Sunday, 24 November 2013

24 Nov: Afternoon ride to St Ives

John writes: Nine cyclists (including two riding a tandem) met at Brookside at 1.30pm. The sky was overcast, threatening rain, and with a light north-westerly breeze. We encountered a few showers en route to St. Ives which were brief and light. Despite a 15 minute hold-up whilst the tandem riders repaired a front wheel puncture we arrived at the River Tea Rooms at the target time of 3:30 p.m.

Our route took us out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycle path and thence through the villages of Comberton, Toft, Bourn, Knapwell and Conington. We encountered little traffic. After Conington we used the A14 underpass to Fenstanton and thence by the Lower Road towards the Hemingfords.

St. Ives was entered by the scenic route of London Road and the ancient town bridge. At the café we met a dozen or so other members who had been out with the day-riders or who had arrived independently. The High Street in the town was closed to traffic and a bustling street market was in progress.

After tea an enlarged group followed the busway back to Cambridge. The following breeze made for a brisk ride home. From my position at the rear I saw the flashing red lights become more and more extended into the distance. This was my first ride along the cycle track after dark and I was most impressed with the “runway” cats’ eyes. My GPS recorded a total distance of 32 miles on reaching home at 5.35pm.

For my next ride I must remember to bring pencil and paper to make a note of the names and since I cannot recall them all I have refrained from naming any on this occasion. Amongst us there were some new, or recent, joiners and we look forward particularly to meeting them on another ride soon. John Ferguson

24 Nov All-day ride to Waresley, West Perry and St Ives

Nigel writes: Today was a dull and damp day, though it wasn't particularly cold and never actually rained at any point. Perhaps as would be expected this led to a somewhat reduced turnout at Brookside: just Neil T, Zhiqing, Neil S and me - though as is usually the case we saw many more members than this during the course of the day.

We didn't have a pre-arranged leader today so we agreed a route at the start and set off. This took us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway.

Barton Road, Cambridge

When we reached Barton we turned south to Haslingfield. There our group divided into two. Neil T and Zhiqing took the turn to Harlton and followed a relatively direct route to Waresley via the Eversdens, Kingston and Bourn, whilst Conrad, Neil S and I took a slightly longer route.

The three of us climbed Chapel Hill and descended to Barrington. Here, instead of continuing across Barrington Green to Shepreth we turned left to Foxton. The reason for this diversion was that I wanted to inspect the new cycle track that is currently under construction alongside the A10 between Foxton and Shepreth.

When we reached the A10 at Foxton Station the first thing we discovered is that nothing has changed for the first three-quarters of a mile south of Foxton Station. This remains a narrow and bumpy path, though certainly rideable. I think this is intended to be used by cyclists but I didn't see any signs to that effect.

Along the A10 west of Foxton Station

The new cycle path starts at the junction with Shepreth Road, Foxton. It's only a third of a mile from here to the crossroads at Fowlmere Road, Shepreth, but this short section will soon have an excellent new cycle path.

Start of new cycle track

It's still under construction, though, and the last hundred metres to the cross-roads is not yet rideable.

Cycle track construction just east of the turn to Shepreth

The new cycleway is planned to continue a further three-quarters of a mile to the turn for Melbourn, but we didn't try it and instead turned right to Shepreth.

Our explorations completed, we carried on towards our coffee stop at Waresley. This rook us through Malton to Orwell and then past Wimpole Hall to Arrington. We crossed the A1198 and continued west to Croydon and then up Croydon Hill and through the Hatleys to Gamlingay. From here it was just a short distance to Waresley where we stopped for coffee at the Garden Centre.

Already in the cafe were about half a dozen members including Mike S, Mick C, Edward, Richard and David, as well as Neil T and Zhiqing  who had arrived well before us. 

Coffee at Waresley Park Garden Centre

After coffee I set off towards lunch with Conrad, Neil S, Zhiqing and David W. We left Waresley along the lovely narrow lane that runs over Lily Hill and down towards St Neots.

