Sunday, 30 November 2014

30 Nov: Sunday ride to Waresley and Holme

Nigel writes: After last Sunday's all-day rain, which forced me to stay at home and spend the day decorating, I was keen to get out for a ride this today. Once again, today's ride followed the club's new "winter ride" format, with a 9.30am start and stops for coffee and lunch before returning home after lunch. There were about nine or ten riders at Brookside for today's ride; John R was our leader.

Our coffee stop today was to be in Waresley, so John led us west to Newnham and then out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway.

Lammas Land, Cambridge

The weather was misty and dull, but not particularly cold and there was very little wind. When we reached Barton we turned west onto the B1046 which we followed through Comberton and Toft to Bourn.

B1046 west of Toft

We rode through Bourn where the group turned west onto Caxton End and splashed through the two shallow fords there before continuing on to Caxton, Gamlingay and Warseley.

We stopped for coffee at Waresley Park Garden Centre. As usual, several members were already there and we had a sociable half hour before regrouping into the "going on to lunch" group and the "going back to Cambridge" group. I rode with the latter group: by now the sun had come out and I was keen to make good use of a fine autumn day.

B1040 between Waresley and Gamlingay

John's route took us south from Waresley to Gamlingay and then west to Everton. From there we sped down Tempsford Hill. This steep (10%) and very short (40m) hill down to the Ouse Flood Plain always comes as a bit of a surprise, but a smooth-straight road with a long roll-out at the bottom meant I reached 33mph without really trying.

At Tempsford we crossed the A1 and continted west to Blunham before turning south for the final few miles through Moggerhanger and Norhill to our lunch stop in Holme.

Crossing the River Ivel near Blunham

Lunch today was at Jordan's Mill. Last time I was here we had sat outside by the river, but today, although it was almost warm enough to do the same thing again, we decided to sit inside in the warm.

After lunch we turned back east for the long journey back to Cambridge. From Holme to Biggleswade we tried out a new cycleway which runs along the west bank of the Ouse, under the A1 and ending up by the church in the middle of Biggleswade.

New cycleway between Holme and Biggleswade (S of A1)

The path had a loose "hoggin" finish, which is far from ideal but today it was dry and relatively smooth.

New cycleway between Holme and Biggleswade

New cycleway between Holme and Biggleswade (N of A1)

Once in Biggleswade we mixed with the busy town centre traffic for a few minutes before turning onto quieter local roads which we followed south-east to the edge of the town where we joined the main road east to Dunton. We rode through Edworth to Dunton and on to Wrestlingworth where we turned south to Guilden Morden. We continued to Steeple Moorden where we turned east for the final appach to Cambridge.

This took us along familar roads through Litlington, Bassingbourn, Kneesworth, Meldreth and Shepreth . By now I was beginning to flag so I was glad we didn't have far to go. Unfortunately, however, the next village in this succession was Barrington, which meant Chapel Hill. I normally climb this on the middle chainwheel but today I was glad to plod up in the granny gear.

After the descent to Haslingfield I suggested to Neil (who was by now my last remaining companion) that we turn right to Harston to try out the new cycleway between Hauxton Mill Bridge and Trumpington P&R.

Hauxton Mill Bridge: start of new cycle route to Trumpington P&R

This turned out to be fairly good, with a hard surface all the way but the first section was topped (completely unnecessarily) with loose gravel (perhaps we should come back one day with a broom and sweep it all off). However most of the route was either a concrete farm road or a normal tarmac path. It was nice enough, though I think the relatively wide section of A10 that it bypasses is nowhere near as unpleasant as the section we had just ridden through Harston itself, where a succession of narrow pinch-points deliberately causes conflict with motor vehicles and makes for some unpleasant cycling.

Once at Trumpington P&R it was plain sailing along the busway to the station and then on to home. I arrived home at 4.15pm, about twenty minutes after sunset, having cycled 64 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Friday, 28 November 2014

28 Nov: Friday night #CamRideHome

Nigel writes: This evening I took part in the #CamRideHome, a short after-work evening ride around Cambridge which takes place on the last Friday of every month.

It's organised by Rob Turner of Ben Hayward Cycles, and is intended to be a gentle, fun, ride around the back streets of Cambridge, lasting about an hour. There's more information here.

