Thursday, 28 February 2013

28 Feb: Thursday ride to Malton and Sandy

Edward writes: After a week of gloom this Thursday the weather worked well for us, in fact promising to be the best day of the week; and so it turned out. Although cool when we set out the sun, as promised, made its way out and until mid-afternoon when the day started to cool down, gave us a very good day for cycling. At the start twelve cyclists gathered at Haslingfield Green for our ride out to Malton Golf Club and then on to Sandy in Bedfordshire. As the weather was good it seemed an ideal time to stretch our legs and do a few more miles than of late.

We left Haslingfield for Harston where we met Greta who was on her way to the golf club and we would see here there a little later for coffee. Meanwhile, we rode on into Newton and then on to Thriplow. Their daffodil weekend is in two weeks’ time and and only the yellow tips are visible on the most advanced bulbs, but no doubt all will be on show at the right time. After taking the long route through the village we took the road to Fowlmere and then on to go past the RSPB bird reserve and thence on to Melbourn, another village, according to the roadside notices, having to debate a major housing development.


We turned right at the traffic lights in Melbourn and this took us over the railway into Meldreth which brought us to the Orwell turning for the run up to the golf club at Malton.

Malton GC

At the golf club a total of nineteen met for coffee including, and most pleasing, Greta, who was hoping for a twenty mile ride going at her own pace.

Malton GC

After coffee Greta and Sue left us whilst the remainder pushed on into the wind up to Orwell and then through the Wimpole Estate.


This brought us into Arrington followed by Croydon and, of course, a short, sharp climb up the hill.

Croydon Hill

After the hill this left a pleasant, steady ride through the Hatleys into Gamlingay where stopped to allow some re-grouping. After Gamlingay we rode on to Everton and followed this by the very fast downhill known as Tempsford Hill. This brought us to the East Coast Main Line which entailed a short break while we waited for a couple of trains to rocket through. Next we crossed the A1 to bring us into Blunham and here we joined the former railway which is now a cycleway for the run back into Sandy and lunch, with the time at 1.20pm and 35 miles on the clock.

The cafe staff served the light snacks quite quickly and we were on our way again shortly after 2pm. We left Sandy by way of the busy junction where the A1 comes close to the town, bringing us to the B658 and heading due south and with a near-following wind so we made good progress as we passed through Upper Caldecote before turning into the wind for a short run and then turning south again to pass near Broome and also Jordan’s (the cereal makers) and then on to the road leading to Langford. This meant a two mile climb heading east into the wind to reach the water tower where we crossed the A1.

Crossing the East Coast Main Line

Essentially this brought us unto the home straight as we soon passed through Hinxworth and then Ashwell, whose church can be seen as far back at the crossing of the A1. Also noticeable are the quantities of snowdrops out this year - it seems to have been a bumper year for them. From Ashwell it was Steeple Morden, Littlington, Bassingbourn and back into Meldreth for the second time. Another sign of spring was the first signs of flower on a forsythia bush seen in Meldreth. The last two villages were, of course Shepreth where Adrian and Geoff stopped for a tea in the Teacake and the remainder carried on into Barrington, over the hill and finally Haslingfield giving us a total of 63 miles with the time at 4.30pm. On their way home many people will have finished with 70 plus miles, thus making very good use of the better weather. Edward Elmer

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A10 corridor cycling campaign launched

CTC Cambridge supports the A10 corridor cycling campaign, a new group which has been formed recently to call for better cycling between Cambridge, Royston and the villages between them such as Hauxton, Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth and Melbourn. Several local CTC members are already involved in this independent group. See their new website for details of their work including a cycle ride planned for May.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

27 Feb: Evening ride to Great Wilbraham

Nigel writes: There were only two of us on tonight's evening ride. I turned up at Brookside at 6.30pm to find no-one else there, so set off on my own along the river to Fen Ditton. It was very cold, which probably explains my lack of cycling companions, but there was virtually no wind and by the time I reached the far end of High Ditch Road I was fully warmed up. Here I stopped and waited a few minutes for Tony to join me.

Tony duly arrived and we set off for a relatively fast loop through Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck, Dullingham and Six Mile Bottom, arriving at The Carpenter's Arms in Great Wilbraham rather early at 8.15pm. We ordered drinks and food and settled down for a leisurely meal. Afterwards we set off in different directions: Tony went back towards Little Wilbraham and Quy whilst I returned to Cambridge via Fulbourn. On the way back I noticed that the full moon had put in an appearance behind me, rather indistinct between hazy cloud. I arrived back home at 9.50pm, having cycled 30 miles.

