Monday, 30 November 2015

A10 Harston Cycle Improvements

The county council are consulting on their proposals for improvements to the shared-use cycling and pedestrian path alongside the A10 in Harston Village between Harston Mill Business Park in the south and the junction of London Road in the north.

CTC are strong supporters of the A10 corridor cycling campaign and we strongly support the goal of creating a continuous safe cycle route along the A10 between Cambridge and Royston.  This section in Harston Village is one of remaining bad sections and these proposed improvements are a key step towards realising that goal.

The situation in Harston Village is constrained by the limited width of the carriageway and the high volumes of motor traffic that use the road.  There has been some consideration of alternative cycle routes that bypass the village to the west to try and avoid these constraints, but on balance we think the proposed route alongside the A10 is the correct and best choice.

Please take the time to support the scheme via the County website. It is important that cyclists actively support this scheme to give the County a clear mandate to go ahead. There is some local opposition and this needs to be balanced by the many supporters of the scheme.

A copy of my reply is appended below, and you are welcome to  use any of this content as part of your own reply.



Dear Patrick,

I have been looking at the new proposals for cycling and walking improvements in Harston Village.

I want to confirm CTC support for the proposed scheme. I think this will be a good and useful improvement to cycling through Harston and it is an important link in the overall A10 cyclepath. In particular, I support the principle of routing the A10 cyclepath along the High Street (as opposed to a bypass route around the village) as this provides a better desire line route plus provides direct access for village residents. I think creating an off-road cyclepath on the western side of the High Street is the best option given the high levels of motor traffic on this road.

As I am sure you are aware the proposals are not universally welcomed. I understand that the current proposals are a compromise with many constraints.

But I hope you will try to achieve the best possible scheme. In particular, please try to widen the cycle path where possible. I also hope you will consider a few other important improvements to the proposed scheme as detailed below.


You will be aware that the proposed width of 3m is quite narrow for a 2-way cyclepath, and there are hard edges to the path in places which reduce the effective width. I recognise that there is limited scope for increasing the width but I think it is important that the proposed 3m width is achieved and the width of the narrower sections increased where possible.

One specific example: I am aware that the widened path on on the southern corner (opposite the Newton turning) will require the kerb lines to be moved. I appreciate that this will be a relatively expensive element and it is essential that this widened section is realised as part of the proposed improvements.

It would also help if you can move the cyclepath away from the edge of the carriageway and to provide some spacing from walls and hedges where possible. Any extra spacing will help to maximise the effective width and will help to improve sightlines into the residential drives.

SECOND SOME ADDITIONAL IMPROVEMENTS to the proposed scheme as detailed below.


I think the eastern junction of Church Street needs to be closed or remodelled to remove or reduce the high risk of collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists using the cycle path. The combination of 2-way cycling with the shallow angle of the junction (even allowing for the proposed modest realignment) is a potentially dangerous arrangement. The failure of drivers to always notice cycles moving in both directions is known problem for 2-way cycle paths and will be more severe in this location due to the shallow angle of the junction. I think there is a particular risk from vehicles turning right off the A10 into the eastern arm of Church Street.

My simplest and preferred option is to close the eastern arm of the Church Street junction to motor vehicles entering from the A10 and make it exit only; i.e. to restrict motor vehicles entering Church Street from the A10 to the western arm which has a better angled junction with the A10.

Alternatively, the eastern arm should be more extensively remodelled to slow vehicles movements: I suggest adding a central island so that the right turn movement has a much more steeply angled T-junction with the A10 to help control the speed of turning vehicles.

In both cases, cycles should continue to be able to use the current alignment along the eastern arm of the junction to both access the new cycle path and to join the A10.


I think the off-road cyclepath will not suit all cyclists. It will be beneficial for school children but will only be suitable for a proportion of other cyclists. Hence I think we should also adjust the plans to provide support for more confident cyclists, mainly commuter cyclists, who may prefer to continue to use the road.

As a minimum change I would like the plans to include a series of painted cycle symbols along the edge of the carriageway to make it clear (to both cyclists and drivers) that the option of cycling on the road remains.


Taking account of point (2) I think you should try to remove all of the central islands and the associated central hatching on the northern half of scheme. It is not clear why these have been retained. The remaining central islands will continue to create unwanted pinchpoints making this section of road more difficult and dangerous for on-road cyclists.

