Thursday, 26 February 2015

26 Feb: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Dullingham

Edward writes: This Thursday, disappointingly, only eight riders from the club's hardy (or maybe foolhardy) faction came to Hauxton, this being the lowest number on our rides for quite long time. Certainly the forecast wasn't good with some four hours' rain predicted from 10am and this may have been the reason for such a low turn out. We met in mild but overcast conditions with a light breeze from the south west although this was expected to strengthen and turn more north westerly in the afternoon.

Sarah was our leader for our ride out to Horseheath and then a planned visit to La Hogue near Chippenham. We left Hauxton, through Little Shelford and on to Whittlesford where we were joined by Mike B who would do his usual and stay with us until coffee. In Whittlesford we turned on to the cycleway to take us through Sawston and up to Babraham and out to the A505 where we joined the still new cycleway to Abington Science Park.

A505 cycleway

The breeze was on our backs and 10am came and no sign of the rain so confidence grew that we may be lucky. After Abington we crossed the A1307 into Hildersham and then along Back Road to take us into Linton and out once more to the A1307. We passed through Bartlow and began the climb towards Castle Camps but along the way took the turning which lead us up to Shudy Camps.

Shudy Camps

At this point the rain did arrive, only light at first but it wasn't long before it became more persistent. After Shudy Camps it only remained to pass through the tiny hamlets of Mill Green and Cardinal's Green and another crossing of the A1307 to arrive in Horseheath and probably our favourite coffee stop at the Old Red Lion Inn. Peter W joined us here.

Mill Green

At the Old Red Lion we were treated royally with not only coffee and tea but cookies, chocolate cakes and cream cakes and as it was raining hard outside nobody was in any hurry to leave. At the risk of overstating we really do appreciate how this pub has looked after so well for a number of years now.

Horseheath

Sarah took a vote as to how we should proceed and everybody opted to carry on - peer pressure maybe - and so we set off again taking the road to West Wickham and then across Wratting Common.

Although it was raining, with the wind on our backs, it wasn't too bad as we headed for Thurlow. At some point along here it was decided to shorten the ride and have lunch in Newmarket rather than Chippenham as planned, but a little later this was modified once more to Dullingham. Thus we came off the planned route and went through Great Bradley and Burrough Green and then down into Dullingham. This meant The Boot where we have often called in the past and although we hadn't booked they took the sudden influx of nine cyclists in their stride.

Dullingham

In fact we enjoyed a very pleasant lunch break before leaving again at 2.15pm after a discussion of which way we should go. In the end Sarah chose the route over the hills up to West Wratting, and just as we left the rain stopped more or less on cue.

Towards West Wratting

Going to West Wratting had the advantage of again having the benefit of the wind which had now moved to more north westerly. The only problem we had was the narrow lanes were very wet and this combined with the mud from the farm traffic as the sugar beet harvest continues and numerous water-filled pot holes meant we had to be alert all the time. When we crossed the road down to Six Mile Bottom Ian left us and shortly after when we reached West Wratting Peter left us and the last seven carried on to Balsham and then the descent from the higher ground down to Hildersham. We were now on the route we came out on and as we approached Babraham where the former railway used to cross the road a large amount of water had accumulated in the few hours since we came this way in the morning.

Babraham

We finished the ride through Sawston and Stapleford and those who went back to Hauxton would have completed a circuit of 50 miles, finishing at 4pm.

Great Shelford

Despite the weather and shortening the ride everybody entered into the spirit and at the end glad they made the effort. We thank Sarah for all her work with many decisions to take for making such a pleasant day out. Edward Elmer



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Sunday, 22 February 2015

22 Feb: Sunday ride to Nuthampstead and Braughing

Gareth writes: There was a hard frost overnight, and although the sun was shining, it was just a couple of degrees above zero when eight of us met at Brookside. As we set off down Trumpington Street, a strong southerly wind, bitterly cold, blew in our faces. The only signs of spring were the carpets of snowdrops in the woods by Whippletree Road in Whittlesford.

Caught by the level crossing in Great Shelford.

Nuthampstead is very close to Braughing (just six miles by the shortest route), so I planned a long and hilly ride to coffee via Duxford, Ickleton, Elmdon, Heydon, and Great Chishill, to be followed by a shorter leg to lunch. But the bitter headwind and the hills made our progress very slow and we were all suffering a little bit. There was ice on the pools of water in the roadside ditches, and on the tops of the hills there were piles of hailstones on the verges and occasional heaps of slush in the shadows. ‘Winter miles count double,’ they say, and today we felt the truth of that saying.