Lily Hill, Waresley

In St Neots we used the Willow Bridge to cross the River Great Ouse and continued west into the flat but peaceful countryside west of the A1. When we reached the cross-roads near Bushmead Priory we turned north and wound out way around the airfield at Staughton Moor and on to Staughton Highway. Here we turned onto the empty road which climbs up the ridge past Littlehey Prison to West Perry, where we stopped for lunch at the Harbour View restaurant on the edge of Grafham Water. There was a bit of a north-westerly breeze which made for a noticeable headwind but nothing to cause us any particular problems.

When we arrived at the restaurant we found Sarah and Andy, and a few minutes later we were joined by Adrian and Richard M who had been at Waresley but had decided to take a longer route to lunch. The restaurant was very quiet, which I hope was due to the time of year and the dreary weather rather than a general lack of trade, but it meant we were served quickly and it wasn't long until we were back on our way.

From West Perry we rode east along the B661 around the edge of the dam and then down towards Buckden. With the wind behind us, and Andy and Sarah setting a brisk pace, we made rapid progress to Buckden where we paused to regroup.

Regrouping at Buckden

We crossed the A1 using the subway and then continued east, over first the Ouse and then the railway, to Offord Cluny. There we turned north along the B1043 for the three mile journey to Godmanchester. From Godmanchester we rode across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots and then across the Ouse once more to Houghton. A short ride along the Thicket Path brought us to St Ives, where we found a street market was in full swing.

We stopped for afternoon tea at the River Tea Rooms. As were were going in we spotted Paul, who had been out for a ride on his own, and a few minutes later we were joined by Adrian and also by John F and the afternoon ride, which today consisted of John F, John E, Jacob, Cheryl and Steve. So all together we were quite a large group, taking up about half the tea room.

Tea in St Ives

Afterwards we set off back towards Cambridge along the busway. I arrived home at 5.30pm, having cycled 72 miles.


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Thursday, 21 November 2013

21 Nov: Thursday ride to Saffron Walden and Horseheath

Edward writes: We are now in a typical autumn cold spell and this obviously discouraged some of our regular Thursday riders and so only ten cyclists came to Hauxton for the start of today’s ride. The early morning was certainly unpleasant, being damp with a stiff breeze from the north east but the forecast was for an improvement throughout the day and this is what in fact happened. (Before we left Hauxton we noticed a couple of buzzards circling overhead.)

Coploe Hill

Therefore we left Hauxton with the wind on our backs through Whittlesford, over the A505 into Duxford and took the factory route to reach Ickleton via Hinxton. Naturally this took us to the well known club favourite of Coploe Hill and even in the short time we had been out the weather had improved considerably and it was blue skies all round. After a short breather at the "summit" we resumed to enjoy the long sweep downhill to climb again into Catmere End. This soon brought us to Chestnut Avenue and another long descent to Audley End mansion, the climb up to Saffron Walden and coffee at the Temeraire.

Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden

Unusually, the only other rider there was Peter W who joined us for the rest of the day. After coffee we left Saffron Walden with the inevitable climb along the Debden Road. This took us into the most undulating part of the ride in this Essex and Cambridgeshire border area as we went up and down hill via Purton End into Debden and on to Thaxted.

Thaxted

It's been mentioned several times before but, although it's cold, the day is never without its compensations; with the brilliant sunshine the many colours of the dying leaves and the berries still in the hedgerows made for many spectacular panoramas. We regrouped in Thaxted and left the town towards the Bardfields before turning for Finchingfield. The original intention was for the ride to go through Finchingfield but we started to run a little late so we took a shorter route towards Great Sampford but turned off to head in the direction of Cornish Hall End as this road joins the road up from Finchingfield to the B1054.

We crossed the B1054 for another climb before descending into Helions Bumpstead and then climb again to Castle Camps. By now, of course, we were heading into the wind and its chill could certainly be felt. From Castle Camps we went to Nosterfield End and the the two small hamlets of Mill Green and Cardinal’s Green before arriving in Horseheath and the Old red Lion Inn for our lunch stop and by now the time was 1.40pm, a little later than anticipated. As is the custom in this pub we were well looked after.

