Polhill Garden Centre at 11.45, looking forward to a well earned rest. After a very pleasant half an hour of drinking and chatting we headed back to Cambridge on the Coton footpath, going our separate ways at Grange Road having cycled approximately 20 miles.
Thanks to everyone for a very enjoyable ride. Eva Aldritt

Thursday, 14 June 2012

14 Jun: Thursday ride to Ashdon and Kedington

Edward writes: In the lottery of the type of day we are likely to have today we came out with first prize. It was warm and sunny accompanied by a fairly stiff southerly breeze encouraging most people to don their shorts. At least the hard work would be done in the morning with the prospect of the wind on our backs for the return journey in the afternoon. Fourteen set out from Hauxton, seen off by Greta, and without planning, two separate groups formed and this set the tone for the day which at times became a bit fragmented. We left Hauxton for Little Shelford and Whittlesford. From here we crossed into Sawston by way of the cycle path and then onto Babraham, also by way of the cycle path. It was then through the farm and over the cycle/footbridge and into Gt Abington. The first and largest group went through Gt Abington and over the A1307 to go via Hildersham and the back road of Linton, thus bringing us out on to another crossing of the A1307 for the run up to Barlow where we turned right for the climb up to Ashdon and our coffee stop.


Coffee was to be taken on the green but we discovered that the little shop dispensed beverages from a machine so most people took advantage and bought coffee in the shop. Some had gone on to the museum and sat outside there, whilst others milled around in the village. By now the second group had joined up with the first group bringing us together for the first time.



After coffee it was decided to formally have two groups and two separate routes for Kedington. The first group would take the planned route which was expected to be about twenty miles, whilst Mick C volunteered to lead the second group on a shorter route via Haverhill to Kedington. After coffee we left Asdon via Steventon End and then via Camps End which brought us to Helions Bumpstead followed by Steeple Bumstead. What followed was a delightfully rural trip via Stambourne and Ridgewell and then on to Ashen, Boyton End, Stoke by Clare and finally Kedington. The wild flowers on show included white and pink campion, mallow and an abundance of poppies making for a very pleasant ride.

We took lunch at the Barnardiston Arms. Having phoned ahead to warn them of an invasion of cyclists, they seemed well prepared. The first group led by Mick C had already arrived and were soon being served with their lunch. For lunch we all sat out in the garden taking advantage of the warm sunshine.


During lunch Peter W, who had joined us Ashdon, very kindly invited us to tea at his house in West Wratting. Thus we left Kedington and made for Great Wratting and Withersfield and after about eight miles we arrived at Peter’s house.

As we have come to expect, Lesley had prepared a lovely display of cakes to go with the cups of tea. Our thanks to them both for their warm hospitality.

West Wratting

After tea, once again the group separated as some left early whilst the remainder stayed to enjoy sitting out in the garden. The final route home was through Balsham and then the long downhill to Hildersham, over the A1307 and into Gt Abington, over the cycle bridge and into Sawston. It was just a short hop from there to Hauxton by way for Gt Shelford. This was a total of 57 miles, and the following breeze for the afternoon didn’t disappoint. Edward Elmer

Photos 1,3,4,8,9 by Edward Elmer. Photos 2,5,6,7,9,10-15 by Lynn Brown

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