I support the inclusion of a zebra crossing on the northern section to provide crossing places but I don't think this one crossing should have a central island. Apart from the cycle safety issues noted above, the removal of the central islands would provide a more consistent theme for motor vehicles (by matching the single stage crossing used elsewhere). You could consider adding new traffic signs to signal "Multiple pedestrian crossings" to support this theme.

If the other central islands are needed to provide more pedestrian crossing places, it would be better to add further single stage zebra crossings on the northern section.


The design of the cyclepath should support cyclists who want to (a) connect from Church Street across to Station Road (to Newton) or (b) turn right from the A10 into Station Road (to Newton) or (c) cross the A10 and join the cycle path when approaching from Station Road . This will require a new crossing point and/or well positioned dropped kerbs to support all these movements.

The simplest way to support this movements is for cycles to use the informal crossing that is positioned between the two junctions. To make this usable for cyclists this requires an new length of off-road cycle path on the south-west side of the A10 between the crossing and the Station Road turn. Also, it would be desirable to have a formal tiger crossing (cycle and pedestrian) rather than the informal crossing shown. A zebra crossing would be a poorer alternative, but traffic volumes here means that a formal crossing is needed: an informal single stage crossing is not practical in this location.

An alternative is to relocate this tiger/zebra crossing on the corner opposite the Station Rd junction. I suggest a crossing slightly west of the removed central island adjacent to the Station Rd island. This requires two further changes. First, a short length of cycle path across the western corner of the Station Road island - to provide a refuge for cycles waiting to cross the A10 and/or a refuge after crossing the A10 (and before joining Station Rd). Second, a dropped kerb access to the cycle path on the opposite side of the A10. The rationale for this alternative crossing location is to keep these cycle movements clear of the Station Road road junction. This alternative crossing location may also be a better desire line for pedestrian movements, in particular for Station Rd residents.

Rupert Goodings

Sunday, 29 November 2015

29 Nov: Sunday ride to Newmarket and Chippenham

John writes: Having been following the ever-changing weather forecast for several days I knew we were in for a somewhat windy ride today – particularly on the way back. So I set off from home in Swavesey at 8.30am and headed off down the guided busway and found the going straightaway harder then usual due to the wind – which was forecast to strengthen as the day progressed.

I was surprised to be joined by three other hardy souls at Brookside: Edmund, Seb and Sheila.

We set off on the usual route out of the city via Hills Road, Worts Causeway/Shelford Road and into Fulbourn. Then it was off to the Wilbrahams where we picked up firstly Conrad and then Rupert. We then headed off to Six Mile Bottom, across the A1304 onto Brinkley Road before turning left onto Balsham Lane toward Dullingham.

Staying with quiet lanes we rode alongside Stetchworth Park and onto the hills surrounding Newmarket. We arrived in Newmarket at the Racehorse Museum Café just after 11am. As usual the very kind shop assistants beckoned us through the shop in order to leave our bikes secure out the back of the café. Adrian was already there and Keith had also just arrived.

The café was not busy so we were served quickly and were ready for the next leg of the journey just after 11.30am. Rupert was heading back home apparently to cook a very large joint of beef for himself and Cathy. Adrian also left us as he wanted plenty of time to ride home into the wind.

In the knowledge that we would be facing increasingly-strong winds all the way back after the lunch stop I decided to shorten the ride to La Hogue for lunch. So having cycled via Moulton, Gazeley, Kentford and Kennett we arrived at La Hogue just outside Chippenham at 12.40pm.

As usual the place was very busy but again kind assistants managed to find us a table for six. Here we stayed for lunch just under the hour and then reminded ourselves that at some stage we had to face the dreadful (yes I am going to mention that word again!!) WIND.

Our route back took us through Snailwell, Landwade, Exning and the Swaffhams, and seemingly at every turn and long straight directly into the WIND!

Then it was finally Bottisham, Quy and the trail alongside the river where we had to fight to keep the bikes upright and not be forced over toward the river.

We arrived back in Cambridge just after 3.30pm telling ourselves that "it had after all just been a hard training day!!".

Thank you to all who rode with us during the day. Those riders from Cambridge would have completed just over 50 hard miles. Meanwhile I dragged myself back toward Swavesey along the busway into what was by 4pm freezing cold rain. John Ross

Download GPS track (GPX).

