Saturday, 28 March 2015

Would you like to become a bikeability instructor?

Our friends at Outspoken Training are looking to recruit some new instructors to deliver "Bikeability" training to local children and adults. If you're interested, see their website at www.outspokentraining.co.uk/vacancies

Thursday, 26 March 2015

26 Mar: Thursday ride to Lode and Kentford

Belinda writes:
The forecast today was for a very rainy morning and a gradually brightening afternoon and that rain may have deterred some riders from setting out. This led to just 4 riders leaving Hauxton under dark skies but happily minimal precipitation. Richard was the leader for today's ride to Anglesey Abbey and Lanwades Park and he set out along with Mike C, Sharon and John E.

This select group made their way to Great Shelford, Fulbourn, The Wilbrahams and Bottisham before arriving at Anglesey Abbey at 10.45 with a report of no more than a few spots of drizzle! Here they were joined by an assortment of riders who had arrived there from varying corners of the region and by varying means. These were Ian, Belinda, Averil, David M, John J, Rupert, Peter W, Jacob and Adrian.

Anglesey Abbey Cafe

After the usual tasty National Trust cake and coffee, Richard organised the 13-strong group in preparation of the two-hour ride to lunch at Lanwades Park. The route was along the pleasant traffic free tracks of the Lodes Way through the fenland amongst some lapwings and skylarks to Burwell.

Lodes Way

John J left us to return home so the remaining dozen riders continued to Exning and then to Newmarket and along the upmarket Hamilton Road where we came across a few twitchy racehorses returning to their plush stables after training. From here to Moulton before arriving at The Animal Health Trust Visitor Centre at Lanwades Park at about 1.15 in time to say hello to Craig and Frances who had dropped in to greet us. Fortunately it was dry and warm enough for half the group to eat their sandwiches in the courtyard before joining the rest of the group in the cafe for tea and more cake!

Lanwades Park

Here we had the first puncture of the day. Fortunately Ian managed to do his repair during lunch and was ready by the time everyone had finished eating.

The return route was via Gazeley and Ashley where half the group had a 10 minute break at the pond in Ashley while the other half viewed or assisted with fixing puncture number 2!

Ashley

Onwards through Cheveley and on to puncture number 3 where Mike C as ever was on hand to assist David M. The group decided to split in half while repairs were ongoing as some were returning north to Anglesey Abbey or north Cambridge and some were heading more south so we said our goodbyes and continued via Wood Ditton, Stetchworth and Dullingham where Rupert enjoyed being recipient of puncture number 4!

Dullingham

Puncture no. 4

At least the sun was now out and we could observe his fairly quick handiwork with Adrian’s assistance but not before the other puncture group had caught us up! We really did split up after this and headed into an ever more blustery north westerly wind towards Anglesey Abbey while Richard led his group back towards Shelford.

Thanks to Richard for an interesting route and for managing to keep the rain clouds at bay! It probably was about a 60 mile round trip today. Belinda Borneo



Download track (GPX).

A visit to the Ghent Six-Day Races

John writes: I had always wanted to go and see a live track cycling event. Like many others I was bitterly disappointed not to get any allocation for the 2012 Olympics track events.

Last year the wife and I decided to do something about it – so we booked a four day trip at the end of November with Sporting Tours International to see the last few days of the Ghent Six Day Event. We travelled on the Friday afternoon by coach from Dover via the cross channel ferry to our delightful base at an Ibis hotel in the centre of Ghent.

Ghent

On the Friday night we chose to walk into Ghent (10mins) for a meal and a couple of beers in one of the many interesting bars. A few of the other stalwarts in the Sporting Tours party chose to head to the stadium for a long night of watching the racing.



On Saturday we went on an organised trip to Bruges to see the famous Christmas Market – and to have a few more beers! Saturday night was our first experience of proper 'old school' track racing. Entering the stadium is like stepping into the fuggy embrace of a fairground on a cold winter evening. The atmosphere inside the cavernous Kuipke building is thick with the smell of fried onions, hotdogs, burgers and beer.

Riders being introduced to the fans. Spot Mark Cavendish!

