Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Rides in May and June

The May and June rides lists are available, with the long days of late spring and early summer allowing us to enjoy longer rides. We have several new lunch stops to try out on Thursdays and Sundays, and on Sunday afternoons several of our rides will be visiting lovely church halls for tea. In addition, as a special midsummer treat at the end of June, we have a Sunday afternoon home tea in Wistow (north of St Ives) hosted by Sarah and Andy. Read more...

Monday, 29 April 2013

22 - 25 Apr: Club tour around Brantham, Suffolk

Mike writes: Eva, Tina, Sarah and Adrian organised a Club Holiday at Brantham Hostel. They carefully avoided holiday time and picked the only good days so far this year. Brantham is an Independent Hostel situated in a working farm. The farm house is just across a field of Lambs. The area is about 1/2 mile from the Stour estuary which is alive with sea birds. The Hostel has a great collection of Adnams pictures on the wall.

The Hostel at Brantham

Pictures at Brantham

On Tuesday we all went on the ride around Alton reservoir. After riding across the Dam wall we took over the café for coffee and tea. The café was empty in spite of lovely weather. We then went on through the lanes to Shotley where we looked out over the harbour and watched the container ships unloading. Then back to the pub at Pin Mill where we spent another hour before carrying on to Jimmy's Farm. Jimmy has made a great success of the farm and there are lots of animals, a nature trail, a shop, and a café. There were Peacocks wandering about and even a Lament, on a blackboard, about pigs.

Butt and Oyster at Pin Mill

Lament of a Hog Farmer

On the Wednesday we split up and went to different places. The more ambitious group went to Aldburgh while Adrian's group did a circuit of Colchester. Tony and I went to Wivenhoe, Brightlingsea and Frinton. Lesly and Roger joined us for the ferry crossing which we took at Brightlingsea. The Ferry man offered to land us either on the shingle, with a long walk, or on the mud for a short walk to the shore. We opted for the long walk and kept our shoes dry. Tony and I went on to Frinton where we stopped off at the Cat And Mouse Cafe which is rather special before returning via Manningtree.

We had two great nights out at the Italian Restaurant in Manningtee and the Bull at Brantham. On the second night we stayed at the hostel and Eva, Peter, Tina, Sue and Sarah cooked a wonderful meal. Mike Stapleton

The ferry at Brightlingsea

Roger, Lesley and Tony on the shingle

Lesley on the shingle

Tina at Alton

Mike Cousins at Alton

Adrian and Tony

Buoy at Shotley Marina

Sarah working out a route

All photos by Mike Stapleton

Sunday, 28 April 2013

28 Apr: Afternoon ride to West Wratting

John writes: Six riders assembled at Brookside for the 2:00 p.m. start. Delighted to have a member (Jane) from CTC Bury St Edmunds whom we hope to see again. We joined the Busway cycle track under the Long Road bridge and went via Addenbrookes, the DNA path to Great Shelford, Sawston, Babraham and the farm track to Abington. After Linton we crossed the A1307 for the second time to Bartlow. Here we decided to turn left and take the direct route to West Wratting rather than a longer route via Shudy Camps and Cardinal's Green.

Instrumental to this decision was that afternoon-riders often get to the tea-stop after the day- riders have set off home which we suspected would happen again having met Jim at Abington. Moreover Tina had cycled from Royston to Cambridge to join us. Surprisingly we reached the tea-stop 20 minutes before the day-riders and tucked into an excellent tea.

After tea Tina decided to take a direct route to Cambridge and home whilst we were joined by Nigel and two others from the day-ride. Nigel’s report and accompanying photographs, which are much appreciated, covers the return leg.

I have finally got my head round the Garmin Vista which recorded a distance of 60.75k or 38 miles. John Ferguson

28 Apr: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Clare and West Wratting

Nigel writes: Today started bright and sunny. The weather forecast said that the best of the weather would be in the morning, so I set off for Brookside keen not to miss the all-day ride. Unfortunately as I turned onto Mill Road I realised that my rear tyre was flat. Simply adding more air afforded respite for a mere 400 yards, forcing me to stop in Lyndewoode Road to effect a proper repair. As a result I missed the start at Brookside and had to ride to the coffee stop in Saffron Walden on my own.

