Thursday, 31 January 2013

31 Jan: Thursday ride to Toft and Gamlingay

Edward writes: At last, with the worst of the winter weather behind us (let’s hope), twelve cyclist met at Haslingfield Green for our trip out to Toft and Gamlingay, which today was led by Averil. Although the snows and intense cold had all gone there was however another element which made its unwelcome presence all too noticeable, and that was very stiff westerly wind. Also joining us today was Lynn, making one of her visits to the country and thus giving our ride an international flavour, and Jim who is a former member of the Cambridge branch but now living in the west country.

We left Haslingfield towards Barton, which was fortunate as this put the wind on our backs and so giving an easy start to the day’s outing. After Barton we turned towards Coton but Averil surprised us by turning off into the nature area and through to the cycleway which leads past the university’s new facilities all the way down to Wilberforce Road. Then on to Madingley Road past Churchill College and then joining Huntingdon Road for the run up to Girton. At this point the wind was more or less in our favour, although this wasn’t to last. From Girton we travelled into Oakington and then across the old airfield which is the projected Northstowe new town to come out in Longstanton opposite the parish church. As we turned west the head wind became a serious issue and slowed us down to single figure miles per hour. We had to travel down the B1050 which was a bit unpleasant owing to the volume of traffic, but we all made it to the roundabout at Bar Hill.

Bar Hill


We went over the A14 and on to what amounts to the Bar Hill ring road and out to a track which leads into Dry Drayton. In Dry Drayton we said goodbye to Lynn and we look forward to seeing her on her next visit. There followed a very hard couple of miles up to the roundabout over the A428 which brought us to Hardwick and the long downhill into Toft. Downhill maybe but into the strong wind so no time for freewheeling. In Toft we took our coffee break at the golf club a bit later than usual as the time was 11.30am.



At coffee, but about to head off, were Rupert, Brian M, and Richard M who had driven over from Bedford. The coffee break was welcome but of necessity it was curtailed as we knew the following 10 miles or so to Gamlingay would be head wind all the way and it didn’t disappoint. We left Toft at midday and made for Bourn followed by Longstowe and now the wind really did its stuff. Cycling was full on into the wind and at times the buffeting, especially after leaving the protection of the hedges, would take us into the middle of the road. We arrived at Little Gransden and turned to go to Gamlingay which for the last mile is downhill but this still required pedalling to keep going. At about 1.15pm we finally made it to The Cock for our lunch break.

Little Gransden

Little Gransden

After an hour’s rest and recuperation we now had the delightful prospect of cycling home with the wind behind us. We took the route through the Hatleys, down Croydon Hill and on through Croydon and Arrington.


Of course, with the wind behind us progress was rapid and we were soon in front of the Wimpole Estate. Averil had one last little test for us as, rather than go through the estate as some of the front riders did, she took us up the steep hill on the B1198 to the Wimpole turning, thus we went right round the estate before coming to the turn for Orwell. From here it was just a short run through to Barrington and over the hill into Haslingfield and journey’s end at 3.45pm and 49 miles under our belts. We must thank Averil for a particularly good route, and an enjoyable and exhilarating day out. Although much mention has been of the wind mention must be made that it was very nice to finally ride on dry roads. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

30 Jan: Evening ride to Quy

Nigel writes: Tonight was our first evening ride of 2013. The weather was dry, mild and fairly clear, but with enough cloud in the sky to obscure the full moon. There were four of us on the ride tonight: Rob, Paul, newcomer Jonathan and me. I suggested a loop into the fens, and we set off east along the Jubilee Cycleway to Quy and from there to Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck and reach to Burwell. A very strong westerly wind pushed us along and we made rapid progress.

At Burwell we turned north into the fen. For the first time we got an indication of quite how strong the wind was, and when we reached the junction with the Lodes Way and turned west we found ourselves riding directly into it. The Lodes Way is a pleasant traffic-free ride but on this particular occasion it was quite a log into the wind. We made slow progress and by the time we got back to Quy it was 8.50pm. I suggested we abandon our planned pub stop in Fen Ditton and call in at the White Swan in Quy instead. We arrived just in time to order food at the bar and sit down for am hour of relaxing conversation. I have to say that I like the White Swan: I always get a warm welcome whenever I walk into the pub, and the beer and food are very good.

After an excellent meal and a longer-than-usual chat we all set off back towards Cambridge via the Jubilee Cycleway. I arrived back home a little after 10.30pm, having cycled 30 miles.