29 Nov: Sunday afternoon ride to Ickleton

Ray writes: The BBC were forecasting showers and wind gusting at up to 45mph, so I set off for Brookside hoping to find nobody there, return home, and curl up with a book. However I arrived to find intrepid Sunday afternoon regulars John E and Simon, who were both keen to ride despite the threatened conditions.

Nobody else turned up, so the three of us set off down Trumpington Road for the busway and DNA path. The plan was to ride through Little Shelford, Newton, Thriplow, Fowlmere, Chrishall Grange, up to Elmdon, then drop down to the B-road to Wendens Ambo and onward to Saffron Walden.

We were making slow progress into a strong headwind and in places battling against gusts from the side not to be blown off the road, so when we got to Elmdon I decided to cut the ride short and drop down into Ickleton for a quick cup of tea before making for home.

After refreshments and a welcome break from the wind at Ickleton Barns, we set off for home via Hinxton, Duxford, Whittlesford and, for a change, Sawston. There were spots of rain in the wind as we came into Shelford, and by the time we reached Addenbrookes we were riding in heavy rain.

I was a little ahead of the others, so stopped to wait in the shelter of the underpass where I found some other cyclists also taking shelter. John arrived and recognized one of the Thursday riders heading home to Sawston with their children.

Simon arrived a few minutes later (he'd been battling with a waterproof) and, to avoid another stop in the rain, we said our goodbyes and made our way back towards the city centre via the railway station.

The round trip for me was 37 miles and, despite riding only the final 3 miles in the rain, I was drenched by the time I got home. Ray Miller

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 26 November 2015

26 Nov: Thursday ride to Swavesey and St Neots

Edward writes: With seventeen riders at the start point in Haslingfield Green it would appear that numbers for the Thursday winter rides had started to decrease but this would be to ignore the fact that our coffee destination would be the Baptist Chapel in Swavesey. Before we left Mike C was called in to effect some temporary repairs to Sue H's bike, and also at the start we had the opportunity to welcome Vincci who was making her first ride with us. Another feature of the day was the appearance of Craig and Frances arriving on a tandem.

Mike doing repairs in Haslingfield


Tony was today’s leader for the ride out to St. Neots and as in previous weeks we set off in two groups with Mike C taking control of the following group. We left Haslingfield in slightly overcast but benign weather and went out through Harlton to the A603 and on through the Eversdens and Kingston.


As we rode through Kingston and on to Bourn the clouds cleared and we enjoyed brilliant sunshine and blue skies making a fantastic winter’s scene.

Craig and Frances on the Tandem

Kingston to Bourn (Mike CC at the back)

We left Bourn on the always rising road up to the St Neots old road where we turned off the ride through Knapwell and Boxworth. This brought us to the crossing of the ever-busy A14 and on to the still relatively new cycle path into Swavesey and the Baptist Chapel for our coffee stop.


Leaning against the chapel wall we found simply dozens of bikes and inside we soon found out that we were not the only cycling club which has discovered the secret of the home made cakes here. Indeed there was another club enjoying the fare but it was also clear why seventeen at Haslingfield was no surprise; we believe we had thirty-four, possibly a few more, members gathered in the main hall. This week it was the turn of the ladies of the Swavesey Festival Committee who were doing the honours with the cakes and as usual it was as perfect as it could be.


On cycle rides all good coffee stops have to come to an end and this time there was a major dispersal with some going back to Cambridge but twenty or more, split into two groups, started the next session of the day to St. Neots.

Ready to leave Swavesey

Our route took us to Dry Drayton and Fenstanton where we crossed the A14 via the bridge and then south west to Hilton and Graveley, which from the A1198 includes the beautifully surfaced road all the way up to Graveley.


In Graveley the wind turbines were just about turning in the gentle breeze and we then came to Toseland followed by the long two mile straight to join the B1043 south of Great Paxton for the final run into St. Neots, some of which is on a very good cycle path.

Lunch was at the Ambiance Cafe and everybody felt able to eat outside, either with a packed lunch or chosen from the menu, leaving Rupert and Jacob to do their usual to buy fish and chips elsewhere which apparently wasn’t to their demanding standards.

Rupert with fish and chips in St. Neots

By 1:45 pm we all assembled for the ride home and after saying goodbye to Sarah and John J we left St. Neots over the common.