The starting point was outside The Mill in Mill Lane at 6pm, and I turned up to find about ten others waiting to start. The ride is intended to celebrate "ordinary" urban cycling, and we were all wearing ordinary clothes and almost all of us were on ordinary city bikes. One rider, Tom, was with his young son who was sitting in a child seat behind him.

First stop on the ride was the Ben Hayward Cycles shop in Trumpington Street. Rob explained that he had just taken delivery of a number of fancy power-assisted Moulton cycles, and he was keen to get us to try them out. So several of us left our bikes in the shop and set off on shiny brand new Moultons instead, which was great fun. More about the bikes here.

We continued into the city centre, rode around the market and stopped for a quick photo in front of the Christmas Tree.

#CamRideHome riders in Market Hill, Cambridge (Photo: Rob Turner)

For the next hour we were led on an ingeneous route around the back streets of Cambridge, first riding east to the station cycle bridge and then back west to Jesus Green and Castle Hill. It was a dry and very mild evening and the pace was relaxed and the atmosphere chatty and sociable.

After an hour we returned back to Mill Lane and stopped for a drink in The Mill, where a plate of mince pies was waiting for us.

Overall this was a relaxing and enjoyable way to end the working week, and I'll certainly be back when the rides continue next year.

Mince pies in the pub afterwards

(Note that the next CTC Cambridge monthly moonlight ride is next Wednesday, 3rd Dec. Meet at 6.30pm at Brookside for a 30-35 mile ride along quiet country lanes with a pub stop in Quy. Details here.)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

27 Nov: Thursday ride to Nuthampstead and Braughing

Edward writes: We arrived in Hauxton for our ride in light rain, it having eased a little when an hour earlier it had been quite heavy, but importantly no wind. So it was something of a surprise that seventeen members met for our ride taking in Nuthampstead and Braughing and led by Mike C.

We left Hauxton in two unevenly matched groups, the first group of twelve and a second group of five! As we set off the rain became more persistent and it would be with us for the first hour of our ride which started by going out to Newton, Thriplow and Fowlmere.


We went out of Fowlmere to the A505 and then over to Chrishall Grange ready for the climb up to the Elmdon turn where we caught sight of some of the back markers from the lead group. We, in the second group, paused here for a minute or two and by now we could see some breaks in the sky which gave us hope that we were over the worst of the rain.

Shaftenhoe End

Next we came to Heydon and Great Chishill and then into rolling hills and great views as we passed through the small hamlet of Shaftenhoe End and soon we were on the road to Nuthampstead.


By 11.15 am all of us had arrived at The Woodman for our coffee stop where we were joined by about four others making a very large group who had ignored the damp start to the day. It was all very cozy in the pub with a warm fire on the go and we enjoyed a pleasant half hour or so before it was time to get under way again.

B17 Flying Fortress - Nuthampstead

Leaving The Woodman at Nuthampstead

As usual a few left us to return home and a sub group of four or five led by Jacob, took a shorter and gentler ride to Braughing. This still left a dozen or so to head away from Nuthampstead and thus we twisted our way down to the B1368 which we crossed for the ride into Wyddial and still going through a beautiful winter scene which showed the many colours of leaves still on the trees and we observed the new growth in the fields really coming on so quickly.


We passed through the quiet village of Wyddial and next came the small town of Buntingford before turning due south at Aspenden. Travelling south we went through Westmill and Nasty where we witnessed a crow harassing a red kite.


Great Munden

By now the weather had improved considerably and it was very pleasant as we came to the turning for Puckeridge and now we enjoyed a particularly nice ride as we descended to the dual carriageway of the A10 which we had to cross on foot in order to get to Puckeridge. This is very similar to the crossing of the A1307 at Horseheath. Once in Puckeridge it was barely a couple of miles up to Braughing and the Brown Bear for lunch, arriving spot on 1pm.

We found the Brown Bear, which is under new management, very hospitable. In fact this was only their second day of serving food and everybody who ate thoroughly enjoyed their choices. With a log fire burning and the warm welcome our lunch break was very enjoyable and we agreed that we should come back here rather more frequently than we have in the past.

Leaving the Brown Bear at Braughing

At 2pm it was time to set off for the afternoon session and once again Jacob led his little band of four on presumably a more direct route home. This still left thirteen to follow Mike as we set the course for Furneux Pelham with its curious writing on the church tower.

Furneux Pelham Church: "Time Flies - Mind Your Business"

In fact we did the hat-trick with the Pelhams as we also went through Stocking Pelham and finally Brent Pelham.

