Wednesday, 30 April 2014
At Swaffham Bulbeck we turned south-east to Dullingham and then southwest past the Woodland Cemetery to Lark Hill. A fast descent brought us back down to Six Mile Bottom before finishing with a fast sprint along Wilbraham Road to the Wilbrahams.
We reached Great Wilbraham at exactly 8.30pm and stopped for drinks at The Carpenter's Arms. On our last visit to this pub no food had been available, but today a full menu was on offer. We ordered drinks and a couple of bowls of gourmet triple-cooked chips and had a pleasant half hour of conversation before returning back to Cambridge.
We rode back in the dark to Fulbourn where the group divided. John and Paul turned north to Teversham and Chesterton whilst the rest of us continued to Cherry Hinton and form there back towards the City Centre. I arrived home at 9.45pm, having cycled 33 miles.
View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).
Monday, 28 April 2014
Sunday, 27 April 2014
After Guilden Morden we turned South and arrived at the URC hall for tea within a few minutes of the target time(4:00 p.m.) and simultaneously with the day-riders. But for the CTC group of 17 I was informed that they would have had but six customers! After tea with scrumptious cakes we all took the direct route home (for which see Nigel's report). The cattle grids in Wimpole Park had switched off my GPS but last year the recorded distance was 37 miles.
This Sunday afternoon, like others I had ridden ,attracted riders who have not joined us before or have not ridden for some time and serves as a useful feeder route into our other rides. John Ferguson.
The first stage of today's ride was to Waresley for coffee, and Conrad took us directly there: along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, along the B1046 to Bourn and then via Caxton and Great Gransden to Waresley Park Garden Centre, which we reached soon after it opened at 10am.
This was quite an early time to stop for coffee, but Conrad explained that this was necessary to allow a longer leg afterwards to lunch in Clophill. At coffee we were joined by David W. Afterwards Rupert, Neil, Steve and Ian returned home, leaving six of us to continue on to lunch,
We followed the B1040 south-west for a mile or so before turning off for Gamlingay Cinques and Gamlingay Great Heath.
We continued to Everton and then down through the woods into Sandy.
At Sandy we rode through the town before joining the NCR 51 railway path for a mile before leaving it to turn south towards Moggerhanger.
We continued south through Northill and Old Warden, but just before we reached the A600 Mike discovered that his bag had somehow dropped off his rack and was probably lying in a gutter a few miles back. After spending a minute or two wondering what to do we decided that we would all ride back for about three miles to the point where Mike had last been aware of it. Unfortunately there was no sign of it, so we continued back on our way and rode on through Haynes and Haynes Church End before reaching Clophill at about 1.15pm.
The official stopping place was The Stone Jug, a very popular pub in a quiet back street of the village. Unfortunately it doesn't do lunch on Sundays so three of us ordered drinks and sat outside with our sandwiches whilst the remaining three went on to find food in The Flying Horse, a rather more salubrious pub on the A6 half a mile further on.
After lunch we set off east towards our planned afternoon tea stop in Ashwell. This took us through Silsoe and through the grounds of Wrest Park.
This has a cafe (in a "walled garden", apparently normally open to non-paying visitors, but not today) and looks like a possibility for a future lunch stop.
A surfaced but very bumpy bridleway took us east from Wrest Park to Gravenhurst, where we rejoined the roads for the final miles through Shefford, Langford, over the A1 and through Hinxworth to Ashwell. Today had been quite a cold and windy day, but as we approached Ashwell the sun came out and the temperature rose.
Tea was at the Parish Church Room, which was serving tea and cakes to raise funds for repairing the lovely parish church across the road. We arrived at almost exactly the same time as John F and the afternoon ride, making quite a large group today at tea.
After tea we all set off together for the final leg back home to Cambridge.
Our route home took us east through Steeple Morden and Litlington to Bassingbourn, where we crossed the A1198 before continuing through Meldreth and Shepreth to Barrington.
A final ascent of Chapel Hill gave us an opportunity to pause at the top to reunite, before we sped down to Haslingfield for the final few miles to Barton and then back along the cycleway to Cambridge. I arrived home at about 6.15pm, having cycled 87 miles - my longest club ride this year (and my second-longest ride this year overall).
View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).