After Thaxted

After lunch, and coming out into the cold it felt as if the temperature had dropped, which no doubt it had, as the sun was getting low in the sky. The opinion was that we should go back to Cambridge on the quickest route and so we left via Streetly End and onto West Wickham and Balsham. Peter left us along here to head for his home and when we arrived in Balsham some went directly to Cambridge via Fulbourn which left three of us (Sarah, Mike C and me) to go down to Hildersham, over the A1307 and on this occasion taking in the village of Great Abington before going into Babraham via the main road rather than using the farm track as this was likely to be muddy due to so much rain recently.

West Wickham

When we reached Sawston we crossed over the railway and took the cycleway to Whittlesford and then on to Little Shelford which left Sarah to go on to Hauxton, thus becoming the only one to complete the whole course, and Mike and me to finish in Great Shelford. This gave us a very satisfying 56 miles - it was probably one of those days when it didn’t look too promising in the morning and a disincentive to make the effort but at the end of it all very pleased that you did! Edward Elmer


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Sunday, 17 November 2013

17 Nov: Afternoon ride to Ashdon

Nigel writes: Today was dull and overcast, and although it never rained the air was damp and misty. However this unpromising weather didn't put off eight riders from turning up at Brookside for today's afternoon ride. Apart from me, the other riders were Jeremy, John, Jacob, Wendy and newcomers Jonathan, Terry and Paul. No-one had volunteered in advance to lead the ride, so I quickly planned a route before leaving home and when I arrived at Brookside my offer to lead was quickly accepted.

After a couple of minutes getting the newcomers to sign the necessarty paperwork we all set off, south along Trumpington Road and then along the busway to Addenbrooke's.


We continued south along the DNA path to Great SHelford from where we turned onto the road that lead to Little Shelford and Whittlesford. Just south of Whittlesford we crossed the A505 to Duxford and continued via Hinxton to Ickleton. Continuing south of Ickleton gave us our first hill of the afternoon - Coploe Hill, a club and personal favourite which allowed us to climb to an elevation of 87m and the border with Essex.

A short descent and another short climb took us to Catmere End, from where it was downhill all the way along Chestnut Avenue to the main B1363, which we followed for a couple of hundred hards before turning off again towards Audley End house.

A further short climb took us into Saffron Walden, but we weren't in the town for long, pausing only long enough for the traffic lights to turn to green to allow us to turn onto the road to Ashdon.

We arrived at Ashdon slightly late at about 3.40pm. The cafe was full of locals but I was pleased to see Keith, Adrian and John T there as well. We joined them and spent a pleasant half hour drinking tea and enjoying their excellent cakes.


Afterwards we set off back to Cambridge. I suggested a route via Bartlow, West Wratting and Six Mile Bottom, and everyone seemed happy to join me. The sun had set a few minutes earlier and the light was fading rapidly and we were soon cycling along in the darkness.

When we reached Little Wilbraham we took the turn for Great Wilbraham and the final few miles through Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton and then along Mill Road back to the City Centre. The Christmas Lights here were due to be turned on this evening, and Mill Rad was thronged with people. I arrived home at about 6pm, having cycled 45 miles.


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Saturday, 16 November 2013

16 Nov: Saturday morning ride to Cottenham

Julia writes: There seems to be a new theme for our Saturday rides: Rather uninspiring grey skies and a rather unexpectedly large crowd waiting at Brookside. I'm not sure what it is that makes people come out on a damp and dull November morning, but it certainly is nice to see that our rides remain so popular even when the weather is less than ideal.

We were 20 people in total when we set off for the ride - 19 cyclists, including three newcomers, and of course baby Flo as a passenger in the bakfiets.

Photo: Clive Peace

It was my turn to lead the ride, and I had decided to not follow our usual route out of town along Barton Road, but instead went via King's Parade through the city centre. The bridge over the Cam on Garret Hostel Lane was a bit of a challenge for me - I just about managed to propel the heavy cargo bike up the short but steep climb, using the lowest gear available. Our group briefly got separated at the traffic lights crossing Queen's Road, but soon we were all together again and continued along the Coton footpath, over the M11 and on to Coton. We passed the Orchard and Garden Centre and crossed Madingley Road before riding past the American Cemetery, through the village of Madingley and on to Dry Drayton. I had not been out this way for quite some time and enjoyed the scenery, although the last of the autumn colours would have been even more picturesque had they been bathed in sunlight.


