Wednesday, 31 July 2013
We continued south via the DNA path to Great Shelford, where we paused at the level crossing before continuing through Little Shelford and Whittlesford to Duxford. It was a warm evening, but quite dull and overcast and with a southerly headwind. When we reached Duxford we turned towards Hinxton. When we reached the ford I gave my usual warning that the ford was very slippery and that using the footbridge was recommended.
James was tempted to cycle through, but after making a close inspection of the slimy bed of the ford he joined the rest of us in using the bridge.
From Hinxton we continued south to Ickleton where we turned west onto Grange Road, the long, straight, flat road that meets Royston Lane and continues to Chrishall Grange.
When we reached Chrishall Grange it was now time to turn north towards Harlton. This involved crossing over the A505 to Fowlmere, crossing the A10 to Shepreth and climbing Chapel Hill from Barrington to Haslingfield. Between Royston Lane and Barrington we had passed several dozen cyclists coming the other way who looked as if they were riding in an event, and when I spotted the numbers tied to their bikes I realised they were riding in the LEL, the London-Edinburgh-London Audax. (Looking at the route of the LEL later confirms this).
When we reached Haslingfield it was 8.30pm already, so I suggested abandining the pub stop at Harlton and carrying on to the White Horse at Barton. We got there at about 8.40pm and ordered drinks and plates of chips which we enjoyed whilst sitting outside as the sun went down.
After a thoughtful and longer-than-usual discussion we got back on our bikes, turne don our lights, and rode the remaining four or five miles back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 9.45pm, having cycled 31 miles.
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Sunday, 28 July 2013
Today was yet another hot and sunny day, but a strong wind from the south-west kept temperatures comfortable. We were heading east, so this also gave us a tailwind for most of the morning. The first stage of today's ride was to Tubby T's cafe on the A143 near Stradishall in Suffolk. Gareth's route took us east by the usual route to Quy, Little Wilbraham and Six Mile Bottom and then up the hill towards Brinkley. I was expecting Gareth to take us the usual route via Brinkley, Carlton and Little Thurlow but when we reached the cross-roads by the woodland cemetery below Brinkley, Gareth unexpectedly took us left to Dullingham and from there through Woodditton, Kirtling and Cowlinge, a very welcome change along rather less familiar roads.
The high speeds and the small size of the group meant there were few opportunities for photographs, but at one point I managed to get ahead to take this one:
We arrived at the cafe to discover that it had changed hands and was now called simply Adam's. The service seemed slightly more efficient than before, but otherwise it remained the same as before, with the same menu of hearty fried food, the same very reasonable prices, and the same clientele of motor-cyclists. With a long day in prospect I ordered beans on toast and had a late breakfast.
Afterwards we set off again and continued east towards our planned lunch stop in Lavenham. We ride through Denston and Hawkedon to Hartest, where we ascended Hartest Hill. When we reached the top, Gareth suggested might be the steepest hill in Suffolk. (Subsequent
We continued east through Shrimpling Street to Cockfield. This is only about five miles from Lavenham and since it was still only about 11.30am we decided to make a big loop to the north-east through Felsham and Rattlesden before turning south to Lavenham.
When we reached Lavenham we purchased sandwiches at the co-op and sat in the sunshine in the main square (outside the historic Guildhall) to enjoy them.
After lunch we turned west towards our planned tea stop at West Wratting. We were now riding into the wind so we decided to ride directly there via Long Melford, Clare and Kedington. In the event the wind was not as bad as expected and we made good progress, arriving at Peter and Lesley's house at 3.15pm. We were 45 minutes early for this home tea but we were made very welcome and sat in their lovely garden with cups of tea whilst we waited for the others. At this point I had 81 miles on my Garmin.
Over the following hour or so we were joined by the main all-day ride, the afternoon ride, and several other members and friends, making today's home tea something of a general club social.
Gareth, Sarah and I were the first to arrive and we were probably the first to leave. Gareth and I took a rather roundabout route home via Dullingham, Swaffham Bulbeck and Quy, which added 19 more miles to my mileage so when I arrived home at about 6.15pm I had cycled a very satisfying 100 miles.
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Friday, 26 July 2013
A few (three) spaces have become available on the cycling holiday that club member Adrian Lee is organising in the Durham Dales from 31st Aug to 7th Sep 2013. If you're interested, please contact Adrian as soon as possible. See here for more information and for contact details.