Cycling fans take their seats at the 5,000-capacity arena, peering down on the steep-banked small oval wooden track to get the full sweep of the races. But in the middle of the track there is a party going on. And it is open to anyone.
While the pro cyclists fly around the banks of the velodrome like stunt riders on the wall of death, the centre of the circuit is heaving with bodies drinking and chatting and shuffling around in small circles, in a vain attempt to take in the action. These are men and women in suits, youngsters in fancy dress, groups of guys in vintage cycling kit … it is like a scene from a huge office party.

The entertainment!

The racing is fast-flowing and near constant over the evening – 26 riders in teams of two, pedalling in a series of races for almost six hours straight, from 8pm to 2am, each covering close to 100km a night – flat out – for six nights.

Six-day races became popular in mainland Europe in the early 20th century and have been a staple of the racing calendar in Ghent since 1922, with past winners including the Belgian legend Eddy Merckx in the 60s and 70s, and more recently our own Bradley Wiggins – who was born in the city.

Adding to the carnival atmosphere is the MC's perpetual commentary, the bursts of disco music, and the singers who come on to the track to rouse the crowd with drinking songs when the riders take brief respites for re-fuelling and rub-downs in their trackside cabins.

Actually following the racing program is a dizzying experience, as there are so many different events – team eliminations, individual eliminations, flying lap time trials, madisons, super sprints and derny races. In the latter, the cyclists are paced by orange-shirted men riding little motorbikes who look like motorised Munchkins and take the cyclists up to 70kph in their slipstream. They get a huge roar of approval from the crowd. The overall winner of the Sixes is the team that gains most points in the different disciplines and gains the most laps on the other riders..

The dernys

Sunday we were free to roam the beautiful streets of Ghent and then we were back at the stadium for the final day’s racing from midday to 6pm. At this 2014 event we were also able to watch Mark Cavendish who had teamed up with a Belgian professional road and track specialist come second overall.

No matter what your sporting prejudices and knowledge base, the Ghent Six Day Event is about taking in a show and having a party.

And for anyone who has never been to Ghent – please do go it is a delightfully old but compact city with plenty of shops for non-cycling partners to visit also.

I have hopefully managed to add some photos and video clips of this superb experience. John Ross

Sunday, 22 March 2015

22 Mar: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Buntingford

Nigel writes: We didn't have a pre-arranged leader today. What that means in practice is that riders decide the route at the start, so I planned a route over breakfast just in case we needed it.

I arrived at Brookside to find that my companions for the first stage of today's ride would be Charlie, Alex, Neil S, Neil T, Li, Lynn, Simon, Graham and Tom. I told them I had a route planned so I was promptly elected leader.

Brookside (Photo: Alex Brown)

I led the group south-east along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's where we turned left for the climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

The road over the Gogs (Photo: Alex Brown)

At Fulbourn we turned east to Balsham. The road to Balsham starts as a long and tedious straight to Charterhouse Bridge over the A11 where it becomes quieter and more pleasant as it climbs up to Balsham.

Balsham (Photo: Alex Brown)

We paused to regroup at the top, on the outskirts of Balsham, before turning south for a very pleasant descent down to Hildersham.

Hildesham

We crossed the A1307 to Abington (where drivers in both directions stopped to allow us to cross) and then joined the relatively-new cycleway that leads south-west along the A505. This was only my second time along this cycleway, and the first time I have followed it all the way to where it ends at the roundabout with the A1301 south of Sawston.

The cycleway itself is smooth and reasonably wide but the crossings of side roads are very poor, especially the side-turn to Babraham where you have to watch out for traffic leaving the A505 at very high speed whilst simultaneously hoping that traffic will not appear from around a blind corner from the other direction. Despite these flaws, the cycleway does at least mean that this is a feasible route for cycling; without this cycleway I would never have dreamed of taking the club along the A505.

A505 cycleway near Pampisford

At the roundabout with the A1301 we crossed over to the rather older cycleway that leads south along it to Hinxton. Once again this necessitated some difficult crossings of very busy roads. However once on the cycleway it was plain sailing, and when we reached Hinxton it was just a few more miles along quieter roads to Ickleton, where we stopped for coffee at Riverside Barns. As usual, a large group of members were already there.

Ickleton

After coffee most of the group returned to Cambridge, leaving just Conrad, David, Alex, Charlie and me to continue on to lunch in Buntingford. We continued south to Catmere End, Arkesden and Clavering before turning west through Berden, Stocking Pelham and Furneax Pelham to Hare Street and from there to Buntingford, where we stopped for lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop.