Thursday, 24 April 2014
In Harlton we turned along Washpit Lane to briefly join the A603 and then made the turn into the road leading to Comberton. Once in Comberton we crossed the high street to go round the back of the village and join the long climb to take us up to Hardwick. We turned left and ran parallel to the A428 which we later crossed and this took us down into Dry Drayton. This was a new and welcome approach as we often get to Swavesey via Boxworth, but this time we went over the A14 and on into Oakington where we joined the busway. As we passed Longstanton Park and Ride we noticed how many cars there were and also how many cycles in the racks. From here we were soon in Swavesey and the last mile to the Baptist Chapel where we arrived with immaculate timing at 11 am.
This week our hosts were the ladies from the Swavesey Festival Committee and they laid before use a wonderful selection of home made cakes which encouraged many of us to go back for second helpings, and all for £2 for cake and coffee or tea. This remains a very popular coffee stop. Needless to say in Swavesey we were joined by many others, including Eva, Sarah, Belinda, Sharon and Rupert.
At about 11 45am we got under way again and headed back down the busway to go into St Ives and some negotiation of the streets brought us to the still new cycleway which took us to Houghton Mill. Now, of course, with the river levels back to normal the meadows were no longer flooded in contrast to our last trip through here. Next was the ride over the common where we seemed to unsettle a calf which had broken away from the herd of cows it was with and ran alongside us until we reached the gate at the far end of the common. Once we were out of sight presumably the animal was able to settle down and rejoin the herd.
With all that excitement behind us it was back to the serious matter of threading our way through the busy roads of Godmanchester and find the road for Offord Cluny where Richard and Tony left us. After we had crossed the railway we soon came to Buckden and a crossing to the A1 and we were finally on the road to Perry and our lunch stop arriving at about 1.15pm. and 35 miles. As is often the case when we travel to the west of Cambridge we were joined by Richard M who had cycled over from Bedford.
Most of the group took lunch in the Wheatsheaf and a smaller group took their packed lunches and sat beside the reservoir and enjoyed the sunshine.
After lunch we all came together to start the afternoon session (Sarah and Eva left us here), and now began a lovely quiet rural route through Dillington to Great Staughton, round Little Staughton Airfield and then on to Bushmead.
Apparently credit for this section of the route is due to Belinda and Sharon who have local knowledge of this area. As we said goodbye to Richard M we now headed through Staploe and on into Eaton Socon and St Neots where we also said good bye to Belinda and Sharon. Our group was still over ten strong as we made our way along the cycle route over the river and past the new housing estates and avoiding vast numbers of school children from the nearby academy.
We were now back into familiar ground as we came up to Waresley and we now followed a well worn path through Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn where some returned into Cambridge leaving the final five to finish the ride back through the Eversdens and Harlton to Haslingfield, arriving at 4.45pm and 68 miles. A really enjoyable long ride and a suitable rehearsal for those making the 75 mile ride up to Brancaster next week. Our thanks to John for such a fine day out. Edward Elmer
View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Once on the busway our speed increased with the help of a slight tailwind and we made rapid progress along the ten miles to St Ives, with just a short pause along the way at Swavesey to allow those trailing behind to catch up.
We reached St Ives just after 7.30pm. We rode through the town and followed the Thicket Path to Houghton before crossing the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots and turning back through Hemingford Grey and Fenstanton. It was about 8.20pm when we reached Fen Drayton where we stopped at The Three Tuns for drinks and bowls of nicely-cooked chips. Already in the pub was Eva, who had made here own way there.
Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge, initially along roads to Swavesey and then once more along the busway. I rode back with Chris and Jim. They were full of energy (and chips) and we sped along at speeds of up to 20mph, taking turns at the front to shield those behind from the mild southerly headwind. As we rode along it started to rain, but it never amounted to very much. I arrived home at the later-than-usual time of 10.15pm, having cycled the longer-than-usual distance of 38 miles.
View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Our friends in the A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign are organising an A10 Awareness Ride along the route on Sunday 18th May 2014. There will be two rides, both starting at 10am. One from Royston heath and the other from Trumpington Park and Ride, meeting half-way for free tea and cake. Both rides will be leisurely and will use off-road paths where possible. This follows a hugely-popular ride in 2013. More information here.
Mike Stapleton adds: The success of last years ride was that the Cambridgeshire County Council applied for a Government Grant (LST) and was successful. The path between Trumpington Lakes and Frog End has been rebuilt. The existing path from Harston to Shepreth Lakes has been cleared of overgrowing vegetation. It is not up to the latest standards but is usable.