Thursday, 25 July 2013
In Hardwick Jacob (surely not!) led a group for some off road work through Childerley Gate. At this time of the morning there was hardly any wind (a feature of these hot days) so riding was an easy pleasure, and thus we were soon passing through Dry Drayton and then over the A14 (rather us than them) and then through to Oakington. We travelled through the village and out to the busway for the run down to Swavesey. Along the busway we saw some very attractive blue flowers about a meter high (sadly no picture and no identification). Otherwise the verges were dominated by the ever-present Rose-Bay Willow Herb and of course Knapweed.
After a very easy four miles or so we arrived at the ever-popular Baptist Chapel for our cake (cakes in some cases) and coffee stop. This week the hospitality was provided by the Festival Committee and the ladies provided their usual array of high quality home made cakes. Trade was brisk, not surprisingly as cake and coffee only cost £1.50, but we were all served quickly and cheerfully and we all sat down to enjoy the fare. At coffee there was the usual exchange of personnel but still about eighteen headed off for St. Neots.
From Swavesey we went through to Fenstanton where we used the underpass of the A14 to join the road to Hilton.
Ian was leading the group at a regulation military medium and thus we were easily able to keep two groups together and not having long waits to allow for regrouping. Next up was Graveley and quickly followed by Toseland and then to the two mile long arrow-straight road which leads to the B1043 and the final run into a very busy St. Neots.
Thursday, of course is market day and the schools have just broken up and It was no surprise to find a very busy Ambiance cafe but they coped very well and we enjoyed a leisurely break sitting outside. At lunch we were joined by Bob (Potton), Richard M (Bedford) and Doug (Stevenage) and Greta (Hauxton) who had made her own way out to St. Neots.
After lunch we went towards Eaton Socon on the old Great North Road before joining the new cycle path over the river and we soon found our way to the Potton Road to begin the journey home. This took us to Abbotsley where the splendid scarecrow exhibits were on show. They do this every year and some superb scarecrow were dotted about the village and they must have a lot of fun.
Abbotsley (Photo: Jacob Hassan)
After Abbotsley we went to Gamlingay by way of the Cinques and then it was on the road through both the Hatleys and the run down Croydon Hill but remembering to apply the brakes for the sharp turn into Croydon and then Arrington. Now near the end of or trip we went through Wimpole Hall where some decided that a cup of tea was in order whilst the rest pressed on to Orwell, Barrington, a last climb up the hill and down into Haslingfield where the ride ended after 57 thoroughly enjoyable miles. Our thanks to Ian for conducting such an enjoyable day out. Edward Elmer
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013
After the others had caught up we carried on along the flatter and rather duller few miles through Great and Little Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom. Yet again, the pace was fast and Gareth was out at the front, but no-one was very far behind and at Six Mile Bottom we waited again to regroup. From here we began the quiet and scenically rewarding climb up past Wadlow Farm to Chilly Hill.
As we climbed I noticed that James had started to struggle and we waited at the top. It turned out that James's rear disk brakes was rubbing, but ten minutes of adjustment and fiddling was enough to make it right again.
From the top of Chilly Hill we turned north to Dullingham where we turned west for Swaffham Bulbeck. Once again the speed was fast, pausing periodically to wait for stragglers. Each time we stopped it was apparent how hot it still was, and each time we started moving again we experienced the pleasant cooling frisson of sweat being evaporated by the breeze.
James's breakdown meant we arrived at The White Swan in Quy about fifteen minutes at 8.45pm, but this was not a problem and a full menu was still available. We ordered drinks and plates of "wedgies" which we enjoyed sitting outside with our bikes. This pub remains one of our favourites.
Afterwards we turned on our lights and returned back to Cambridge. This didn't take long and I arrived home at 9.45pm, having cycled a particularly enjoyable 33 miles riding what is probably the most enjoyable short circuit close to Cambridge.
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Sunday, 21 July 2013
Tina led the group down Trumpington Road, turning along Porson Road and Long Road to access the guided busway. There seemed to be a lot of cyclists out today both individuals and small groups, perhaps encouraged by the sunny weather or inspired by the prospect of a 2nd British TdF winner tonight!
