Thursday, 31 October 2013
The early morning rain, combined with the mud from the farm vehicles, made for some very dirty roads in this early part of the ride. We soon arrived at the A603 and then through both Little and Great Eversden before reaching Bourn, where we turned for Longstowe.
Our coffee stop today was in Croydon which is fairly close to Haslingfield, so Adrian introduced a loop via Little Gransden and up to Gamlingay before turning back to reach Croydon by way of Hatley St George and East Hatley and descending Croydon Hill and the turning into Croydon to arrive at the Queen Adelaide at exactly 11 am.
Needless to say there were other members already there and one count gave a total of twenty six, but the pub coped very well with the extra demands which were way over the estimate given when we booked the venue, and even a revised figure given en route. This is a very nice coffee stop which we have used once or twice recently but, sadly, the pub is up for sale and in fact it was being sold in London this very morning. We hope very much that the new owners will keep it as a going concern rather than convert it to housing. After a pleasant half hour it was time to leave and, with the usual comings and goings, there were still more than twenty as we moved off, again in two groups. We returned to Croydon Hill and finished the descent down to the A603 and used the little link road, which must be the worst-maintained road in Cambridgeshire, to join the road to Guilden Morden by way of Shingay.
We wended our way through Guilden and Steeple Morden before joining the open road to Ashwell and then through the farm roads to Loves Lane and on to Hinxworth where we crossed the A1 and the long descent into Langford, passing on the way 10 new wind turbines in the course of construction. Once in Langford it was just a short ride into Broom and Jordan's Mill for our lunch stop.
The restaurant here only opened this summer and is already proving very popular and, of course, being half-term week, was already very busy when we arrived at 1pm. Even so we didn't have to wait long and our only problem was finding somewhere to sit. After a good lunch we prepared to leave at 2pm and, as we had several riders from the Meldreth area, they formed their own group to make their own way home; this still left about seventeen to head back to Cambridge. Adrian took us through to Old Warden and through the delightful villages of Southill and Northill before turning to climb up to Moggerhanger to join the former Bedford to Cambridge railway and headed into Sandy.
With Adrian leading a little off-road work was inevitable and here was his opportunity, albeit only a fairly short stretch as we made our way into and through Sandy's industrial estate. This avoided the town centre and took us over the east coast rail line as we left the town and through the woods into Everton. Now we were back into familiar territory as crossed Gamlingay Heath and on to Waresley and then followed a frequently ridden ride back though Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn.
A few more miles took us to through Toft and into Comberton where we effectively finished the ride as Adrian took a group back to Haslingfield whilst the rest of us continued through to Barton and the Coton roundabout to make our separate ways home. Those who went back to Haslingfield would have completed 67 miles and as with all of us lights were needed as our finishing time was just before 5pm. Our thanks to Adrian for another great ride and, as with last week's, one for the scrapbook. Edward Elmer
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Sunday, 27 October 2013
Gareth writes: The "Emitremmus" is a 100 km audax, run by Stevenage CTC each autumn for the last 19 years, on the Sunday that the clocks go back. The route starts at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage and heads east via Great Munden and Hare Street to Saffron Walden, returning via Great Chishill and Therfield. The start of the ride is almost exactly 50 km (by the shortest route) from my house, so by riding to the start and back from the end I can make up a 200 km "Extended Calendar Event".
I woke up at 06:00 to the sound of rain battering on the roof. I fumbled for my phone and looked up the BBC weather forecast: heavy rain all day and 40 mph winds. I didn't really want to cycle all day in those conditions. But wait, I had selected the wrong menu item and got the forecast for Cambridge, Gloucestershire, instead! For Cambridgeshire the rain was forecast to stop by about 07:00 and the winds not quite so bad: around 20 mph from the south-west. I was getting a bit anxious as my start time approached and the downpour showed no signs of slacking, but at about 06:50 the worst of it was gone, and lighter skies were visible away to the south-west.