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Sunday, 24 February 2013

24 Feb: Afternoon ride to Ickleton

Peter Hutchison writes: Mike Kenny was our leader – this was a very cold day so no surprise to find just a small group at Brookside at 1.30pm: Steve, Daniel, Daniel, John E, Mike and myself. We headed out along the guided busway to Shelford, then along to the outskirts of Whittlesford where Mike led us to the “back” road which goes through woods on the way to Duxford. Here we stopped for a photo shoot with the magnificent display of snowdrops as you can see here. First with our leader and then a group shot.

We then continued to Duxford and out along Grange Road before doubling back up to the top of Coploe Hill. It was even colder by now and my toes were feeling it even in my new winter boots and wool socks! We were very glad to arrive at Ickleton and the Riverside café for hot drinks and cakes.

On the way back into Cambridge, Nigel demonstrated his new gadget which features a thermometer, and announced just outside Whittlesford that it had reached -1.5C. This, combined with a northerly headwind meant I was glad I was wearing a lot of layers.

All in all, a lovely ride, thanks for an imaginative route planned by Mike, and thanks to lots of warm clothing, enjoyable even in the cold. Peter Hutchison

24 Feb: Sunday all-day ride to Horseheath, Finchingfield and Ickleton

Nigel writes: Just in case last Sunday's warm weather had made us forget what month it was, today's weather plunged us back into the depths of winter. With heavy cloud cover hiding the sun, temperatures that rose barely above freezing all day, and a bitterly cold breeze, today was probably my coldest ride of the winter so far.

Despite the unpromising conditions, there were still about eight riders at Brookside for today's ride. Phil was our leader today, and led us east out of Cambridge to Fen Ditton and Quy.

Although it was bitterly cold, there was no prospect of rain, and the roads were dry and free of ice. After a diversion through Quy and the outskirts of Bottisham we turned towards Little Wilbraham and the long road to Six Mile Bottom.

At Six Mile Bottom we turned right onto the A1034 for a few hundred yards before turning onto the quiet lane that leads up the hill past Wadlow Farm (and the wind turbines, turning in the breeze) to West Wratting.

At West Wratting we turned south and down the hill again towards Streetley End and Horseheath, where we stopped for coffee at The Old Red Lion. Already sitting in the warmth watching the football on TV were half a dozen more members.

As always, we were well-looked after at The Old Red Lion, with coffee and excellent cakes served at a very reasonable price. This is with justification one of our favourite coffee stops.

Afterwards most of the combined group decided to head back to Cambridge, leaving five of us to continue on to lunch. The planned lunch stop was in Great Bardfield, but Rupert and Phil decided that was too far for such a cold day and that we would go to Finchingfield instead.

We reached Finchingfield at about 12.45pm. This pretty village is normally busy with motor cyclists and other visitors but today it was very quiet. Instead of going to Bosworths as usual I suggested we try somewhere different, and so we had lunch at Zafra "pasta bar and grill". We were the only customers and the proprietor, who was clearly pleased to see us, made us very welcome. I chose the £11 fixed-price menu and selected soup followed by pasta, and I have to say that it was absolutely delicious; one of the most tasty and delicately flavoured meals I have had for some time: perfect food for a freezing cold day. I think we were all very impressed, and I can happily recommend it. Zafra is a few yards south of the bridge, and we were able to store our bikes round the back (through an archway a couple of doors to the left).

After lunch we set off back towards Cambridge. Phil chose a direct route along the B1053 to Saffron Walden followed by the B1383 to Great Chesterford. We arrived at the cafe at Ickleton Barns at about 2.45pm.

After half an hour we were joined by Mike K and the afternoon ride. Afterwards we all returned back to Cambridge. The wind was still freezing cold and the temperature was dropping below zero, but it was flat and not very far. I arrived back home at 5.15pm, having cycled 61 miles.

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

21 Feb: Thursday ride to Lode and Newmarket

Edward writes: This Thursday’s ride was another back to winter ride. After a fantastic sunlit day on Tuesday, Wednesday and today signalled a return to cold weather cycling. Surprisingly, nine riders left Hauxton and at coffee this number increased to nineteen, so despite the cold many people were obviously eager to get out on their machines.

Today we were led by Richard for our ride out to Newmarket by way of Anglesey Abbey. Soon after leaving Hauxton we were in Great Shelford where we found Rupert waiting for us, so nine became ten. Anglesey Abbey offers few choices of route, so from Great Shelford we went past the golf course and climbed over the Gog Magog hills which brought us down into Fulbourn. We passed through the village and headed out to the Wilbrahams and then over the A14 and into Bottisham. This left but a short journey into Lode and our coffee stop at the Abbey. The gardens were very busy, presumably attracted by the snowdrop winter walk, but the tea room was not overfull and we were soon sitting down enjoying a coffee and, critically, a warm-up. In all we counted nineteen members, although not all were out to join our ride, but it was good to see so many people out and not being willing to sit it out at home.