As we approached Dry Drayton I had to think for a moment which way we needed to turn next, but thankfully there was a sign at the end of the road pointing right for Oakington and Cottenham, saving me the embarrassment of having to check with Ian which way we were meant to be going. We were five miles from our coffee stop at that point, and I was looking forward to the break already. There had been a few little hills on our route and I had to pedal quite hard in order to keep up a reasonable pace. The road connecting Dry Drayton, Oakington and Cottenham is rather long, straight and somewhat boring, but on the bright side we had the wind behind us and made good progress on this final stretch before our stop. I even used the highest gear on the 8-speed hub of the bakfiets, which is a rare treat.

We soon arrived at the community centre in Cottenham, one of my favourite ride destinations. The sign outside the former Methodist church says "delicious fresh coffee served here", and that is exactly right. The centre can sometimes be quite busy, but on this occasion it luckily wasn't very full, so we had no trouble finding seats for everyone.


I ordered the usual cafe latte and it was indeed very enjoyable. But not only the coffee is delicious at this place; the cakes served in the community centre are baked by volunteers and are very tasty, too - Howard reckons the Victoria sponge is particularly good. I must try a piece next time! Flo had neither coffee nor cake, but he seemed to have a good time nonetheless, sitting in his high chair and playing enthusiastically with a toy ambulance car.


Soon it was time to leave again and we went back the way we came along the High Street for a short while before turning sharp left onto Denmark Road. Looking behind me, I noticed that a few people were missing - apparently they had enjoyed the stay at the coffee stop so much they had not realised we'd set off! While waiting for them to catch up, I took another photo, with the war memorial in the background.


Once we were all together again, we continued through Landbeach on to Waterbeach. Flo was getting hungry now and started to complain a little, so I left the group at the car park by the railway station to go the shortest way home via Horningsea, while Ian led the group back to Cambridge along the river. I stopped on the bridge just out of Waterbeach to take a final picture of my fellow cyclists on the tow path, a string of brightly coloured dots that soon disappeared into the distance.
I reached home at 1 pm, having cycled 24 miles. Julia Hochbach

Thursday, 14 November 2013

14 Nov: Thursday ride to Swavesey and Houghton

Edward writes: Another Thursday and this time some fairly typical autumn weather. This morning broke with a brisk wind rushing in from a cold north west and this was always going to make the morning’s effort out to Houghton a stiff test as we would be riding into the wind. Nevertheless, thirteen riders found their way out to Haslingfield for today’s ride which was to be led by David W.

Haslingfield

We left Haslingfield into the stiff wind by way of Harlton which brought us to the A604 where we crossed over into the Eversdens and then on to Bourn and Kingston. The road between these two villages is undulating and quite exposed and the wind when it came across us made control of the bike at times quite hazardous. From Kingston we went down to the B1046 before turning to go through Caldecote and this road has a large number of humps, so certainly they mean to restrict speeding motorists in this village.

Kingston

Once through this village, at Adrian’s suggestion, we went through Childerley Gate and for half of its length the road is tarmac and the remainder, despite all the recent rain, is still a fairly reasonable riding surface. This brought us out in Boxworth and then we crossed over the A14 which left us with the mile or so into Swavesey and the Baptist Chapel for our coffee break.

Childerley

At the chapel we found another six or seven riders already there enjoying the fare on offer. This time the cakes were provided by the Women's Institute and who can resist home-made cakes made by the ladies of the WI! This remains one of our favourite coffee stops.

Swavesey

After coffee it was time to go out in the cold and we split into two groups with one group taking a shorter route to Houghton whilst the main group went along to Fen Drayton and Fenstanton. Once or twice Adrian diverted from the main course to enjoy a couple of his off-road tracks and left us finally in Hilton to make his own way to Houghton. The main group went from Hilton to Graveley which meant a long stint into the wind and a final climb up the hill into Graveley where the wind turbines were earning their keep. Although it was a cold wind this didn’t detract from the spectacular autumn colours which are there for all to enjoy.