It wasn't an easy ride to the start, though. I took the A10 to Royston, into the teeth of the wind, and struggled at times to make decent progress, crawling along at 10 or 11 mph and occasionally being brought almost to a standstill by a sudden gust. But once I had climbed Therfield Heath and got into the Herfordshire lanes there was a bit more shelter, and I made it to Fairlands Valley Sailing Centre at about 09:30, with time for a coffee before the start. There were 323 names on the entry list, but it didn't look as though there were nearly that many people around. Maybe the weather had frightened some people off?
By the time we started the sun had come out and it was a beautiful autumn day. For the first two legs of the ride we had the wind behind us and it was gloriously easy cycling, except for the pools and piles of debris left behind by Saturday night's storm.
It was all good fun until we hit the turn at Saffron Walden, and then the wind was in our faces, and it was pretty grim, creeping pedal-stroke by pedal-stroke up the massif du Great Chishill. A couple of faster cyclists came past and I sucked their wheels for a few miles, but they got away from me and I suffered on my own. I was bonking at the top of the climb from Shaftenhoe End, so I had to stop to eat. I pretended that I had stopped because I wanted to take photos, and not because my legs were no longer working, oh no.
The control at the church hall in Therfield (at 75 km) is always a highlight of this ride, with volunteers selling tea and sandwiches and an amazing spread of cakes. But then it was time to head back into the wind for the final tough 25 km to Stevenage (stopping only to reattach a pedal to a child's bike), arriving about 15:10.
As I set out back to Cambridge, it began to rain, but it was a small shower and was soon blown away to the north. I retraced the latter part of the route through Cromer, Sandon and Kelshall, and then down the hill by Therfield Heath, through Royston to Bassingbourn, before turning right towards Shepreth, Barrington, Barton and Cambridge. The wind had slackened a bit during the evening so it was not as much of a help going home as it had been a hindrance in the morning, but I was home at about 18:20, having ridden 210 km (130 miles).
Instead of joining the busway just beyond Girton, Conrad led us to Oakington and then on a loop via Rampton, Willingham and Over. It was good to try a different route for a change but these roads were relatively busy (despite it being 10am on a Sunday) and when we got to Swavesey it was nice to be able to join the busway at last.
We soon reached St Ives where we stopped for coffee at the River Tea Rooms. This cafe has a pleasant outdoor terrace beside the river but today it was closed because the staff had tidied away the tables and chairs in preparation for the oncoming storm. Fortunately there was enough room inside and after a while we were joined by Sarah and Andy.
After coffee we went outside where we found Jeremy, and after the usual post-coffee route discussions it turned out that there would be three of us going on to Lunch at West Perry: Conrad, Jeremy and me. Again, Conrad took a fairly direct route there: through the Hemingfords, across the meadows to Godmanchester, south along the B1043 to Offord Cluny and then west through Buckden to Grafham Water. We reached the reservoir a little after noon which gave us ample time to take a short diversion to the bike shop there.
I'd paid a brief visit to Grafham Cycling once before but today was the first time I'd been able to have a proper look around this very large bike shop. I was very impressed. I had expected the shop to be aimed at the kind of occasional cyclists who come here by car, cycle round the lake and then drive home, so was pleasantly surprised to discover that had plenty to interest the more committed cyclist. The range of clothing was much larger than anywhere in Cambridge so I took the opportunity to buy a smart new windproof cycling top for the winter, whilst Jeremy bought a new waterproof. The friendly staff happily gave me a 15% CTC discount.
We eventually dragged ourselves out of the bike shop and made the short journey along the top of the dam and around the lake to West Perry where we stopped for lunch at the Harbour View Cafe. This place has changed hands since I was last here so I'm pleased to report that it remains entirely suitable for our club to visit. In fact the menu is probably more suitable than before, with a good range of light meals including baguettes and baked potatoes. And it's pretty cheap.
After lunch we set off south past Littlehey Prison and along a series of quiet lanes through Great Staughton and Little Staughton to the crossroads at Bushmead. This is the point at which we could have turned east towards St Neots but Conrad calculated there was time for a short additional loop to the south and east before turning back north to Eaton Socon. Riding south took us directly into the wind, which had increased in intensity over lunch and was now slowing us (and tiring us) significantly.
