Sunday, 30 June 2013

30 Jun: Afternoon ride to Wistow

John writes: Perfect cycling weather and the prospect of a home tea chez Sarah and Andy enticed ten cyclists to Brookside for the 2pm start. We welcomed two new members Lucinda and Craig whom we hope to see again often.

Our route took us out of the city westwards to Barton, Comberton, Toft and Bourn. Having crossed the A428 we then enjoyed the quieter route through Knapwell and Conington, from where we ducked under the A14 into Fenstanton and Hemingford Grey.

I led the way onto the footpath which gave us a brief view of the magnificent Manor House garden on our left which Carolyn and I visited two weeks previously when the irises were at their best. On our right was the Ouse. The road through Hemingford Abbots was thronged with pedestrians visiting the open gardens. We crossed the Ouse flood plain to Houghton Mill, proceeding slowly due to the large number of walkers and their dogs on this narrow path. After that our speed picked up and we joined the boring B1090 until we turned right onto the quieter road through King’s Ripton to Wislow.

At Sarah and Andy's we enjoyed a sumptuous tea: there was masses to eat despite the day-riders having arrived half an hour before us. Many thanks to Sarah and Andy and any helpers for their hospitality.

After tea we joined the day-riders returning to Houghton and thence via the aptly named Thicket Road through woods bordering the river into St Ives, from where we sped along the Busway cycle path aided by a following wind to Cambridge. My Garmin recorded a distance of 45 miles. John Ferguson

30 Jun: All-day ride to Waresley, Tilbrook and Wistow

Nigel writes: Today started cloudy but dry and very warm from the start. It wasn't long, however, before the clouds burned off and the sun came fully out, causing the temperature to ride steadily to turn today into the hottest day of the year so far.

Our leader on today's all-day ride was Ian, and he led our surprisingly small group from Brookside through the city centre and west out of the city along the Coton path.


We followed the cycle path up Madingley Hill to Hardwick and then along the old A428 through Bourn, Caxton and Great Gransden to Warseley where we stopped at the garden centre for coffee.

Since we had taken such a direct route we arrived there quite early, just before 10.30am. A couple of minutes later the garden centre opened and we went in for coffee and cakes, which we enjoyed sitting outside in the sunshine. Over the following 30 minutes many more members arrived and we became quite a large and convivial group.

Morning coffee at Waresley

By 11.10pm I was ready to move on and rather impatiently set off on my own without waiting for Ian to re-assemble the group. I rode over Lily Hill and down to St Neots where I took the excellent Willow cycle bridge over the River Great Ouse. I continued west out of the town and crossed the A1 into the flat but pleasant countryside to beyond. As I was able to ride at my own pace I decided to put in an extra loop and turned south in the direction of Wyboston before turning west again towards Rootham's Green. The westerly breeze had increased and I made slow progress along these pretty lanes so when I reached the B660 I abandoned my plan for a longer loop and turned north towards our lunch stop. With the wind behind me I speeded up so when I reached Pertenhall I decided there was time for me to turn west for a small loop via Swineshead and Upper Dean to Tilbrook. Just before Upper Dean I caught up with Ian and the rear of the main group. I pressed on and caught up with the front of the group just before Tilbrook. A few moment later we stopped for lunch at the White Horse.

We entered the pub to find a menu consisting of mainly Sunday roasts, and so were relieved to discover that sandwiches and baguettes were also available. We ordered our food and sat outside in the sunshine to enjoy it. We were impressed at the quality of the food and the efficiency of the service (asking for your name when taking an order is always a promising sign).

Lunch at Tilbrook

After lunch we continued north, though Catworth and over the A14. This took us onto OS map 142, the one with Peterborough on it, and a map that I rarely use. I rode ahead of the group up the rather dull hill to Old Weston and waited at the T-junction at the top. A few minutes later the others arrived from an unexpected direction - they had taken a slightly longer route via Brington which I suspect was rather nicer.

We turned east and, with the wind behind us, made good progress through Hamerton and over the A1(M) to Wood Walton. A few minutes later we arrived in Wistow, where we stopped for tea at Sarah and Andy's.

Sarah and Andy had been with us on the ride but had clearly had been very busy earlier and had a wonderful spread of sandwiches, exotic savouries and cakes waiting for us. About half an hour later (but on time) we were joined by John F and the afternoon ride, making a total of about sixteen of us in total.