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey

After coffee we went into Lode itself and out to the Lodes Way. Out in the fen is very exposed and the cold wind, which seemed to be running in direct from the Urals, made itself known to us. This sort of riding can be described as invigorating, but nonetheless we soon arrived in Reach, quickly followed by Burwell.

on the Lodes Way

on the Lodes Way

on the Lodes Way

We left Burwell on Heath Road which could do with some hedge replanting as it is another exposed fen road. We turned off this road and joined the farm roads which brought us into Exning. This just left a short bit of main road before turning off into the road which goes past the race course and eventually into Newmarket high street and the Horse Racing Museum for our lunch stop and another opportunity to feel warm again.


Lunch was an enjoyable time, it’s in the warm, but by about 1.20pm we were all set to leave. We climbed out of the high street and turned towards Dullingham. Now, the easterly wind was on our backs and conditions were easier for cycling, and we made quick progress into Dullingham. In Dullingham we turned towards Balsham and Linton and here we saw fields in different states of progress. Some had winter wheat already up, and other fields had the ubiquitous oil seed rape, and yet others were still being ploughed. Once we arrived at the road down to Six Mile Bottom it was decided to head for there rather than go on to Balsham. The long downhill stretches with a following wind must have been the attraction and we soon reached Six Mile Bottom.

near Six Mile Bottom

At Six Mile Bottom we crossed the A1304 and back once again to Great Wilbraham and then to Fulbourn. Again we climbed the Gog Magog hills, followed by Great and Little Shelford and finally Hauxton. For today’s ride we did 47 miles and we offer our thanks to Richard for another good ride and also to everyone who turned out on such an unpleasant day. Edward Elmer

Photos 4 and 5 by Rupert Goodings

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Sunday, 17 February 2013

17 Feb: Sunday afternoon ride to Cambourne

Ian writes: I experienced an odd sensation on the way to the start. It was warm sunshine, and most welcome it was as well. Winds were light also giving us probably the best day this year for a ride. 5 other riders were at Brookside for the days adventure.

We headed out on the DNA path to the Shelfords before turning onto the Whittlesford Road where we took the right turn across the track that takes us to Newton. This track is just about passable now with a clear line through the muddier parts. Snowdrops were out on the roadside and glorious clear blue skies overhead were a treat for the soul after the weather of the last couple of months.

From Newton we climbed the hill that takes us to Harston where we cross the A10 to Haslingfield. We ignored Chappel Hill, instead taking the turn to Harlton.

From here it's a simple route up through Great Eversden then Bourne where we turned right for climb up to Cambourne winding our way through the tracks to tea. We arrived at the café bang on 3.30 to find they had closed very sharply, so we bought snacks and drinks in the main shop and sat in a corner of the café eating them.

There was a strong desire to get back to Cambridge in the light, so we didn’t linger. I took the direct route along the old St. Neots road with the temperature noticeably plummeting, then onto the Coton path and back to town. I finished up with 36 miles on the clock. Ian Driver

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17 Feb: Sunday all-day ride to Waresley, Roxton and Cambourne

Nigel writes: Today was a perfect winter's day: clear and sunny from dawn until dusk. It was therefore no surprise to find about fifteen riders waiting at Brookside for today's all-day ride. Mick was our leader today, so I knew we were in for an interesting and expertly-navigated ride. From Brookside we set of west along The Fen Causeway and turned onto Lammas Land for the short-cut to Barton Road.

We joined the Barton Road cycleway which we followed all the way to Barton.

When we reached Barton we turned off the main road and continued to Haslingfield. By now we were warmed up and ready to tackle Chapel Hill.

With such a large group (and a big hill) we spread out along the road so when we reached Barrington we stopped to wait for everyone to catch up.

This was turning out to be a delightful ride. Sometimes a clear sky means a cold day, but not today: with an almost total lack of wind the sunshine made it feel quite warm. Not bad for the middle of February. From Haslingfield we continued to Orwell where we crossed over the A603 to Wimpole Hall.

After riding through the Wimpole estate past the hall we crossed the A1198 to Arrington and Croydon. This brought us to our second steep hill of the day. Fortunately Croydon Hill is quite short so we were soon at the top and able to cruise the final few miles through the Hatleys to Gamlingay and from there to Waresley Park Garden Centre. Here we stopped for coffee and cakes, after the most enjoyable couple of hours of cycling I had had in many months.

Already in the cafe we found half a dozen more members and when we set off again towards lunch our numbers were almost twenty. We set off towards St Neots, taking the lovely lane that takes you over Lily Hill.

When we reached St Neots we crossed the River Ouse to Riverside Park and then across a smaller bridge towards Eaton Socon.