Leaving St Neots

Our route home first took us to Abbotsley and on the way to Great Gransden we said goodbye to Sharon and Belinda. In Great Gransden my pump fell of the bike and was promptly flattened by a passing car! From Great Gransden we travelled to Caxton where Richard M left us and the first group had got so far ahead that we in the second group didn’t see them again. We reached Bourn and at the Kingston turning a large number carried on directly into Cambridge via Toft with everybody else returning to Haslingfield the way we had come out in the morning, via the Eversdens. When we arrived at Haslingfield Green we had travelled exactly 50 miles thus making an ideal winter’s ride for which we thank Tony for the route and also Mike for his assistance in keeping the two groups apart. Lastly, after seven punctures last week there were none reported this week. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

25 Nov: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Tonight was our second monthly "moonlight" ride of the winter, a relaxing cruise along the busway to St Ives and beyond. I don't know how many turned up for the last one, but this one attracted a good turnout, with Alex, Gareth, Tom, John R and John J joining me at Brookside, and Paul meeting along the way in Girton.

Today had been clear and sunny, and although the sky had now clouded over slightly the evening was fine and dry, and still clear enough for the full moon to be clearly visible. It was really quite cold, with a slight north-westerly wind blowing into our faces as we rode along the busway, and I was regretting not having put on overshoes or brought thicker gloves.

When we reached St Ives we cycled through the town centre and joined the Thicket Path to Houghton, which was quite wet under-wheel. At Houghton Mill we dismounted, wheeled our bikes through the mill and over the lock, and re-mounted for the ride across the meadows (on a recently-widened path) to Hemingford Abbots.

A few moments later we reached The Axe and Compasses, where we stopped for drinks and bowls of chips. By now I was feeling quite frozen and it was a relief to in the warm. Already in the pub were Mike CC and Mike who had made their own way there.

At the pub in Hemingford Abbots

After about three-quarters of an hour it was time for those of us who lived near Cambridge to head for home, whilst the Swavesey contingent stayed on for another round or two.

I rode home with Paul, Alex, Tom, and Gareth, though Gareth soon disappeared off into the distance leaving the rest of us to ride back along the busway at a more moderate but still brisk pace.

As is so often the case, the journey back was relaxed and enjoyable. Although the thermometer on my Garmin registered a slightly lower temperature (2.2C) on the way back than on the way out, the lack of a headwind meant it actually felt less cold.

Somewhere along the long section past Northstowe I was startled to hear the sound of a flock of geese, swooping around in close formation and just visible in the moonlight against the dark sky.

The slight breeze behind us pushed us along gently, and I arrived home at 10pm exactly, having cycled 35 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

22 Nov: Sunday afternoon ride to St Ives

Simon writes: This is my first ever blog as a registered CTC ride leader. In no small part do I have Ray and John F to thank; they encouraged me to make this move by showing a commitment to continue Sunday afternoon rides through the winter. In addition I'd like to thank Rupert for his support since I became an ad-hoc leader on a ride to the Chestnut Tree in West Wratting earlier in the summer.

Today was one of those I like to call a "Piccadilly Circus", ride when lots of people join or leave at mid-way junctions. (I’m very happy to accommodate this where practical, by the way).

The afternoon’s sunny outlook brought out Ian W, John E and Susan, as well as a phone call from Steve to ask if he could join us on the Coton footpath. "Russian Stan" had also arranged to join us in Coton.

I always find the gentle but everlasting climb up the Old Saint Neots road a bit heavy going so early in a ride, but necessary for the plan. Ian peeled off near the Knapwell junction to do birthday duties in Cambourne, leaving us to take a fairly direct route to the Hemingfords. I made two wrong turns and found an extra “Meadow Lane” just before the Axe & Compass much to Susan's delight. I was looking for the Meadow Lane that leads onto the cattle grazed common so as to enjoy the enchanting scenery at Houghton Mill and the woodland feel of the Thicket before dropping back into St Ives.

Tea in the River Tea Rooms

At the River Tea Rooms we were very pleasantly joined by Jacob H and also and Simon D, who originally introduced me to Peter Hunt and the CTC Junior Saturday afternoon rides some 38 years previously. Doesn’t time fly?

After a streamlined, tail-winded, zip back along the busway with Jacob, Steve and Susan, I arrived back at my boat at Baits Bite Lock near Milton at 5.20pm having done enough miles to confuse a £10 Argos cycle computer. So no change to the Eddington number this week I’m afraid.Simon Galloway

22 Nov: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Langley

Ray writes: I had been fighting off a cold all week, so today was one of those days where I'd have rolled over and gone back to sleep if I hadn't volunteered to lead the ride. Instead, I found myself wrapping up as warm as possible and heading to Brookside.