We rode along the DNA path to Shelford and then on to Newton, doubling back to avoid a lengthy stretch of busy A10 to reach the turn to Haslingfield. The planned route continued through Haslingfield and over Chapel Hill, but there was ‘dissent in the ranks’, so in true democratic style we rode down the flat cycle path alongside the A10 to Barrington. We turned here towards Orwell, enjoying clear views across ripening wheatfields and grass verges liberally sown with blue scabious and purple knapweed.
From Orwell, we crossed the A603 and turned up the familiar entrance drive to Wimpole Hall. By now it was 3.15pm and becoming increasingly clear that we wouldn’t reach Ashwell for tea at 4pm, but as the cloud cleared and we enjoyed the sunshine, 4.30pm seemed a more realistic aim. Several riders called into the stable block for water refills and then as we were setting off again, Neil discovered a puncture.
Mike CC decided to ride up to the Hall for a close-up shot of some classic cars and hitched a lift back (with his bike!) on a golf buggy.
On the road again, we cycled across the estate to Arrington, then through Croydon and a quick freewheel downhill to the B1042. A pot-holed lane brought us out in Wendy, where theoretically it was a straightish road through to Ashwell. However we still had 7 miles to go so had to up the pace, just when the hot sun and mileage already ridden were taking their toll. Once through Guilden Morden, it was just 3 miles to Ashwell and we arrived as the day riders were preparing to leave, but received a warm welcome inside from the tea volunteers serving tea/coffee, cakes and scones. We lingered for at least half an hour, recharging legs and fuelling up on home-made goodies, finally making a move around 5.20pm.
On the way back through Guilden Morden, Mike CC, Jim and John sailed past our turning and we had to wait for them further down the road, but all continued to Shingay and onwards to Bassingbourn. Leon decided to catch the train home and he and Tina rode back to Royston, while the other riders continued on to Meldreth, Barrington and finally over Chapel Hill to Barton and cycleway into Cambridge.
This was my first ride as leader, so if there is a next time, I’ll modify my over-optimistic timings and try to avoid the sprint finish to tea! Total mileage: 48 miles. Tina Filby
Photos 2,3,5 by Roger Fowle
Gareth had earlier told me that he would be going ahead of the main group, and he was quickly disappearing into the distance. The remainder of us carried on at a steady pace along the B1046 to Bourn and then along quieter roads to Caxton, Great Gransden and Waresley. We rode past the garden centre (where I spotted a lone cyclist waiting for the cafe to open) to Everton and then down the hill through the woods to Sandy.
At Sandy we joined the NCN 51 cycleway which leads along a disused railway line (but is nevertheless remarkably wiggly and complicated) towards Bedford. At Willington, about 28 miles from Cambridge, we stopped for coffee at the Danish Camp cafe.
The cafe at Danish Camp is in a lovely location with a terrace and large grassy area leading down to the River Great Ouse. Unfortunately service is quite slow and with our arrival the queue soon built up. After about ten minutes we were served (at least this place is not expensive) and sat outside with our drinks and cakes. Already at the cafe were Adrian and Doug, and after a while we were joined by David W.
Afterwards we carried on west towards our lunchstop. David joined our group and Neil left it to return home. After such a long stage to coffee I decided we should take a direct route to lunch. This meant we had no choice but to ride through the middle of Bedford. This is nicer than it sounds: NCN 51 continues along the river right into the centre of Bedford, but to get out the other side requires abandoning the wiggly NCN 51 and cycling for couple of miles along the main Kempston Road. This was straightforward enough and soon we were out of the town and back in the country. We rejoined NCN 51 again (now just a series of signposts) and followed it through Wooton to Marston Moretaine where we stopped for lunch at the Forest Centre in the country park.
The Forest Centre is huge with a large cafe, plenty of staff, and in contrast to Danish Camp are well able to handle the large numbers of visitors expected on a summer weekend. The menu and prices are good too. We ordered our food and sat outside. The weather was gradually warming up but it was still cloudy and the temperature was still very comfortable.
Marston Moretaine marked the westerly limit of today's ride, and after lunch we set off east towards our planned tea stop. This took us into a light headwind but it was no problem and with the clouds beginning to clear and the temperatures beginning to rise a cooling breeze in our faces was not unwelcome.
We rode round the edge of the country park to rejoin the road on the eastern side at Millbrook Station. There's really only one sensible route east from here and we followed it through Houghton Conquest and Haynes to Southill. Along the way we met Mike S coming in the other direction and he turned around to join us.