On Ickleton Road in Duxford there was a heron by the side of the road. It didn’t seem all that keen to fly away, and just hopped across the road into the field on the other side. Injured, maybe, or just cold like us? On the hill up to Heydon, we met a couple of horse riders coming down towards us, and slowed down to give them plenty of room. But just as we were coming together, a pair of roe deer leaped out of the hedge and ran across the road behind the horses. One of the horses must have seen the flash of movement out of the corner of its eye, and bolted straight towards me. I too leaped off my bike and into the ditch by the side of the road, but the rider skilfully got the horse back under control, and no harm was done.

The hill on Quickset Road, with Elmdon in the distance.

It was about 11:25 by the time we reached the Woodman at Nuthampstead. Here half the riders turned back, leaving me, Steve, Chris & Conrad to go on to lunch. The wind was still blowing coldly across the Essex hills, but a red kite was enjoying the updraft, swooping over the lane as we approached Anstey. Here we turn left and took the road through Meesden and the three Pelhams (Brent, Stocking, and Furneaux), arriving at Braughing at about 12:55. My head was drooping and I really felt beaten up by the weather by the time we reached the pub.

The Brown Bear was packed to the rafters, and we had to queue up a bit to order food, but it was nice to sit by the radiator and get some warmth back into our fingers and toes.

Rain was forecast for 15:00, but it was already drizzling as we left the pub at about 13:50, and it gradually increased as we headed north. But with the wind now at our backs we made excellent progress up the B1368 and over the ‘Col du Barkway’ and were back in Cambridge at about 15:30, having ridden 100 km (62 miles).

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Rides in March and April

The first signs of spring are arriving and, right on cue, our March and April ride lists are now available.

On Sundays during March we continue to hold a single "winter ride", stopping for morning coffee and lunch before returning to Cambridge, but please note that the start time of these rides changes to 9.00am to allow a slightly longer ride as the weather improves. In April the rides change into "all-day" rides with the addition of a mid-afternoon tea stop. Our Sunday afternoon rides also start in April, joining the all-day ride at the mid-afternoon tea stop. Look out for our first booked afternoon tea in West Wratting on 19th April (details).

Meanwhile our Thursday rides take a radical turn on 16th April with a ride to Ely (details). This is the first time a Thursday ride has ventured this far into the fens. We also continue with Wednesday evening rides once a month as well as regular Saturday introductory rides and Tuesday seniors' rides.

As usual, we need leaders for some of these Sunday rides - these are marked as "leader needed". We would also welcome some new leaders for the Saturday introductory rides: our regular Saturday leaders are happy to stand down, or to tag along and offer help and advice. In both cases, please email the runs secretary (Rupert) to volunteer (contact details here).

19 Feb: Thursday ride to Ashwell

Edward writes: Early morning we enjoyed sunshine and blue skies but by the time fifteen or sixteen members gathered at Haslingfield Green the skies had clouded over and a stiff breeze from the west had sprung up. It wasn’t cold but the weather forecast was for rain by mid-day.

Adrian was today's leader for our ride out to Ashwell and Gamlingay.

Departing from Haslingfield Green

We set off into the breeze with a climb over the hill into Barrington followed by a trip round Orwell before entering the grounds of Wimpole Hall. This put us on a south by south westerly course and straight into the wind. After Wimpole we continued through Arrington and Croydon where we noticed that new windows had been put into the Queen Adelaide pub. Of course we wonder what this means to one or our former coffee stops - re-opening as a pub or conversion to a private dwelling.

Wimpole

When we reached Croydon Hill we turned away from it and joined the B1042 for a brief few hundred yards with the wind behind us. After leaving the B1042 we faced south west again as we headed towards Guilden Morden into the teeth of the strengthening wind. The rain had arrived and cycling now became very unpleasant. After a long toil we finally passed through Guildern Morden followed by more open country before arriving in Ashwell for coffee and relief from the wind at about 11.15am.

Wimpole

Coffee was designated at the Rhubarb and Custard cafe but not unexpectedly many chose to go Day's which has long been a club favourite. At coffee we also met Doug and Richard M. After the break there was a general lack of enthusiasm for more riding into the wind and rain. Although it was never heavy rain it certainly wasn't a pleasant day and so it was agreed that we wouldn't go on to Gamlingay but to return home. No doubt the wind which would now be on our backs would have been an influencing factor.