After lunch we returned to Cambridge. We took a fairly direct route home, heading north-east through Wyddial, Anstey and Nuthampstead to Shaftenhoe End. The morning had been dull and cold but by now the sun had come out, making this a delightful ride along some of the nicest lanes in the area.

Nuthampstead

We climbed up to Great Chishill before dropping down again to Chrishall Grange and the final few miles via Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 4.10pm, having cycled 66 miles.



Download GPS track (GPX).

Friday, 20 March 2015

19 Mar: Thursday ride to Swavesey and Perry

UPDATED! John writes: As usual I started out from home in Swavesey at 8am and headed south to meet the group at 9.30am at our usual meeting place in Haslingfield. The weather was a lot colder than most of us had thought and the heavy overcast conditions would not change all day long. I have to state here that Averil wished to be mentioned in dispatches for arriving at the start 5 minutes EARLY (rather than late!). So around twenty riders set off in two groups to head for Compass café in Swavesey for coffee.


St Ives

We set off along the usual route of Harlton, Great Eversden and Kingston. We then crossed the Bourn road and headed up to Caldecote. On reaching the A428 just outside Caldecote a few riders headed off cross-country through Childerley Hall grounds where they rejoined the main route in Boxworth. The main group of riders had taken the usual road route along the A428 for a short while then turning off Knapwell then Boxworth. All riders then continued on into Swavesey making good use of the excellent cycleway from the services at the A14 roundabout. We reached Compass café around 11am where a further 10 riders where already tucking into the last slices of my favourite cake – Victoria Sponge – sadly there was none left for me!!!


Hemingford Abbots

Again as usual a number of riders then left the café to head back home whilst some 22 riders (again in two groups) continued on to the lunch stops in Perry/Grafham Water. The route took us along the Guided busway cyclepath into St Ives then along The Thicket and across the footbridge at Houghton Mill. From there we cycled to Godmanchester, along the B1043 into Offord Cluny where we turned off to head up to Buckden. From there it was a short ride going under the A1 and along the B661 to Perry. Here one group stopped for lunch at The Wheatsheaf pub where a number of our “older” members took advantage of the Pensioner Meal Deal. The remainder of the group carried on to the café at Grafham Water where most ate their sandwiches outside before rushing inside for hot tea and coffee.


West Perry

A couple of riders set off back into Perry and took the “Prison Road” towards St Neots with the bulk of us joining up to form a 'peloton' of nearly 20 riders to ride to St Neots via Great and Little Staughton.


Great Staughton

On the outskirts of St Neots the main group stopped to let Dave change a puncture. We then all rejoined for the usual route back to Cambridge and Haslingfield. John Ross


Eaton Socon



Download GPS track (GPX) (thanks Alex).

Sunday, 15 March 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.

From March our Sunday morning start time changes to 9.00am, and from April our Sunday afternoon rides restart, starting at 1.30pm.

Our twice-monthly short Saturday social rides restart on 7th March. Our weekly rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays continue, as do our monthly Wednesday evening rides. Read more about our future rides here.

15 Mar: Sunday ride to Waresley and Old Warden

Nigel writes: Just when we thought Spring had arrived, the a cold wind from the East blew us back into winter, with a day that was overcast and distinctly chilly, with temperatures around 4-5C all day. Light rain was promised for the afternoon, but it never arrived and the day remained dry.

My companions at Brookside for today's rider were Seb, Ian, Li and Conrad our leader, making five in total. Conrad led us into the city centre and then west over Garret Hostel Bridge. Here we stopped briefly to allow Seb to attend to a broken mudguard.

Garret Hostel Bridge, Cambridge - a beautiful location for impromptu bike repairs

It wasn't long before we were on our way again, continuing along Burrell's Walk to join the Coton Path which led us out of the city to Coton.

Burrell's Walk, Cambridge

After Coton we climbed Madingley Hill and continued to Hardwick where we turned left for Toft. I was feeling quite cold so I sped off ahead of the group along the B1046 towards Bourn. I continued through Caxton to Great Gransden which I reached at about 10.15am. This allowed me an extra loop via Abbotsley and Lily Hill before arriving at Waresley Park Garden Centre at 10.45am, just a few minutes behind Conrad and the others.

