Friday, 31 January 2014

30 Jan: Thursday ride to Gamlingay and Moggerhanger

Edward writes: Another Thursday ride but this didn’t bring any change to the wet weather, just another day like last Thursday. Then we abandoned the ride at coffee, but this week we seemed to be made of sterner stuff and most of those who started completed the full circuit and stayed out all day. When we met at Haslingfield, under overcast skies we found nine cyclist had convened for our ride out to Gamlingay with lunch at a new venue in Moggerhanger. It was also a first for Sarah who was making her debut as a ride leader and she might have wished for the weather to have been more generous.

We left Haslingfield for an immediate climb up Chapel Hill and at the top it was easier to realise how murky the conditions were as visibility was not at all good. We now followed the route out of Barrington to Shepreth and Meldreth, where we were joined by Nick, before the turn and climb up to Kneesworth and Basingbourn. By now the day had developed into a steady drizzle or light rain which it was to maintain all the way to lunch. We left Basingbourn and made our way out to Shingay and this took us onto a short road which links to the B1042. This is indeed a short road and probably to the local authority of low priority but is in such a shocking state that it would be an embarrassment to a third-world country. We headed west for a short distance on the B1042 before turning for the stiff climb up Croydon Hill which gave us the five miles through the Hatleys before arriving in Gamlingay at exactly 11 am and a new coffee stop of LJ’s Sandwich Bar.


When the runs list was planned we had intended to go to the Crafty Cup Cake but it was no longer open which necessitated the change to LJ’s. This is a small but very friendly and welcoming establishment and we expected that we would have to sit outside on the little patio, but our arrival seemed to prompt an early return to work for the regulars and we were all able to squeeze in out of the wet and cold. Coffee and teas were served plus a number of very welcome bacon sarnies.

After coffee four decided to return home but this left seven to go on including Bill who had cycled over from Ely to join us. We left Gamlingay via the Cinques and joined the Heath Road which took us into Everton and of course a rapid descent of Tempsford Hill, although today there would be no speed heroics.


We crossed the main east coast railway and for once we were not stopped - it’s not unusual to wait up to ten minutes at this crossing. After we had crossed the A1 this took us into Blunham and from here we took a new route up to Great Barford and as we rode near to the river it was apparent how close this is to major flooding. When we arrived at the A603 we had another pleasant surprise and didn’t go the quickest way to Moggerhanger but instead went along to Willington and Cople where we finally turned for Moggerhanger and the Woodland Cafe. This is the first time this has been used and it is very pleasant with a very light and airy feel about it. The menu included soup (very welcome on a day like today), doorstep sandwiches and jacket potato, plus cakes and it all seemed just right for people on bikes.


We left the cafe at 2pm and much to our surprise it had stopped raining! For our return journey we travelled through Blunham and onto the old railway alignment into Sandy and what a state this was in with mud and water everywhere. We left Sandy and climbed out to go through Everton again (Nick left us along here) and then into Waresley where we said goodbye to Bill.


Finally the last five survivors, with it raining again, left to go home via Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn and then back to Haslingfield where the ride ended at 4pm with a highly satisfactory 58 miles to our credit. We may have been wet and bedraggled when we got home but it was an enjoyable day out and our thanks to Sarah for a successful debut and no doubt there are other rides tucked away in her kit bag. Edward Elmer

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

23 Jan: Thursday ride to Anglesey Abbey and Kentford

Edward writes: Today was meant to be a ride out to Landwades Park at Kentford via Anglesey Abbey but the weather intervened enough to make us have second thoughts. An hour or so before we met at Hauxton Green the weather was fine - some sun and not too much wind. By the time the fourteen who came to the start got under way a light rain had already started and this soon became a steady rain as we made our way through Great Shelford.

We went along the DNA path to the hospital and at this point Tony and Sue wisely decided a trip home was a more appealing option than going on to Anglesey Abbey. The rain and the wind, which was picking up now, made us feel ‘cold to the bone’ and there were many misgivings about the wisdom of carrying on. But carry on we did and we arrived in Fulbourn and briefly considered using a cafe in the village, but stouter hearts prevailed and we moved on through the Wilbrahams, over a very busy A14 and briefly onto the A1303 for the turning into Bottisham. This just left us with the mile or so into Lode and Anglesey Abbey which today was a very welcoming sight and unsurprisingly wasn’t very busy.