Along the way south of Bushmead we passed a series of rather elegant pumps beside the road which I had never noticed before, some of them nicely painted.
When the time came to turn east for St Neots it came as a relief to all of us and our speed increased significantly. In Eaton Socon we crossed the Willow Bridge to Eynesbury and continued to Waresley. We reached the Garden Centre at 4pm exactly. In the cafe the staff were cleaning up and preparing for the 4.30pm closing time but were nevertheless very happy to see us. I ordered a coffee and a hot apple tart and custard which "hit the spot" for me perfectly. Jeremy, in contrast, ordered an ice cream.
A few minutes later Jacob arrived with the afternoon ride which today consisted of him, John and Wendy, who was here on her first Sunday ride after completing her training on the Saturday rides.
After a typically pleasant Waresley tea we went back outside and were reminded just how windy it was today. We got on our bikes, turned on our lights and set off back to Cambridge. Refreshed from our food stop, and with the wind mostly behind us, Conrad, Jeremy and I made rapid progress, and I arrived home at about 5.20pm, having cycled 77 miles. Not bad for such a windy day!
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Thursday, 24 October 2013
At the turning for the church in Whittlesford we joined the now not-so-new, but still splendid, cycleway through to Sawston. Unexpectedly, we turned right along the high street to the war memorial whereupon David Mr had an unusual mechanical fault in that his jockey wheel fell off. Everybody stopped and the parts were soon found and luckily the proprietor of Cousins Engineering was with us and he took over to get David on the road again.
However, this did mean that the remainder resumed the ride whilst Mike fixed the problem which apparently took about ten minutes before they made their own way to Horseheath and actually arrived a few minutes before the main group. So, with the ride resumed, we went along to Pampisford and then along the A505 to the point where it turns off to go under the road to go through to Great Abington.
Thus we arrived at the A1307 to go into Hildersham where we met a vast throng of schoolchildren from Linton Village College who, as far as we could make out, were involved in a charity walk. Maybe they were enjoying their walk as much as we were enjoying our ride. From Hildersham we arrived in Linton and then followed a loop round Bartlow and Shudy Camps before the two small hamlets of Mill Green and Cardinal's Green and then walking our bikes over the A1307 into Horseheath and our ever-popular coffee stop at the Old Red Lion Inn.
The Old Red Lion Inn never disappoints and, with those we met at the inn, our numbers had grown to twenty four thus giving the young lady looking after us plenty of work. As usual cakes were also provided and the charge was just one pound. As we had been so well looked after we all agreed that we should make this £1.50 to more truly reflect their efforts on our behalf.
Ian finally got everybody organised and we left Horseheath under cloudless blue skies, hardly any wind and cycling was a real pleasure as we headed up to West Wickham and out across Wratting Common to the Little Thurlow turning. This is a nice, narrow country road, but with plenty of mud on it as farm vehicles come on and off the fields. Now in this autumnal period we are able to enjoy the colours in the trees as they prepare to shed their leaves, especially enhanced by the bright sunlight. In Thurlow we turned for Great Bradley and then began a delightful run through the narrow Suffolk lanes via Kirtling and Woodditton and on to Stetchworth.
En route, in one field, we saw at least a dozen roe deers being looked after by the male and his formidable antlers. This stretch was a particularly pleasant part of our ride and after Stetchworth we just freewheeled down into Dullingham and The Boot for our lunch stop, arriving at about 1.20pm.
With about a dozen riders taking lunch we certainly gave the staff plenty of work (we had pre-booked), but everybody was well looked after and for those who had sandwiches it was equally pleasant sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. At about 2.10pm we started the afternoon session still with thirteen riders as we left go past Dullingham station and down past the polo grounds to the A1304, the A11 and on into Swaffham Prior before turning onto the Lodes Way.