This was a lovely ride. I followed the usual route there: busway to Addenbrooke's, DNA path to Great Shelford, and then Whittlesford, Duxford, Ickleton and over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. The bright sunshine seemed to have put everyone in a good mood and I was greeted repeatedly along the way by both cyclists and walkers. Only a persistent south-westerly headwind prevented this from being a perfect morning. A descent along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End, followed by a short climb into the town brought me to Saffron Walden by about 10.30am. I then spent ten minutes trying to remember where our planned coffee stop was (see GPS track below for details). I knew it was in Cafe Mocha, but it was a long time since my last visit. Eventually I found it; there were four members already there who had made their own way, and about fifteen minutes Conrad arrived with the official ride.This is a nice cafe, with a good range of food on sale, but it always seems to be busy when I visit, and today the queue was out the door. Some members gave up and went to the Temeraire instead.

After coffee the majority of the group headed back to Cambridge, leaving six of us to continue on to lunch in Clare. The whole group set off east out of Saffron Walden along the Ashdon Road, which is a gentle climb of about a mile as far as Redgate Farm where we split: those heading to Cambridge continued to Ashdon whilst my group turned right onto smaller roads.

The route Conrad took was the same as John S took last time we went this way, and was lovely. A succession of empty lanes to Radwinter was followed by a short section along the slightly busier B1053 to Great Sampford.

From Great Sampford we were on quieter roads once more, through Cornish Hall End, Ridgewell and Ashen to Clare, which we reached at about 1.20pm. We stopped for lunch at The Cock Inn, which I think is a very nice pub, with a variety of interesting meals from about £8. However I was the only person eating; others went off to eat packed lunches elsewhere before rejoining me.

After we set off for our afternoon tea stop in West Wratting. Conrad led us north through Poslingfield to Stansfield where we turned west to Denston and Stradishall.

We crossed the A143 and took a loop through Cowlinge and Great Bradley to Little Thurlow. Progress was slow due to the fact that we were now riding into the wind, but it was a pleasant ride, and from Little Thurlow it was just a few more miles through Carlton Green and Weston Green to West Wratting.

We arrived at The Chestnut Tree at about 4.05 to find John F and the afternoon tucking into a very generous spread of sandwiches and cakes. We joined them and had a very pleasant half hour at what I think was our first traditional club tea of the year.

After tea we returned home to Cambridge. Some took the direct route via Balsham but John F (the afternoon leader) led his group on a longer route, and I joined them. This took us north-east along the very nice road that runs past the woodland cemetery to Dullingham.

One of the nicest thing about the way our two Sunday rides meet at tea is the opportunity it offers to meet the people from the "other" ride, and it was nice to meet several people for the first time.

At Dullingham we turned north to Swaffham Bulbeck before returning west through Bottisham and Quy back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 6.30pm, having cycled 79 miles.

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Thursday, 25 April 2013

25 Apr: Thursday ride to Wimpole and Sandy

Rupert writes: Only seven riders gathered for the ride today because half of the usual massed ranks are away on a Suffolk cycling holiday that appears happily timed to coincide with some of the first good weather of the year.

Richard was our leader today having left Suffolk early in order to join today's ride.

Today's elite group limbering up at the start

Possibly having some sixth sense about the elite nature of today's small group of riders - or maybe it was just the sunny weather - something had tempted new rider Carol to join us for the first time today. Carol tells us she is training for a LeJog adventure later this year, and as usual there was no shortage of advice on offer. And I suspect there's plenty more advice waiting for her next ride when we are back to our usual larger group? After brief introductions it was off over "la colline de la chapelle" en route to our coffee stop at Wimpole, with Michael arriving just in time to join the ride but too late to be in the start photo. Just a few miles to coffee via Orwell I was guessing, but perhaps sensing my laziness or perhaps sensing the pent up energy in the rest of today's group, Richard turned left in Barrington and led us on a longer route via Foxton, Fowlmere, Melbourn and Meldreth. We arrived at the LazyDay cafe to find Ian D and David waiting. Ian bravely managed to force down another cup of tea just to be sociable before continuing on his separate way.

