Thursday, 31 July 2014

31 Jul: Thursday ride to Potton and Biggleswade

Edward writes: Today we met at Haslingfield Green and by 9.30 am we had nineteen riders all ready for our ride out to Potton and then on to Broom for our lunch at Jordan's Mill. For this ride we welcomed Judith who was joining us for the first time and Edgar was accompanied by his granddaughter, Isobel. Our leader for the day was David Marsh and as is the custom we divided into two groups with the agreement that the first group would wait in Great Gransden, thus allowing us to go on to Potton and arrive at more or less the same time and still in two groups.

Bourn

We left Haslingfield and went towards Barton where we would usually cross the recreation ground but the footpath (maybe also a cycleway) was being re laid so we went round the village before setting our bearings for Comberton and Toft. The breeze was in the south west and so the morning’s effort would, for the most part, be headwind, and this would be good news for the afternoon ride. As we entered Bourn we found Mike S who waved us through so that he could travel to Potton at his own pace. Next for a visit was Caxton and this was followed by Great Gransden where we found the first group and we were all able to take a brief rest and take on water as this was another of this run of hot days.

Great Gransden

We left Gransden and headed for Waresley and as we were on the last climb into Waresley Averil broke away from the peloton in a race to the top leaving Jim to take up the challenge. We passed by the garden centre, went straight through Gamlingay and two more miles brought us to Potton and the Coach House for our coffee break.

Potton

In the Coach House enclosed garden we found many more members and these included Greta, who had made her own way there, Doug, Belinda and Sharon and their friend Mark, Sarah and Richard M who had cycled over from Bedford.

After coffee, and still in two groups, we headed towards Everton where we found Tempsford Hill and the usual very exciting sprint down sometimes touching 40 mph. This soon took us to the railway crossing where we had to wait for three trains to go past two of which must have been doing their maximum of 125 mph.

At the level crossing below Tempsford Hill

Soon after this we passed over the A1 and and into Blunham and on to Moggerhanger. This now took us through the lovely old Bedfordshire villages of Northill, Ickwell, Old Warden and Southill and finally into Broom and Jordan's Mill for our lunch stop.

Jordan's Mill, Broom

Being school holiday time it was not surprising that it was very busy but there were no problems and lunch was enjoyed mostly out on the terrace. Since it opened the owners have done a lot of work creating the gardens completely from scratch and it’s all coming along a treat. After lunch, of course, there were quite a few departures: Richard to go back to Bedford, and at the Ashwell turning, Sarah, Belinda, Sharon and Mark branched off for home whilst the rest of us made our way to Hinxworth and on to Ashwell.

As we rode along the lanes between the fields it was clear how much progress has been made with the harvest and how quickly the fields are prepared for next year’s crop. As we passed by Ashwell there were still seventeen of us in the group as we now set the course for a familiar route home via Steeple Morden, Litlington and Bassingbourn. This afternoon session benefitted from a following wind, although as the sun disappeared the humidity seemed to rise, and progress was quick as we now went through Meldreth, where David left us, Shepreth, Barrington, Chapel Hill and back to Haslingfield after 59 miles and where we drew stumps at 4pm. Edward Elmer


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Thursday, 24 July 2014

24 Jul: Thursday ride to Stradishall, Bury St Edmunds and Hawstead

Edward writes: Unusually for a Thursday we didn't have a ride leader, so Mike C and I volunteered to fill the vacancy for today's ride out to Stradishall and then on to Bury St Edmunds, making this one of our longer Thursday rides. The sunny weather continued and in fact we believe we had a shade temperature of 27C, thus it was hot. None of this, of course, deterred Sarah who was out on the road soon after 7 am to cycle 30 miles to join us, somewhat outdoing John J who was also out on the road early cycling over from Fenstanton. With this heat this was probably a good thing to do.

Leaving Hauxton

Not unexpectedly we took the road from Hauxton to Whittlesford and joined the cycleway over to Sawston and rejoin it again to go out to Babraham, which naturally led us out to the A505 and another experience of the new cycleway over the hill into Great Abington.

Sawston to Whittlesford

Heading east, as we were, meant pedalling against the north easterly breeze, and with the climbs, making it at times quite a tough ride. Balsham came where we were joined by David Ma, followed by West Wickham and more head wind as we crossed Wratting Common, but relief was soon at hand as we turned south west and headed towards Little Thurlow and then on to Stradishall.

Balsham

Balsham

West Wickham

In Adam’s (ex Tubby T’s) we met Joseph, Gwen, Geoff and much to our surprise and pleasure, Peter and Lesley. As we didn’t arrive at Adam’s until 11.30am we cut short the coffee break and were on the road again by 12 noon. The group going on bore little resemblance to the group which started out from Hauxton with quite a few changes of personnel as some returned home whilst the newcomers came on with us. After crossing the A143 we headed out into the beautiful Suffolk countryside taking us through Denston and Hawkdon where we turned north into a very hilly stretch, but we eventually arrived at Rede where we waited to bring us all together again.