It seemed that everyone was keen to stay out and make the most of this glorious day and as we arrived back into Lode there were no takers for the shorter route back into Cambridge. So we went along to Bottisham, back over the A11and into Great Wilbraham and then Fulbourn where the final leg of our journey took us over the Gog Magog hills, into the hospital grounds and along the DNA path to Great Shelford. Along here Ian left us to make his way home to the other side of Cambridge, no doubt to reflect on a wonderful day out - a great route and wonderful weather. For those who completed the circuit back to Hauxton they covered 62 miles finishing by 4.30pm. Edward Elmer
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Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Three courses are £19.95, two courses are £16.95. The club will pay the service charge which is additional. To book your place please print the menu, make your selections and send it with a cheque to the address on the form by the revised deadline Fri 6th Dec.
Monday, 21 October 2013
It rained all morning, and the forecast was for more rain (including thunderstorms) in the afternoon, so I wasn't sure about whether to go out at all. But my need to get out on the bike was stronger than my desire to stay indoors and listen to the rain on the windows. Due to my indecision, I didn't get to Brookside in time for the start of the ride, but I had a good idea which way they might have gone, and sure enough, I caught the group at the turning in Great Shelford, where they had stopped to fix a puncture.
I offered to lead a breakaway group, and got one taker. We headed south to Ickleton and turned right up the hill toward Elmdon. As we gained height, we saw that the sky to the southwest was black with clouds, and when we reached the top the storm hit us. I'm used to the steady Cambridgeshire drizzle, but this was a proper rainstorm: torrents of water came out of the sky and we were soaked in a few seconds. Within minutes the road was covered with water, and as we headed down towards Wendens Ambo we had to pick our way carefully between the streams of brown muddy water running off the fields and along the road. There were lightning flashes in the distance, but the rain was so loud that we didn't hear the thunder.
The deluge slackened by the time we reached Saffron Walden, but the runoff had left pools of water everywhere. Where the Slade brook meets Ashdon Road there was about 30 cm of water: up to our bottom brackets. We came in through the door of Ashdon Village Museum at about 16:10, and someone said, "here are a couple of drowned rats!"
The volunteers at Ashdon Museum were superb: tea and cake revived us, and they even brought a stack of towels. Many thanks for your hospitality!
We lingered until close to closing time, and by 16:50 the worst of the rain had blown over, leaving the roads flooded in places but ridable with care. With a tailwind, we made quick work of the return via Bartlow and Balsham, and I was home at 18:30 having cycled 47 miles. Tough conditions for a bike ride, but better than sitting around indoors!
Sunday, 20 October 2013
See our November and December rides lists for our full programme of rides. In addition to our weekly rides on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, our introductory Saturday morning rides continue twice a month and our moonlit evening rides continue once a month.
During November and December our Sunday all-day rides start at 9am and our afternoon rides start at 1.30pm.
Saturday, 19 October 2013
Ian led the group out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycle path until the first roundabout, where we turned right towards Coton. As always, I had baby Flo with me on board our cargo bike, and while he soon fell asleep I had to work quite hard in order to keep up with everyone, even though the pace was not very fast at all. The brief climb to the top of the bridge crossing the M11 was enough to separate me from the others for a short while, but I soon caught them up and we turned right again onto the bridle way through the Coton Countryside Reserve. This is normally a very pleasant ride, but with all the wet weather we've had recently the concrete track, which is mainly used by farm vehicles, was quite muddy and slippery in places - not ideal cycling conditions. Along the way I got chatting to Clive who was out on his new Dahon Vitesse which had been converted to an electric bike; this was his first longer ride on it as he wanted to test the range of the battery. Clive had not been out with us for some time and it was good to see him back.