Coffee in the sunshine

After a pleasant coffee outside, marred somewhat by the noisy traffic, we headed west past Wendy and Shingay into a surprising strong and steady headwind. It was only over lunch that Brian remembered the word "echelon" by which time it was too late to be useful. But we got a little respite from the wind as we turned towards Wrestlingworth and could start to relax and enjoy the views a bit more. The fields are showing some signs of spring at last - some of the rape is now starting to flower round here, but to my inexpert eyes it all looks rather stunted so I'm guessing a low harvest will follow. After Wrestlingworth, with the help of a slightly better wind direction we sped over one of my favourite bits of road climbing the hill past Cockayne Hatley then down again into Potton.

Decision point in Eversden

On into Everton where we decided to split with a few going straight to lunch in Sandy and the others taking the longer loop down Warden Hill to Tempsford. David played a "cunning trick" on Network Rail by betting that the level crossing would be closed again ("it's always closed!"). Sure enough, when we arrived at the crossing it was wide open with not a train in sight. I'm not sure this technique will always work, but definitely worth trying again next time. Then it was over the Al to Blunham and back into Sandy along the NCN51 cyclepath.

Lunch at Gunns cafe.

After lunch, with most legs still feeling the effects of that morning headwind, we were happy to take the fairly direct ride home. My fears that the wind direction would have shifted proved unfounded and we had the benfit of a warm tailwind to help sail home quickly via Waresley, Gransden, Bourn and Toft. A great ride for may turn out to be last warm day of spring. I cycled a total of 67 miles which includes 7 miles or so to the start at Haslingfield. My thanks to Richard for a good lead and to David for taking the photos, with David and myself agreeing to act "in loco Edwardus" for todays ride report. Rupert Goodings

Photos by David Marsh

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

24 Apr: Evening ride to Newton

Nigel writes: The current spell of warm April weather continues, but rather more cloudy then in recent days, and with just a touch of rain in the air. I turned up at Brookside to find Tony waiting and we were soon joined by Paul. A smartly-dressed Conrad passed by on his ride home and said he'd join us later.

We set off south along the usual route via Trumpington Road, the busway and the DNA path to Great Shelford. There we turned right for Little Shelford and followed the road to Whittlesford. A short distance beyond we crossed over the A505 and continued south through Duxford to Ickleton. From there we climbed Coploe Hill and continued to Catmere End.

I had planned to take a loop via Littlebury Green and Wenden Lofts to Elmdon, but Paul suggested we take a shortcut along the bridleway from Catmere End to Elmdon. None of us had tried this route and I was curious to discover what it was like. In retrospect this was a mistake, since it involved about a mile along a deeply rutted track and we had to dismount frequently. Some sections were muddy, though for the most part it was dry. Neverthless it was a pleasant route with some nice views, and although I don't expect I will ever use it again, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to try it at last.

When we reached Elmdon and were reunited with tarmac I celebrated with a fast ride along Hertford Lane to the double junction south of Chrishall and then an even faster descent to Chrishall Grange. We crossed over the A505 to Fowlmere and continued via Thriplow to Newton, where we stopped for a drink at The Queen's Head. After a while we were joined by Conrad and we had a pleasant half hour's char whilst I enjoyed a mug of "brown soup", the house speciality.

Afterwards we returned to Cambridge via Hauxton, the A10, Trumpington P&R and the busway to the station. I arrived back home at 9.30pm, having cycled 30 miles.

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

21 Apr: Afternoon ride to Wicken

Ian writes: Today's afternoon ride was to St Laurence's church in Wicken. The wind was forecast for about 12 miles an hour, but it wasn't a cold wind. Sun and blue skies were the order of the day, allowing to be my first ride this year in short sleeves. Six other riders joined me at Brookside.

We made our way out of town via Cherry Hinton Road and to Fulbourn, the idea being to join NCR51 for the way out, joining NCR11 as late as possible since that was to be our route home. We took a left in Fulbourn to take us through the Wilbrahams and some very spring-looking countryside in between.

We crossed the A1303 and made our way to Bottisham where, instead of carrying on to Lode we took a right turn at Swaffham Bullbeck to Swaffham Prior, where we stopped briefly to take a picture of the twin churches. These, according to Wikipedia, were once in different parishes.

We took a left at Swaffham Prior to join up with NCR 11, along the tracks to Wicken Fen.