Graveley

We climbed out of Graveley and again we felt the wind at its strongest as we descended into Offord Darcy followed by Offord Cluny. We now ran parallel to the railway and even in the short time we rode alongside it three inter-city expresses hurtled by. After the climb from Offord Cluny we descended into Godmanchester which is a busy town and still has some fine medieval buildings. As we left the town beside the former Cambride-Huntindon railway we entered Hemingford Abbots and then turned to cross the meadows, past Houghton Mill and finally The Three Horseshoes for our lunch stop.
Houghton

Inside the pub we were welcomed by an extremely hot log fire making those closest to it feel pretty toasty. We all enjoyed a good lunch and rest for an hour before starting for home at about 2.15pm. We left Houghton along the recently surfaced cycleway into St Ives where some headed for Cambridge down the busway whilst we left to go through Fenstanton and then took a leisurely ride through Conington and Knapwell. With the wind on our backs, even at our leisurely pace, we soon got back to the St Neots old road where we turned into Bourn. This left us to ride through Toft, Comberton and Barton before finishing the ride at the Coton roundabout after a ride of 54 miles. Our thanks to David for another successful Thursday ride. Edward Elmer


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Sunday, 10 November 2013

10 Nov: Afternoon ride to Shepreth

Tina writes: I arrived at Brookside on the dot of 1.30pm and found a large group of 12 people all keen to make the most of the clear blue skies and afternoon sunshine. After the traditional photo, Gareth decided he wanted a longer ride over to Wendens Ambo, so shot off ahead, while the rest of the group rode down Trumpington Road, turning along Porson Road and onwards to the guided busway and DNA path. With relatively large numbers, Graham had kindly offered to be back marker, so I was confident that we wouldn’t lose anyone, but made a mental note to stop at regular intervals to allow everyone to catch up.


We continued through Shelford and then Whittlesford, enjoying clear views across the countryside. Wildflowers along the verges have finally admitted defeat, but hips and haws provided colourful splashes in the hedgerows and trees are now turning autumnal shades of gold, red and russet brown.


Beyond Whittlesford, we crossed the A505 to Duxford, turning towards Hinxton, where we waited at the crossing for a train to pass and then on through Ickleton. Here we could have taken the low level Grange Road but chose instead the more challenging route up Coploe Hill. We regrouped at the top for another team photo and then swooped away along the gently undulating road, turning right at the crossroads along Royston Lane. After another steep climb, we were rewarded by more spectacular views. Our extremely fit tandem riders, on their first outing with Cambridge CTC, were among the first to reach the top of all the hills and even chatted on their way up!


From Royston Lane we wound our way towards Chrishall Grange and then re-crossed the A505 to Fowlmere, where it was a straight road back to Shepreth for 3.50pm and the customary warm welcome at the Teacake. The day riders were already ensconced in the room upstairs, as we queued patiently to place our orders. (We didn’t see Gareth again so hope he had a good, puncture-free ride and made it safely back to Cambridge.) The remaining non-cyclists downstairs seemed to make a hasty exit, no doubt dazzled by the sea of hi-vis yellow, orange and pink jackets and we were able to spread out and enjoy a range of delicious cakes, teas and coffees.


I had a leisurely ride back to Royston, leaving the main group to make their way over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield, Barton and back into Cambridge. Total mileage (for complete ride): about 32 miles. Tina Filby


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Thursday, 7 November 2013

7 Nov: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Hadstock

Edward writes: When many of us left home this morning very few would have expected to be amongst a group of twenty who had assembled in Hauxton for our ride out to Hadstock. This was a ride originally to be led by David Ms but, sadly, he is indisposed and we all wish him a speedy return to fitness and to rejoin us for the Thursday rides; consequently Rupert stepped into the breach to be today’s leader. This week was another lucky break with the weather - yesterday afternoon was vile but today was reasonably mild, dry and, most importantly, very little wind.