Tea at Sarah and Andy's, Wistow

I suspect we would have been happy to sit outside in the sunshine all afternoon, but before long it was time to make our way back home.

On the way home from tea

We all went back the same way; south to King's Ripton and past Wyton Airfield to Houghton. Here we joined the Thicket Path back to St Ives and then along the busway cycleway to Cambridge.

When we reached the junction with Park Lane, Histon, four of us turned off the busway to ride back into Cambridge via Girton, Huntingdon Road and then through the City Centre back to Brookside, where I said goodbye to two riders who had driven up from Clavering. I arrived home a few minutes later. It was 7.30pm and I had cycled 90 miles on one of the best rides of the year.

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Thursday, 27 June 2013

27 Jun: Thursday ride to Ashwell and Benington

Edward writes: This Thursday we didn't meet at Greta's house but, because of road resurfacing, we started today's ride at the village green in Hauxton. The weather had been good all week and today, although rarely sunny, was always warm and very little wind, so all you need for a good ride, and this one certainly was. Today, Richard B was in charge for our excursion into Hertfordshire and the Lordship Arms at Benington. No doubt the good weather was responsible for the turnout with eighteen riders leaving Hauxton in two groups.


We left Hauxton and in Little Shelford we turned right to take us though Newton and followed this with the two miles out to Fowlmere and we were soon riding past the bird reserve just outside the village and then into Melbourn.


This soon brought us to Meldreth, Bassingbourn, Litlington, Steeple Morden and Ashwell for our first break of the day. Coffee was at Day’s where we overwhelmed the staff a little but they coped very well with all our requests and we took our drinks and cakes to the little green and its new tree. This was all very nice and another group sat in the little public garden which was looking stunning as, in fact, were many of the gardens that we passed today; after all the grumbles about the weather maybe it’s been just right for the gardens. In Ashwell we were joined, for coffee at least, by Vic (always good to see him out), Doug and Mike S. This gave us twenty one cyclists although after coffee a number returned home leaving about fourteen to carry on to Benington.




From Ashwell and all the way to Benington we followed lovely country lanes looking almost at their best, if only the local authorities would leave the grass verges alone at let the wildlife flourish. We climbed out of Ashwell and down to the A505 and, heading south, we had the benefit of the following breeze and cycling was very pleasant in an almost ideal temperature. We travelled through the likes of Sandon, Wallington and Cromer before reaching Walkern and finally a last little climb up to Benington and the Lordship Arms where we arrived at 12.45 and 33 miles to the good.


We all enjoyed a light lunch out in the garden and at 2pm we set off again still going south to Whempstead which was our most southerly point before turning north to Dane End, Great Munden, Westmill, Aspenden and finally Buntingford.

Great Munden

Great Munden

This was a really nice section of the ride with much to admire in people's gardens and of course the changing countryside which has now lost the vivid yellow as the oilseed rape flower fades away. In Buntingford we stopped briefly to admire the topiary on the yew hedge.


We now started another fine section of the road which took us to Wyddial and then on to Anstey. This gave us an opportunity to look at the stained-glass window in the church. A week or two back a lady we met in Newport told us about this window which is a memorial to the American airmen of the 398th Bomb Group based at Nuthampstead during World War II. It’s a fine tribute with the names of the casualties written onto the wings of butterflies - well worth a visit.

Anstey (more photos below)


It was fitting that our next village was Nuthampstead where four riders stopped for tea at The Woodman, leaving eight to push on for home. This took us through Shaftenhoe End and Barley and, remarkably, the Flying Fortress from Duxford flew overhead which seemed somehow fitting. This just left us with the run down to Flint Cross, Fowlmere and finally Hauxton where the ride ended with 64 miles to our credit. This was a superb ride, right out of the top drawer, and a big thank you to Richard for a well thought-out route. Edward Elmer

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More photos of Anstey Church by David Marsh:

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

26 June Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: The longest day was five days ago, making this the ideal week to visit our most distant evening pub stop, the Axe and Compasses in Hemingford Abbots. I had three companions for tonight's ride: regulars Paul and John E and newcomer James, here on his second ride with us. Our route there was the same as on similar previous rides: via West Cambridge to Huntingdon Road and then via Girton to join the busway cycleway a little further on.