At Wicken High Street we made a right turn and continued to the end of the village for tea at the church. We met up with the day ride in the village, giving at least 18 at tea with a good selection of home-made cakes at reasonable cost.

After tea we took a more direct route home on NCR 11 via the Lodes way joining up with NCR 51 again at Stow cum Quy. The wind was now far more in our faces with little shelter in the fenland parts. Progress was notably slower, but the sun continued to shine. I got home to my South Cambridgeshire village with 53 miles on the clock. Ian Driver

Thursday, 18 April 2013

18 Apr: Thursday ride to Stradishall and Horseheath

Edward writes: This Thursday the weather was at least seasonal. This meant that we had moved on a long way from last week and most weeks prior to that. Today was sunny, reasonably warm, temperatures in the mid-teens centigrade, the promise of afternoon showers, but with just one drawback and that was a very lively south westerly wind. All of this encouraged thirteen to gather at Greta’s for our trip out to Stradishall by way of Horseheath with today’s ride being led by Mike C.


After leaving Hauxton we met up with Peter W and Mike B in Whittlesford, just before the cycle way over to Sawston. This meant riding with the wind but with the hope that the wind would moderate itself by the afternoon session - it didn’t. We went into Sawston and along the cycleway to Babraham and as this is exposed we all received a considerably buffeting from the wind coming over our right shoulders. Now that the land had dried out we took the track through the farm and into Great Abington, over the A1307 into Hildersham and thence into Linton.

West Wickham

We travelled along Back Road in Linton and took the road up Rivey Hill to go past Chilford Hall before arriving in Balsham. Although the wind was still in our favour it did cause us problems, especially going by gaps in the hedgerows, and once or twice people riding two abreast came very close to being blown into each other. On leaving Balsham we did the fast downhill and slow climb up to West Wickham and then it was soon into Horseheath and the Old Red Lion Inn for coffee and a very welcome break. At the pub we found Geoff, Doug and David M plus our usual warm welcome from the staff with their coffee and cakes.



After a nice break it was back in the saddle again where we retraced our route back to West Wickham, but now we turned right and a free wheel nearly all the way across Wratting Common until we reached the turning for the Thurlows. This stretch of road is pleasantly rural, only having to make way for the occasional car. Now that the temperatures had risen and with bright sunshine the countryside had a real feel of spring about it. The daffodils, late as they were, made a fine show, also with celandines in the grass verges. Gardens are also starting to look very attractive, made up mainly of yellow and purple, in stark contrast to the rather bleak outlook of recent weeks. Eventually we reached the A143 where we turned left and soon arrived at our lunch break at Tubby T’s where we were all able to sit outside and enjoy our lunch in the sunshine.



After lunch we had only a mile or two with the wind before the inevitable turn and into the wind we went, and it didn’t disappoint. Luckily this area has many hedgerows and they at times provided some welcome relief. There are many lanes here and we threaded our way through via Lambfair Green, Trotting Horse Lane and finally into Great Bradley.

Great Bradley

The hedges were now a little less prevalent and the wind was a force to contend with, but once in Brinkley we had the long downhill to Six Mile Bottom to look forward to. This accomplished we crossed the old A11 and then into the long straight road to the Wilbrahams. Here the group split with four or five returning to Cambridge through Fulbourn and the other five went on to join the cycleway alongside Newmarket Road. We followed this to the Fen Ditton turn and from Fen Ditton we used the cycleway beside the river into Cambridge. We went along the Backs with its many colourful flowers and then into Grange Road, also looking splendid with the trees in blossom. Here we said goodbye to Averil and this left Mike, Sarah and me to return home through Grantchester. When the ride ended back in Hauxton we had added another 60 miles to the mileometer, and our thanks to Mike for taking us round and we all felt that, despite the wind, we would look back on it as a job well done.

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On Tuesday a number of us visited Jordan’s Mill (photo below), which had opened the previous day, and this looks like it could be a regular stopping place. Edward Elmer

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

17 Apr: Evening ride to Stow cum Quy

Gareth writes: The weather was beautiful, with partly cloudy skies, and a strong warm wind from the south or southeast: a perfect evening for a bike ride (if you were headed north). Graham was the only other rider at Brookside, and after waiting a couple of minutes we set off across town. There were dozens of runners out along Riverside and Stourbridge Common, taking advantage of the evening light.