Croydon

On the way back we went via Steeple Morden, Litlington and Bassingbourn and as expected it was a far easier return journey than going out in the morning. We finished off the ride through Meldreth and Shepreth, Barrington hill again and finally into Haslingfield at about 1.15pm and 31 miles. During the return trip the rain stopped for about an hour but by the time we reached Haslingfield it had started again so we felt validated in our decision to finish early. Our thanks to Adrian for taking us round even if the ride wasn't one for our scrapbooks. Edward Elmer



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Sunday, 15 February 2015

15 Feb: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Thaxted

Nigel writes: Today started dull and murky: the sky was just "One Shade of Grey", as Rupert put it. This was perhaps disappointing compared to last week's sunshine, but the temperature was very mild due to the low cloud, and it was dry with hardly any wind. I arrived at Brookside to find Conrad, Julia, Chris, Lynn, Greg, John E, Mike CC, Rupert and Neil T waiting to set off on today's ride, a total of ten in total.

Heading out of Cambridge on the Barton Road cycleway

Our leader today was Conrad, who led us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton.

On the Barton Road cycleway

When we reached Barton the cycleway ended so we rejoined the road and turned left towards Haslingfield, which we reached a few minutes later. As we rode along, Chris explained to me that he had a place in the RideLondon Surrey 100 and was in need of some hill training, so when we passed the church and began the 10% climb of Chapel Hill he stormed ahead and reached the top well before the rest of us.

Rupert leads the descent of Chapel Hill to Barrington

We descended once more to Barrington and continued through Shepreth, across the A10 to Fowlmere, and across the A505 to Chrishall Grange. We paused briefly to regroup before setting off once more along Royston Lane and Grange Road to Ickleton.

I was riding at the front with Chris so suggested the two of us took a short extra loop, continuing a little further along Royston Lane, over a short hill and down again before turning left towards Ickleton.

Chris climbs the hill on Royston Lane

We reached Ickleton at about the same time as the others, and a couple of minutes later stopped for coffee at Riverside Barns. This is always a popular stop for club members and when we arrived there were propbably about ten members already there.

Coffee at Ickleton Barns

As usual, we had to wait a few minutes for our drinks but the friendly staff were clearly working as fast as they could and served us with cheerful good humour. This is a nice place to visit and I think they are pleased to see us as well, an ideal combination.

The duckpond at Ickleton Barns

After coffee we all prepared to go our various ways. As usual, a large group was returning back to Cambridge, but I was planning to stay with Conrad and continue on to lunch.

Setting off after coffee at Ickleton Barns

However I was slightly late leaving the cafe and somehow lost sight of Conrad's group, so found myself riding with Adrian, Steve and Joseph who were also heading to lunch in Thaxted but at their own, probably slightly slower, pace. We rode together over Coploe Hill to Catmere End and then over the hill by the transmitter and along the B1039 to Wendens Ambo.

We crossed the railway and turned south onto the B1383 towards Newport. Despite the B-designation this is actually quite a busy road (it's the former A11), but we only had to ride for two miles before turning off onto much quieter lanes towards Widdington.

Any route by Adrian inevitably involves a bit of "rough-stuff", and on this occasion this involved riding turning east in Widdington and following the road for a mile and a half until it peters out and turns into a unsurfaced byway. I was riding well ahead of the others at this point so I simply carried straight on, along a muddy, potholed track towards Hamperden End.

My route along a very muddy byway between Widdington and Hamperden End

This started off relatively well (see photo above) but grew steadily worse, with the water-filled potholes getting larger and larger until they filled the whole ridth of the track. As I struggled along I was overtaken at speed by four motorcycles, clearly relishing the "rough-stuff" themselves, and I also met a landrover coming the other way. Fortunately I was able to keep cycling almost all the way and only had to dismount for two very short sections.

There was no sign of Adrian, Steve and Joseph so I phoned Adrian to see where they were, and discovered that they were on a different byway about half a mile to the south. However I was committed by now so carried on to Hamperden End and then rode south along the road to meet them at the other end of their byway, at Lovecotes Farm. This, it turned out, had been a much better route.

Adrian's route along a less muddy byway between Widdington and Lovecotes Farm

Now back on nice dry, smooth, tarmac, we sped along for the final few miles to Thaxted which we reached at about 1.15pm. We stopped for lunch at Parrishes Restaurant (as pleasant as always), and after about five minutes were joined by Conrad's "offfical" group: Julia, Eva, Jim and Rupert. They had taken a slightly longer (but much less muddy!) route via Ricking Green.

After lunch at Thaxted

After lunch we set off back towards Cambridge. We set off to the east before soon turning north-east to Great Sampford and then north along the quiet and beautifully smooth B1053 to Radwinter, the tarmac still bearing Tour de France graffiti from last summer.