I arrived to find David trying to warm up his hands and feet; I was in a similar position with numb fingers and toes. People arrived in ones and twos, and there were about a dozen of us by the time we set off, with Rupert acting as back stop.

This was the first really cold day of the winter so I decided on a fairly direct route to Ickleton. There was quite a range of abilities on the ride today, with some strong audax riders up front, but we managed to keep together well on the ride to coffee.

Rupert warned me there would be ice on the road between Duxford and Hinxton. He was right, but it wasn't too bad in the event. Nobody was foolhardy enough to attempt the ford, and we arrived without incident at Ickleton just after 10.30am.

This was my first time here for a morning coffee stop, and a good stop it was, with fried egg and bacon sandwiches the favourite (although I did see one of our riders tackling omelette and chips). A handful more riders came direct and joined us at coffee, so we pretty much filled the small cafe.

Adrian arrived just as we were leaving: he had stopped to repair a puncture en route. He had intended, anyway, to take a slightly shorter route to lunch and meet us there, so we set off without him. Unusually for a Sunday, there were more riders coming on to lunch that returning home, with 12 of us setting off for the full day ride.

We retraced our wheels to Ickleton for the ascent of Coploe Hill, with the usual regrouping at the top. It was turning out to be a beautiful day with clear skies and sunshine, and a lovely view from the top of the hill. We pressed on to Littlebury Green where Rupert left us for home and the main group turned for Arksden.

We continued to Clavering then a southerly loop through the Pelhams. Gareth gave me a time check at Brent Pelham, and I briefly considered adding another loop to avoid arriving at lunch too soon, but nobody seemed too worried about getting into a warm pub a few minutes early so we stuck to the original plan.

We arrived at the Bull shortly before 1pm, and Adrian pulled up as we were parking our bikes. We were given a very warm welcome. The pub was serving food perfect for cyclists on a cold winter day, with a choice of soup, jacket potatoes, or toasted sandwiches, all very reasonably priced.

After lunch Adrian and John S took an off-road short cut while the rest of us stuck to tarmac. A fast group took off ahead of me, and a few others overtook me on the climb to Elmdon, leaving me leading from behind with just Seb and John R for company. I was surprised not to find everyone waiting by the bus shelter in Elmdon, but as we knew we were bringing up the rear we pressed on towards Chrishall Grange.

As we crested the hill, we met up with Adrian and John, who had got there ahead of us despite the rough-stuff. After enjoying another view of Cambridgeshire in the winter sunshine, we began the descent to Chrishall Grange. We found the rest of the group waiting for us at the turn for Fowlmere, where we realised that we were missing Sheila.

We figured the only place she could have gone wrong was at Elmdon, where there was an option of turning right towards Ickleton. We were on the verge of sending out a search party when, fortunately, David got through to her on the phone. We were right that she had gone wrong in Elmdon, but she was with Greg who was confident of the way home.

Adrian left us again for an alternative route along Grange Road while the main group headed for Fowlmere and Newton, where we found Greg and Sheila waiting at the cross-roads. United again, we pressed on for Cambridge via Thriplow, catching sight of Adrian again as we came into Little Shelford.

As usual, people started peeling off to their respective homes as we approached Cambridge. I arrived home at 4.15pm having cycled 56 miles. Ray Miller

Download route (GPX).

Thursday, 19 November 2015

19 Nov: Thursday ride to Clavering and Wimbish

Edward writes: Today’s puncture count: Andy (2), Tony (2), Sarah (1), Seb (1), Adrian (1). Weather forecast: dry. Actually we had light rain on and off all day. The punctures might even be some sort of (unwanted) record, but it didn’t in anyway distract from a great day out for today's ride.

When we met at Hauxton, the magnetic appeal of a joint enterprise ride led by Andy and Sarah was soon apparent when twenty-three cyclists came to the start for our tour of north Essex taking in Clavering for coffee and Wimbish for lunch. Among the twenty-three we had the opportunity to welcome Seb who was joining a Thursday for the first time. This number absolutely had to set off in two groups, so Andy led the first group out and several minutes later Sarah took charge of the second group, and for the second week running we succeeded in staying apart and the two groups did not merge into a single group.