As we rode along Paul suggested that a route via Elsworth might make a nice change, and I agreed that this was something we should try next time. Despite a bit of a northerly headwind we made good progress as usual and soon arrived in St Ives.

We then rode through the town and followed the Thicket Path to Houghton. This path is now fully-surfaced (except for a few yards at the St Ives end), making this mile-long path through woodland beside the River Great Ouse one of the nicest cycle routes in the area. After crossing the river to Hemingford Abbots and stopped for refreshments at the pub there.

We left the pub at about 8.45pm. Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge via Hemingford Grey, St Ives and the busway cycleway once again. The ride back along the busway was fast and exhilarating; James demonstrated he is a strong and fast rider by giving me a tow at speeds of up to 20mph for much of the way. I returned home at 9.50pm, having cycled 36 miles.

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Sunday, 23 June 2013

23 Jun: Afternoon ride to West Wratting

Neil writes: I was joined at Brookside by three members, including one relatively new member trying out the Sunday ride for the first time. Four is a smaller than average group for a Sunday afternoon ride in June; no doubt people had been put off by the unfavourable weather forecast, though in the event we saw practically no rain. I led the group out of Cambridge past the funfair on Midsummer Common, then to the river and along the familiar route of NCR 51, making good progress with the wind behind us.

At Swaffham Bulbeck, we turned right and and shortly arrived in Dullingham (passing a game of polo along the way). This brought us to within 5 miles of our destination, so we made a loop through some of the villages of east Cambridgeshire – Stetchworth, Woodditton, Kirtling, Great Bradley and Carlton. The terrain here is a little less flat than around Cambridge, and the west wind was more noticeable as we turned toward West Wratting.

Just past Carlton Green, we had a mishap – my rear wheel went flat, and inspection revealed that the tube had punctured through a hole in the tyre. I replaced the tube, using a piece of toothpaste tube (carried for this eventuality) to line the tyre. After the repair was done, we continued, and arrived at the Chestnut Tree to find four members from the all-day ride waiting for us.

After an excellent tea at the Chestnut Tree, we returned home via Six Mile Bottom and Stow-cum-Quy. My distance for the day was 46 miles. Neil Spenley

23 Jun: All-day ride to Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and West Wratting

Nigel writes: The runs list showed no leader for today's all-day ride, so instead of reading the paper this morning I spent ten minutes in front of the computer planning a possible route. I arrived at Brookside to find just Conrad waiting. A few moments later we were joined by Steve and Daniel. Our morning coffee stop today was in Newmarket, and a brief discussion we agreed a route and off we went.

We set off east out of Cambridge along the river, across Ditton Meadows (below) and through Fen Ditton to Quy. The weather this morning was dull and cool, with a strong westerly wind which blew us along and made this morning's ride fast and easy.

We continued to Bottisham where we turned north. We crossed the B1102 to Lode and continued north for another mile or so before turning onto the Lodes Way. We followed this east, crossing over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode and Reach Lode using the excellent cycle bridges that were built a few years ago.

Unfortunately the money ran out before a cycle bridge could be built across Burwell Lode, so we had to dismount and carry our bridge over a stepped footbridge instead.

After crossing the bridge Daniel left the group, leaving just Conrad, Steve and me to continue south-east to Burwell, Exning and Newmarket. Between Exning and Newmarket I attempted to follow NCN 51 into the Town Centre but quickly became lost. Fortunately we met Keith coming the other way and I persuaded him to turn around and show us the way. After a couple of false turns we found the route and arrived a few minutes later at Coffee & Co. Joseph and Geoff already there, making just six at coffee, surprisingly few for a summer Sunday.

After coffee we set off east towards our lunch stop at Bury St Edmunds. For this section NCN 51 takes the ideal route, and we followed it all the way. After about half an hour Joseph broke off for home, leaving Geoff, Conrad, Keith, Steve and me to carry on to lunch.

We arrived in Bury St Edmunds at about 12.30pm. We stopped to buy lunch (a large West Cornwall pastie in my case) and sat down in the Abbey Gardens for a picnic.