Hawkedon to Rede

Rede

Obviously farmers are taking advantage of this weather and everywhere behind the hedges we could hear combine harvesters busy at work. After four or five more miles we had to join the A143 to take us the last mile or two into Bury St Edmunds, arriving at 1.30pm.

Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

Lunch was at the Abbey Gardens and this was all very pleasant with many families out, schools having finished the day before, and of course many tourists, and it all made for a very happy scene - the weather helped a bit!

Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds

After lunch Sarah caught the train to Peterborough and John, Sue and Craig took the Cambridge train which left seven or eight of us to make our way back to Cambridge on our bikes. It was agreed that we should go back via Hawstead and locate the Maglia Rosso cycle centre and destination cafe where a future ride is scheduled. The cafe was very nice with a simple lunch of sandwiches and paninnis and also a salad, so should be very suitable for a club visit. Also plenty of high-end bike to admire in the shop!

After an ice cream we made our way via Whepstead to Chevington where we said goodbye to Geoff, then along to Hargrave and then towards Ousden but, before reaching it, turning down to Wickhambrook. By now, after so many hours in the sun, the heat was certainly making it presence felt and it was lucky for us that we were travelling with the wind on our backs. We passed through Great Bradley and then Brinkley where Joseph and Malcolm left us leaving Avril Mike and me to finish off the ride. Back at Great Shelford it was 6.15 pm and 80 miles to the good. Edward Elmer


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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

23 Jul: Evening ride to Quy

Nigel writes: This evening was how an evening in late July is supposed to be: hot and sunny; glorious weather for a brisk evening ride in the peaceful countryside between Cambridge and Newmarket.

My companions at Brookside were regulars Gareth, Jim, Neil and James. We set off south-east out of Cambridge along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's where we turned left onto Wort's Causeway for the climb up and over the Gogs to Fulbourn. Gareth, Jim and James soon disappeared into the distance, leaving Neil and me to bring up the rear at a more relaxed but still brisk pace.

Neil and I continued from Fulbourn to the Wilbrahams and then east to Six Mile Bottom for the long climb to Brinkley. A fast descent along the B1052 brought us back down to Dullingham where we turned onto the long straight road to Swaffham Bulbeck.

Riding into the sun on Swaffham Heath Road

Neil and I arrived at the White Swan in Quy slightly early at about 8.20pm. As we approached we were overtaken by Gareth who had taken a longer route via West Wratting, whilst Jim was already tucking into a bowl of chips.


After a very pleasant half hour sitting outside the pub in the late evening sunshine we all returned back to Cambridge via Fen Ditton and the Jubilee Cycleway. I arrived home at 9.15pm, having cycled 32 miles.


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20 Jul: All-day ride to Wimbish, Sible Hedingham and Ashdon

Graham writes: Once again I had my monthly CTC pass arranged and knowing that I was out to enjoy a full Sunday of riding I headed down to Brookside for 9am. There were nine riders making their way out initially and it was a good mixture of regular riders, guests and new faces.

Adrian was leading the ride and he explained he would be doing a little bit of main road bashing on the way out in order to make good progress and accommodate a loop en route to the morning stop. Therefore it was no surprise that we headed out on the same roads used by 'Le Tour' along Trumpington Road and South through Sawston. After this village we proceeded on the cycleway by the A1301 as far as Hinxton where we turned right to go onto familiar country lanes.

The conversation flowed as easily as the miles did and the few hills we passed after Ickleton and on towards Elmdon and Duddenhoe End did not cause any problems.

Heading towards Duddenhoe End

With a compact formation and no pauses for regrouping we made good time and arrived at Coffee at the Elder Street Farm Shop Café at just after 11am.

Enjoying the warmth at the Elder Street Café

Service at the café was not brisk but it was a pleasant place to refuel and chat and there were no problems with missing orders.

We set off just before midday with a number of people heading back home and some riders who had ridden directly to the café joining us for the leg to lunch. The route took us through the very picturesque village of Thaxted, and via the Bardfields. Adrian then guided us through a series of very pleasant country lanes and past the lake at Gosfield.

Country lanes in Essex

A final three and a half miles of A-road bashing from Gosfield to Sible Headingham brought us to lunch. Gareth was already at the corner café waiting for us having cycled directly from Cambridge. I, like several others, had brought sandwiches and the others were apparently served quickly. I took advantage of the local shops and bought another litre of water as the warmth and humidity of the day meant I had already drunk all of my supplies.

Gareth went off on his own loop to afternoon tea and the rest of us climbed out of Sible Headingham through Delvin End and on to Toppesfield. By now it was decidedly muggy and the clouds were starting to build quite noticeably to our West.

