Sunday, 28 June 2015

28 Jun: Afternoon ride to Houghton

John writes: Six members joined me at Brookside (Angela, Catharine, Jacob, John E, Mike K, Ray). The morning's rain had ceased about an hour previously so we set off in perfect cycling conditions towards Barton, thence Comberton, Toft, Bourne..After a brief pause to inflate my soggy front tyre we took the quiet road through Knapwell and Connington. My GPS predicted an ETA at Houghton of 3.40pm so Jacob suggested an additional loop. Instead of diving under the A14 into Fenstanton he led us into a stiffish breeze towards Hilton and then onto a footpath. Here we had a longer pause where, with much assistance, I changed my front inner tube: the tyre had gone completely flat. Catharine kindly gave me a gas inflater for which many thanks.

The footpath soon became a bridleway (Mere Way) with remnants of ancient tarmac making a good cycling surface. We crossed the A14 by a farm bridge into Hemingford Grey and thence to Hemingford Abbotts with large crowds visiting the Open Gardens. From there the Meadow Lane took us across the flood plane to Houghton Mill and the National Trust tearoom 20 minutes before closing. There were enough cakes and scones left (just) as well as drinks - consumed sitting out-of-doors at the picnic tables. There was no sign of the all-day riders.

After tea we set off down the delightful traffic-free Thicket Path on right bank of the Ouse entering St. Ives by All Saints church. From there it was the familiar return journey beside the busway with John E extending his ride by a diversion through the fenland villages of Over etc. Jacob and I left the others at the Girton turning.

This was a delightful ride with two firsts for me – the Mere Way and Houghton Mill tea-room. I was home at 6:45pm having cycled about 45 miles. John Ferguson

Friday, 26 June 2015

25 Jun: Thursday ride to Reed and Braughing

Edward writes: Today's start was Haslingfield Green and at the start seventeen riders assembled for our ride to Reed and a lunch stop at Braughing.

After so much cool and windy weather it was such a relief to go to the start under clear blue skies and, for once, virtually no wind to cause us problems. Averil was at the helm today and she started the ride over Chapel Hill into Barrington which, under blue skies, this picturesque village looked very pleasant indeed.

Barrington

Barrington

Barrington

Next came Shepreth where we crossed over the A10 and headed up to Fowlmere and paused for a few minutes to allow everyone to come together.

Fowlmere

We left Fowlmere and crossed the A505 at Flint Cross and this soon gave us the long two mile plus climb all the way up to Great Chishill. Although this is climbing all the way the incline is not all that strenuous and in the quiet we were able to hear the skylarks overhead. As we come to the end of June the flowers in the grass verges change as we now see the appearance of mallow, knapweed and of course scabious. It's such a shame that the local councils find it necessary to cut back many of the verges for no discernible safety reason thereby destroying any chance of the flowers reseeding themselves.

Flint Cross to Great Chishill

Great Chishill

Great Chishill to Shaftenhoe End

After the long climb we all arrived in Great Chishill and then followed the delightfully undulating ride into Shaftenhoe End which gave us fine views over the countryside below us. This brought us out to the B1398 and into Barkway and more fine views as we approached Reed and the Silver Balltransport cafe for our first break of the day.

Barkway to Reed

Already there we found Doug and David M and as is often the case quite a few policemen. After coffee nine returned home but this still left ten to proceed to lunch. At first this took us
west to Dane End and then south though Green End and Mill End before arriving at the A10 and then the final mile into Buntingford.

Reed/Dane End

As we passed through Buntingford a lead group of six formed and they got away and out of sight by the time the following four had reached Aspenden. We were now on the lovely stretch of road which passes through Westmill, a home of John Profumo for those who remember the name, and Nasty before coming to another Dane End just before Little Munden. At this point we turned east which took us through Levens Green and Old Hall Green and ever since leaving Buntingford the roads were quiet, hedge-lined and the views quite stunning making for a truly wonderful ride. Finally we reached Puckeridge and it was just a couple of miles on the B1368 to reach Braughing and the Brown Bear where we arrived just after 1pm to find the lead group already enjoying their lunch. It soon became apparent that this group was led by Rupert and David W who in typical fashion were ahead of everybody else and soon took a wrong turning which all, unfortunately, followed, thus taking a much shorter route to Braughing, but this wasn't Averil's route. Now who better to lead a party of cyclists astray than these two? They've certainly got form and this is the third time in recent weeks that Rupert has found his way into the blog.

