Monday, 29 December 2014

When there's ice about

Our rides continue throughout the winter, but when there's ice (or snow) on the roads our rides may be cancelled or modified at short notice. Before setting off to join one of our rides it's a good idea to check the rides lists on this website for any last-minute change. Changes will also be shown in our calendar feeds. If in doubt, contact the leader.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

21 Dec: Ride to Christmas Lunch

Nigel writes: Today was the day of the club's Christmas Lunch at Bourn Golf Club, and our normal ride was replaced by a leisurely ride to lunch starting at 10:30am. Our leader today was John Ross, with about ten others following behind. After a delayed start when someone discovered a puncture right at the start, we set off north from Brookside, riding through the busy pre-Christmas traffic into the City Centre.

King's Parade, Cambridge

We continued north over Magdalene Bridge and the up to the top of Castle Hill. It was a dull, cloudy day but the roads and sky were dry and it was relatively mild, but with a fairly strong south-westerly breeze.

Castle Hill, Cambridge

We turned onto Histon Road and around the edge of Orchard Park to the busway. 

On the busway near Histon

We followed the busway through Histon and on to Swavesey, where I paused to try out the new public bike pump that has been installed there, just by the bus stop.

Trying out the public bike pump at Swavesey Station

We left the busway at Swavesey and rode south. This took us directly into the wind and we made slow progress as a result. We crossed over the A14 and continued to Boxworth where we turned left to Knapwell. We crossed the old A428 and continued to Bourn. A few minutes later we arrived at Bourn Golf Club for our Christmas Lunch.

I arrived at about 12.40pm, with the rest of the group following about five minutes later. I had been concerned that we would be late for lunch, but I needn't have been worried: the meal this year was at 1pm, half an hour later than last time, and everyone was still mingling sociably in the bar.

Christmas Lunch at Bourn Golf Club

With nearly fifty members at lunch, this was the best-attended Christmas Lunch for many years, a good demonstration of the continuing strength of the club, and no doubt also of the popularity of Bourn Golf Club as a friendly and pleasant lunch venue.

During the meal club treasurer stood up and announced the award of the Len Nice Trophy. This is presented to the member who has done the most for the club over the past year, and is decided by a secret ballot of members held at our AGM in November. This year the trophy was awarded to Edward Elmer, well-known to readers of this blog as the author of our regular Thursday ride reports. (More about the Len Nice Memorial trophy here).

Edward Elmer (left) receives the Len Nice Trophy
from club treasurer Mike Culnane

After lunch we all set off for home. For me this meant heading east along the B1046 to Cambridge. With a strong tailwind I was blown along at 20mph almost all the way. I arrived home at about 4.15pm, having cycled 34 miles.



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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Rides in January and February

Our January and February rides lists are now available. Our Sunday rides continue every week, following the shorter winter format which has a 9.30am start and stops for coffee and lunch before returning back to Cambridge. We still need leaders for some of these rides so please contact Rupert, our runs secretary, if you can lead one of these rides. These rides aim to be home in daylight, but bring lights just in case.

Our Senior Cyclists group continues to meet every Tuesday and our very popular Thursday rides continue as normal. Our leisurely Saturday morning rides are taking a winter break and will restart in the spring. If you want to test those new bike lights that you got for Christmas, why not try one of our Wednesday evening moonlight rides? The next one is on 4th Feb.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

18 Dec: Thursday ride to Bourn and Houghton

Edward writes: This was the last Thursday ride before we reach the shortest day and it was very windy but still eighteen members arrived at Haslingfield Green for our ride out to Bourn and Houghton. Adrian was the designated leader for this ride and few people know the roads of Cambridgeshire, if not East Anglia, better than him. Despite the wind it was a mild, sunless day and we had to spend nearly all morning fighting against it. The ride started with a brisk climb up Chapel Hill into Barrington followed by the trip round to Orwell which gave us both headwind and side wind.

Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

After Orwell we crossed the A603 and made our way into the Wimpole Estate and not surprisingly it had hardly any visitors, in fact more animals grazing in the fields.

Wimpole Hall

Wimpole was followed by headwinds through Arrington and Croydon and inevitably leading to the very stiff climb up Croydon Hill. Now, all this toil into the wind slowed us down making it certain that we would arrive late at our coffee stop as we still had to go through the both East Hatley and Hatley St George. Once through the Hatleys we were able to change direction as we crossed over to the road that leads to Gamlingay and now the wind was in our favour and it was such a relief as we sailed towards Little Gransden and Longstowe and finally Bourn and the Abantu Cafe arriving at 11.30am.