Between the Bumpsteads

Despite those minor concerns the conversation still flowed freely and discussions about the roadside flora and fauna kept our mind off the heat and increasing threat of rain. Adrian's route took us on a fairly direct leg via the Bumpsteads and we were at Ashdon's village museum by quarter to four. Amazingly we pulled in just as Gareth arrived from the opposite direction!

This is one of my favourite stopping places and the café takings help to keep the village museum running. Nigel's afternoon ride (report here) swung in about half an hour after us and we all chatted for a quarter of an hour before leaving them to finish their tea and cake.

Adrian led again for the next few miles over to Bartlow and West Wratting where he stopped off to visit another member at their home. Riders had already been peeling off here and there to take their most optimal routes home and eventually it was just Eva, Ray and I heading back towards the Wilbrahams. At Little Wilbraham we waved goodbye to Eva and Ray and I headed towards Cambridge from the East.

Just as we approached Cherry Hinton High Street a thunderstorm struck and we took shelter under some trees to shelter from the downpour. The trees did their job well and we donned our waterproofs and waited for the torrential rain to ease. Amazingly as we approached 'The Tins' to take us to the end of Mill Road the tarmac was completely dry which illustrated how localised the storms were. Many thanks go to Adrian for his expert leadership which made for a very enjoyable 84 miles. Graham Hughes


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Sunday, 20 July 2014

20 Jul: Afternoon ride to Ashdon

Nigel writes: The current hot spell continues, and the temperature was 25C when I arrived at Brookside to lead this afternoon's ride to Ashdon. My companions on the ride were Bev, Alison, Rob, John and John. We set off south from Brookside, along Trumpington Road and through some expensive back streets to Long Road where we turned onto the busway,

Joining the busway

It was a hot, sultry and overcast day. There was a forecast of heavy rain but it remained dry until we were almost back in Cambridge at the end of the ride. After a short distance we turned east onto the spur that leads over the railway bridge to Addenbrooke's.

On the busway, approaching Addenbrooke's

We joined the DNA path to Great Shelford and continued south through Little Shelford and Whittlesford to Duxford. We were making good progress so we made a diversion to Hinxton to ride over the ford.

Hinxton Ford

After a pleasant pause on the bridge to chat to someone who was collecting sticklebacks in a net we carried on to Ickleton. We climbed Coploe Hill and Catmere End before dropping down along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House. We continued into Saffron Walden and out the other side on the road to Ashdon.

The hills of Essex were taking their toll and we arrived at the Ashdon Museum slightly late, at 4.15pm. The all-day ride was already there, allowing the two rides to meet and chat for a while with cakes and pots of tea before they set off back to Cambridge.

A short while later our group set off for home as well. I chose a gentle, flat route which took us through Bartlow, across the A1307 to Linton and along Back Road to Hildesham, where we paused once more to admire the ford and for some of us to splash through it several times for fun.

Hildesham Ford

Hildesham Ford

From Hildesham we crossed the A1307 again into Abington and continued past Granta Park onto the cycle path that leads west along the A505 towards Pampisford and Sawston.

Cycle path along the A505

We didn't go all the way to Pampisford, though. Instead we took the turn towards Babraham which allowed us to enjoy the short but pleasant cycleway from there to Sawston.

Cycle path from Babraham to Sawston

At Shelford we joined the cycle path to Stapleford and Great Shelford.

When we reached Great Shelford we joined the DNA path towards Addenbrooke's. The sky ahead of us was dark and we could see lightning over Cambridge. The wind picked up, and it gradually started to rain. We paused under the Addenbrooke's Road overbridge to regroup, put on waterproofs, and for Bev to discover a puncture. Fortunately this was a clean, dry place to make repairs. The tube was replaced and Nigel inflated the tyre, only to hear a loud bang as the tube burst. A second replacement was fitted, successfully inflated, and we continued on our way into Cambridge. I arrived home at 7.15pm, having cycled 42 miles.


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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

16 Jul: Evening ride to Barton

Nigel writes: This evening's ride consisted of just Gareth and me, on a hot, dry and somewhat overcast evening. Tonight's pub stop was in Barton, and Gareth suggested we take a different route than usual, an anticlockwise loop which took us west through Coton, Hardwick, Bourn and Caxton to Great Gransden before returning back east again along the B1046 through Longstowe, Bourn, Toft and Comberton to Barton.

Despite the heat it was a lovely quiet evening, with a slight westerly breeze and almost completely empty roads. Once we had left Cambridge and climbed the hill to Hardwick our pace was fast (our moving average speed for the whole ride was 16.9mph), and we reached the White Horse pub in Barton at about 8.15pm, a quarter of an hour early. We ordered drinks and a bowl of chips for me and sat outside in the garden.