We are concentrating on the worst sections of the roadside paths along the A10 first. Cambs County Council is making a bid for funding for the path from Melbourn to the A505 at Royston at this moment. The Awareness Group is working with Sustrans to obtain funding for a bridge over the A505 at Royston. Network Rail has done a feasibility study for a bridge at Foxton level crossing. So it is all happening and we must keep up the good work. Please come and support us. We welcome every type of cyclist to show how much we all want this work to be progressed. Oliver Heald the MP for the Royston area and Julian Huppert will see the rides off from Royston and Trumpington respectively.
The Awareness Group has planted Wild Flowers at Shepreth Lakes and will take an interest in the maintenance of the paths. Mike Stapleton
Sunday, 20 April 2014
Thankfully Neil arrived just a couple of minutes before the start and avoided total wipeout for me as leader. After briefly considering if we needed to split into two groups, we set off along the towpath and headed for Waterbeach. The path was surprisingly busy with a lot of early morning runners and dog walkers, but a bit of Easter courtesy on both sides let us make steady progress. At Waterbeach we were joined by Eva and Jim before continuing on to Landbeach and Cottenham. There we took the tricky choice to head north along Long Drove - tricky because it is a quiet road but is also very bumpy due to the gaps in the old concrete base. At Wilburton we collected another cycling waif in the form of Steve and then took the usual route though Grunty Fen and Witchford into Ely.
Coffee was at Kemptons in Ely - a new stop which worked very well, letting us keep an eye on our bikes in the market squre from an upstairs room. There we met up with Vic, Roger and Leslie. Neil was leaving us after coffee but Roger
and Lesley joined us making a respectable total of 6 setting off for Welney. The rest of the route was straightforward as we headed first for Littleport and then followed the quiet road along the west bank of the river Ouse as far as
10-mile bank. You only get a few glimses of the river here as the road mostly follows the base of the river bank. But they are great views when they arrive with the first of two swans nests visible at the edge of the river on one of these sections (the second nest was at Wicken Fen).
At the 10 mile bank traffic lights (yes, there really are traffic lights here) we turned left to Welney. Today an easterly wind meant we had a welcome tailwind across to the Wetland Centre - a big contrast to last year when a strong westerly with a bit of rain made for hard riding on this section. The other big change this year seems to be a big increase in oilseed rape fields in the fen demonstrating how farm economics now favour these biofuel crops.
The Wetland centre was very quiet but provided their usual warm welcome and a good quality lunch stop with great views from the upstairs cafe. The route back from here is very straightforward as the fen roads don't give a lot of choices. First we head south from the Wetland Centre before turning east into a strengthening side wind through Little Downham and back to Ely to complete the figure of eight. Jim left us at Ely station to take the train back to Cambridge while the rest pressed on along the east river bank down the Sustrans route to Wicken for a welcome church tea sitting in the pews at St Lawrences church.
All too soon the clock was pressing us to move off as I reminded folk of the morning forecast for a band of heavy rain between 6 and 7pm. So we took the direct Lodes way route back to Cambridge going straight down the road from Lode
to Quy to save time. We got back to Cambridge just after 6pm having covered 76 miles. It was pretty good timing: the heavy rain started soon after I got home giving a neat conclusion to a day of extraordinary good luck with the weather.
We just had a little bit of drizzle around Littleport and again when leaving Wicken and no heavy rain all day. Anyone who stayed home in Cambridge missed out on a excellent day. Rupert Goodings
Saturday, 19 April 2014
Gareth writes: Martin Malins has been organizing the "Double Dutch" 200 km audax for four years now. I rode the first edition back in 2011, when we had the most amazing luck with the weather, and I was looking forward to riding it again. The route is a tour of the Fens: starting at Huntingdon, you head north-east via Ramsey, March, and Nordelph, then north up the River Great Ouse to Kings Lynn for the fourth control and lunch. Then you cross the Ouse and head northwest to an info at Holbeach St Matthew close to The Wash, southwest to the sixth control at the Springfields shopping centre in Spalding, Lincolnshire, and back to Huntingdon for the finish.