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Sunday, 27 January 2013

27 Jan: Sunday all-day ride to Cambourne, Ashwell and Shepreth

Conrad writes: After a week of cancelled rides because of the snow, I agreed with the runs secretary on Saturday that the all-day ride could go ahead. As it turned out, it was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine in the afternoon, no rain but a vicious south-westerly wind.

Today's coffee stop was Cambourne which, being only 10 miles away, posed a challenge in terms of a suitable route. After some consultation, I led five other riders around Market Square and up Castle Hill onto Huntingdon Road where we turned into Girton. We made our way through Oakington and Longstantion on a route that took us away from the strong winds. The respite was short-lived when, at Swavesey, we turned directly into the wind as we made our way towards Boxworth. The going was tough and very slow as we made the long climb up to Boxworth and then to Knapwell before we turned right for the short section towards Cambourne.

At Cambourne, we found that the designated coffee stop, Greens, was closed and so we joined six other riders who had made their way there directly at the cafe in Morrisons. I was not surprised when only four other riders joined me for the second section --- the others obviously had had enough of the wind.

We went down School Lane to Caxton where we were stopped by what I can only describe as the raging waters of the Caxton Ford. The water was so high and extensive that we could not reach the footbridge and had to turn back to the main road and take the next turn. After that, it was a straightforward route through Great Gransden, Gamlingay and then left at Potton. At this point, a rebel faction decided to take the B road to Wrestlingworth while Rupert, Tom and I chose a small loop further eastwards. This gave us a chance to enjoy a tailwind for the first time that day before we turned south and I found myself cycling at a 45 degree angle to counteract the crosswinds. We made our way through Guilden Morden and were reunited with the rebels just outside Ashwell,

After a quick lunch at the Three Tuns, we almost flew back to Cambridge with the aid of the tailwind that blew us through Litlington and Meldreth. Only Tom and I stopped at the Teacake at Shepreth where we each dug into a slice of Victoria Sponge cake. We waited till 3:40 pm but there was no sign of the afternoon ride so we left and returned to Cambridge by the usual route through Barrington, Chapel Hill and Haslingfield. I arrived home at 4:25pm after riding 96 km (60 miles). Conrad Chua

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CTC Cambridge welcomes its newest member

Julia writes: Not only has the snow cleared now, there is some more good news! We are very pleased to announce the arrival of a new (or soon to be) member of CTC Cambridge: our little boy Florian was born on Thursday, 17th January 2013, at 12:48 pm at the new Rosie Birth Centre. He weighed in at 3805g / 8lbs 6oz and is doing very well.

I continued to cycle right up until the day before his birth and am looking forward to being out on the bike again soon. I daresay it will be a while before Florian joins us on club rides, but all being well he should be going on his first ride in the bakfiets (our Dutch Workcycles cargo bike) in a few weeks time. Julia and Ian

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Goodbye to the snow

Winter isn't over yet, but it looks as if the recent spell of snow has passed, and better weather is forecast for the next few days. All our rides are now expected to take place as normal. However if conditions change then check back here for the latest news.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

13 Jan: All-day ride to Shepreth and Clavering Lakes

Nigel writes: This was supposedly the day when winter arrived, with a forecast of cold weather all day. In fact the weather didn't turn out too bad. It was certainly cold,  only a few degrees above freezing, though once we had got warmed up I felt perfectly comfortable. Although there was ice along the edges of the roads, the road itself was dry. And although it stayed overcast all day, there was no wind.

There was a good turnout at Brookside for today's ride. We didn't have a leader arranged, but I suggested a route and off we went. We headed west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton where we turned onto the B1046 to Comberton and Toft. A mile beyond Toft we turned left to Kingston.


After Kingston we continued through Great Eversden to Little Eversden, where we crossed the A603.

Little Eversden

Soon we arrived in Haslingfield.  Haslingfield, of course, means an inevitable ride over Chapel Hill. If we had still been feeling cold at the bottom, we were definitely warmed up at the top! We continued through Barrington to Shepreth, arriving at the Teacake Cafe at almost exactly 11am.

The cafe was as welcoming and friendly as ever. When I walked in there was a lovely smell in the air, which turned out to be hot scones coming out of the oven. Lovely. I ordered a scone with jam and a pot of tea and sat down in the main room where several members were already waiting. More turned up later and there must have been about sixteen or so in total.

Teacake Cafe, Shepreth

Afterwards, as usual, several members turned back to Cambridge leaving ten of us to carry on to lunch at Clavering Lakes. I had agreed a route with Mick in the cafe which took us first across the A10 and along the narrow road past the Bird Sanctuary to Fowlmere.