Between Thaxted and Great Sampford

After a while the sun came out and the day brightened up. We continued north to Ashdon and Bartlow and west to Linton, with Eva, Jim and Conrad leaving my group at various points along the way. We continted to Abington where we took the cycle path to Babraham, lifting our bikes over the A11 footbridge along the way.

When we reached Babraham we agreed to try out the new cycleway along the A1307 to Cambridge. This involved riding along the busy A1307 for just under a mile before the cycleway started at the roundabout by the entrance to the Babraham Research Centre.

Along the extended A1307 cycleway

Once on the cycleway it was perfectly satisfactory, taking us up the hill to Wandlebury and then down again on the existing path all the way to the Addenbrooke's Roundabout. I arrived home about ten minutes later at 4.15pm, having cycled 63 miles.



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Thursday, 12 February 2015

12 Feb:Thursday ride to Lode and Newmarket

Edward writes: To say the least this morning was bleak and cheerless but nonetheless fifteen riders assembled at Hauxton Green for today's ride out to Anglesey Abbey and then on to Newmarket for lunch. Nine-thirty came but we had no leader and so we waited until finally Jim rolled up having been delayed at the railway crossing in Great Shelford - at least that was his story. Actually at this time of the morning there are many long waits for passing trains at this level crossing so we can probably excuse him on this occasion.

Gog Magog Hill

Thus sixteen riders left Hauxton under leaden skies with the temperature hovering around 2 degrees centigrade, but at least there was no wind. We set off into Little Shelford and Great Shelford and to our surprise we all got over the station crossing (Craig joined us here) with no delays and then we headed up to Shelford Bottom, past the golf course for the turning which climbs over the Gog Magog hills followed by the descent into Fulbourn.

Bottisham

We went out to Great Wilbraham, briefly onto the A1303 before turning into Bottisham and then down to Lode and Anglesey Abbey for our coffee stop.

Anglesey Abbey

At the Abbey we were joined by so many people that one count made it twenty seven which is quite phenomenal bearing in mind the weather which was hardly inviting for a day's riding.

Anglesey Abbey

As usual after coffee there were a few departures but still a large number, riding in two groups, made its way along to Swaffham Bulbeck and took the road round the back of the village to emerge again for the ride into Swaffham Prior with its two parish churches. Although this was such a cold day we were occasionally cheered by the sight of daffodils starting to appear, aconites and snowdrops which shows there is always something nice and cheery to see. Next up was the ancient village of Reach and then into Burwell which prefaced the long ride up Heath Road, riding close to the busy and noisy A14 and into Exning where we all paused to take some instructions from Jim.

Exning

Exning

Exning church showed it was still not 12 o'clock so Jim decided on a detour up to Snailwell which took us through Exning and up to the A142 Newmarket to Ely road.

We crossed over the A142 and wended our way into Snailwell only to be presented with the distressing sight of so much litter occupying the hedgerows on the edge of the village. So dispiriting to see this and apparently nobody taking responsibility for its removal; unfortunately we see a lot of this sort of thing. So we passed through Snailwell and headed back down into Newmarket and arrived at the Horse Racing Museum shortly before 1 pm for the luncheon interval.

As usual at this venue the staff very kindly allowed us to take our bikes through to the inner courtyard and despite our large numbers they were able to cope very easily with our lunch orders. In view of the cold many, of course, decided to eat a hot meal.

At 1.45 pm Jim issued the instruction that it was time to move on and a number of riders left us here to head back towards Ely and St.Ives, but this still left so many that it was sensible to split into two groups as we headed out of Newmarket towards the south. This took us to the turning for Dullingham which is quite an undulating road but still very pleasant.

Newmarket

Newmarket

Newmarket

After we reached Dullingham the second group hadn't seen that the lead group had taken the Balsham road and eventually the Brinkley road before coming to Six Mile Bottom. The second group mistakenly went by Dullingham station, over the A1304 and A1303 into Swaffham Bulbeck where we turned for Bottisham to join the cycle way up to Stow-cum-Quy and here we were reunited with Jim and his lead group. This left us with the ride up to the Fen Ditton turning which the city dwellers took to ride into Fen Ditton, over Stourbridge Common and the very pleasant ride along the river into Cambridge. The smaller group, of those living south of the city, went along Airport Way into Cherry Hinton, the hospital and the DNA path into Great Shelford.

East of Dullingham

Our thanks to Jim for leading such a successful ride which turned a thoroughly miserable day weather-wise into a very pleasant day out. Each rider who started out from Hauxton would have cycled at least 50 miles. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Committee vacancy

There's a vacancy on the committee of CTC Cambridge. Details here.

