Sunday, 30 March 2014

30 Mar: Sunday ride to Waresley, West Perry and Houghton

Nigel writes: Today was the day the clocks went forward by one hour, which meant the 9:30am start of today's ride was actually 8:30am by our body clocks. Despite the early start, I was joined at Brookside by six other riders: Cheryl, Eva, Neil T, Neil S, Pete H, and Margaret on her first Sunday ride with us. The weather was promising: rather dull and cloudy but not cold and with only a light wind.

Brookside

We set off west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway which we followed to the edge of Barton where we turned right onto the B1046.

Barton Road Cycleway

The roads seemed very quiet this morning, perhaps because everyone else had compensated for the hour lost overnight by getting up an hour late. We continued through Comberton to Toft, where we turned off for the customary diversion along the tiny winding lane that leads past the church and then back onto the main road.

Toft

We turned off the B1046 into Bourn and then took the road to Caxton. We continued towards Great Gransden but when we reached the edge of the village we turned left onto Sand Road for a short diversion via Little Gransden. This took us past the Little Gransden Windmill where we paused briefly before continuing.

Little Gransden

A few minutes later we arrived at Waresley where we stopped for coffee at Waresley Park Garden Centre. Here we found about a dozen members already enjoying their morning coffee and cake. Also there was Peter W our "jersey officer" with his travelling roadshow selling club jerseys.

After coffee Neil T, Margaret and Peter H left us to return to Cambridge whilst we were joined by Mick, David, Mike C, Mike S, Zhiqing and Robert. We left the garden centre and took the lane which leads over Lily Hill towards Eynesbury on the edge of St Neots.

Waresley to Eynesbury: Lily Hill

We crossed St Neots using the Willow Bridge. This cycle bridge from Eynesbury to Eaton Socon across the River Ouse has transformed the experience of traversing St Neots because it allows us to cross almost the whole town without riding on roads.  Before long we through the town and cycling along the quiet road that leads west to Bushmead.

Waresley to Eynesbury

At Bushmead we turned north towards Staughton Highway. There we crossed the B645 and continued north on a quiet lane which leads past Littlehey Prison to West Perry.

Staugton Highway to Littlehey Prison

At West Perry we stopped for lunch at the Harbour View Cafe on the south shore of Grafham Water. This restaurant is a club favourite mainly due to its simple menu, its low prices and its pleasant location. However today they seemed rather overwhelmed by the additional Mothers' Day custom and, although the restaurant didn't look particularly busy, we had to wait for up to an hour for our food.

Eventually our food arrived and afterwards it was time to set off once more. We turned east and cycled  along the the dam to the visitors' centre on the east shore. This took us past the excellent bike shop there but we didn't stop and carried on north to the village of Grafham.

Grafham Water: along the dam

The road from Grafham to Brampton was lovely and quiet, but as always we had to pay the price of such a pleasant route by cycling into Huntingdon afterwards. This involves following some fairly busy local roads but fortunately it is possible to stay on pavement cycleways for almost all the way from Brampton, through Huntingdon, and then out to Godmanchester. Although these cycle paths are mostly inconvenient and poorly designed our traverse of the Huntingdon was stress-free and uneventful.

Huntingdon

After riding through Godmanchester we turned onto the path which crosses Eastside Common to Hemingford Abbots, and our route became very pleasant once more.

Eastside Common, Hemingford Abbots

We crossed the Ouse Meadows to Houghton Mill and we stopped for tea at the National Trust cafe. This was my first visit to this simple cafe, which I must have cycle past dozens of times without realising it was here. This stop wasn't on the runslist but it allowed us to break what would have otherwise been a 32-mile stage from West Perry to Cambridge.

Houghton Mill

After a brief but pleasant stop, where we sat outside by the river, we carried on along the Thicket Path to St Ives and then along the busway back to Cambridge. I arrived back hone at 5.35pm, having cycled 66 miles.


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Thursday, 27 March 2014

27 Mar: Thursday ride to Newport and Wimbish

Edward writes: This Thursday was not a usual ride with the CTC Thursday group. At Greta's about fourteen cyclists gathered, including Ian with young Florian, and in addition it was the second of Peter W's roadshows exhibiting the new club tops. This was all very exciting - so much so that we were a few minutes late in setting off for our trip to Newport and the Elder Street farm shop in Wimbish. Today we had to take the weather seriously - not a warm spring like day but a cold day with the wind firmly in the east. In fact the weather was probably typically spring like with rain, hail, sleet, thunder and lightning.

Hauxton

Rupert, our leader for today, set off through Little Shelford and Whittlesford and out to the A505 which took us into Duxford. At this point the rains had not started and we continued through to Ickleton and Coploe Hill, which after so many visits, is like an old friend.