Mill Road, approaching Fowlmere

At Fowlmere we turned south. We crossed the A505 to Chrishall Grange and began the long climb up towards Chrishall. Just before Chrishall (at a place which is probably best referred to as Crawley End) we turned right towards Heydon.

Chrishall Grange


After Heydon we rode past the animal shelter to Great Chishill. This is highest village in Cambridgeshire and allowed us a fast descent to Shaftenhoe End. I had been worried that the pleasure of this lovely hill would be spoiled by ice, but the road was dry and we could speed down as usual.

At Shaftenhoe End at the bottom of the hill we turned left onto the lovely narrow lane that leads through Little Chishill to Langley Lower Green.

Little Chishill

A few miles further on we reached our lunch stop at Clavering Lakes, where a reserved table was waiting for us.

After lunch we discussed what we would do next. I suggested a short loop to the south before turning back north for home, but everyone else was happy to go straight home leaving me to do the loop on my own.

I rode south to Clavering village where my GPS indicated that I should go through a ford. It didn't look particularly deep (and certainly wasn't flooded) but I decided not to risk it on a cold day and used the adjacent footbridge instead.


I continued south for about three miles, taking a faster pace than in the morning, to Manuden. Here I turned left (and north once more) onto the road to Rickling Green. This was a particularly nice lane and I made a mental note to visit it the next time I led a ride in the area.

After Rickling Green came Wicken Bonhunt, Arkesden and the steep but scenic climb past the transmitters to Littlebury Green. It was now about 3.20pm. My faster pace (and several hills) had tired me out and I decided that when I reached Ickleton in about 15 minutes I would stop at the Riverside cafe, where the afternoon ride would be.

I never reached Ickleton. I was climbing slowly up to Catmere End when mechanical disaster struck. My derailleur ran into the spokes of my rear wheel. I was going slowly and I came to a halt without difficulty. However it was immediately obvious this was serious. The "hanger" - the little piece of metal which connects the rear mech to the frame, was bent. Perhaps it had been damaged when I had slid over in the ice last month. I tried to bend it back but it broke off (I think it is deliberately weak, to protect the frame itself). Clearly I wouldn't be doing any more cycling today.

Fortunately, of all the places to have a complete mechanical breakdown, this one wasn't too bad. In most places I would have no choice other to phone for a taxi, but here I was only about two miles from the nearest railway station at Audley End, so it was simply a case of strapping the broken derailleur out of the way with a zip-tie from my bag and starting to walk. I got out the map and checked the best route: this was to retrace my steps back up the hill past the transmitters and then down the other side to Wendens Ambo. The walk back along some very quiet and pretty lanes took about 50 minutes, and was not unpleasant. It was 3.45pm, and the sun was beginning to set, allowing me to enjoy some beautiful views as I walked along. When I got to the top by the transmitters I got back on my bike and freewheeled all the way down the other side.

Sunset on the walk home

I reached Audley End station at about 4.35pm. I bought a ticket and after only about ten minutes a train arrived and whisked me back to Cambridge. Another ten minute walk and I was home by 5.25pm, having cycled 50 miles, walked about 2.5 miles, and travelled by train for 15 miles.

The bike, with rear dérailleur tied out of the way.

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Thursday, 10 January 2013

10 Jan: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Barley

Edward writes: This Thursday was our day to leave from Hauxton. This gave an opportunity for Greta to share the good news that she is back on her bike, so maybe when we get some warmer, dryer weather she will be able to join us for at least part of our tour round the countryside. Today, however, was definitely not one of the days as it was very cold and murky. In fact it was a raw cold which seemed to penetrate far into the body. Anyway, this didn’t deter about sixteen from arriving at the start for our journey out to Barley via Ickleton. David M volunteered to be leader, thus making his debut in this job.


We left Hauxton, through Little Shelford and then into Newton, and giving ourselves a hill to climb and a chance to warm up before going on to Fowlmere and up to the A505. We crossed this main road and went to Chrishall Grange and then the long climb up to Elmdon, through the village and downhill all the way into Ickleton and our coffee break at the Riverside Barns. The numbers here were counted at sixteen and a long break ensued whilst the staff coped with our orders. It was warm inside and it was a slow job encouraging everybody out to face the cold again. On leaving the Barns we took the farm track over to the motorway bridge which is the start of the climb up Coploe Hill. At the top, habit took over and we stopped briefly at our usual regrouping lay-by at the top of the hill. By now the fog had further enclosed and the usual views went by unseen.