At Southill there are a couple of options to Langford and the A1 crossing; I chose to go via Broom and past the Jordans Mill at Holme. We continued east and crossed over the A1 before turning off for the final few miles through Hinxworth to Ashwell, whose church tower offered a welcome landmark from several miles away. At Ashwell we stopped for tea at the Parish Church Room. It was 3.45pm.
At the Parish Church Room we were welcomed by the friendly volunteers who occasionally open the room for teas to raise funds for the village church. We had told them we were coming and they are clearly very happy to provide refreshments to hungry cyclists (indeed they proclaim exactly this on their website). A group of cyclists from CTC Stevenage had passed through earlier in the afternoon but there were plenty of cakes left. The portions were generous, and with a cake and a cup of tea costing £2.50 were very good value.
By about 4.45pm we got ready to set off for home, somewhat concerned that the afternoon ride had not arrived yet. Fortunately Tina arrived just before we left, followed by a large group of thirsty riders which had been delayed by a puncture along the way. We assured them that there was plenty of cake left if they were quick, and set off for home.
We took a fairly direct route via Steeple Morden, Litlington and Bassingbourn to Kneesworth where we crossed over the A1198. From there we continued through Meldreth and Shepreth to Barrington. A final climb over Chapel Hill brought us to Haslingfield and the final few miles along the Barton Road cycle track back to Cambridge.
When we reached the cycle crossing at the end of Barton Road I said my goodbyes and left the group to head home via the cycle path that leads across the commons to Trumpington Road. This took me past the playground and paddling pool on Lammas Land - and the adjacent refreshment kiosk. I decided to stop and have an ice cream. The friendly staff there noticed my CTC top (and probably my beaming expression) and asked me the question which every touring cyclist loves to be asked: "how far have you cycled?". I was then asked the inevitable follow-up, which is a request for confirmation: "you cycled all that way today?".
Feeling suitably pleased with myself, I sat on the grass for five minutes to eat my ice cream. The day that had started cool and cloudy had turned onto a very nice sunny afternoon, with the temperature now 25C, which whilst hot was still comfortable. I then got back on the bike for the final mile of my journey. I arrived back home at 6.50pm, having cycled 88 miles.
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Saturday, 20 July 2013
The variety of bikes was also impressive - we had a range of town, hybrid, road and touring bikes, as well as some more specialised machines such as the kiddyback tandem, a full suspension mountain bike, and our own cargo bike. This is something I really like about the Saturday rides - they are suitable for pretty much everyone, regardless of age or type of bike. I was riding my orange hybrid for the first time in six months, while Ian led the ride on the bakfiets. Being used to the heavy cargo bike I had the feeling of positively flying along as we left the city via Barton Road. I stayed at the back of the group most of the time to ensure we did not drop anyone (easily done with such a large group), but I had no trouble getting well ahead to take a photo on the road to Haslingfield. As I was standing on the bridge over the old railway line waiting for the riders to approach, I could see there was a bit of a race going on between the tandem and the cargo bike, with Yasmin and Oscar pedalling hard up the hill to reach the top of the bridge first.
At Haslingfield village green we stopped briefly for a breather and some water. Ian explained about the sundial on the grass, but as the sky was still cloudy, we could not actually demonstrate how it works.
We were soon on our way again, with people happily chatting as we continued the ride through Harston and Newton to Whittlesford. There we turned off the road to take the path towards the church and on to Sawston, crossing the river Cam, the railway line and the A1301. Along the way I got talking to Rod and Karyn, two guests from Australia who had hired road bikes from the Station Cycles shop in Histon. They were approaching the end of a six week tour of Europe and commented on how they enjoyed the English countryside, especially now that numerous colourful wild flowers are adorning the grass verges along many country roads.
From Sawston Ian led us on to Stapleford and then up the hill on Haverhill Road to our coffee destination, the Gog Magog Hill Farm. It was quite busy there, but we all found seats outside the "Canteen" to enjoy our refreshments. It took a little while for us to get our coffees and cakes, but the coffee was excellent and well worth the wait. There are also two shops on the farm where one can find a good selection of fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese and meat - much of it locally sourced - so I stocked up on some onions, kohlrabi and spicy chorizo sausages before we got back on our bikes for the final leg home.