Despite all this lunch was very pleasant and the Brown Bear coped very well with the few who had lunch, especially as we hadn't booked; in the summer months it seems most people prefer to bring sandwiches.

Leaving Braughing

At 2pm Averil called us to order and we started the afternoon session and set off along the Causeway which took us up to Furneux Pelham and once again we were on beautiful country roads with only a few cars to worry about. We came to Stocking Pelham next, and still on gently undulating roads to the third of the Pelhams, this time Brent Pelham to complete the hat-trick.

Stocking Pelham

Now, still heading northwards we came to Langley Lower Green and then the climb up to Langley Upper Green and passed through the cricket field and on to Duddenhoe End and from now on it would be mainly downhill as we descended from the north Essex hills to the flatter land in Cambridgeshire.

Langley Lower Green

We completed the ride via Chrishall and the descent to Chrishall Grange and into Duxford for another encounter with the A505, Whittlesford and the Shelfords, at 4 pm. This was a ride of 64 miles and certainly one to remember in our scrapbooks and a special thanks to Averil for creating such a good route, just a shame that due to the earlier mishap not everyone was able to appreciate all of it. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

24 Jun: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

John writes: With Nigel being away on holiday I had volunteered to lead this evening's ride to the Axe and Compass at Hemingford Abbots. Cycling through the centre of Cambridge I quickly became aware of black gowns and formal party attire galore attended in many cases by very proud looking parents - it was graduation time so getting through the centre was slow and precarious.

Arriving at Brookside I found John J, John E, Alex, Sven, Chris E and Neil so the seven of us set off to follow the usual route up Castle Hill, onto Huntingdon Road, across through Girton and onto the Guided Busway.


It is always a pleasure to get onto the busway as this is how cycling should be - NO vehicles!, BUT there were literally swarms of insects in the air which took a firm liking to my bright yellow cycling top.


We made our way steadily up to St Ives where we joined the Thicket path which took us into Houghton. From there it was a matter of crossing the river at the Mill then across the meadows into Heemingford Abbots and drawing into the pub carpark at 8pm. Already here was Paul which made our group eight. We all spent a delightful 45 minutes sat outside in the balmy evening conditions with a drink (or two) and a bowl of chips (with Alex having his obligatory Burger + chips).


It was soon time to head off on the run back home and so lights donned we cycled back through the Hemingfords into St Ives and back down the Busway. The round trip was the usual 35 miles. John Ross

Monday, 22 June 2015

Rides in July and August

It's high summer now, and our July and August rides lists are now available. Our headline message this month is an urgent call for Sunday leaders. All of our Sunday rides need a leader which means we need about ten of you to volunteer to lead a ride. Please contact Rupert, our runs secretary, (Contact details) if you can lead one of these rides, or if you are thinking about leading a ride but would like some more information.

12th July: Riding home along the busway

A welcome highlight over the summer are two Sunday home teas - one in Swavesey and one in Over. For the 12th July home tea we have two Sunday rides as usual (all-day and afternoon-only), but for the 16th August 16 tea we have three rides, including a "challenging" all-day ride to tempt the more adventurous riders to go a bit further (ride details).

Meanwhile we have our usual range of Tuesday and Thursday rides, with the Thursday rides getting a little bit longer to take advantage of the longer warmer days. Wednesday evening rides are a weekly event over the summer and there are two Saturday social rides each month.

21 Jun: Sunday all-day ride to Stradishall, Long Melford and West Wratting

Conrad writes: Today was the longest day of the year and it didn't start very promising with an overcast sky and clouds that thankfully only threatened rain. I arrived at Brookside to find Eva, Martin, Greg, first-timer Rafal from Poland and Mike who was on his first CTC ride since completing LEJOG last year.

I led the group on my usual route to Adams, i.e. through Midsummer Common, Fen Ditton, and then the climb to Brinkley. Along the way we met several riders going the other way who were competing in some event or other. After Carlton, we turned left onto Temple End Road, where I fatefully told the group that this was a “quiet road”. Of course, this was the cue for all kinds of large vehicles transporting horses to appear.

We arrived at Adam’s at 10:45 am, aided somewhat by the tail wind. Keith was already there having breakfast and the place was crawling with motorbikers. Adam’s isn’t my favourite place, ambience-wise for a stop, so after 20 minutes, I suggested that we leave so that we could have time to take a more interesting route to Long Melford. Surprisingly, no one turned back to Cambridge, which must be a record of some sort.