Anglesey Abbey

When we arrived the first priority was to try and get warm and to dry some of our clothes - a Dyson hand drier proved an invaluable tool. Much use was made of the underfloor heating and Averil and Sarah (see picture) tried a novel way to get warm! Slowly we got warmer but there was little enthusiasm for carrying on and the majority decided that a return home to Cambridge would be the best thing to do. However this didn’t stop Rupert and Adrian, both of whom had arrived at coffee independently, along with Peter Wi deciding to carry on and go for lunch at Landwades Park. This left about eight of us to head back to Cambridge which we did by way of Stow-cum-Quay, along Newmarket Road and into Fen Ditton. This gave us a ride alongside the river passing Stourbridge Common, Midsummer Common and Jesus Lock and eventually along the Backs.

Sarah, Averil and baby Florian

It's always disappointing to miss out on a ride as we only cycled a mere 27 miles and how annoying is this the afternoon weather produced clear blue skies! Edward Elmer

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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Rides in January and February

Our January and February rides lists are now available and they contain a big change to our Sunday rides. On most Sundays during these winter months there will just be one ride which we describe as a "Sunday winter ride". There won't be a separate afternoon ride. More information about this important change can be found here.

19 Jan: Winter ride to Ickleton and Wimbish

Nigel writes: Today was the first time that I had an opportunity to join one of the club's new Sunday winter rides that we are operating during the darkest winter months. These are daytime rides which start at 9.30am and return to Cambridge before dark. They include stops for morning coffee and lunch but no afternoon tea stop, which makes them rather shorter than the all-day rides we organise at other times of the year. There is no separate afternoon ride, but members looking for a half-day ride are encouraged to join the 9.30am ride instead and either return home after coffee or stay on for the full ride.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover a large crowd at Brookside for today's ride, including many new faces, and by the time we set off there were fifteen of us, with a wide mix of speeds and ages.

Gareth was our leader today, and with so many new riders I offered to be back marker. Gareth led us south out of Cambridge along Trumpington Road, the busway, and the DNA path to Great Shelford. We continued to Little Shelford and on to the junction with the B1368. We turned south and followed the B1368 through Newton to Fowlmere.

The road to Fowlmere

The day had started overcast but mild, with a slightly bit of drizzle. However it wasn't long before the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful sunny day, the only drawback being the bright glare caused by the sun reflected on the wet road ahead.

I was riding at the back through Fowlmere with Wendy and Pete H when Wendy had a puncture. The three of us stopped to fix it (actually, Pete did most of the work), whilst the others carried on unaware. I phoned Gareth to let him know what had happened and we agreed that he would continue to coffee with the rest of the group leaving the three of us to make our own way to coffee in Ickleton.

The puncture was soon fixed and we set off again to Chrishall Grange from where we would take a short cut to Ickleton. Unfortunately Wendy had a second puncture and, although it was fixed easily enough, the delay meant that when we arrived at the coffee stop in Ickleton just as the others were getting ready to set off again. This wasn't a problem - Gareth urged me to have a coffee and said he'd wait.

After coffee the majority of riders returned back to Cambridge. There is no formal leader for this, but with Pete and several other experienced riders in the group I knew no-one would get left behind.

Crossroads on Coploe Hill (Photo: Gareth Rees)

This left five of us to carry on to lunch at Wimbish. Gareth's route took us via Coploe Hill, Catmere End and over the pleasant hill which we always refer to as the "road with the radio masts above Littlebury Green".

By the radio masts above Littlebury Green

We dropped down the other side and climbed another hill to Arkesden, which was looking particularly pretty in the sunshine.


From Arkesden we continued to Wicken Bonhunt. There we turned left onto the B1038 to Newport from where it was just a few more miles to our lunch stop at the Elder Street Cafe in Wimbish. This was my second visit to this excellent and very popular cafe and farm shop, and I had been concerned that they might not have room for us. In the event I needn't have worried - we walked in to discover that Tina had reserved a large table for us, and Adrian and Joseph were already there enjoying their lunch.

Elder Street Cafe, Wimbish

After lunch we returned back home to Cambridge. I rode back with Gareth and Cheryl via Radwinter, Ashdon and Balsham, enjoying the fading afternoon sun all the way until it set as we approached Fulbourn. I arrived back home at 5pm, having cycled 55 miles.

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

17 Jan: Thursday ride to Swavesey and Hemingford Grey

Edward writes: Fourteen members met on Haslingfield Green, including John R who was making his first ride with us. Today we had good riding weather - not too much of a breeze which seemed to be more southerly in direction and a clearing sky, following some overnight rain. John F was today's helmsman and he led us out of Haslingfield along to Harlton and then out to the A603 where we crossed to go through both the Eversdens and then to Kingston.


An unfortunate feature of the day was the fact that we had five punctures. The first of these punctures occurred in Kingston and Adrian was the unlucky one; the main group carried on whilst Adrian Mike, Averil and David M stayed behind. When we left Kingston we went down to the be B1045 and turned into the long climb up through Caldecote with all its associated speed humps. After Caldecote we turned towards Cambridge on the St Neots old road and then descended into Dry Drayton and followed the road out to the A14 and finally into Oakington.


Our next puncture happened here and Sue was the unfortunate one, and as if by magic Mike and the others arrived at the crucial time and the repair was effected and we soon carried on. Once again the main group went ahead and soon after the second group followed and we went down the busway before riding into Swavesey and arrive at the Bethel Baptist Chapel for our coffee and cakes at a slightly later than expected 11.30am.

Just as the second group arrived a small group of four members who were not on the ride were just leaving, including Jacob, Mike S, Howard and Kathy. We also had Rupert, Sarah and Richard M (Bedford) join us at the chapel. This week the ladies making the ever-delicious cakes were in fact the ladies from the chapel; each week a different group from the village takes it in turns to run the Thursday coffee shop. This remains a favourite of all our coffee stops!


When we left Swavesey we went down to the A14 for another lengthy climb up to Boxworth. By now, although the skies were mainly clear and the temperature was roughly ten or eleven degrees, we were mindful that the forecast for the day included some heavy showers. We carried on through Connington before turning into Fenstanton and another crossing of the A14, this time using the underpass. Just before the A14 John J developed a slow puncture, but this time he and Mike agreed that, with some air in the tube, he would make make to his home nearby. As we rode by St Ives, as so often happens here, many of the fields were flooded, but we made our way along to Hemingford Grey and the Garden Tea Rooms for lunch, arriving just before 1pm. This is another church organised tea room staffed by volunteers and they provided us with a fine assortment of jacket potatoes, soup and sandwiches, all of which looked very appetising. Whilst at lunch we were lucky enough to be inside when a very heavy shower hit.


At 2 pm we left the tea room for home. Some, including, Richard B and Jerry, who had a slow puncture, headed for home down the busway and Adrian and Richard M headed back to Cambourne to where Richard had parked his car. This left seven or eight to make a loop via Houghton Mill (more flooded fields here), and onto the new cycle way back to St Ives. It was nice to see acconites and snowdrops out along this path, a sign that a new season will soon be with us. John F decided that, although there was some flooding on the busway, we should go that way and walk round the affected stretch which turned out to be about 300 yards.

Flooding on the busway

Geoff became another victim of the puncture virus that followed us about today and he left. with Mike CC, to fix it at Mike’s home in Over. The rest of carried on along the busway to the Girton turnoff, followed by the trip through the village but not without a another puncture, this time to Tony, but this was fixed in double quick time and we just went down Huntingdon Road onto Grange Road and we finished the ride outside Selwyn College after a very pleasant 48 miles. Our thanks to John F for taking charge for the day and another good day out. Edward Elmer

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Monday, 13 January 2014

Spring holiday to Norfolk

Club member Adrian Lee is organising a cycling holiday for the spring, this time in Norfolk. It follows the very successful holidays he organised last year in County Durham and the previous year in Wales. Members are warmly invited to join him. This four-night break will be from Monday 28th April to Friday 2nd May 2014 and will be based in the village of Burnham Deepdale on the north Norfolk coast (see on map).

Accommodation will be at the Deepdale Granary Group Hostel, which has been booked for the exclusive use of our group. The cost of accommodation (in shared rooms) will be approximately £50 per person, with food and travel in addition to that.

Most of the 16 places have already been taken but a few are still available so if you're interested please contact Adrian on 01223 565834 as soon as possible. To secure your place a deposit of £15 (non-refundable) is required by 26th January. Note that this holiday is not organised by CTC.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

9 Jan: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Wimbish

Edward writes: Today continued the pattern of most of the days this year with no let up of the blustery winds. Even so, for January, the temperature was quite a pleasant nine or ten degrees centigrade and this encouraged a dozen members to meet in Hauxton for our rearranged trip out to Wimbish.

Hauxton Green

Our thanks to Craig who alerted us that Clavering Lakes would not be open and thus we Rupert was able to change the luncheon interval to Elder Street Farm Shop at Wimbish. Today Adrian was our ride leader and with Adrian at the helm there is always the possibility of some off-road work - probably, in view of all the recent wet weather, he thought it best to remain on the roads.


We left Hauxton and were soon into the wind for the run up to Newton where we turned right, back up the hill and down into Harston. As we had climbed twice the wind had certainly introduced itself to us and it would be in our faces for most of the morning session. From Harston, where many of the fields were under water, we went to Haslingfield and past our other Thursday start point before climbing up and then down into Barrington.

Chrishall Grange

Between Barrington and Shepreth there was much flooding and some unhappy horses in one of the fields making what they could of it all. We soon crossed the A10 and then took the route round by the bird reserve to reach Fowlmere. It's nice to see that a new hedge has been planted towards the bird reserve which will eventually make a good wind break. We left Fowlmere and crossed over the A505 which took us to Chrishall Grange and then, with the wind at our backs, down Ickleton Grange, into Ickleton and our first break at the Riverside Barns where we found Vic F and Barbara already enjoying their coffee.


After coffee Peter left us to return home, but with Vic and Barbara we were now a group of thirteen, which used the farm track to reach Coploe Hill for a wind assisted ride to the top and for once we didn’t stop to regroup but carried on to Catmere End. Coploe Hill, as is often mentioned, rarely fails to disappoint, and with the weather and the light Improving all the time we were all able to enjoy both the climbs and the swoops downhill. We turned towards Littlebury Green and climbed again to reach the point above Wendens Ambo which left us with the somewhat rickety road to descend to join the Royston-Saffron Walden road. We turned right and had some more stiff climbs before another downhill brought us into Arkesden.

Littlebury Green

Next up was Wicken Bonhunt and Rickling Green before joining the B1383 to just before Ugley for another turn and then rode north parallel to the motorway where we found the turning for Widdington. Unfortunately, just after we turned Averil incurred a puncture, but by now we were running a little late so a group of about six took directions from Adrian and pushed on to lunch which would have been about four miles ahead. Meanwhile the usual team of puncture repair specialists took over to deal with Averil's bike.


When we all arrived at lunch it was interesting to note that the leading group were not the first to arrive!

A large table had been reserved for us and we were all able to enjoy a very pleasant break - this is a nice place to visit and on a Thursday at least dealt easily with all our requests.


After lunch, it was now about 2.45 and with limited light left all bar five decided on a direct route home and therefore made their way towards Saffron Walden. The remaining five (Mike, Averil, Vic, Adrian and me) joined the B184 and went through Wimbish and then enjoyed a rarely used route up to Radwinter where we crossed the B1054 for another pleasantly rural route with one or two climbs and a final descent into Ashdon. We went through to Bartlow and then onto Linton where we said goodbye to Vic leaving just four of us to push on for home as the night sky rapidly closed in. Rather than go over the farm track to Babraham we went via the Four Went Ways roundabout into Babraham, Sawston and then through Stapleford and finally Great Shelford where the ride ended after a very pleasant 59 miles just before 5 pm. Our thanks to Adrian who never fails to deliver an interesting route even if, on this occasion, he had to forgo his off-road delights. Edward Elmer

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