We took NCN51 east to Bottisham, and then headed north through the fens using Lodes Way. Where the bridleway crosses Burwell Lode, a large ramp has been constructed. Currently this goes nowhere, but it looks as if it might be intended to connect to a new bridge, perhaps replacing the existing bridge and avoiding the need to carry bikes up and down the steps here.

Two narrowboats moored by the bridge over Monks Lode.

With the wind at our backs, we had made quick progress, and reached Wicken Fen at about 19:45. But when we turned onto Upware Road, heading back towards Cambridge, we began to pay! It was a continual struggle into the wind, with the flat treeless fens around Great Drove and Whiteway Drove giving us no shelter. We tucked into our best racing crouches and gritted our teeth, and eventually we reached the B1102 at Swaffham Prior, where the going became a bit easier, and we reached the White Swan at Stow cum Quy at about 20:45 as the last of the twilight was fading. An excellent evening out, about 35 miles.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

14 Apr: All-day ride to Nuthampstead, Braughing and Saffron Walden

Nigel writes: Exactly a week ago I reported that spring had arrived at last. Today it seemed that we had skipped spring altogether and had advanced to early summer, with a warm, dry and sunny day on which the temperature reached 25C. There was, however, a strong southerly wind which persisted all day and proved quite tiring on those occasions when we were riding into it.

Not surprisingly there was a strong turnout today, with about ten at Brookside for the first stage, growing to a dozen at lunch. John was our leader today, and led our large group south out of Cambridge to Trumpington where we turned left to Great Shelford.

Just after crossing the railway (above) we turned right to Little Shelford and Whittlesford. Just beyound Whittlesford we crossed the A505 (below).

We made rather slow progress due to the strong headwind and a puncture stop (for me) in Trumpington, so John shortened our route slightly and instead of going via Ickleton and Elmdon to Heydon went there via Grange Road Duxford (below) and Chrishall Grange.

When we reached Heydon (below) we continued to Great Chishill, where our hard work into the wind was rewarded by a fast descent to Shaftenhoe End.

At Shaftenhoe End we turned left to Nuthampstead, which as always allowed a lovely few miles of cycling.

It wasn't long before we arrived in Nuthampstead and our coffee stop at The Woodman.

Already at the pub (above) were about half a dozen members. This is a pleasant and friendly place to stop for coffee; apparently they had opened early just for us, so we were pleased to reward them with a good turnout. The only downside is that they didn't have much in the way of snacks to eat, but they were able to sell me a bar of chocolate.

After coffee several members returned back to Cambridge, but the majority of the group was keen to make the best of the warmest day of the year so far and continue on to lunch. Given the strong headwind John took us more or less directly there, via Anstey and Great Hormead, but this still allowed us to cycle on some very pleasant lanes.

As the morning proceeded the temperature got warmer and warmer, making it necessary to remove multiple layers of clothing.

At about 12.30pm we arrived at Braughing and our lunch stop at The Brown Bear. This is a club favourite though it was my first visit.

After lunch we turned back north-east towards Cambridge, allowing us to enjoy a tailwind for the first time.

We sailed along through Furneaux Pelham and Stocking Pelham to Berden, where the group divided. Several of the group - the majority in fact - were keen to head directly back to Cambridge and so turned north to Clavering. The remainder - John, Joseph, Steve and me - turned south for an extra loop before stopping for coffee as planned in Saffron Walden.

We were now riding back into the wind, but it wasn't far to Manuden where we were able to turn back north again. From there we made rapid progress through Rickling Green, Wicken Bonhunt, Arkesden and Wendens Ambo to Saffron Walden. It was about 3.30pm when we reached The Temeraire. I accompanied my coffee with a biscuit; John on the other hand rewarded himself with a ice cream sundae.

John warily assessing his ice cream sundae

Also at The Temeraire we met Sue, who had made her own way there. We left just after 4pm so we didn't see anyone from the afternoon ride. On the way back to Cambridge we met Phil, who joined us on our route through Littlebury and up the hill to Catmere End. From here we enjoyed a very fast descent over Coploe Hill to Ickleton and an equally fast wind-assisted ride through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. It was still very warm when I arrived back home at 5.25pm, having cycled a modest but very enjoyable 64 miles.

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