From Adams, i led the group on the usual route to Deniston via Cowlinge, but instead of turning right to Stansfield, I turned towards Hawkedon and then Boxted. This was easily the best part of the ride with quiet narrow lanes and some beautiful rolling hills with grazing horses and cattle. The sun had appeared by now and we flew down the lanes with the help of the tailwind.

Given our progress, I decided to add a loop via Hartest and the dreaded Hartest Hill, which carries one arrow on the OS map. But I had a strong group today and I heard someone say at the top of the climb, bah this has nothing on Chapel Hill.

We still had lots of time so I added another loop through Shimping, Bridge Street and we only turned south at the outskirts of Lavenham. Even with these loops, we still arrived at Long Melford 15 minutes early.

Today’s lunch stop was the Crown and as I had brought my own lunch, I can't comment on the food, but it looked pleasant enough.

Since we would be facing a headwind on our way to the tea stop at West Wratting, I thought it would be prudent to set off early and so by 1:30 pm, we were back on the road again. We took a fairly direct route, staying just south of the A1092 until Clare. Then it was a pleasant ride through Kedington, Great Wratting, Withersfield before arriving at the Chestnut at the ungodly hour of 3:30pm. Martin, Mike and Greg left us at this point and we very politely waited till 4pm for the afternoon ride to arrive before eating. There were 11 riders in total.

I took my usual direct route home via Balsham and Fulbourn, but the majority went back to Cambridge via Six Mile Bottom. Ray and John E were feeling more adventurous and took a longer route that involved Horseheath, the Camps and Linton. The entire day ride would have covered 122km (76 miles) back to Brookside. Conrad Chua

West Wratting



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Sunday, 21 June 2015

21 Jun: A ride around Bend

Nigel writes: A motoring holiday in the western United States brought me to Bend in central Oregon. It's a small city of about 90,000 people lying just east of the Cascade mountains, the line of conical, snow-capped volcanoes that runs north-sound through the middle of the state. It's well-known for its excellent brewpubs and as a centre for outdoor activity. Although mountain biking seems to be the main thing here, it seemed an ideal place to rent road bikes and spend a half-day cycling.

Behind Nigel are the mountains Middle Sister (left, 3062m) and North Sister (right, 3074m)

We rented bikes from a bike shop called Sunnyside Sports, partly because of the convenient location but mainly because its impressive website allowed us to specify exactly what bikes we required, right down to the saddle width and type of pedals.

The bike shop

We went for a pair of Trek Domaine 4.3 carbon-fibre road bikes, each of which cost $40 (£25) for a day's hire.

The bikes

The route we took was the Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway, a signposted 36-mile loop to the north-west of Bend. This starts by the river in Downtown Bend and then heads west through leafy suburbs.

Start of route in Bend

The road out of the city had cycle lanes, but traffic was very light (it was Sunday). What traffic we did encounter appeared courteous and patient. It was a hot, humid, day, about 25-30C, with a slight threat of rain that never amounted to anything.

Bend has plenty of roundabouts, unlike the USA generally

Soon we were out of the city and on wide, empty roads. The route was described as being "very scenic". However this didn't refer to the immediate landscape, which was pleasant but unexciting ranchland, but to the constant sight of the "Three Sisters" mountains about twenty miles to the north-west.

Rob

The ride itself was straightforward and easy, with little in the way of climbs. We were on quiet, smooth roads throughout. We passed quite a few sports cyclists along the way; curiously everyone seemed to be riding in twos, and we didn't spot any larger groups.

Nigel

After a couple of hours we arrived in Tumalo, a small settlement just north of Bend, and stopped for coffee.

Coffee stop in Tumalo

Afterwards we carried on back to Bend and returned the bikes to the bike shop. Our total distance was 36 miles.


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Thursday, 18 June 2015

18 Jun: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Saling

Edward writes: This morning, seventeen cyclists assembled in Hauxton. We have to mention the weather, and today was bright with light cloud, but the ever-present wind was blowing in from the north-west (and thus quite chilly) which always makes the choice of clothing a bit of a problem. Today’s ride was to take us to Newport for coffee and Andrew’s Field at Great Saling for lunch. We were joined by Jo who was making her first ride with us and this ride would be led by Adrian which would probably guarantee some off road material. In fact as we set off Adrian led a small group of three or four to cover some off road whilst Mike C led the remainder on a more sedate route on the roads.

Thriplow.

Thriplow.