Coploe Hill

We did the two miles over the hills to reach Catmere End followed by the rapid descent to Wendens Ambo. This lovely old village nestles undisturbed between the M11 and the B1383 which we joined for the run into Newport. This brought us to Dorrington’s and a prearranged meeting with the BBC Look East team led by Jonathan Park who filmed us and conducted interviews with Rupert, John J and Sarah. When we left Newport it was into one of the many hail flurries which became a feature of the day and as we approached Rickling Green it was to the accompaniment of hail, thunder and lightning.

Newport: Rupert is interviewed by the BBC

Newport

From Newport to Rickling Green the Look East team were filming us from their car but as the weather became too much we stopped and took shelter.

Near Rickling Green

It should be said that at coffee there were the usual comings and goings but this still left about a dozen to go on to lunch. When the storm had passed we went through to the B1383 before turning off at Ugley and then joined the road to Henham. It was Rupert’s original plan to go through Henham and Debden but in view of the weather he decided to shorten the route, instead going via Widdington, and another display of thunder and lightning. After the climb up to the village it was followed by more undulations, past Carver Barracks and finally the farm shop in Wimbish.

Near Rickling Green

We arrived here at 1pm and inside it was packed and, although we were booked in and a table reserved for us, it was inevitable that we would have to wait a bit to be served. As usual, the food was of a high standard and the staff worked very hard to cope with all their customers. Just as we were about to leave it began to rain again, thus delaying the start, and almost immediately David Ms had a puncture, probably not unconnected with the potholes in the approach road to the farm. This meant that a group of four stayed back whilst the leading group went on. When we restarted we went along to Radwinter, which on a decent day, would be a delight, but probably not today.

Widdington

Going from Radwinter to Ashdon we crossed a couple of fords which are in the appropriately named Water Lane. Normally we can admire the spring flowers and blossoms but today it was head down and push on as quickly as possible as more thunder circled around us.

Radwinter to Ashdon

After Ashdon, it was Bartlow, Linton and Hildersham. We went into Great Abington and used the track across the farm which has had a surface laid and is an improvement and it would seem possible to ride it in most conditions; certainly we had no problems even after all the rain. To finish the ride we went from Babraham to Sawston, and Stapleford which must have had a deluge just before we arrived as the hail stones were still on the ground making a white carpet. For those going back to Hauxton the ride would have been 50 hard earned miles. Thanks to Rupert for quite an eventful day! Edward Elmer


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Sunday, 23 March 2014

23 Mar: "End of Hibernation" 200 km audax

Gareth writes: Today was the "End of Hibernation", a 200 km audax organized by Terry Dickinson of Cambridge Cycling Club. Starting at the village hall in Hauxton, it visited controls at Adam's Café near Stradishall, the Riverside Lakes Café at Onehouse near Stowmarket, and Bosworth's Café at Finchingfield (plus two information controls).

Today was the third time I've ridden this event. In 2010 it took me just over 12 hours; in 2011 I got round in 10 hours and 40 minutes. Last year there was a blizzard: I looked out of the window in the morning and decided to go back to sleep. (There were only two finishers — here's a write-up from Nick Jackson.)

The weather was much better this year, though still challenging with a cold wind from the north-west. It was bright and sunny first thing, which fooled some riders into leaving their jackets at home, a decision that they were later to regret.

Getting ready to go (07:55). It wasn't a day for taking photos, so this is all you get, sorry!

The first couple of stages were fast with a tailwind. As we climbed up towards Dullingham, a cold rain began to fall, and by the time I got to Woodditton the rain was mixed with snow. It was a relief to get to Adam's Café, where they put on a splendid spread of cakes. This was at 09:45, so more than an hour before the CTC day ride got there. While I was drinking tea and eating cake, the snow shower blew away, and the sun came out. I wrung out my soggy gloves, got back on the bike, and sped through Hawkedon, Hartest, Shimpling, Felsham and Rattlesden, getting to Onehouse at 11:45.

The way this ride always seems to work out is that there is a tailwind as far as Onehouse, and then you turn the corner and grovel into the wind all afternoon. Today was no different, and in addition to the westerly wind there was a series of hailstorms. The route goes through Bildeston, Monks Eleigh, Castle Hedingham, and Wethersfield. I staggered in to Finchingfield about 14:45, took a seat near the carvery to warm up in the glow of the heat lamps, and ate cherry Bakewell pudding with custard.