The hedgerows and trees were showing off their autumn colours, the hawthorn bushes and wild roses were full of shiny red fruit, and despite the lack of sunshine I very much enjoyed the countryside views as we cycled through the reserve. We turned right once more at the end of the bridle way and crossed over the M11 again, following the Coton footpath until the West Cambridge site of the University. We took the first left turn that brings you out between the Department of Veterinary Medicine and the Computer Laboratory, then headed straight on across Madingley Road and through the grounds of the Observatory. Via Storey's Way and Huntingdon Road we carried on to Girton and then joined the busway at Histon. As we approached the Cambridge Regional College busway stop, Flo woke up and started to complain a little, letting me know that he was ready for a break. Luckily, our coffee destination was just around the corner - the Daily Bread shop on King's Hedges.
This was the first time we used them for a stop, so we were curious how it would turn out. While we locked up the bikes outside the shop (which looks rather like a warehouse), I explained briefly what the company is all about as none of the other riders seemed to be familiar with it. The Daily Bread is a Christian workers' co-operative, selling ethical, healthy and/or ecological products including wholefoods and organic foods, locally produced honey and natural cosmetics, hand made cards and gifts, cakes, and - of course - bread. Ian and I regularly do some of our grocery shopping there and a few weeks ago I noticed that they have a little seating area down the side of the shop were they serve tea, coffee and cake. With a group of thirteen cyclists and one baby we filled up this space completely and I doubt that the staff often deal with such large numbers at once. Nonetheless we were very well served: Extra chairs were brought in to accommodate everyone, and two very friendly members of staff took our orders. Cakes and drinks soon arrived and there was even a high chair and some toys for Flo. Everyone enjoyed the break, and I am sure we'll be back at the Daily Bread before long.
After we had paid for our refreshments we were soon on our way again for the final leg of the ride. In order to get back onto the busway, we had to negotiate a set of barriers that were so closely placed together and with so much overlap that it was impossible to get around them in one go with the extra long cargo bike. Even when I got off the bike and pushed it I had to reverse half way through and then lift the back end around - not the most helpful piece of "cycling infrastructure"! Instead of going directly back to the city centre, Ian led us out of town again along Milton Road and through Milton Country Park, and from there onto the tow path along the river and back into Cambridge. When we reached the city centre, we had cycled about 20 miles. Julia Hochbach
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
This allowed John and me a pleasant ride at a gentle pace, via Girton to the busway, along the busway to St Ives, and then along the Thicket Path and Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots. As usual, cycling along the busway in the dark was quiet and atmospheric, so when we arrived in St Ives it came as rather a shock to find the hight street filled with dozens of fairground stalls and rides, and with hundreds of local people.
At Hemingford Abbots we stopped for drinks and food at The Axe and Compasses, which as always was a quiet and friendly place to visit. Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge via Hemingford Grey, St Ives again and the busway once more. I arrived back home at 10.15pm (rather late for an evening ride), having cycled 35 miles.
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Sunday, 13 October 2013
By the time the afternoon arrived the wind and rain had subsided and when I arrived at Brookside at 2pm I found our leader, Jacob, waiting there with Steve, Mike CC, Steve, Jeremy, Conrad, John and Sarah. We set off south out of Cambridge down Trumpington Road and then via some of the city's most expensive back streets to Long Road and the busway.
We followed the busway south as far as Addenbrooke's and then turned onto the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there we took the road to Little Shelford and Whittlesford.
We crossed over the A505 and continued to Duxford. At the nearby airfield an air display was in progress and when we reached the turn to Grange Road we discovered that it was closed to motor traffic, as is usual on such occasions, to make it more pleasant for the dozens of cost-conscious plane-spotters lining the road. This long, straight road runs along the southern side of the airfield, and as we rode through we, too, were able to pause and admire the acrobatics overhead.
There was much evidence of the earlier rain which forced us to splash through some substantial, but not very deep, puddles.
When we reached Chrishall Grange we paused to wait for the stragglers to catch up. It turned out that Jeremy had had a puncture and Mike CC had stopped to help, leaving the rest of us to continue left up the hill towards Heydon. I was feeling energetic and, after informing the leader what I was doing, rode ahead with Sarah. We continued through Heydon to Great Chishill where we rook the right turn back down the hill to Flint Cross.