Also in the cafe were Mick, David W, Richard-from-Bedford, Edward and maybe one or two more. Afterwards about half this combined group returned back to Cambridge leaving Richard, David, Li, Conrad and me to continue onto lunch at Old Warden. With rain forecast for later we took a direct route there via Everton, Sandy and Moggerhanger and arrived at The Shuttleworth Collection at about 12.30pm.

The woods east of Sandy

As we left the cafe after lunch there were a few spots of rain but they disappeared within a few minutes and were never seen again.

We then rode directly back to Cambridge, taking a route via Clifton to Langford (where we crossed the A1) and then via Edworth, Ashwell, Kneesworth. Meldreth and Shepreth. Since our winter rides don't have a designated tea stop this meant riding over thirty miles in a single stage, which given the easterly headwind, I found quite hard going. Fortunately Conrad and David were still riding strongly and I was able to shelter behind them for most of the way home.

After climbing Chapel Hill in bottom gear we returned via Haslingfield and Barton to Cambridge, where I arrived home at 4.15pm, having cycled 71 miles - my longest ride this year so far.



Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 12 March 2015

A visit to the Ghent Six-Day Races

Read John Ross's report of his visit to Belgium to watch the Six Day Races in Ghent here.

12 Mar: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Wimbish

Edward writes: This morning we came to Hauxton under clear blue skies but with a March wind blowing in cold air from the south east. Adrian was today's leader and not unexpectedly eighteen riders came to the start including Daniel who was making his first Thursday ride with us, but having previously made some rides on Sundays. Today we were to head out to the Old Red Lion Inn at a Horseheath, a club favourite, and then on to Wimbish and the Elder Street Farm Shop.

Little Shelford

With so many it was sensible to divide into two groups and so Mike C lead the second group as we went to Hauxton and Little Shelford and to face the wind which would be our experience for all of the morning session. We came to Whittlesford and went up to the recreation ground and where we turned for the track through the mill, over the river, the railway and the bypass into Sawston.

Whittlesford

This brought us to the main road through the village where we turned south to take the Pampisford turning and out to the A505 cycleway to the science park in Abington. The bright sunlight gave the countryside a real spring-like feel especially as there are daffodils are out now and also the appearance of the first blossoms. Although we were riding into the wind our surroundings more than made up for the hard work of pedalling against it.

Pampisford

We reached the A1307 and went into Hildersham where we had to pause as a flock of sheep was being driven down the road and it was nice to see the sheep dog busy with his duties.

Hildersham

We now climbed the two and a half miles up to Balsham and followed this through to West Wratting where Peter W joined us. For a short while we had the wind more or less behind us we went down to the West Wickham-Balsham crossroad and shortly after took the turning to Streetly End and soon after that we arrived in Horseheath and the Old Red Lion Inn for coffee.

Towards Streetly End

Towards Streetly End

As expected we met several others and we reckoned there were twenty five who enjoyed the comforts of this ever-popular pub and once again they treated us to a 'banquet' of cookies and cakes and individual coffees. All too soon it was time to go as it was nearly midday before everyone was ready and with the usual comings and goings we still had about eighteen going on to lunch.

The Old Red Lion, Horseheath

Again we went in two groups but as so often happens the second group found a slightly different route to the first group. Nevertheless we went through Cardinal's Green, Mill Green and Nosterfield End where we turned down to Castle Camps. When we reached the Bartlow road Adrian donned his off-road hat and led a sub-group of six or seven on an alternative cross county route leaving a small group of four to go by road. This took us to Ashdon via Steventon End and then up to Radwinter and Water Lane with its two fords which today were easily passable. This took us into Wimbish and at about 1.20 pm we arrived at the farm shop with both Adrian's and Mike's groups already settled in.