It always seems like a very long way from Finchingfield to the last information control at Great Hormead. Terry Dickerson has run this ride so many times that he is running out of questions to ask, so here we had to hunt for a manhole cover (specifically, a round manhole cover) and read the text written on it. Normally the turn north to Anstey and Nuthampstead brings some relief from the headwind, but with the wind in the north-west this wasn't the case, and it was hard work all the way back. There was another hailstorm, and on the descent from Barley I had to keep my speed down because otherwise the hail was too painful! Nonetheless, I was back at Hauxton at 18:15 (my fastest ever audax).

Thanks to Terry Dickerson for organizing the ride. I had 230 km (143 miles) for the day.


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Roll up, roll up, order your new club tops now!

JUST ARRIVED - samples of new club tops for you to try for size before you place an order. The tops are made by a highly recommended supplier - GEARCLUB. We have short and long-sleeved tops in women’s and men’s styles, plus a new unisex winter jersey – in all sizes from very small to very large and at highly-subsidised prices from £20 to £25. Visit this page for details.

Jersey officer Peter Woodward is holding a series of mobile roadshows in March and April to allow members to inspect the tops, try them on for size, and to give their orders. Don't miss this opportunity to get hold of a much-anticipated 2014 season CTC Cambridge jersey!

23 Mar: Sunday ride to Stradishall and Clare

Nigel writes: Today was a day of sun and showers, much colder than on recent Sundays because of a strong, cold, westerly wind.

On days like this the turnout on club rides is unpredictable, with members typically making a last-minute decision whether to go for a ride or whether to stay indoors. At 9am, half an hour before today's ride was due to start, a heavy shower passed over Cambridge, so when I arrived at Brookside at exactly 9.30am I was disappointed, but not altogether surprised, to find no-one there.

Fortunately the rain had stopped, so I waited a few more minutes for any late-comers and then set off on my own. Coffee today was at Adam's Cafe near Stradishall in Suffolk. I already had a route planned, so I knew that I had 22 miles to cover in about 90 minutes. I rode through Cambridge to Midsummer Common and then followed the river east to Fen Ditton. I turned east and continued to Quy before turning south-east onto the long straight road to Little Wilbraham and Six Mile Bottom. The day had started quite cold, but the sun emerged and it began to warm up. From Six Mile Bottom I climbed the long, gentle hill up to Brinkley where I decided I was fully warmed-up and so stopped to remove a layer of clothing.


With most of the climbing over now I continued east to Carlton and Carlton Green where I turned onto one of my favourite country lanes for the three miles to Little Thurlow. From there another lovely lane took me east for another two or three miles before coming to an end at a junction with the A142. I followed this for about a mile past the prisons before arriving at Adam's Cafe. It was 11.10am.

Outside the cafe I found Peter and Lesley sitting in their camper van, on the first of a series of roadshows at popular club meeting points to promote the sale of club clothing and to allow people to try some samples for size. I tried on a couple of tops and ordered two.

Lesley and Peter

I then went into the cafe and ordered beans on toast for breakfast, Already in the cafe were Joseph, David and Adrian and after a few minutes we were joined by Keith. Keith had also been at Brookside but had set off on his own just before I arrived. Adrian had left Cambridge at 8am and had taken quite a long route, getting wet in the rain along the way.

Afterwards Adrian and Joseph returned to Cambridge, and Keith to his home, leaving just me and David to carry on to lunch in Clare. We took a relaxing loop east through Denton and Stansfield to Glemsford before turning back west to Cavendish and Clare.


We reached Clare just after 1pm and stopped for lunch at Cafe Clare.

The cafe also offers portable bike stands if needed

After a pleasant lunch in this cosy cafe we set off back towards Cambridge. This meant riding directly into the wind, which was not only tiring but also quite cold. We rode west to Kedington where we crossed back over the A143 to Great Wratting. A wintry shower of rain passed over, but fortunately it didn't last long and the sun soon came out again.

We continued west across Wratting Common to West Wratting. This took us past Peter and Lesley's house. David stopped to cadge a cup of tea whilst I continued to Balsham and the final descent to Fulbourn and Cambridge. With a strong headwind all the day this was a bit of a slog, but I didn't have far to go and arrived back home at 4.30pm, having cycled 65 miles.


View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).

Roll up, roll up, order your new club tops now!

Peter Woodward writes:  JUST ARRIVED – samples of new club tops for you to try for size before you place an order. The tops are made by a highly recommended supplier - GEARCLUB. We have short and long-sleeved tops in women’s and men’s styles, plus a new unisex winter jersey – in all sizes from very small to very large.

SUPER NEW CLUB TOPS AT SUBSIDISED PRICES!

To encourage us to wear club tops, these first orders are heavily subsidised from club funds and represent great value in club wear. Order now or risk missing out!