I set my alarm for 06:00 but woke at 05:58, turned it off, quickly downed a cup of tea and some breakfast, and crept out of the house as quietly as I could at 06:20. On the guided busway, near the Fen Drayton lakes I was passed by Nick Jackson. I jumped on his wheel, but he was doing a steady 35 km/h and in less than a mile he had shaken me off and ridden away into the distance! No matter: I had plenty of time in hand, and took the Thicket Path from St Ives to Houghton, and then the quiet road through Wyton, arriving at the railway station in Huntingdon at about 07:30. Time to get a coffee from the station café, rest up before the start of the ride proper, and mingle with the crowd: there were sixty-seven starters.
The ride starts with a tour of Huntingdon’s dreadful one-way gyratory system, and then there’s a little climb, barely worthy of the name, out of town and up to the A141/B1090 roundabout. But because I climb better than average, I found myself close to the front of the field through Kings Ripton and Wistow, hanging on to wheels for dear life as the north-easterly headwind began to take its toll, and so group by group I dropped back through the field. Something similar happened last time, I seem to recall.
Headwinds are my nemesis: at least when climbing hills one eventually gets to the top, but in a headwind the fatigue just builds and builds until I have no more power to give. I put my head right down and hung on as long as I could and when I couldn't hang on any more I dropped off the group and stopped for something to eat. These enforced rest stops provided good opportunities to try out the panorama feature on my phone, and see if I could capture something of the relentless bleakness and flatness of the fens. (Click through for larger versions of these panoramas.)
With the relentless wind in my face, and struggling to do more than about 16 or 17 km/h, it was difficult to keep up my morale. Even though the sun had come out, there was too much wind chill to take off my jacket. I started to contemplate abandoning the ride: there's a tempting train home to Cambridge from King's Lynn. But then at Nordelph I ate a banana, and on Barroway Drove shortly afterwards I met a couple of riders who were going just slowly enough for me to keep up and with a generous wheel to follow I gradually began to recover my spirits and even do a turn on the front. Thank you!
I do like the run-in to Kings Lynn from Stowbridge. The high bank of the Great Ouse provides some protection from the wind, and as you cycle along you can contemplate the fact that the road runs more or less along the zero contour, and many square kilometres of farmland in Marshland Fen to the west are below sea level.
At Wiggenhall St Germans, the route crosses the Great Ouse, and I stopped to take photos. The river was fast-flowing, muddy and turbid.
A couple of kilometres later the road crosses the parallel flood relief channel, which was built after the great flood of 1953. In combination with the Ouse cut-off channel, it takes waters from the Rivers Wissey, Lark and Little Ouse, preventing the Great Ouse from bursting its banks between Downham Market and King’s Lynn.
On the waters of the relief channel, there was a pair of great crested grebes doing their courtship dance, each one bobbing its head in turn.
At King’s Lynn Power Station, memorably described on the route sheet as a “large Chernobyl type building,” we turned left onto National Cycle Route 1, which runs along the bank of the relief channel to its confluence with the Great Ouse, and then along the riverbank, under the A17, across the outflows of the Rivers Nar and Gaywood, and into the historic centre of King’s Lynn. This is a much nicer place to control than in 2011, when we were directed to a Tesco superstore over on the east side of the city. Possibly the reason for this diversion was to make up a little extra distance: with Google Maps in “walking” mode, this year’s route comes in under distance at about 195 km by the shortest route. (Someone who actually rode the shortest route—making use of the A17, the A151, the A16—would have a miserable time and miss out on the best bits of the ride.)
In King’s Lynn, there were some tempting cafés, but I could see that the next stage on the route was the ferry across the Great Ouse, and since the ferry runs every twenty minutes, I could save time by getting a take-away and eating it on the quay. In fact, it was only about five minutes before we could hear the ferry start its engines and begin to cross the river to us.
So strong was the flow of the river that the ferry had to come across crab-wise, with its bows pointed almost directly upriver, with a slight angle to ensure some sideways progress. There were six cyclists in the queue, and with some careful organization we managed to stow all six bicycles safely about the tiny ferry for the crossing.
I looked at the time as I set out again from the ferry car park in West Lynn: it was 13:00, so I had averaged only 17 km/hour for the first five hours of the ride! But from here on, I didn’t have any trouble: my morale improved and even though there were a few more slow sections into the wind, I never doubted that I’d be able to finish.