Abantu Cafe, Bourn

Abantu Cafe, Bourn

As if eighteen wasn't a good enough number in itself a headcount at the cafe gave us twenty seven members - outstanding even for a summer ride. It’s a long time since we last visited here but we received a warm welcome and they coped very well with us all. Just before mid day we set off again but John E got a puncture but luckily and, almost inevitably, Mike C was on hand to do what was necessary. As this happened after everybody else had moved on Mike and John took a slightly different route to Cambourne, going via Caxton instead, whereas the main group went through Bourn and into Cambourne at a point just short of the A428.

Bourn

Bourn

When out of Cambourne the route then went through Eltisley and then to Knapwell and Connington. We were now heading more easterly, the wind was now more or less in our favour, and progress became much quicker as we approached Fenstanton and the underpass of the A14 to take us via Low Road, nearly into St Ives, and on to Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots. Soon we were crossing the water meadows which, after recent rain, were beginning to have large puddles on them and as we crossed the river it was noticeable how high the water was. Now we were just a moment from our lunch stop at the Three Horseshoes in Houghton.

Houghton

When we arrived about eight or nine had lunch in the pub where there was a nice warm fire, and some sat outside to eat sandwiches and many of the latter group went for a cup of tea in the new cafe right on the square.

Pub cat (19 years old)

When it was time to go a group of about seven or eight left first, leaving a group of eleven to follow on taking the Thicket cycle path to St Ives where we joined the guided busway for a trouble free journey up to Oakington. Here we left the busway and turned back into the wind and the gathering gloom as the afternoon light faded away. We went through Oakington, over the A14 and into Dry Drayton and Madingley. Adrian accompanied Craig back to Haslingfield by way of Hardwick and Comberton while the last four went along to Coton roundabout on Barton Road where the ride ended. Most people would have exceeded 50 miles and thanks to Adrian for another good day out despite the hard graft in the morning. Edward Elmer



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Sunday, 14 December 2014

14 Dec: Sunday ride to Shepreth and Buntingford

Nigel writes: There was no pre-arranged leader for today's ride to Shepreth and Buntingford, so before setting off from home I took the precaution of checking this blog to see whether we'd done this ride before, and if so what route we'd taken. With the help of the search box I quickly found that we'd visited the same places on 23rd February, so I looked at the route and downloaded the GPS track to my Garmin, just in case it was needed.

I arrived at Brookside just before 9.30am to find Neil S, Neil T, Z-Q and John E already there and wondering what route to take. After a brief discussion we agreed to take a loop to the west before stopping south to Shepreth. We set off west out of Cambridge along the Coton path to Coton and then up Madingley Hill.

Neil and John climb Madingley Hill

At the roundabout at the top we turned towards Hardwick before tuning south along Long Road to Comberton. When we reached the B1046 we turned west once more and rode through Toft before turning south for the fonal few miles through Kingston, the Eversdens and Haslingfield. It was a pleasant morning, cold but not particularly so, and fairly bright with the prospect of sunshine later.

After climbing Chapel Hill we dropped down to Barrington and a few minutes later arrived in Shepreth , where we stopped for morning coffee at Teacake Cafe. Already in the cafe were Vic, Sue, Mike S, Mick, Joseph, Edward and Adrian, making eleven in total.

After coffee at Teacake Cafe, Shepreth

After a pleasant forty minutes we left the cafe and most of the group set off for home, leaving just Adrian, Mike and me to carry on to lunch in Buntingford. We decided to take three different routes. My route took me west to Kneesworth and Litlington, along a short section of A505 and then up the steep hill to Thirfield. As expected, the sky brightened and the sun came out and it turned into a rather nice winter's day, despite a persistent cold southerly wind. The next few miles through Kelshall and Sandon and then on to Buntingford were along very pleasant (if rather muddy) country lanes. I arrived In Buntingford and stopped for Lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop, where a reserved table was waiting. A few moments later Adrian arrived, who had taken a very similar route with a short-cut at the end. I ordered lunch and a Nigel (see this report for an explanation) and we sat down to wait for our food. About five minutes Mike S arrived: he had taken a direct route via the B1368.

After lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop

After lunch we all set off for home. Once again I set off on my own with a plan to follow the same route as in February. However just beyond Wyddial my gear cable snapped. This left me with just two gears, neither particularly low, so I abandoned my plan to ascent Mount Chishill and instead returned home along the easier gradients of the B1368. With a tailwind this was fairly easy despite the lack of gears. When I reached Harston I used the new path across Trumpington Meadows - much of it coated with thick mud - to reach the busway into Cambridge. After a short diversion to try out the new "spine road" through Great Knighton (see here for more information) I arrived home at 4.15pm having cycled 61 miles.