Short sleeved / short zip - Normally £31 - CLUB PRICE £20
Long sleeved / long zip - Normally £34 - CLUB PRICE £22.50
Winter jersey / long zip - Normally £36 - CLUB PRICE £25

These subsidised prices will be reviewed at the end of the season, SO ORDER NOW to ensure you get your club jerseys at these low prices.

TRY-ON DATES/ ORDERING

See the new tops, check your size and place your order at any of the rides below:

Sun 23 March    Adam’s Cafe Stradishall during morning coffee
Tues 25 March    The Green Man Shepreth during seniors’ lunchtime
Thurs 27 March    50 Jopling Way, Hauxton before start of ride
Sun 30 March    Waresley Park Garden Centre during coffee
Thurs 10 April    Black Bull, Balsham during coffee
Sun 13 April    The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting during afternoon tea

Peter and Lesley's mobile jersey roadshow. See timetable above for dates and places.

Alternatively you can view the tops by appointment at any reasonable time by contacting Jersey Officer Peter Woodward on 01223 290627 or email plc.woodward@btinternet.com.

At the roadshow a selection of tops will be available for you to inspect and try on for size. Private fitting room and large mirror available.

BRING YOUR MONEY

To keep our system simple, we need you to pay CASH for your tops when you place your order. (If you really can’t pay cash a cheque payable to P.E. Woodward will do, but please try to bring cash. Thanks!)

ORDER BY 20 APRIL

We plan to order once a year; we will not hold stock. So please get your order in by 20 April - or risk waiting until 2015! Delivery is expected by the end of May.

Peter Woodward

Nigel models a short-sleeved top

Rear of short-sleeved top. Three rear pockets plus a small zipped pocket

Winter jersey with long zip

Thursday, 20 March 2014

30 Mar: Thursday ride to Gamlingay and Moggerhanger

Edward writes: Today's weather was indifferent for our ride out to Moggerhanger for lunch and Gamlingay for coffee. Although cooler than of late the forecast was for there to be a stiff wind blowing from the south west all day, but to remain predominately dry with the possibility of rain in the late afternoon. This proved to be the case. Today our leader was Sarah and she was to lead about sixteen riders away from Haslingfield Green and the climb up Chapel Hill and the descent into Barrington.

Barrington was followed by Shepreth and Meldreth where Nick joined the throng and then on to Bassingbourn. From Bassingbourn we went to Shingay and took the little road that connects to the B1042 which at last has been repaired and then the turn for the climb up Croydon Hill. Although a hard climb, as we were heading north west at this point, the wind was more or less behind us and this made the run through the Hatleys and into Gamlingay a reasonable ride with only some side buffeting from the wind.

Gamlingay

We had coffee at LJ’s sandwich bar and, although quite small, we received a warm welcome and seats were provided outside which was a great help as Greta, Doug, Bob (Potton), David Mr and Sue had also joined us and we were making the cafe very overcrowded; this could make it difficult for them to serve their more regular customers.

Gamlingay

After coffee there was the usual exchange of personnel but there were still sixteen going on to Moggerhanger. We went out of Gamlingay over the Heath Road and headed into Everton.

Between Tempsford and Everton

This, of course, gave us the exhilaration of Tempsford Hill where very high speeds are achieved before bringing us to the railway crossing which required three trains to go through before the gates went up.

Waiting at Tempsford Level Crossing

Rupert left us here as he apparently had left his water bottle at the cafe. We crossed the A1 which brought us into Blunham and now it was decidedly face wind all the way as we made for Great Barford.

Great Barford

Over to our left we had a clear view of the huge hangers at Cardington where a modern airship is being constructed. At Great Barford we turned left and rode along side the river which, happily, has returned to more normal levels. This soon brought us to Willington and a trip along the A603 for about a mile to the turning into Cople and within striking distance of our lunch stop at the Woodland Cafe in Moggerhanger where we arrived in textbook fashion at 1 pm.

Near Moggerhanger

This cafe is rapidly becoming a club favourite and today the sun had finally broken through and enabled us to sit outside and enjoy a very pleasant lunch. Although the cafe was busy even before we arrived they dealt with all our orders extremely well and we were able to head for home at 2pm. The good thing about going into the wind in the morning session means that the all the hard work is done and we can now relax and enjoy the ride home with the wind on our backs. In Moggerhanger there was a magnolia tree looking magnificent but, as so often happened with this tree it coincides with either a frost or a cold wind and it quickly goes past its best. Even so many gardens are now showing their spring colours and of course daffodils are making a spectacularly striking scene.