We went out to Little Shelford, where we met Tony dealing with the first puncture of the day. We continued on through Newton, Thriplow, where Tony had his second puncture leaving him with little option but to retire from any further riding, and Fowlmere before coming to the A505.



For once the main road wasn’t too busy and we soon crossed into Chrishall Grange and faced the long climb up to the Hertford Lane turning and a convenient re-grouping spot. On our left as we made this climb the sugar beet harvest could be seen as beet was piled along the adjoining field for two or three hundred metres.

Sugar beet near Elmdon turning

As we headed mainly southwards we were nearly always riding into the brisk south-westerly wind as we went though Chrishall and joined the Saffron Walden to Royston road for a mile or so before turning for the climb up to Duddenhoe End.

Duddenhoe End

Next up was Langley Upper Green with its quaint old cricket ground which is bisected by the road and this is where we turned south easterly for the three mile run down to Clavering bringing us all to the Christian Centre, but not before Seb had dealt with the day’s third puncture.

This was the second time that the Thursday group have visited this centre, similar in many ways to the Baptist Chapel in Swavesey, with a wonderful selection of home-made cakes to choose from, plus a coffee all for £1.50. Needless to say more members had travelled out independently and we managed to count thirty so we rather overwhelmed them, but let’s hope a useful contribution to church funds.

Clavering Christian Centre

It was 11.50am before we were all assembled for the next session which was to take us to the recently relocated "Elder Street Cafe and Deli", as it is now called, near Wimbish.

Preparing to leave Clavering

Again we travelled in two groups with Andy out at the front and Sarah bringing on the second group. However, the second group hadn’t got far before Sarah had the fourth puncture of the day and I understand Mike was soon on hand to get her going again.

By now the weather had deteriorated and we rode into the brisk wind which was now bringing rain with it which persisted all the way to Manuden. At Manuden we had reached our most southerly point and from now on the wind would be more favourable to us which was just as well as the road to Rickling Green comes with some stiff climbs.

Rickling Green

After Rickling Green we joined the B1383 for a few hundred metres to Ugley and then once again on quiet country lanes up to Henham.


After Henham

As we turned slightly north easterly the wind was right behind us as we made our way to Debden Green and then a couple of more miles into Debden. This just left us to go down the hill to the crossroads and another half mile brought us to our lunch stop where we heard that the first group had only arrived a few minutes earlier as Andy had had the day’s fifth puncture.

Elder Street Cafe and Deli used to be located further up the road at the junction with the Thaxted road and it is still under development with an upstairs seating area becoming available some time in the new year. Although we had booked for about twelve, we did in fact have a few more and this flustered them for a few minutes but they soon recovered their poise and we were served with very nice food quickly, and our lunch break was very enjoyable.

After lunch Alex led a small group away earlier which included Sheila and Mia as they needed to get back to Foxton station for their train home. Soon after the remaining fifteen headed back down the hill to the crossroads and on to the undulating ride into Saffron Walden taking us through the town, past the golf course and up the steep Windmill hill along the A1301 to the turning for Little Chesterford where we paused to admire a certain residence. We now had a further nine miles to travel through Ickleton and Hinxton ford where no one tried to emulate Mike CC’s efforts of riding through it, and Duxford.

Hinxton Ford

We were on course to be home by 3.30 pm but another two punctures intervened, Adrian in Duxford and Andy’s second in Whittlesford which meant lights on for the last three miles to Little Shelford where the ride ended at


Despite the drizzly weather (it was never cold) and all the punctures this was a really enjoyable day out and thanks to Andy and Sarah who not only led the ride the ride in style but also provided us all with a map which was even broken down into colour-coded ten mile sections. That’s class! For those doing the full circuit this was a ride of 52 miles. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 15 November 2015

15 Nov: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Hauxton

John writes: Today's day ride was beset with planning problems. The original plan was to ride to Gamlingay via a coffee stop at Melbourn and be back in time for the AGM in Hauxton. I tried that ride last Sunday, and found it was too much riding in too little time for me, with two stops.

So I talked to Rupert and re-planned for no coffee stop and a northerly approach to Gamlingay through Abbotsley. Then I tried that ride out on Thursday, and found that 2000 St Neots half-marathon runners would be closing the roads around Abbotsley and Waresley until after our planned lunch stop. Then came worrying forecasts of 45mph gusting winds from the west, so I arrived at Brookside with no particular plans, and no strong expectation of company.