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Thursday, 11 December 2014

11 Dec: Thursday ride to Lode and Newmarket

Edward Elmer writes: This morning we met in Hauxton where the temperature was about 5 Centigrade but, more importantly, there was a cold, stiff wind. However this didn't deter eleven members of the club from assembling there for our ride out to Anglesey Abbey and then on to Newmarket.

Today we were under the guidance of Sarah.


Hauxton

We set off by going to Great Shelford, where we joined the DNA path which took us via the hospital to Hills Road. Here we tackled the climb over the Gogs followed by the descent into Fulbourn. At this point the wind was behind us, thus mitigating the effects of its cold.


Over the Gogs

From Fulbourn we went through Great and Little Wilbraham and out to the old Newmarket road. This took is to Bottisham and the final mile into Lode for our coffee break at Anglesey Abbey.


Bottisham

At coffee we found five other members in addition to the three who had joined us en route. Nineteen was a good turnout for an unpleasant winter's morning.


Anglesey Abbey

After a short break Sarah led us out through Lode village allowing us to join the Lodes Way. Here we ran through a typical Fen landscape - flat and windswept but still having a certain appeal. We left the Lodes Way in Swaffham Prior and then headed into Reach and now with the wind directly behind us for the run up to Burwell.


Swaffham Prior

More Fen landscape followed as we went along Heath Road and we had to go past our usual short cut through the farm as access seems to have been blocked. This didn't really matter as we went the long way round close to the A14 and were able to witness the emergence of a large solar farm being constructed along this road. All this brought us to Exning and the final couple of miles into Newmarket and the Horse Racing museum for the luncheon interval.

The museum is always very accommodating for us and they allowed us to take our bikes through to the inner courtyard. Lunch was very pleasant with a good selection of hot food available at reasonable prices. Also important was the chance to get warm again.


Sarah, in true disciplinarian mode, insisted on a 1.30pm departure so that we could get back before dark. We left Newmarket through the back streets and climbed out of the town past the racecourse gallops on the Cheveley Road. This took us by several of the studs before reaching the turning for Dullingham and Stetchworth. Now for the first time we were directly into the wind , but this didn't seem too bad as the hedgerows offered plenty of protection. The road down to Dullingham is very undulating but pleasant nonetheless.


Approaching Dullingham


In Dullingham

In Dullingham, Rupert And Eva left us for a quicker return into Cambridge leaving the remaining eleven to head off on the switchback road to West Wratting and then Balsham. We said goodbye to Jacob and Mike CC as they returned to Cambridge via Fulbourn. We were now down to nine as we made the final descent of the day to Hildersham and over the ever busy A1307 to Great Abington. We joined the new cycle way on the A505 and another windswept journey from Babraham into Sawston. It was interesting to note that a hedge has been planted but not, sadly, beside the road but running into the fields.


At the level crossing between Sawston and Whittlesford

We finished the ride via the cycle way up to Whittlesford and finally Little Shelford. Those going back to Hauxton would have completed a regulation winter ride of 54 miles. Particular thanks are due to Sarah for a superb winter ride. One or two others tried to offer assistance but Sarah remained steadfast throughout. Edward Elmer



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Sunday, 7 December 2014

7 Dec: Morning ride to Saffron Walden

Nigel writes: My companions for today's ride were Rupert, Ian, Eva and our leader Conrad, who started the ride with a non-nonsense statement that we were going to ride to Saffron Walden by "the usual route".

We all knew what he meant: south from Brookside to join the busway at Long Road and then across towards Addembrooke's to join the DNA path to Great Shelford.

Crossing the railway towards Addenbrooke's

We continued from Great Shelford to Little Shelford and then south through Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. As usual, this was a gentle, relaxing ride. Although the weather was dull and damp, it wasn't particularly cold and sunshine was promised for later.

Crossing the railway towards Addenbrooke's

We climbed Coploe Hill to Catmere End and then dropped down along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House and the final short climb into Saffron Walden. Unfortunately the promised sunshine appeared only fleetingly and the weather deteriorated. By the time we arrived at The Temeraire for coffee it was drizzling steadily.

Already at the pub were Adrian, Mick, Edward and Joseph, and as we arrived we were joined by Tony.

After a pleasant twenty minutes or so in the pub we decided that instead of continuing on to lunch in Thaxted we would return home to Cambridge via a rather indirect route though Ashdon and West Wratting. As we rode along the weather improved somewhat so when we reached Cemetery Crossroads we carried on to Dullingham before turning west towards Swaffham Bulbeck.