A few minutes later we were joined by Alasdair and Sarah, who just happened to be visiting the pub and had spotted my Airnimal in the bike racks. After a pleasant half hour Gareth and I set off back towards Cambridge. It was still light and the setting sun was still visible over our left shoulder. I arrived home at 9.14pm, a minute before sunset, having cycled a rather fast 31 miles.



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Sunday, 13 July 2014

13 Jul: All-day ride (car-assisted) to Oundle, Finshade Wood and Wistow

Nigel writes: Today's all-day ride was designated as being car-assisted, with the start point being at Sarah and Andy's house in Wistow, a small village in Huntingdonshire, about eight miles north of St Ives. Typically members make arrangements a few days beforehand to ensure that anyone who wants to ride can get a lift. On this occasion, however, I decided that I didn't need a lift and would get up early to cycle all the way from Cambridge.

I set the alarm clock for an early breakfast and left my house in Cambridge just before 7.30am and was soon on the busway making my way to St Ives. Despite the early hours, there were quite a few cyclists coming and going and even larger numbers of walkers, especially near the lakes at Fen Drayton. Getting up early clearly puts people in a good mood, and I had lots of pleasant exchanges of greetings with people as I rode along. The Thicket Path from St Ives to Houghton was also quite busy as well. After a few more miles on normal roads I arrived in in Wistow at 9.05pm, allowing me ample time for a rest and a mug of coffee before the official departure at 9.30am.

Several cars arrived laden with bikes and by the time we were due to depart there were twelve of us: an excellent turnout for a ride on a dull and drizzly day with a forecast of scattered showers.

Getting ready to set off from Wistow. Little did I know that behind me my rear tyre had just gone flat.

After a brief photocall we all set off. Within seconds I discovered I had a flat tyre, and the time taken to replace the tube delayed our departure by a quarter of an hour. Then we were back on our way, led by our joint leaders Andy and Sarah.

Today's ride took us west, over the motorway to Alconbury Weston and then north-west into Northamptonshire. This is an area we rarely visit on normal club rides and almost immediately I was on unfamilar lanes, riding through unfamilar villages.


Although the sky was dull and overcast, and the occasional patch of drizzle came and went, it remained mostly dry. And since it was mid-July, very warm.


As we rode along we saw the brick of Cambridgeshire replaced by the warm stone colours of Northamptonshire.

Polebrook

Our mid-morning coffee stop was in Oundle, an extremely handsome stone town dominated by its famous public school. We parked our bikes in the market place and stopped for coffee at The Coffee Tavern.

Coffee in Oundle

I suggested to Rupert that Oundle would be a good lunch stop on some future all-day ride.

Oundle

Oundle

After coffee we continued north-west, past Deenethorpe airfield and then past Rockingham speedway stadium on the northern outskirts of Corby.

Deenethorpe

We then turned north towards Harringworth. Before long, an enormous long railway viaduct came into view. This was the Welland Viaduct, still the longest structure of its type on Britain's railway network.

Andy indicates the 82 brick arches of the Welland Viaduct, Harringworth

This marked the western extremity of today's ride, and it was time to head back east.

Welland Viaduct, Harringworth

Lunch today was at the Top Lodge visitor centre in Finshade Woods, which we reached rather late at 1.50pm.


This turned out to be an excellent place to stop. The cafe had a good range of sandwiches and light meals and a pleasant courtyard in which to eat it. Also in the courtyard were a number of small shops, including a branch of the small Rutland Cycling bike shop chain (also at Grafham), where I bought a cycling jersey.

Top Lodge, Finshade Woods

After lunch we rode on through the forest before emerging back onto roads for our return south-west towards Wistow.

Finshade Woods

Puncture in King's Cliffe

Soon enough we left the brown stone landscape of Northamptonshire behind and were back in the gentle flat prairies of Huntingdonshire. It was about 4.40pm when I arrived back at Sarah and Andy's in Wistow. There a huge spread of savouries and cakes was waiting for us.

The afternoon ride had been due to meet us here but in the event no-one arrived, perhaps put-off by heavy rain in Cambridge at lunchtime. However we were joined by Eva and Jim, and by Ian, who had all cycled here directly.

This home tea was a lovely, convivial occasion, and after we had all finished eating no-one seemed in a hurry to leave, perhaps because most of those present would be returning home by car.

Tea at Sarah and Andy's, Wistow.

After tea I rode back to Cambridge with Eva, Jim and Ian, along the same route that I had used on the outward journey. It was still very warm, and as we rode back the sun at last came out and the final hour of the day was bright and sunny, providing the best weather of the day. The sun was still shining when I reached home at 7.50pm. Whilst everyone else on this car-assisted ride would have returned home by car an hour earlier, having cycled around 70 miles, my own bike-assisted mileage was an excellent 118 miles.


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