I was pleased when Nigel and Alex arrived, and we set off to get to Gamlingay fairly directly via Barton.

On the Barton Road cycleway

I had been through Comberton and Toft 4 times in 3 weeks, so for a change I chose to go to Bourn via Haslingfield, Harlton and the Eversdens. I then made the mistake of chosing the shorter but rather bleak and unsheltered loop via Longstowe, which, as Nigel pointed out, meant that we enjoyed each and every aspect of the gusting headwind as the road twisted and turned. Alex wisely observed that it was not the best weather for gliding as we passed the club. I was also able to observe Newton’s laws at first hand as I followed Nigel in the crosswind, as he leaned over by about 20 degrees just to stay upright riding in a straight line.

I discarded best-laid plans for extra loops to make up the distance, and we arrived at the Farm Shop in Gamlingay just 5 minutes ahead of the original schedule, having covered under 20 miles. We enjoyed a well-earned lunch, including puddings all round, and planned to make amends for our short ride into the wind on the return journey.

Lunch at Woodview Farm Cafe

Instead of taking the planned Hatley - Wimpole route we went via Potton and Cockayne Hatley where we had a quick detour to look at the church, and then on to Shingay and Bassingbourn along lovely quiet roads recommended by Rupert. Then from Bassingbourn we got the fullest benefit of the strong tailwind and zinged along at speeds of up to 25mph, gaining time to spare and take in a detour via Melbourn and Fowlmere and still arrive at the AGM on time.

The overall distance for the day was only around 45 miles, but it felt longer because of the extra work needed to ride into the wind. The day just got better as it progressed, and we were eventually rewarded with some fine wind-assisted riding along lovely quiet less-travelled roads around Shingay. None of the ride was what had been planned in advance, but in spite of the weather and 2000 runners, we still enjoyed a good day out. John Seton

Nigel adds: We arrived at Hauxton Village Hall at 2.55pm, perfectly timed for our AGM at 3pm. Already waiting in the village hall were a lot of members who had gone there directly by bike or car, and after about ten minutes the afternoon ride arrived, led by Ray.

The AGM at Hauxton Village Hall

The AGM itself passed smoothly (and a lot more quickly than in previous years) and was followed by tea, sandwiches and cakes. Afterward I rode back to Cambridge via Trumpington Meadows and the busway, and I arriving home at 5.45pm having cycled 50 miles. Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 12 November 2015

12 Nov: Thursday ride to Gamlingay and St Ives

Edward writes: By the time we were ready to leave Haslingfield Green twenty-seven riders had assembled which, to say the least, was something of a surprise. The weather might have been a factor with the still mild temperatures but today, unlike the previous few days, the sky was blue and the sun was out. Not only that but Friday's forecast suggested a visit from Miss Abigail and this may have been the last opportunity for a while to enjoy a ride in decent weather. Alternatively, it might have been the pull-factor of John R leading the ride which was to take us to Gamlingay for coffee and on to St Ives for lunch.

Naturally we divided into two groups with John up front and Adrian assuming command of the second group and this worked very well all the way to Gamlingay; for once we kept ourselves apart. The journey started with a climb over Chapel Hill into Barrington and with a south-westerly wind behind us cycling wasn't hard work.

Surmounting Chapel Hill (Photo: Alex Brown)

Surmounting Chapel Hill (Photo: Alex Brown)

We came to Shepreth and Meldreth where we turned right to go past the former Malton Golf Club, which used to be a regular coffee stop, and into Orwell.

Between Meldreth and Orwell


We crossed over the A603 which took us onto the road for Wimpole Hall and under the bright late autumn sunshine the grounds all looked very pleasant. Once through the grounds we came to the gentle climbs through Arrington and Croydon where there is still no indication of what's happening to the Queen Adelaide.

Passing Wimpole (Photo: Alex Brown)

Of course after we left Croydon village we came to the short but very steep Croydon hill and after puffing our way to the top were on course for the five miles through the Hatleys all the way to Gamlingay. Earlier we had had to change the coffee venue from LJ's which is closed for a no doubt well deserved staff holiday to the Woodview farm shop just outside the town on the Potton road, with both groups arriving just after 11 am

Preparing to leave Gamlingay

With the new arrivals we counted thirty-two people taking coffee which somewhat overwhelmed the staff but they coped really well and we were able to leave before 12 noon. Actually, with such numbers, someone suggested that we could have held the AGM whilst at coffee! With so many riders it's difficult to know who went home but at least twenty, in two groups, carried on to St. Ives. We went back into Gamlingay and left the town towards Gamlingay Cinques and made for Abbotsley, a road with quite a climb and a long descent. After Abbotsley we turned on to the Croxton road and this put the wind directly behind us so we sailed easily along into Croxton and soon after into Graveley. Just after leaving Graveley we came across a delightful old American Maxwell which seemed to be having some trouble as the bonnet was off.