Near the A505 at Fowlmere

Obviously twenty riders meant two groups and so we set off via Little Shelford to Newton, through Thriplow and Fowlmere and out to the A505 which for once wasn’t very busy and soon we were in Chrishall Grange. A small group branched off here to pursue a shorter and flatter route to Ickleton, our coffee stop. The main group were left to toil uphill to the Heydon and Elmdon turning and this was followed by another climb up to Elmdon which then gave us the long descent into Ickleton and the Riverside Barns for coffee. Doug, Craig and Mike K joined us there and we rather overran the place by occupying all the seats, but they coped very well and we enjoyed a pleasant half hour or so before it was time to move off.

Ickleton

Ickleton

As is usual there were a number of comings and goings after coffee but it was still a large group that carried on for the ride out to Hadstock. We used the farm track to access the the climb up Coploe Hill and from the top we enjoyed the fine views over the surrounding countryside. At this time of the year there isn't too much to report on country activities as the new crops are only just starting to re-colour the fields and we saw little evidence of bird life. After Coploe Hill we went through Catmere End and towards Littlebury Green but turning to use the narrow, undulating road with its long descent to Wendons Ambo, where we briefly joined the B1383 and turned into Saffron Walden.

Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden

There are always hills when going through Saffron Walden, so after the descent into the town we had the long climb out along the Ashdon Road before doing a detour onto the road which goes to Sewards End and then another narrow road which, after a couple of miles, joins the Radwinter to Ashdon road.

Ashdon

Thus we arrived in Ashdon and a further two miles brought us to Bartlow and two more miles into Hadstock and these last two miles afford several glimpses of the former railway which ran from Shelford to Haverhill and beyond.

We arrived at the King’s Head at about 1.15pm and, embarrassingly, we completely overwhelmed them. Although they had been told to expect about ten there were already seven eating lunch who had made separate journeys to Hadstock. The landlord was very good and dealt with the situation very well as, with those only having tea or coffee, there were over twenty of us all together. It was good to see Vic and Mike S along with Adrian coming out for lunch. Importantly, though, the pub will still be pleased for us to make further visits.

Hadstock

After lunch we returned to Bartlow where we climbed up to cross the A1307 and up to the crossroads for West Wratting and Balsham. We went into Balsham and then a nice two mile descent into Hildersham, back over the A1307 into Great Abington. Following yesterday’s rain we decided against using the farm track into Babraham but instead used the Four Went Ways roundabout and back into Babraham. Next was Sawston, Stapleford and Great Shelford where the ride finished as we were now a small group as people were already splitting off to head for home. Thanks to Rupert for another of our long list of very enjoyable rides; those who made it back to Hauxton would have covered 53 miles, finishing about 3.40pm. Edward Elmer


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Sunday, 3 November 2013

3 Nov: Afternoon ride to Hauxton

John writes: Four riders (Paul, Mike K, John E and I) set off at 1.30pm. I had chosen a route to Elmdon via Whittlesford and Ickleton to benefit from a homeward tailwind and to enjoy the fine views around Elmdon. When we emerged from the genome path Mike suggested staying on the footpath beside the railway. I wasn’t familiar with this but it proved a good alternative avoiding the awkward right turn at Shelford.

Heading towards Whittlesford I thought the headwind exceptionally strong when Mike pointed out I had a flat rear tyre! Ably assisted by all hands we were soon on our way again shortening the route by omitting the planned loop through Hinxton.

The direct route to Ickelton was not busy (Premiership football on TV?) where we met the day-riders at the bottom of Coploe Hill. They declined our invite to join us on the long climb to Elmdon into a stiff breeze: they had apparently already done it.

At Elmdon my GPS which had shown an encouraging ETA at  Hauxton of 3:35 p.m. at the outset now showed an alarming 4:45 p.m. However the route was now predominately downhill and with a following wind. On the approach to the Chrishall Grange the GPS showed a max speed of 43.4 kph (27mph). Despite concentrating on keeping the tempo up Mike spotted an ancient biplane which seemed almost stationary flying into the headwind over Duxford. We crossed the A505 into Fowlmere thence Newton and arrived at Hauxton, after a brief delay at the level-crossing, at 3:58pm. The route from Brookside to Hauxton was 36.5 kms (23 miles).