After lunch we turned south, following a route I had quickly planned earlier and programmed into my Garmin. This took us along the narrowest lanes I could find to Hartest. The weather in the afternoon was forecast to be sunshine and showers, and we encountered two brief showers along the way. These were heavy enough for us to stop and shelter under a tree but they passed on within ten minutes after which the sun came out.

At Hartest we turned west. This took us directly into the wind but high hedges gave us protection and we made faster progress than I expected.

Our route west took us through Hawkedon and Denston to Stradishall. Here we crossed the A143 (where Geoff left us) and continued via Cowlinge, Great Bradley and Carlton to West Wratting. We reached The Chestnut Tree at about 4.10pm, twenty minutes early for tea.

The landlord told us that there were only eight expected for tea today, and about half an hour later we were joined by the afternoon ride, which today consisted of just Neil and three others.

After a pleasant tea we set off back to Cambridge via Six Mile Bottom and Quy. It had started raining and the temperature had dropped, but this was just another passing shower and was soon over. However the westerly headwind was as strong as ever, and the final hour back to Cambridge was a bit of a slog. I arrived back home at 6.30pm, having cycled 85 miles - a very respectable mileage given the conditions.

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

20 Jun: Thursday ride to Waresley and Biggleswade

Edward writes: About a dozen riders met at Haslingfield Green for today's trip out to Jordan's Mill by way of Waresley. Today we were to be led by Averil and we met under overcast skies but pleasantly warm and little wind, with most of the humidity from yesterday having gone. Once again we were joined by Greta who would return home from Waresley, but it's good to note her steady progress and each week extending her rides.


We left Haslingfield on the road to Harlton and then over the A603 before heading through the Eversdens and then on to Kingston. Next on the list was Bourn where Greta, escorted by Brian, took the alternative, but flatter, route via Longstowe, leaving the main group to go the more undulating roads to Caxton and then through Great Gransden before the final ups and downs to reach Waresley Garden Centre. Whilst there we were joined by several other members who had cycled out to Waresley to have coffee with us before cycling off again, including Richard M who joined us from Bedford, Doug and Howard. The weather by now was very pleasant, although a hint of rain was always in the air, and it was very nice to sit outside and enjoy the company and the warm sunshine. Bearing in mind the terrible weather we've had this year this was something of a treat.




Soon it was time to take to the road again and those coming on (still about a dozen) headed towards Gamlingay before, at Adrian’s prompting, we did a mile or so of off-road before coming out on Carthegena Road which took us past the John O’Gaunt golf club and into Sutton. There then followed a nice couple of miles up to Eyeworth with the roadsides now displaying much hawkweed, mallow and dog rose, all making the ride even more more colourful and enjoyable.

From Eyeworth we followed the B1042 through Dunton into Biggleswade and here Adrian took a decisive role to take us through the small back roads of Biggleswade to another off-road track beside the River Ivel. We agreed, in management speak, that this was a case of Averil doing the strategic planning but leaving the details to an able and willing deputy. What it does, though, is to reinforce our view that Adrian has a near encyclopaedic knowledge of almost any road you care to mention in the whole of East Anglia. When we reached the end of this very pleasant riverside ride we found ourselves right outside Jordan’s Mill and our lunch stop.

Gamlingay Heath

This is still a new stopping place for us and it is very nice with seating inside and out. We chose to sit outside and just about finished our lunch before a light rain set in and this was to be with us, not unpleasantly, all the way home. After lunch we said goodbye to Andy and Sarah who were to head home (but not without a false start) through Broom, and the rest of us went down to the B659 and on to Langford. This took us on the long straight road over the main railway line and the A1. Although this is quite a busy road with fast moving traffic it nice to record that we could hear skylarks from the fields on either side.

From Hinxworth we soon reached Ashwell and then the familiar route back via Steeple Morden, Litlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth and Shepreth. This just left a climb over Barrington hill and the descent into Haslingfield and a very pleasant 51 miles under our belts. We thank Averil for taking us round and also to Adrian for supplying his knowledge for the off-road bits and his incredible navigation of Biggleswade. Everybody appreciated both their efforts. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

19 Jun: Evening ride to Barrington

Gareth writes: It was a busy evening in town. King's, Magdalene, Pembroke and Trinity Hall were holding their May Balls (or in the case of Trinity Hall, their "June Event"), and the streets were full of students in ball gowns and black tie. There was a good turnout for the club ride too, with five riders at Brookside. Nigel was busy with work this evening, so I proposed that we go to Ickleton, climb Coploe Hill, and then head to Barrington via Fowlmere and Foxton.