Coploe Hill

This didn’t take any pleasure away from the long downhill swoops and up to Catmere End and then turning to Littlebury Green. Downhill again and out to the Royston to Saffron Walden road for a few hundred yards where we turned to climb up to Duddenhoe End. This was quickly followed by Langley Upper Green which gave us an opportunity to once again re-group. We turned towards Clavering but after a couple of miles we turned away to go through Meesden and on to Anstey. In the summer these would be delightful roads to ride along, but this was winter riding.

Duddenhoe End

After Anstey we turned for another favourite road which twists its way to Nuthamstead and then via Shaftenhoe End to our lunch stop at the Chequers at Barley arriving at 1.20pm. After about twenty minutes and some concern the remainder of the group arrived. Sadly they had been delayed by a puncture, but luckily Mike C and Adrian were on hand to put things right.

Langley Upper Green

During the lunch break people started to drift away but when the main group left at 2.30pm there were still about ten riders who left to go the direct way home via the B1368. Usually, the run down from Barley is a fun ride but today the cold really penetrated from a day when temperatures reached only about 1 or 2 degrees at maximum. Once into Fowlmere it was back to Newton via Thriplow, Little Shelford and finally Hauxton. This gave a total of 44 miles and we must record our thanks to David who prepared a great ride. More to come, we hope! Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

6 Jan: All-day ride to Newmarket, Horseheath and Cherry Hinton

It was a foggy morning: one of those horrible Cambridgeshire winter fogs that soaks your gloves and condenses onto your glasses so that you have to wipe them clear every couple of miles. But there was a surprisingly good turnout considering the conditions: fourteen riders at Brookside, including newcomer David. Fourteen riders are quite a lot to look after, and I was a bit worried that I might lose one or two in the fog, so I stopped at the tricky turnings to count everyone through.

I was hoping that the fog might lift as we got out of the low ground by the river Cam, but no such luck: it kept its clammy grip on us all the way through Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck, and Dullingham to Newmarket. At Coffee & Co we found some more cyclists (not all from CTC). Someone did a count and came up with the number 27, which is a fantastic turnout for the first week in January. I guess it's all those New Year resolutions! The staff at Coffee & Co did a really efficient job of taking our orders and then getting everyone served in only about half an hour. Long may they continue.

About half the riders headed home from coffee, so it was a slightly reduced contingent that I led up the hill towards Saxon Street. The fog still hadn't cleared, but perhaps as a consequence there was hardly any motor traffic to be seen. We rode through Kirtling and Great Bradley to Carlton, where a contingent split off to head back to Cambridge, leaving just ten of us for lunch at the Old Red Lion in Horseheath. This pub is currently renovating its dining area, but Tina had arranged for it to serve us sandwiches and coffee, which just hit the spot.

I canvassed for opinions about what to do after lunch: a longer loop, perhaps south via Ashdon, or straight to tea in Cherry Hinton? No-one was up for the loop, so it was straight home via Streetly End, Balsham and Fulbourn. The fog had lifted by now, but it was still a cold and damp afternoon, and I wasn't feeling altogether well, so I was happy for it to be a short ride, at about 49 miles. There'll be plenty of time to stretch the legs later in the year, I hope.

Tea in Cherry Hinton.

At tea, Conrad and Su-Lyn put on the most amazing spread. Sushi, pan-fried tofu, chocolate brownies, whisky cake, and endless cups of tea warmed us up. Many thanks!

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Sunday, 6 January 2013

6 Jan: Afternoon ride to Cherry Hinton

John writes: Despite a mild but very murky Sunday afternoon 9 riders gathered at Brookside. Undoubtedly the prospect of a home tea was a factor.

We set off along the Barton Road cycle track, turning left after Wallis’ garage towards Haslingfield. There was a brief pause at the top of Chapel Hill where most of us switched on rear lights. The view was rather obscured by mist. Thence we sped through Barrington, Shepreth, and crossed the A10 into Fowlmere and on to Flint Cross. A left turn off the Barley Road took us uphill to Great Chishill (Cambridgeshire’s highest village). Then a short pause to let us all regroup and review progress. We agreed to follow the original plan of going through Heydon to near Pightle Farm but then to continue downhill to Chrishall Grange rather than climb up to Elmdon and on to Ickleton. After Chrishall Grange we turned right along a straight descent into Duxford. By now we had split into two groups a mile or so apart. At Duxford it was quite dark and front lights were needed. An advantage of the murky weather is that the traffic had been light but after Whittlesford it began to build up; thence it was into the Shelfords and to Cherry Hinton. I was surprised how hilly this final stage was. There were no punctures or mechanical incidents.