Between Bartlow and West Wratting

There had be a persistent westerly breeze all day but we were now riding directly into the wind, so we were grateful we didn't have far to go. After riding through Bottisham and Quy we returned to Cambridge via Fen Ditton and the path across the meadows. I arrived home at 2.15pm, having cycled 48 miles.



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Thursday, 4 December 2014

4 Dec: Thursday ride to Ashwell and Barkway

Edward writes: Although the overnight temperatures had stayed above zero degrees we all arrived at Haslingfield Green in very raw conditions and it certainly felt very cold. The sky was leaden and the air had a damp, misty feel about it, but still eighteen cyclists arrived ready for today's ride out to Ashwell for coffee then on to Barkway for lunch. Today Jacob was at the helm and regular riders might have been wondering if he had off road plans in his thoughts, even though his other off road pals, Adrian and John F, were not on this ride.

Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

Not unexpectedly we set off with a climb up Chapel Hill where we found the normal views obscured by the weather conditions.

Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

We came into Barrington and then did the loop round Orwell and back down to Meldreth where we formed a long, single line as we tried to minimise any delays to the passing motorists. We left Meldreth and climbed up Mettle Hill past the Showmen's Guild site to Kneesworth and then Bassingbourn and stayed on the main road to bring us to Litlington.

Kneesworth

By now it felt very cold, with the temperature at about 3 degrees centigrade, but fortunately there was little or no wind which today was from a cold east. We soon came to Steeple Morden and then Ashwell for coffee which, experimentally, was the little shop called Rhubarb and Mustard. This was all very nice but probably a little small for our needs which caused some to go down the road to Day's Bakery and probably a coffee under the tree on the little green. The shop was very nice and friendly, but maybe more important than the coffee, was to feel warm again.

Ashwell

Once coffee was over Jacob assembled us all outside a lovely old timber-framed building ready for the next session which started with a climb out of the village on the road towards the railway and the A505. At least the climb got our circulation going again as we came to the A505, which wasn't too busy, and took the road which would lead us to Sandon and Therfield.

Sandon Turn

All around us looked bleak under the dark skies and we all felt the chill in the air. We pressed on through Sandon, soon followed by Therfield and then Buckland on the A10.

Sandon

A few yards on the A10 and then we were on the road to Barkway which in these conditions seemed as if we were crossing a moor rather than East Anglian agricultural land. At 1pm we arrived in Barkway and the Tally Ho pub and a chance again to get warm and enjoy our lunch break.

Those who ate in its restaurant enjoyed a good meal but those who brought sandwiches had to endure the outside for a little longer before going inside for a warming drink and to stand by the open fire.

Barkway

When we left at 2pm the light was already going and there was also a slight drizzle in the air so Jacob led us on a slightly more direct route home that he had originally planned. Thus we climbed past the golf course and on to Nuthampstead and then Barley where we joined the B1368 for the final descent of the day down to Flint Cross and the A505. This, of course, took us into Fowlmere and Newton where we said goodbye to those going back to Haslingfield leaving a small group to go on to Great Shelford and lastly Cambridge by about 3.30pm.


Barley

Despite the unpleasant weather we all enjoyed our day and a special thanks to Jacob, who didn't take us off-road, for a great route which took in many rural, traffic free lanes. Everybody would have cycled over 50 miles. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

3 Dec: Evening ride to Quy

Nigel writes: Tonight was our second monthly evening ride of the winter. These are held on the nearest Wednesday to the full moon but whereas last month's ride was a beautiful moonlit evening, tonight was quite cloudy. My companions tonight were John R and Neil S. We set off at 6.30pm sharp and rode south-east out of Cambridge along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's and then over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

I felt quite cold at the start but there was very little wind and it wasn't long before I was warmed up. There had been rain earlier in the day and the roads were wet but there wasn't any rain and we had an enjoyable, brisk ride.

From Fulbourn we continued through the Wilbrahams and then east along the long straight road that leads to Six Mile Bottom. We crossed over the main road and continued up the hill to cemetery cross-roads where we turned left to Dullingham, the furthest point of the ride.

Christmas decorations in Bell Lane, Bottisham

From Dullingham we rode west to Swaffham Bulbeck before heading back through Bottisham to Quy, where we stopped for drinks and plates of chips at The White Swan. As always we were given a friendly welcome and this remains one of my favorite post-ride pub stops.

After half an hour in the pub we returned back to Cambridge via Fen Ditton and the path across Ditton Meadows. I arrived home in Cambridge at 9.30pm, having cycled 30 miles. John had rather further to go, and was home in his country village by 10.05pm, having cycled an impressive 51 miles.



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