It was a warm and muggy evening, but it was such a delight to be cycling in short sleeves after the cold spring that a bit of humidity didn't matter. We took the busway to Addenbrooke's, the DNA path to Great Shelford, NCN 11 to Sawston, and then the off-road path across the Cam to Whittlesford. At the level crossing the gates were down and we had to wait for two trains to pass.

Waiting at the level crossing near Sawston.

Coploe Hill is a fixture on these evening rides: it's always a pleasure to climb it, whatever the time of year. Tonight there was a lark singing somewhere in the green fields of wheat, and swifts darting here and there among the clouds of insects.

Climbing Coploe Hill.

Royston Lane is in poor repair after the hard winter, with potholes everywhere, but we made quick work of it, and soon we were descending past Chrishall Grange. At the Foxton level crossing we had to wait again, but just for one train this time, and we were at the Royal Oak in Barrington at about 20:05.

An excellent ride in good company: about 33 miles in all.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

18 Jun: Senior cyclists' ride in Thetford Forest (car-assisted)

Adrian writes: Seven riders, Vic S, John T, Bob B, Terry, Roger and Lesley B arrived at Santon Downham for today’s ride which would take us both on- and off-road through Thetford Forest and through the countryside north of Thetford.

The weather was sunny and warm with hardly any breeze, which was good for cycling but leading to lots of flies in the forest.

I was the leader today. We started off by going north out of village and just after the railway crossing turned right through gate for the first bit of off road parallel to the railway, stopping to read along the track to read the information board about the Roman church that use to in the nearby hamlet of Santon. We followed the track up to the busy A134, turning right and riding for about half a mile in single file didn’t cause any problems but were glad to turn off left down next traffic free track.

This led to tarmac road T junction at the north end of the village of Croxton where we went straight on until we reached the junction with the 'Harling Drove' and become a track to the right which we took, this is quite sandy which is tricky with some tyres but no casualties, this track carries on for some way crossing the A1075 before joining with the 'Peddars Way' just north of the railway and where it crosses the A11. We crossed the railway by the underpass but had to cross the duel carriage A11 by the carriageway, a bit hazardous! A 100 yards after crossing the A11 we turned left onto the path which goes into the Bridgham Heath picnic centre for morning coffee and something to eat at the burger van.

It had taken a little longer to get to coffee so I decided cut out an off road loop I was going to do before lunch.

We left the coffee stop by the path we came in on back to the 'Peddars Way' turned left till we reached the road to Bridgham, we followed this into the village turned north to the hamlet of Roudham with it's ruined church and carried on to the main road at Harling Road, turning left and over railway crossing we then turned right down track to come out opposite The Larling Angel pub which is on the old A11 where we were stopping for lunch. After a very nice lunch we went north-east along the old A11 which goes over the new A11 by a bridge from which we stopped briefly to watch the motor bikes racing round Snetterton Circuit, then followed the lanes through Snetterton South End and North End to a track that took us to the roundabout on the A11 at the southern end of the Attleborough bypass where a minor road heads north to Gt. Ellingham, we followed this road to the first turning left, Swangey Lane which carried on past Rockland All Saints churches (one used with a church hall in the churchyard and the other in ruins a few hundred yards away) to Stowlay Lane and the village of Stow Bedon and right on the A1075 for a short distance till we reached the bridleway on the left which was the trackbed of the old railway to Watton, although it was ridable it runs through swampy ground and was not in a good condition which is not how I remember it a few years ago when we used it.

We carried on down the old railway track to the 1st road bridge and turned west on the road till we met the 'Peddars Way' again and turned south to Stonebridge on the A1075, on reaching Stonebridge we rode down the cycle/foot path on the right had side which is route 13 and followed it back to the 'Harling Drove' junction (we turned at in the morning) and took the opposite direction (west) past 'New Buildings' and straight over at the A134 onto the track that leads to the lane going back to Santon Downham and the end of the ride.

It was gone 6.00pm when got back to the vehicles, but everybody seamed not to mind saying they had had a good time, thanks to all who came. Adrian Lee

Photos by Roger Bassenger