We left Hauxton via Little Shelford and on into Newton, the long way round Thriplow, Fowlmere and out to the A505 which we crossed without even having to stop—a most unusual occurrence. It was nice to be cycling with a following wind, and we made good progress through Chrishall Grange as we began the long climb up to the Elmdon turning, where we came across Adrian’s group already waiting there.

Hertford End.

After a short breather we went into Chrishall and then downhill to join the B1039 heading East for a short while and then turned along a very narrow, hedge-lined lane which took us up to Duddenhoe End. This is not the normal road up to Duddenhoe End: it was very much nicer.

Duddenhoe End.

We now joined a very quiet and pleasant road out to Arkesden, where we had a slight hold-up, as we had to squeeze past an oil tanker making a delivery. We all got past, but any cars just had to wait! Another mile or so brought us to Wicken Bonhunt and the ride into Newport on the B1038, arriving shortly after 11:00 and nineteen miles.

Hold-up in Arkesden.

Newport.

Already at Dorrington’s we found Peter W, Mike B, Doug and Craig. It was fortunate that Craig was there early, as he was able to forewarn the staff of the coming invasion. This was all very pleasant, and just before midday it was time to go again, with the usual exchanges of personnel. Once again, Adrian proposed a route taking in some off-road, and he took charge of a group of about ten riders. Mike C led another group of six along the B1383 until the Henham turning, where it was a relief to leave the noise behind. We passed through Henham and joined the B1051 going through Pledgdon Green and Broxted where we were able to make our way to Tilty which is mainly downhill on a very quiet country lane.

Broxted.

Duton Hill was next followed by Lindsell and then for the final run into Great Saling we must have travelled six or seven miles on quiet lanes hardly seeing any cars at all, which made it made a really pleasant end to the morning session at Andrew’s Field at about 13:10. Adrian’s group followed us in about fifteen minutes later.

Andrew’s Field at Great Saling is a popular lunch stop: they are always very calm, friendly and efficient, and today they had good need to be, as we were certainly not the only cyclists to arrive. There were also many motor cyclists some of whom were riding vintage machines such as BSA, Norton and Ariel: all familiar names to those riding motor bikes in the 1950s and 1960s.

Classic Bikes at Great Saling.

All too soon it was time to go. At 14:15 Adrian led us out to the far end of the airfield, where we had to push our bikes over loose gravel before reaching the village of Great Saling, from where we headed up to Bardfield Saling and Shalford and joined the delightful four miles of lanes that led into Finchingfield.

Bardfield Saling.

Approaching Finchingfield

Here a number left us, whilst a small group stopped for an ice-cream before starting again and six miles later arriving in Helions Bumpstead. We finished the ride through Olmsted Green, Bartlow and Linton, another crossing of the busy A1307 into Little Abington, the farm track into Babraham, Sawston and finally into Great Shelford. This left Adrian to lead a small group back to Hauxton where the ride ended just before 18:00 and 70 miles. Our thanks to Adrian for another enjoyable day out which once again included some rarely used roads.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

17 Jun: Evening ride to Stow-cum-Quy

Gareth writes: Last week, my back light, although freshly charged, became so faint on the way back from the pub as to be nearly invisible. Rechargeables only have a limited number of charging cycles, and when they finally give up they do so pretty quickly. I was determined not to let that happen again, so as well as replacing the batteries, I ordered a Busch and Müller 4D Toplight. I've always wanted a light that screws on to the bike so you don't have to be always detaching it and attaching it and then finding that it accidentally got switched on in your bag and has been on all day.

I refreshed the weather forecast a few times during the day. At first the BBC were predicting heavy rain from 18:00 to 21:00, but by the afternoon the prediction had changed to light rain, and a look at the rain radar showed that the showers were to the west of Cambridge, so that if we headed east we would probably escape them.

Nonetheless, the forecast must have put people off, because turnout was well down on the last couple of weeks, with just three other riders at Brookside: Chris E, John E and new rider Chris. It's always a bit tricky judging the pace when there's a new rider: take it too slowly and they might feel bored or unchallenged; take it too quickly and they might be discouraged. But Chris seemed pretty game, and we had a tailwind, so after crossing the Gogs, we settled on a steady 25–28 km/h through Fulbourn and the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom. With time in hand, and no sign of rain, I took a detour up Chilly Hill towards Weston Conville, and then turned left onto Grange Road. This is one of my favourite evening routes: a quiet lane where red grouse flee from the road into the hedgerows as you approach. Chris wondered whether it was possible to see Cambridge from the road between Westley Waterless and Dullingham, but on reflection I don't think you can, because the Gogs ridge is in the way.