We were now riding north, and for the first time realised that there was a strong northerly wind and we found ourselves in that rather unsatisfying position of having to keep pedalling to travel downhill. When we reached the bottom we crossed the A505 and continued to Fowlmere. From here it was just another couple of miles to Shepreth. About a mile before we got there it started raining quite heavily but fortunately we had only a few more minutes cycling before we could stop for tea at the Teacake Cafe. As I had expected, Jeremy and Mike CC were already there (having taken a short cut after fixing the puncture) and a few minutes later we were joined by Jacob and the rest of the group.
After tea we emerged from the cafe to discover that the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. Our route home took us through Barrington and up Chapel Hill. We descended the hill to Haslingfield, turned left to Barton, and then followed the A603 back to Cambridge. Although I had brought my lights I didn't need them, and I arrived home at 5.35pm, about 40 minutes before sunset, having cycled a modest 33 miles.
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Thursday, 10 October 2013
Needless to say the number out on the ride was reduced and so only nine set off from Hauxton with Mick C at the helm for our ride out to Green Tye, close to Bishop's Stortford. As we were heading south the wind for most of the morning was on our backs so we had a easy morning's ride. Our route out from Hauxton was familiar, going through Little Shelford and over the hill to Newton, Thriplow and Fowlmere before reaching the A505. Surprisingly the A505 wasn't busy and we all crossed with no waiting and this soon brought us to Chrishall Grange which heralds the long climb up to the Elmdon turning where we stopped so that we all could come together again. Now from this high point we had an undulating ride taking in Heydon and Great Chishill and of course taking more of a buffeting from the wind as we made our way through Shaftenhoe End before arriving at Nuthampstead for our coffee break at the Woodman Inn. The coffee was already waiting for us and we all sat down before a log fire to enjoy the break. This is always an interesting pub to call at as it has many fine photos depicting scenes from the days when the American 380th Bomber Group flew from here during WW11.
Reluctantly we had to drag ourselves away from the cozy fire and head off again, now joined by Doug, only briefly today, David Ms, Peter W and John who had joined us just before Nuthampstead. Today's route took us through Anstey whose church has a window dedicated to the bomber group, then down to Great Hormead. We were now in very quiet villages in this Essex and Hertfordshire border area and soon we were were riding into Furneux Pelham and just before entering the village we saw three roe deers scampering about in the field next to us. Sadly they seemed sensitive to our presence and quickly made off so it was not possible to get a picture. Now riding became very easy as, with the wind behind us, we headed more or less down hill through Clapgate and Gravesend before coming to the inevitable long wait to cross the A120 at Little Hadham - at least there is a sign warning of a long wait.
Once over the A120 it was now just a short ride to Much Hadham where we turned off to join the very narrow road with one or two steep climbs and a ford crossing where we had a couple of minor mishaps on the slippery road. Luckily no damage was done. This now left us with a mile or so to go through Perry Green and finally the Prince of Wales pub for lunch Green Tye.
We were well looked after and the pub which, on its website welcomes cyclists, also had a good choice of beers. It was just before 2pm when we started for home again and we retraced our way back to Much Hadham before turning off to pass through Standon and then on to Puckeridge. Of course the wind was in our faces as it was all the way home and riding was especially hard work. After Puckeridge we toiled along the B1368 for about five or six miles passing through Braughing, Hay Street, Dassels and Hare Street; this was heading north west and it was certainly slow, hard work before we reached the turning for Anstey.
We took this road and thus reacquainted ourselves with Nuthampstead and Shaftenhoe End before arriving in Barley. Normally this is the point where we can relax and enjoy the long downhill to Flint Cross. Not this time as we were face on into the wind which had seemed to gather strength during the afternoon, so downhill it may have been but it still required a lot of pedalling. Once over the A505 it was just a couple of miles into Fowlmere, a diversion via Thriplow and back into Newton and finally Great Shelford where the ride ended with 60 quality miles to our credit. Our thanks to Mike for our day out; hard work it may have been but well worth it.Edward Elmer
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