David W mentioned that this area had been completely flooded earlier in the year. There was still quite a bit of water about and at one place we had to ride though an inch or two of water.

Safely back on dry land in Eaton Socon we continued west, crossing the A1 before turning south for the final two or three miles to Roxton, where we stopped for lunch at Roxton Garden Centre.

In Dakins restaurant I ordered a jacket potato with beans and cheese and sat outside in the sunshine. Sometimes a decision to sit in the sun is a decision you quickly regrest, but not today. It was lovely and warm in the sunshine, and I was surprised that almost everyone else stayed indoors.

After lunch Mick led us south to Great Barfield where we crossed the River Ouse once more.

We continued to Blunham where we turned onto the NCR 51 railway path. This took us east to Sandy. I always get confused by the roads in Sandy, but Mick clearly doesn't and led us expertly through the town and out again through the woods towards Everton.

We continued to Waresley, past the garden centre, and on to Great Gransden, where we turned towards Caxton. From here it was only two or three miles further to our planned tea stop at Morrisons in Cambourne. I was riding ahead of the group and arrived on my own at 3.45pm to find the supermarket bustling but the cafe closed. The only people in the cafe were Ian D and the afternoon ride. They had arrived at 3.30pm just after the cafe had closed, so had purchased food and drinks from the supermarket and gathered in a corner of the empty cafe to enjoy them. I bought a drink and joined then. Outside I saw the rest of the ride arrive and decide not to stop.

Afterwards I rode with a small group back to Cambridge. The sun was still shining brightly but it was now getting low in the sky and a gentle headwind had started up. The wind didn't slow us down very much but it was very cold and the temperature was dropping rapidly, reminding us that it was still mid-February. Fortunately we didn't have far to go and I reached home at 5pm, the sun still shining, having cycled a very enjoyable 64 miles.

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Thursday, 14 February 2013

14 Feb: Thursday ride to Swavesey and Fen Drayton

Edward writes: What a difference a day makes! Yesterday was cold and miserable, yet today, after the early morning rain, turned out to be sunny and moderately warm. Blue skies and sun, both very good ingredients for a long day in the saddle.

Thirteen cyclists assembled at Haslingfield Green for today’s excursion out to Fen Drayton by way of Swavesey. Amongst the thirteen we welcome Tony who was making his debut with us. Adrian was today’s leader and this can usually ensure a good trip round the lesser-known byways of Cambridgeshire.


After leaving Haslingfield we went out to Harlton where we turned in the middle of village for Comberton. By now the rain had stopped and the forecast for bright day had every prospect of being correct, with the sun making its first appearance. In Comberton we crossed over the High Street and went out on the long, steady climb up to Hardwick. Next on the list was Madingley where it was noticed that rabbits had stripped bark from some of trees. After crossing the A14 and on the road to Oakington we had our first puncture and, as usual. Mike was close at hand and before long we were on our way again.


There followed a stretch along the busway down to Longstanton before returning to the roads for the run into Swavesey and one of our favourite coffee stops at the Baptist Chapel.


Ringing a week in advance paid a good dividend as the ladies had been busy cake-making to ensure there were plenty of choices. This week was the turn of ladies of the Chapel to be in charge and, of course, they made us very welcome. On leaving Swavesey our numbers had increased by five and so we now had eighteen cyclists for the trip to Fen Drayton.


Although Fen Drayton and Swavesey are very close Adrian was able to find a route of about twelve miles which involved rejoining the busway to go into St Ives and along the main street and out through housing estates onto the main road leading to Houghton and Wyton. This part of the trip took us off-road (Adrian’s speciality) before arriving at Houghton Mill. On the way we saw a wonderful area of aconites and snowdrops, and at the Mill the water was very high and all the lock and sluice gates were open and there was still a lot of water on the meadows.


Once back on the roads we passed through Hemingford Grey before arriving back in St Ives. We exited St Ives along Low Road to Fenstanton and then to Fen Drayton and lunch at the Three Tuns.

This pub looked after us very well, especialy in view of the numbers which were quite a bit over the estimate we had given them. We left Fen Drayton at about 2.20pm and we made our way to Boxworth End where we turned toward the A14 which we crossed and then up to Boxworth. Here Adrian led a small breakaway group on an off-road jaunt and the rest carried on through Knapwell and we all met again at Childerley Gate where we stopped as Mike incurred the day’s second puncture. Before this Barbara, Sue, Tony and David took the turning for Bourn for their journey home. This left just a short trip through Hardwick, down past the American Cemetery and into Coton where Adrian left us and the day’s outing was at an end.


We thank Adrian for another good day out and let’s hope the weather continues to improve. We cycled 47 miles. Edward Elmer

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