Moggerhanger

Our next village was Blunham where we took the former railway track into Sandy where Bob left us and, after negotiating the cycle ways, we left the town for the climb up to Everton. This then took us to the well-worn route home through Waresley and into Great Gransden and Caxton. With the wind on our backs we were soon through these villages leaving us to go through Bourn where the group split into two with one going towards Cambridge via Toft and Comberton and the other to return to Haslingfield via Kingston and the Eversdens.

Bourn

We arrived back at Haslingfield at 4pm after 57 very satisfactory miles and we afford our thanks to Sarah for leading us round with such élan. Edward Elmer


GPS track from an identical ride on 30 Jan 2014. View on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 16 March 2014

16 Mar: Sunday all-day ride to St Ives, St Neots and Newnham

Nigel writes: Sundays in 2014 seem to have been blessed, since almost every one we have had so far has been bright and sunny, and in recent weeks quite warm as well. Today was no exception: another glorious spring day. Rather cooler than last week, perhaps, but still very nice for mid-March. Not surprisingly this led to another good turnout at Brookside for today's all-day ride.

Gareth was our leader today, and led our group of thirteen rides through the centre of Cambridge and then north along Huntingdon Road to Girton.

King's Parade

A mile beyond Girton we turned onto the busway and the start of ten miles of lovely wide traffic-free smooth tarmac which took us all the way to St Ives.

Joining the busway

This was the club's first visit to the busway cycleway since last autumn, before the winter floods closed it between Swavesey and St Ives for three months. The whole route is now open again, though there were still traces of mud on the few short sections that were until very recently underwater.

Along the busway: signs of recent flooding

One of the best things about taking a large group along the busway is that everyone can cycle at their own speed, knowing that there was no possibility of getting lost.

At the end of the busway

We reached St Ives at about 10.45pm. This was where we had planned to stop for coffee but it was still slightly early so Gareth led us through the town centre and then out along the Thicket Path to Houghton.

Along the Thicket Path

When we reached Houghton we continued to the Mill where we dismounted and wheeled our bikes underneath the Mill. We then got back on our bikes and rode across the meadows to Hemingford Abbots.

Across the meadows from Houghton Mill

At Hemingford Abbots we turned back east and rode through Hemingford Grey back to St Ives. There we stopped for coffee at the River Tea Rooms, where we found a large group of members already enjoying coffee and cakes. The tea rooms looked a little busy so I walked back along the riverside to an Italian restaurant on the quayside, where four of us ordered coffee and panettone and sat outside in the sunshine overlooking the river.

After coffee about half the group returned back to Cambridge leaving about half a dozen to continue on to lunch in St Neots. It was almost noon and so Gareth led us straight there by a direct route: to Fenstanton, under the A14 and then south-west to Hilton.

Like almost every other Sunday this year there was a moderate but steady wind, and on this leg of the journey we were riding straight into it.

Hilton

At Hilton Gareth led us on a short diversion through the ford, and then we continued on to Graveley where we passed the wind turbines, doing good business in the steady breeze.

Graveley

The headwind was beginning to tire us but fortunately we didn't have far to go before we reached St Neots. We crossed the river and stopped for lunch at the Ambiance Cafe in Riverside Park. Yes, the name of the cafe really is spelled like that.

Lunch in St Neots

After a very inexpensive but satisfactory lunch we set off back towards Cambridge. Gareth led us through Riverside Park and south to the Willow Bridge where we crossed over the River Great Ouse.

Willow Bridge, St Neots

Instead of taking the direct route back to Cambridge Gareth took us south past the power station to Little Barford and on to Tempsford. This is a route we rarely use and due to construction works it was completely free of traffic. At Tempsford we turned east and set course for Cambridge. At last we had the wind behind us, so our speed increased, interrupted only by the always-surprising steep climb up to Everton.

The climb from Tempsford to Everton

From Everton we took a more or less direct route through Wareseley and Great Gransden to Caxton. We continued east to Bourn where we joined the B1046 for the final few miles through Toft, Comberton and Barton to Cambridge.

When we reached Newnham on the edge of Cambridge we stopped for tea at John's house - in what is easily the best street in what is apparently the second-best place to live in Britain.

By now it was about 4.30pm and we were about half an hour late but it didn't matter: there was still plenty of excellent sandwiches and cakes left. The afternoon ride was already there together with quite a few other members, and we all enjoyed a lovely hour or so sitting outside in the late afternoon sunshine.

Tea in Newnham

After tea it took me about ten minutes to return back home. It was still light and the sun was still shining, but the temperature had dropped noticeably, reminding me that it was still only March. I arrived back at 5.15pm, having cycled 65 miles.


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