Bartlow Road, Castle Camps

Since we first started coming here trade has increased significantly and it was very busy but they still managed very well for those who sat inside for lunch leaving the remainder to sit outside with their packed lunches. So by 2 pm we were ready to go again and we left by climbing the hill on the main road past the old airfield to the turning for Sewards End to join the pleasantly quiet road into the village. Soon after leaving Sewards End we turned into Newhouse lane which meanders pleasantly for two miles to where it joins the Radwinter to Ashdon road. Fortunately this was the last bit of riding into the wind and as the afternoon wore on it became much colder and it was with some relief that we turned towards Ashdon to have the wind behind us as it would be for the journey home. This took us into Bartlow where Adrian stopped to fix a puncture to be assisted by Mike and supported by Averil while the rest of us carried on to Linton where we waited for the three to rejoin us. After Linton we came again to Hildersham, over the A1307, through Little Abington and up Bourn Bridge road to the farm track into Babraham.

Farm Track to Babraham

We were now left with the cycleway into Sawston followed by Stapleford and finally Great Shelford at 4pm where Adrian drew stumps after a ride of 54 miles. As ever our thanks to Adrian for such a pleasant day thoroughly enjoyed by all. Edward Elmer



Download GPS track (GPX).

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Cycling holiday on the Suffolk coast

Club member Adrian Lee invites interested members to join him on a cycling holiday in east Suffolk from Monday 26th April to Friday 1st May (four nights). More information here.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

8 Mar: Sunday ride to Newmarket

Nigel writes: Today promised a dull, dry morning followed by a rainy afternoon, so I was pleasantly surprised to find bright sunshine as I cycled out to the start of today's ride.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised: our leader today was Eva, whose rides have a happy association with good weather. They are also famed for their large turnouts, and although the numbers today weren't perhaps as large as her previous ride in January, they were very good nontheless, with thirteen riders at Brookside: Rupert, Mike CC, Neil T, Neil S, John E, Alex, Jim, Steve, Chris, Gareth, Carol, Eva and me.

Brookside, Cambridge

Our direction today was east, but with the Cambridge Half Marathon causing our normal route along the river to be closed we set off south-east along Hills Road instead.

Hills Road, Cambridge

Gareth was clearly in the mood for a fast ride today and he was soon speeding off into the distance, never to be seen again. The rest of us followed at a more leisurely pace, turning left at Addenbrooke's onto Wort's Causeway for the long but gentle climb over the Gogs.

Climbing the Gogs

We dropped down the other side to Fulbourn and then continued through Great Wilbraham to Little Wilbraham.

Regrouping in Fulbourn

When we reached Little Wilbraham I was expecting Eva to take us east to Six Mile Bottom. Howeveer that would have been too predictable and instead we turned north-east for Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck.

Swaffham Prior

We continued to Swaffham Prior where we turned left for a loop around Swaffhan Prior Fen before turning back towards Reach and Burwell.

Swaffhan Prior Fen

From Burwell we rode to Exning and then on into Newmarket (with Nigel leading Alex and Chris along the complicated and bumpy NCN 51 route into the town). There we stopped for coffee at Coffee and Co.

Several members were already at the cafe, including Adrian, Keith and Geoff. Two other groups of cyclists had arrived just before we did so we had quite a wait for our coffee and cakes but it was very pleasant to sit outside enjoying the unexpected spring sunshine.

Coffee in Newmarket

With rain forecast to arrive at 2pm we all decided to return back to Cambridge. I rode back in a group led by Rupert, taking a route via Dullingham and Westley Bottom to Six Mile Bottom. This took us into quite a strong headwind, but we didn't have far to go and it was still bright and sunny,.

Eagle Lane, Dullingham

When we reached Little Wilbraham I turned off with Alex towards Great Wilbraham and returned to Cambridge via Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton. I arrived home at 1.45pm, having successfully beaten the rain and having cycled 47 miles. The rain (which was just a bit of brief drizzle) arrived about half an hour later.



Download GPS track (GPX).

Friday, 6 March 2015

Cycling holiday near the Suffolk Coast

Club member Adrian Lee invites interested members to join him on a cycling holiday in east Suffolk from Monday 26th April to Friday 1st May (four nights).

The holiday will be based at Darsham Country Centre, which is the old station building in Darsham and offers self-catering accommodation for 24 people in an assortment of shared rooms. The holiday has proven very popular with club members with just two or three spaces remaining. Accommodation is expected to cost £65 each in total. For more information call Adrian on 01223 565834.

Darsham is 6 miles from the coast at Dunwich, and 10 miles from Southwold, in an area which offers miles of quiet rural country lanes and some beautiful coastal scenery.