Brent Pelham

After all the rain the roads were filthy and unusually very busy with more than usual amount of traffic, including some big trucks causing us to pull over to allow them to get by. We eventually came to Langley Lower Green and after the hill to Langley Upper Green where we stopped for a minute or two and appreciated the almost total quietness.

Langley Upper Green

Duddenhoe End came next and with the end of the north Essex hills and the climbing mostly behind us we came to lower elevations, albeit with a short climb into Chrishall and then down to Chrishall Grange. Rather than go back on the same route we used in the morning we went down Duxford Grange into Duxford and up to the A505 (very busy), Whittlesford and finally Little Shelford where the ride effectively ended with some going back to Hauxton and the remainder home via Great Shelford finishing at 4pm. Those going back to Hauxton would have had a round trip of 53 miles and we must record our thanks to Mike for a very well researched and successful ride which took us through delightful countryside and spirits were not at all dampened by the unpleasant morning weather. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 20 November 2014

20 Nov: Thursday ride to Swavesey and St Neots

Edward writes: More than a touch of autumn weather greeted the fifteen riders who assembled at Haslingfield Green for today's ride out to Swavesey and St Neots.

It was grey and murky and a temperature of no more than about 5 or 6 degrees centigrade. Belinda was in charge today and she led us out to Harlton where we turned right and headed up to the A603 and on to Comberton.


In Comberton we crossed the high street and soon joined the long road which climbs up to Hardwick on the old road to St. Neots.



At the top of Long Road we turned left towards Hardwick, crossed over at the roundabout where the road crosses the A428 and then dropped down to Dry Drayton. We continued to Oakington and once through the village we were able to join the busway for a pleasant few miles untroubled by traffic down to Swavesey.


Busway at Swavesey

Why do we go to Swavesey? Bbecause here we find the Baptist chapel and a chance to spoil ourselves on a wonderful selection of homemade cakes which this week were provided by the ladies of St. Andrew's parish church. Of course, when we arrived we found another nine or ten other members thus making for a very convivial break.


After the interval it was time to press on, and after the usual exchanges of personnel, eighteen left to make their way to Fen Drayton. The temperature by now had risen to about nine degrees as the sun had started to break through and it was very pleasant as we approached Fen Drayton. We still had to go out towards the A14 as it passes by Fenstanton and this time we used the underpass to bring us to the road leading to Hilton. Soon we came to the B1198 and then a couple of miles on about the best road surface in east anglia to bring us to Graveley - if only all road surfaces were like this! Graveley took us past the giant wind turbines and then the long, almost straight, two miles through Toseland and out to the B1043. This left us with the run in to St Neots and the Ambiance Cafe for our luncheon interval.

St Neots

By now the sun was out and it was pleasant enough for those with sandwiches to sit outside in a degree of comfort. Inside the cafe we found Doug and Richard M already tucking into their lunches. Once again, after lunch a number left us but still thirteen set off for the start of the afternoon session, the time being 1.30pm.

We crossed the meadows and threaded our way through neighbouring Eynesbury and over the A428 and then set the compass for an easterly bearing so that we came next to Abbotsley. This was followed by Great Gransden and Caxton when it was time to switch on our lights as the sun was beginning to disappear.


We came to Bourn and at the the turning for the Eversdens some left us to go straight into Cambridge leaving about half a dozen to finish the ride, via the Eversdens, back to Harlton and Haslingfield, finishing at about 3.30pm and 54 very enjoyable miles. Our thanks to Belinda for taking us round and keeping us all together and no doubt there are a few more rides like this tucked away in her locker. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 16 November 2014

16 Nov: Morning ride to Nuthampstead

Nigel writes: Today started damp and foggy and remained so for most of the morning. I decided it was a good idea to turn on my lights before setting off, and, unusually, left them on for the whole of the ride. My companions on today's ride were Eva, Steve, Z-Q, Neil and our leader Conrad. We set off south from Brookside, following local roads to Long Road where we turned onto the busway.

Joining the busway at Long Road

We continued south along the busway to Addenrookes and then along the DNA path to Great Shelford. From there Conrad led is to Little Shelford and along the B1368 to Flint Cross. After crossing the busy A505 we turned onto New Road, the long, straight road which climbs gently up to Great Chishill.