An old Maxwell near Graveley

Just after the photo was taken, though, it sprung into life so, hopefully, it was able to resume its journey.

We crossed the A1198 at Hilton, and under the A14 at Fenstanton, which left us with the last couple of miles into St. Ives and, a first for the Thursday ride, the farm shop just behind the park and ride site at the end of the busway.

Although they knew to expect us they had the difficult job of dealing with about eight people who ordered food but they did very well, deciding to serve us all together, rather than one at a time. This may have been a little slow but the food was very good and really just right for cyclists who were not looking for big meals, and well worth visiting again.

Lunch at St Ives

When we were ready to go it was 2.15 pm and an estimated sixteen or so headed for home along the busway.

The end of the busway at St Ives

At Swavesey John R and John J left us and this was no problem as we could hardly get lost on the busway which we used up to the Girton turning and this was the point where some headed back via Histon into Cambridge and another small group went into Girton and down Huntingdon Road along the still not finished cycleway. This really brought the ride to an end giving us all about 55 miles and another good day out thanks to good weather and John's stewardship. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 8 November 2015

8 Nov: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden and Thaxted

Nigel writes: I arrived at Brookside at 9.32pm, two minutes late, and found no-one there. The others couldn't have gone far, so I set off down Trumpington Road and almost immediately spotted a long line of yellow-jacketed cyclists in the distance. I soon caught them up and found Conrad leading quite a large group that consisted of Chris, Seb, Alex, Li, Ray, Keith, Jim, Eva and Paul. Including me that made eleven in total. Having said hello to everyone I sprinted ahead to take position for my first photo.

Path to Rutherford Road, Cambridge

The weather today was dull and overcast: a drab November day. However the temperature was very mild, there was hardly any wind, and apart from a spot of drizzle at the start it was dry all day.

Our route today took us south from Cambridge to Great Shelford and then via Little Shelford to Whittlesford, Duxford, Ickleton and up Coploe Hill. The pace was moderate which suited me just fine: I was still feeling jet-lagged from my recent trip and welcomed the opportunity to chat with the others as we rode along.

Coploe summit

After pausing to regroup at the top we continued to Catmere End before dropping down along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End house. We climbed a short hill into Saffron Walden to find our way blocked by a large crowd at the War Memorial: it was just after 11am and the ceremony of remembrance was still in progress. After a rather confusing diversion around the back streets we arrived at Bicicletta Cafe where we stopped for coffee and cakes. Just one member, Edmund, was waiting for us inside.

The cafe was very busy today, with two large cycling groups in front of us, so we had to sit at tables outside and wait about twenty minutes for our drinks. Others were frustrated by the wait, and not everyone was impressed by the coffee, but I still like this place and will definitely come here again.

Morning coffee in Saffron Walden

After coffee various members returned to Cambridge leaving seven of us to continue on to lunch in Thaxted: Conrad, Alex, Ray, Paul, Seb, Edmund and me, with Li joining us for part of the way. We set off south along the High Street, past the War Memorial and down Wenden Road towards Wendens Ambo. This road is the shortest route to Audley End station and today was the first time I had been along it since traffic-calming was completed a few weeks ago.

Wenden Road, Saffron Walden

Our lunch stop today was to be in Thaxted, but instead of taking us by the direct route Conrad took us on a loop through Arkesden, Rickling, Ugley, Henham and Debden Green which brought is to Thaxted just before 2pm. We stopped for lunch in Parrishes Restaurant and had a very pleasant and convivial meal there.

Lunch in Parrishes Restaurant, Thaxted

We left the restaurant at 2.50pm and set off back to Cambridge. I was pleased that Conrad wasn't going to take us back into Saffron Walden but instead took us north through Great Samford and Radwinter to Ashdon.

Preparing to set off after lunch in Thaxted

We continued north to Balsham and as we rolled down the hill to Fulbourn the sun set. I arrived back home at 4.45pm, having cycled 64 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).