The tea was splendid and much appreciated after an enjoyable and brisk ride. Many thanks to all who prepared the tea. What a pity that winter Sunday afternoon rides are not more popular. John Ferguson

3 Nov: All-day ride to Ickleton, Wimbish and Hauxton

Nigel writes: Today's weather was a repeat of last week: very sunny, very mild, and very windy. I arrived at Brookside to discover a large crowd of keen and youthful cyclists getting ready for a brisk sprint in the beautiful autumn sunshine, and beside them a smaller and rather older group of CTC members preparing for today's all-day ride to Ickleton, Wimbish and Hauxton. There were seven of us in all: Conrad, Neil, Steve, Neil, Tom, Ian and me. We wished the members of Cambridge University Triathlon Club a good ride, and off we went.

Nobody had volunteered in advance to be the leader of today's ride, but this is rarely a problem on Sunday mornings as someone always suggests a route and becomes the de facto leader. On this occasion that person was me. At my suggestion we all rode west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton and then south to Haslingfield.

Leaving Cambridge along Barton Road

It was certainly quite windy, and we were riding more or less directly into the wind, but in the bright sunshine (and the new wind-proof top I had bought last week)  it was really quite warm. When we reached Haslingfield we turned onto Chapel Hill and began our ascent of this notorious 61m-high mountain.

Haslingfield, at the bottom of Chapel Hill

We stopped near the summit, gasping for oxygen in the thin alpine air, to wait for Conrad who had stopped earlier to adjust his bike. Whilst we were waiting two large pelotons from Cambridge Cycling Club sped by.

At the top of Chapel Hill

As we descended down the other side towards Barrington I exclaimed at the beauty of the view...until we turned and the cement works chimney came into view.

We rode through Barrington and continued through Shepreth to Fowlmere. There we turned south and crossed over the A505 to Chrishill Grange.

Fowlmere

At Chrishall Grange we divided into two groups. Steve, Tom, Neil and Ian took the shorter route to Ickleton via Royston Lane, whilst Conrad and I took a slightly longer route via Elmdon. The two of us arrived Ickleton Barns Cafe at 11am, a few minutes after the others. Also at coffee were several other members who had made their own way there, including Doug, Edward, Vic, David, Mick, Mike CC and Joseph.

Ickleton Barns Cafe

After coffee some people joined the all-day ride and some people left it, leaving Conrad, Mike CC, David, Joseph, Steve, Tom and me to carry on to lunch at Wimbish.

Farm road between Ickleton Barns and Coploe Hill

Farm road between Ickleton Barns and Coploe Hill

The direct route to Wimbish would have been only nine miles, so I suggested a longer route which involved heading south over Coploe Hill to Littlebury Green and then continuing further south through Arkesden, Wicken Bonhunt and Rickling to Rickling Green, where we turned back north. This took us for a mile along the B1363 through Quendon and then along a series of particularly lovely quiet lanes through Widdington and past Carver Barracks to Wimbish, where we stopped for lunch at the Elder Street Farm Cafe before.

Hill above Littlebury Green

We entered the cafe and discovered that it was fully-booked but we were welcome to sit at the rather windy tables outside. I hadn't eaten here before and was very impressed by the menu, the moderate prices, and the high quality of the food that was delivered. I look forward to coming again, though next time I hope we remember to book!


After lunch we retraced our route for a couple of miles before turning north towards Saffron Walden. This took us directly into the wind, which seemed to have picked up a bit since earlier, so it was a relief to be able to turn north and have it behind us again. From Saffron Walden we descended to Audley End and after another short section along the B1363 turned onto Chestnut Avenue. This took us into the wind once more for the gentle climb up to Catmere End. We continued south over Coploe Hill and down into Ickleton for the second time today. From Ickleton we continued north to Duxford and crossed over the A505 to Whittlesford. A few minutes later we reached Little Shelford where we took the left fork to Hauxton. We reached Hauxton Village Hall at about 3.15pm. This was the venue of today's club AGM and the traditional pre-meeting tea which Tina, Eva and several other members had kindly prepared.

AGM at Hauxton Village Hall

After tea, and the AGM itself, I returned back to Cambridge via Little Shelford, Great Shelford and the DNA path. I arrived back home at about 6.30pm, having cycled 64 miles.


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