Climbing New Road from Flint Cross to Great Chishill

After Great Chishill we descended once more to Shaftenhoe End where we turned off onto a series of particularly pleasant lanes to Nuthampstead.

We arrived at The Woodman to find seven or eight members already sitting in the bar, enjoying the warmth of an open fire. We ordered coffee and joined them for a pleasant and sociable half hour. Those already present included Mick, Edward, Vic, Joseph, Malcolm, Adrian and Craig

As usual there was a discussion of whether to carry on to lunch, but as rain was forecast for about 2pm everyone decided to return home to Cambridge.

Setting off after coffee from The Woodman, Nuthampstead

Instead of returning the way we'd just come, Conrad led us south to Anstey and then east to Meesden before turning north for Langley.

Approaching Langley Upper Green

We continued from Langley Lower Green to Langley Upper Green and through Duddenhoe End before dropping down to the B1039. A short climb took us back up to Elmdon and then down once more to Ickleton. By now the mist seemed to have cleared though it remained very dull for our last few miles through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. As we reached Addenbrooke's it started to rain, more or less as forecast, but the rain never amounted to much and stopped after a few minutes. I arrived home at 1.30pm, having cycled 43 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Friday, 14 November 2014

13 Nov: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Hadstock

Edward writes: For today's ride out to Ickleton and Hadstock 23 cyclists met in Hauxton under a very autumnal sky. Although still relatively mild, at least for this time of the year, there was a stiff south easterly breeze and this was to be a feature of our ride for most of the day, and with the cloud cover it seemed there would be little prospect of seeing the sun. Ickleton is only a few miles on a direct route from Hauxton and so we had to plan a rather large loop to put in a worthwhile ride before coffee.

Thus we went out via Little Shelford and Whittlesford and then on to Newton into the face of the wind. After travelling through Thriplow and Fowlmere we made our way out to Flint Cross on the A505 and the turning up to Great Chishill. Now we faced a severe test as this was a two mile climb and into the very teeth of the wind and by the time the first riders reached Great Chishill there was quite a wait for the back markers to catch up; it did, though, give us the opportunity for a well earned breather.

Flint Cross to Great Chishill

Flint Cross to Great Chishill

Great Chishill

We proceeded into Heydon and then a bit more climbing on the approaches to Elmdon, but now came the reward of a couple of miles downhill with the wind more or less behind as we descended into Ickleton and the Riverside Barns for coffee.



We arrived here at about 11.20am, a bit later than planned, but against the wind progress couldn't be too rapid, and here we found other members who had cycled out independently. We always enjoy this coffee stop and today its warmth was very welcoming as riding into all the wind had made us feel quite cold. Needless to say there was the usual exchange of personnel after coffee but still a large group assembled for the next stage of the ride. We used the farm track to join Coploe Hill and more fighting against the wind especially after reaching the top as there is not so much hedgerow protection.

Coploe Hill

Catmere End

This brought us to Catmere End and the approach to Littlebury Green where we turned for more climbing on the twisting roads before the rapid descent to Wendons Ambo. We crossed the B1383 and climbed up to Saffron Walden and negotiated the town's busy streets and took the Ashdon road for another climb.

Saffron Walden

Ashdon turning from Saffron Walden

When we reached the top of the hill we decided to shorten our route as the plan had been to go via Sewards End to Ashdon but instead we took the direct route and this gave us some relief from the wind as it was no longer head on. Now with the worst of the climbing behind us we made rapid progress through Ashdon and Bartlow where we turned for Hadstock and the very welcome sight of the King's Head.

Already there we found Jacob and Adrian, who had left us at Ickleton to indulge their off road skills, Doug, Mike S and Vic F. It was nice to be in the warm again and we enjoyed a very satisfactory lunch. The early arrivals, joined by Sarah and David M, left before the main party so when we left we were a group of nine.

After lunch at Hadstock (Photo: Belinda Borneo)

Hadstock is only about twelve miles from Hauxton and as it was about 2.15pm when we left we expected to be home before requiring lights. With the hills now behind us and a following wind we soon reached Linton and Hildersham and the B1307. We crossed this road into Great Abington and soon after on to the new cycleway along side the A505 until the Babraham turning and then into Sawston.

Babraham to Sawston cycleway

We finished the ride using the cycleway to Whittlesford and finally into Little Shelford at 3.15 pm, and those going back to Hauxton would have completed 52 miles, being just about right for a Thursday winter ride. Edward Elmer