On Heath Road near Swaffham Bulbeck.

At Dullingham it was only 19:45 so I suggested a quick trip around the block: up Eagle Lane, past the stud farm (Dullingham Park), and then back down the B1061 to Dullingham again. Now we were heading into the westerly wind and our speed dropped a bit, but with a bit of drafting we managed to pull into the White Swan at Stow-cum-Quy on time at 20:30. We had been rained on just once, for no more than a minute. A good ride, 59 km (37 miles) for me.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

11 Jun: Thursday ride to Gamlingay and Henlow

Edward writes: We have waited a long time for this and today we had a day entitled to be called a summer's day. By 9.30am in Haslingfield it was already warm, the skies were completely cloudless, and there was a light breeze from the East. This would help us on our ride out to Gamlingay and then on to Henlow for our lunch break. Craig was today's leader and we also welcomed Catherine who was making her debut with us.

Haslingfield

With sixteen riders this was a lower turnout than we would have expected in view of such perfect weather. Craig took the ride out towards Harlton where we branched off into Washpit Lane and out to the A603.

Approaching Comberton

This was crossed easily and this took us through to Comberton and on arriving at the high street we turned left on to the B1046 for the ride to Toft and then Bourn where we stopped to re-group. To avoid the hill for the Caxton turning we took the road which goes over the two fords, both of which were completely empty, no doubt a consequence of the long spell of dry weather we have had.

Waterless ford in Bourn

We were now on the road to Caxton, another of the many in our area which have been recently resurfaced so caution had to be exercised over the loose stones. As we approached Great Gransden we turned into Sand Lane for the run through Little Gransden and then the final approach into Gamlingay.

Gamlingay

LJ's is always a popular stop and the staff seem genuinely pleased to see us and for sure many on the ride were pleased to be there and enjoy doorstep sized bacon sarnies. Also at LJ's we found Mike S, Richard M, Doug, Sarah and Andy already enjoying the fare on offer.

Planning the route to lunch (Photo: Alex Brown)

Naturally, when it was time to leave a few left us to go home but at least fifteen carried on for the next session which took us out of Gamlingay over the heath road and into Potton. After we had threaded our way through Potton we came close to Sutton and then Eyeworth to join the B1042 to take us via Dunton and Millow.

Sutton

At the Hinxworth turn Rupert left us amid rumours he was off to another beer festival, and soon after everybody else crossed the A1. We were now on the road down to Langford with the wind turbines on our right and on the other side of the ride it looks like another wind farm is about to go up as one solitary turbine has already been erected. At Langford it was but a short ride into Henlow where we arrived at exactly 1.0 pm for our lunch at the Five Bells pub.

Track near Henlow (Photo: Alex Brown)

A table inside had been reserved for us but those who ordered a meal chose to sit outside and those with sandwiches sat in the park opposite the pub. This is a very busy pub and it seemed that all the tables were occupied but this didn't delay us at all and by 2 pm we were all set to go again.

Henlow

Henlow

Andy and Sarah along with Mike CC, who had mysteriously appeared during lunch, went on their own as their direction of travel was quite different from those returning to Haslingfield. We left Henlow and were soon going past the grounds of Champeneys Health Spa and out onto a cycle way which took us by the entrance to Arlesey railway station before joining the road towards Stotfold which included Pendleton Way before Doug briefly took the lead to guide us around the edge of Stotfold; this section included some estate roads and also some very quiet, pleasant hedge-lined lanes.

After many manoeuvres we eventually arrived on NCN 12 which took us into the village of Radwell and finally out to the A1.

NCN 12 near Stotfold

NCN 12 near Stotfold

Having successfully guided us to this point Doug handed back the reins and left us to head back home and the rest of us used the A1 for a couple hundred yards or so where we took the road to Newnham.

Newnham

Now we were on quiet roads but with plenty of undulations as we headed for Ashwell but also noticeable that the wind had picked up as we faced a more easterly direction; the wind doesn't quite know when to give it a rest. Nevertheless we made sedate progress and, of course, we were now on familiar territory as we passed through Steeple Morden where a stop was made for the purchase of refreshments, Litlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth, Barrington and a final flourish over Chapel Hill into Haslingfield where the ride ended at 5pm and 56 very pleasant miles and many thanks to Craig for planning the route which took us on roads in Bedfordshire we rarely have the opportunity to use. Edward Elmer



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