Committee vacancy

John Ross, Secretary of CTC Cambridge writes:

Clive Peace has tendered his resignation as a member of the CTC Cambridge Committee and as such a vacancy arises.

If anyone wishes to be considered for this position on the Committee please let John Ross, the Secretary know before the end of February. Contact details here.

The position, like all others, will be up for re-election at the 2015 AGM.

A list of current committee members can be found on our About us page.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

8 Feb: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Hinchingbrooke

Nigel writes: Today we were blessed with yet another gorgeous winter's day, with clear skies and bright sunshine from start to finish, relatively mild temperatures, and very little wind. I arrived at Brookside to find almost twenty riders waiting for today's ride, probably the largest turnout so far this year for a Sunday ride.

Our leader today was John Ross, but since such a large group can be a bit hard to manage on the road it was decided to set off in two groups, John leading the front group and Rupert leading a second group (at the same pace) a short distance behind.

Brookside

I'm good at remembering faces but not so good with names, but setting off in the front group were John, Neil T, Lynn, Chris, Yvette, Charlie, Alex (resplendent in all-over Yellow) and Mike CC.

John and the front group

The second group, only a hundred yards behind, included Rupert, Greg, Tom, Clare, Seb, Ian, Neil S, Steve, Graham and Conrad (apologies to those not mentioned).

Rupert and the rear group

From Brookside we rode west along Fen Causeway and then across Lammas Land to join the Barton Road cycleway which we followed out of the city and all the way to Barton.

Barton Road cycleway

At Barton we turned onto the B1046 which we followed west through Comberton, Toft, Bourn and Longstowe all the way to Gamlingay. With John setting a sensibly moderate pace at the front, and with the weather warm and sunny right from the start, this was a pleasant, sociable ride, with our conversation interruypted only by the need to single out periodically to allow cars to overtake.

Barton Road cycleway

We arrived at Gamlingay bang on time at 11am and stopped for coffee at Woodview Farm Cafe, about a mile to the south. This is a relatively new farm shop and cafe, and we paid our first visit here for lunch last month. Today was the first time we'd visited for coffee, and when twenty cyclists trooped in I think the staff were a little bit startled. However there was plenty of room and we were quickly served with coffee and some rather good cake.

Also at the cafe were several members who had made their own way there, including Adrian, Vic, Edward, Jim, Sharon, Belinda and probably one or two more.

Woodview Farm Cafe

Afterwards about half the group returned back to Cambridge leaving about ten to carry on to lunch in Hinchingbrooke Country Park near Huntingdon. I stayed with the group carrying on to Lunch.

Lily Hill between Waresley and Abbotsley

From the cafe we rode back to Gamlingay and on to Waresley. There we turned left (after my pleading) onto the delightful lane that leads gently over Lily Hill and on towards Abbotsley. We knew we were going to be late for lunch but the weather was warm and sunny so it didn't matter.

Alex and some wind turbines near Graveley

At Abbotley we turned north to Croxton, crossed over the A428 and continued to Graveley. There we turned west for the Offords, Offord D'Arcy and Offord Cluny. By the time we reached Offord Cluny it was about 12.45pm and we decided to divide the ride again, with Rupert leading one group straight to lunch via Godmanchester and Huntingdon whilst John led the remainder on a longer loop west via Buckden, Grafham and Brampton.

Hinchingbrooke Country Park

I joined this second group which arrived at Hinchingbrooke Country Park at about 1.45pm, about half an hour behind the others. The cafe at the park is small but completely adequate. I ordered a plate of beans on toast for the excellent price of £2.45 which I ate with the others outside in the sunshine.

After lunch we set off back to Cambridge. This meant cycling through Huntingdon and on to Godmanchester, which is straightforward enough but involves navigating a tedious succession of poor-quality pavement cycleways, interrupted at one point by a rather pleasant cycle path across Mill Common.

Mill Common, Huntingdon

Just beyond Godmanchester we turned off towards the swage works and then onto the cycle path across Eastside Common to Hemingford Abbots. This was busy with local people, some walking dogs, others with young children on bikes, but we were able to get past with good humour and without difficulty.

Eastside Common approaching Hemingford Abbots

From Hemingford Abbots we turned north across the meadows to Houghton and then east along the Thicket Path (equally busy with sunday afternoon strollers) to St Ives. There we joined the busway for the final fifteen miles back to Cambridge.

On the busway

I arrived home at 4.15pm, having cycled 64 miles.



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