I took the above photo as people were getting ready to set off, but then there was a slight delay as Margaret, one of our guest riders, discovered that she had locked up her bike but did not have the key with her. Fortunately it was not a particularly strong lock, and with the help of the shop owner who kindly supplied a saw it was soon cracked. Ian then led the group down the hill to Addenbrooke's and past the new Rosie Birth Centre. This is where Flo was born just over 6 months ago, so a place of very special memories for me. We did not linger though and continued over the railway bridge on to the busway, past the railway station and back to Brookside via Hills Road. For the last few miles there was a lot of waving hands and calls of "Bye bye", "Cheerio" and "See you next time" as people peeled off along the way where it was convenient for them to get home. We were back in Fen Ditton somewhat later than usual, around 2 pm, having cycled about 22 miles. I very much enjoyed the ride and was happy to see so many new faces. I hope many of them will be back soon on another ride! Julia Hochbach
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Ready to head off from Kings Cross (picture David Marsh)
This is a busy but simple stretch of road up to the Angel and after a mile we turned into a leafy side road. One hundred metres later we said goodbye to roads altogether and for the next 22 miles rode the towpaths up to Nazing. It is incredible that we can be that close to the madness of London traffic but actually be in such a tranquil setting. In rush hour the towpath can be packed with commuters riding into their day jobs in their hot London offices but with the morning rush now passed, and the temperature still reasonable we had the prospect of a leisurely ride ahead. The surfaces in the early miles are a mixture of concrete, tarmac, and paving stones but the narrow nature of the path with its twists and turns – and a few low bridges – dictated a modest speed of travel.
Enjoying the tranquillity of urban towpaths
A nip into Victoria Park to facilitate a switch from the Regents Canal to the Hertford Union Canal was required before turning north along the River Lea Navigation. By now the paths were wider and even quieter but the gritty surface in some places kept the speeds down as we passed the Olympic park. Boats of all manner of sizes and conditions lined the waterway giving constant points of interest as the miles passed.
The 2016 Olympic (no)hopefuls
The late start (caused by the fact that we could not get into London before 10:15), the nature of the towpath and the heat meant it was always going to be a late coffee stop and it was around 12:30 after 17 miles that we pulled into the Narrow Boat Café just short of Waltham Abbey. Although there was not a large range of cakes this was a reasonably priced and convenient stop - perfect for the needs of the day.
Enjoying some shade at the Narrow Boat Café (picture David Marsh)
By now it was very clear that the planned lunchtime rendezvous with the Cambridge riders was not going to happen so we were able to be more flexible with our pace. A few hundred metres north we parted with Ian who was heading for Broxbourne. We also swapped from the straightness of the River Lea Navigation to the winding River Lea itself for a few miles before turning away from the water and across the paths through to join the roads a couple of miles south of Lower Nazing. We could have taken the peaceful cycle paths further but by now we were looking forward to the faster pace offered by the roads and we needed this if we were to make lunch at all.
Quiet B-roads and smaller country lanes led us into Roydon via the first hill of the day – quite a shock to the system after the flat towpaths. With the 2:30 deadline for food looking unlikely we decided to pull into the Fox and Hounds at Hunsdon - even though we had rejected it during planning due to it being a gastro pub. No sandwiches were available so a few bowls of chips combined with some rolls from the convenience store across the road saw us though. This is probably a nice pub for a proper meal but definitely not one to put on the list of CTC stops.
At the pleasant but expensive Fox and Hounds
The names of the villages were getting more familiar as we passed through Widford, Much and Little Hadham. The heat was also continuing to make its mark and the road surfaces melting and sticking to the wheels – this is the first time I have seen bikes leaving tracks in soft oozing bitumen. As we passed through the hamlet of Gravesend the wheels of a tractor coming the other way tore up and tossed aside large chunks of tarmac as its went along. In a bid to avoid the sticky stuff we diverted through Furneux Pelham in order to reach Stocking Pelham, making sure we did not go straight across up Violets Lane – a 1 kilometre long ford.
From there it was off to Meesden, the Langleys and Dudenhoe End before the last climbs of the day out of Elmdon. A fast decent to Chrishall Grange paved the way to Fowlmere before the group split and David and I headed for Meldreth leaving the others to finish off the last few miles to Cambridge. It seemed that we had ridden a lot more than the 60 miles on the clock. A ride that is definitely worth repeating – the logistics and route are simple and pleasant - although possibly better on a weekend when it is possible to get the bikes into London for an earlier start. Nick Jones
View this GPS track (from King's Cross as far as Meldreth) on a larger map (track by David Marsh)