At Conrad’s house we enjoyed an excellent tea with delicious cakes and some exotic oriental snacks. I was one of the last to arrive (the day riders having, as usual, got there first) but there was ample food left. Many thanks to the Chua family for their hospitality.

I estimate the overall distance was about 29 miles. John Ferguson

Thursday, 3 January 2013

3 Jan: Thursday ride to Bourn and Houghton

Edward writes: After Jim’s entertaining and erudite report of last week’s ride, this week it’s back to more mundane reporting. Also in contrast to last week when only five riders braved the conditions this week fifteen were at the start in Haslingfield. Not really surprising as the weather this week had temperatures in double figures, if a little breezy. Ian W was our leader today and luckily he had checked with the coffee and lunch venues to find that the scheduled stop for lunch in Hemingford Grey was not yet open after the new year, so he had already changed our lunch stop to the Three Horseshoes in Houghton.


When we got going we started with the climb up Chapel Hill to be rewarded with the usual fine views over the land below. We followed this with Shepreth, Meldreth and Orwell, out on to the A603 and immediately turned towards the Wimpole Estate but passed the entrance and took the climb up to the A1198. This gave us about one and a half miles on this road which, fortunately wasn’t too busy, and this brought us into Longstowe followed by the short trip into Bourn and our coffee stop. Already there were Bill and Sarah, and also Sue and Tony. With nineteen cyclists this showed the value of ringing ahead to forewarn the venue so that they are not taken by surprise and overwhelmed when we arrive.


After coffee, Sue and Tony left us and the remainder headed for Caxton where we crossed the ford by way of the little bridge and out again onto the A1198 as far as the Cambourne turning. We threaded our way through Cambourne and out onto the road leading to Elsworth where we stopped and regrouped. The countryside is particularly bare at this time of the year with little to report on except for fields with water still on them. After Elsworth we went through Connington, to Fenstanton, the underpass of the A14 and through to St Ives which is slowly coming back to normal following all the rain. This left us with the two Hemingfords, across the Common, Houghton Mill and finally our lunch stop at the Three Horseshoes.


The pub looked after us very well and about 2 pm we began the journey home. As usual some made their own way home, whilst the remainder left Houghton by way of the Thicket which, not surprisingly, was wet and muddy (but see Rupert’s email), but soon brought us back into St Ives. We went back into Fenstanton and then on to Fen Drayton and now, of course, the breeze was on our backs and riding was easy and pleasant.

Fen Drayton

We had a little mishap in Fen Drayton when an plate on Peter W’s chain cracked, but this took Mike C no more more than five minutes to take the link out and replace with a quick link and we were on our way again. Our route home was via Longstanton, Oakington, and Girton and along Huntingdon Road the ride ended as we went our separate routes home. Our thanks to Ian for a splendid ride and the weather man for sparing us the rain. We did 47 miles. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2 Jan: Evening ride to Barton

Nigel writes: Our first ride of 2013 was one of our monthly winter evening rides. These normally take place close to the full moon but on this occasion it was a week after it. On any event we didn't see the moon at all as the sky was completely cloudy. There had been drizzle earlier but although the roads were damp we didn't encounter any rain ourselves. The temperature was very mild: at 10C it was actually warmer than during the day. And there was a light south-westerly wind. At Brookside I found just two takers for this evening's ride: the ever-reliable Paul and Tony.

We set off south and took the usual route to Whittlesford where we turned north-west for Newston. As we approached Newton Paul discovered he had a slow puncture and after a vain attempt at simply pumping it back up decided he had no choice other than to replace the tube. This he did by the feeble light of a sodium street lamp and the much brighter light of my and Tony's bike lights.

We carried on through Harston to Haslingfield. It was now about 8pm. Paul announced that he would take the direct route to Barton and wait for us in the pub whilst Tony and I continued for an extra nine miles via Harlton, the Eversdens and Kingston. The two of us reached the White Horse in Barton at 8.40pm where we found Paul comfortably settled. I ordered soup and bread and we had a pleasant though and rather arcane discussion about the economics of meat production in south-eastern Australia.

Afterwards we returned back home. I live nearest and had the shortest journey, arriving back home just before 10pm, having cycled 27 miles.

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