From West Lynn the route ran west, parallel to the A17 on the old course of the road (now a decent cycle track), and crossed the Nene Outfall Cut on the old swing bridge at Sutton Bridge. Then it turned north and climbs onto the west embankment of the Nene: up here there was some difficult riding with the wind blowing straight off the North Sea. It was a huge relief to reach Holbeach St Matthew, turn to the southwest, and put the wind behind me for most of the rest of the ride. Now at last I could get into the big chainring and make some progress: there’s nothing better for morale than seeing the countryside going past at 35 km/h!
I stopped for a quick meal at Spalding and then set out on the best section of the ride, the cycle path that runs along the top of the dike on west bank of the River Welland. Here I was passed, for about the fourth time that day, by one of the riders who had towed me from Nordelph to Wiggenhall St Germans, and we chatted for a bit, but then I stopped at the bridge Crowland to take a last panorama, and he sped off towards Thorney.
The long B1040 from Crowland to Thorney to Ramsey St Mary’s was a bit of a drag as usual, but with the wind in the northeast it was not nearly so soul-destroying as it usually is. Nonetheless it was a relief to get off it and into the hills north of Huntingdon at Upwood. I say “hills” but the high point is at just 44 m near Sapley: nonetheless this seemed quite exciting after spending 150 km below the 10 m contour line!
I got to the finish at the George Hotel at 18:50. The hotel was also hosting a wedding reception—I wonder what they made of the stream of tired and dirty cyclists coming through the courtyard? I ordered a bowl of chips and chatted to a couple of audaxers who had come down from Sutton Coldfield, and then it was back on the busway to Cambridge. Along the way I surprised an unwary heron, and saw a barn owl sweeping low over the meadows. Home at 20:45, having cycled 265 km (165 miles).
Thursday, 17 April 2014
Averil was our leader for the day and she led us away in two groups out to Harston where we crossed the A10 and went over the hill into Newton. This lead us down the B1368 to the turning into Thriplow, scene of the recent daffodil weekend, and on to Fowlmere.
We crossed the A505 and came to Chrishall Grange which heralded the start of the day’s climbs as we approached Elmdon and the higher points of the county.
As we passed through Great Chishill Sue came across a friend and decided to spend the day cycling with her whilst the rest of us now joined the undulating and very attractive ride to Shaftenhoe End. It was here that we passed bluebells growing in the woods which was in sharp contrast to the scene half a mile earlier where we passed a huge fly tip, which is a really dispiriting sight.
More hills and climbs with seas of the yellow oil seed rape either side of us brought us to The Woodman in Nuthampstead for our first break of the day. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we could see no sign of the rhea which is on the loose in these parts and making a name for itself in the national media.
We were joined by a few more at Nuthampstead, including Myrtle and it was good to see her riding again. It was still sunny so most people sat outside and others who stayed inside took the opportunity to look at the fascinating photographs of the time the American Air Force flew form here during World War II. We left the pub and went via Anstey, but unfortunately missed a turning which meant we had to do half mile or so on the B1368 before regaining the road to Wyddial which soon took us to Buntingford.
Once through Buntingford we were back into the country again and passing through Aspenden, Westmill and Nasty on our way to Dane End. We were now travelling more or less in a southerly direction, and with the many hedgerows, the wind was not a real presence. With the turning to Whempstead we were now at our most southerly point and now we started to head in a more northerly direction with the prospect of the wind helping us home after lunch. The next couple of miles brought us to Benington and The Lordship Arms where we arrived at exactly 1 pm such was the precision of our leader’s planning!
When we arrived it was still fairly sunny which encouraged many to sit outside but during lunch the wind got up and the sun disappeared so we went back into the pub for a coffee or a beer. At 2pm we left Benington and made our way towards Walkern where Averil led us on an unmade road through the grounds of Walkern Hall before bringing us back on to the road which took us through Cromer, Rushden and Redhill, not quite as large as their namesakes. All this is delightfully rural and at was not long before we crossed the A505 for the last of the hills before entering Ashwell.
Here one or two succumbed to the prospect of a cream bun at the bakery and these were left to enjoy the fare as the rest pressed on to home. From Ashwell to Cambridge is a familiar track and we passed through Steeple Morden, Litlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington, for the really last climb of the day, over Chapel Hill and into Haslingfield and the ride’s end. Our thanks to Averil for a splendid ride which covered some roads not often visited; all this and 59 miles - a good day. Edward Elmer
View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX).