Thursday, 31 December 2015

31 Dec: Ad-hoc ride to Waresley and St Neots

Alex writes: We've been having a series of stormy days recently, interspersed with some better cycling weather. Today looked like it would be dry and clear and so, bearing in mind the club’s empty calendar over Christmas, I announced to the members’ email list that I'd be testing the route for the upcoming Sunday ride, and invited anybody who wanted to, to join.

When I arrived at Brookside I found Edmund, Eva, John J, Mia and Shelia waiting. We set off to head south along the guided busway (after I managed to fail to find the best way through the Kaleidoscope development), continuing through Trumpington Meadows and then through Harston on the shared-use cycle path. After Storm Frank this was covered in debris, and at one point a fallen tree blocked the way, making this trip through the village even more tedious than usual.

However, once through Harston we were rewarded with the much more pleasant road leading to Haslingfield, and from there we took the route – very familiar to Thursday riders – through Harlton, Little Eversden, and Kingston to Bourn.

John J approaching Bourn

At Bourn we rode up Alms Hill and then turned left on to the Caxton Road. It was at this point that the rather strong cross-wind we’d been experienced turned into a direct headwind and this made us work quite hard, meaning that by the time we reached Waresley we all felt we deserved our coffee and cake (I felt I deserved a scone too).

Working hard on the Caxton Road

After coffee Eva and John headed home, leaving four of us to press on to lunch. We set out – into the wind again – to Everton and zoomed down Tempsford Hill (14%) heading northwest towards Tempsford itself. At Tempsford Hall we turned right onto the Barford Road taking us north to St Neots. With the wind now firmly behind us we rode at express pace and before long we were mixing with traffic queuing to get into the town centre for the market. It was nice to be able to turn off the road and (following Nigel’s wise counsel) take the Willow Bridge and then the quiet paths through Riverside Park. However, when we arrived at the Ambience Café, calamity! it was shut!

Nothing daunted, he headed into town to see what was open, and there found that the Market Café was. We installed ourselves inside, just ahead of a huge influx of market shoppers, and enjoyed bacon sandwiches. I'd never been inside before, and was doubly excited to discover the place has a seating area upstairs too.

Lunch in the Market Café

We left lunch in good time and with the prospect of getting back to Cambridge before dark. We rode northeast out of town up Huntingdon Street, and turned right taking us on the long road through Toseland and Yelling, bypassing Papworth Everard, and then took St Neots Road alongside the A 428 to get us to the outskirts of Cambridge via Madingley Hill. Overall, this is an efficient if rather charmless way to get back to Cambridge from St Neots.

Climbing out of Yelling

From Madingley Hill we turned off, passed through Coton and then wiggled around on the cycle ways south of the West Cambridge Site before emerging on Grange Road and heading back to Brookside via Silver Street. We had indeed got back before dark.

This is the way

When I got home I found I had cycled 89 km (55 miles). My metric Eddington Number stands at 75. This ride also completes exactly one year of very enjoyable riding with Cambridge CTC; next year I aim to get my metric Eddington to 100. Happy New Year everybody!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

29 Dec: Special ride to Saffron Walden and Thaxted

Nigel writes: Today we had yet another ad-hoc ride. This was Alex's initiative: he had originally suggested having a ride on Sunday but we agreed to hold it today because the weather forecast looked much better. Whereas our ride to Newport last Wednesday had been arranged through the members' email list, and the ride on Christmas Morning had been arranged by word-of-mouth, we made today's ride an official ride and announced it on the website.

Judging from the number of responses to my emailed announcement it quickly became clear that today was going to be a well-supported ride, and I wasn't surprised to discover about ten or eleven members turned up at Brookside for the start of today's ride. Not only was today the first working day between Christmas and New Year but it was also a most gorgeous winter's day. The forecast was for clear skies and bright sunshine the whole day long, with astonishingly mild temperatures, and this was exactly how the day turned out.

I was the leader today, and led the group south along Trumpington Road, along Long Road, and onto the busway.

On the busway bridge (Photo: Alex Brown)

We continued south along the DNA path, marvelling at how mild it was, and delighted to be riding in bright sunshone.

Along the DNA path

In Great Shelford we were met by a large group of out-of-town members who had been waiting there to meet us. We paused by the War Memorial to allow me to count the numbers: there was now about twenty of us, so I quickly arranged to split the ride into two, with me leading a front party and Rupert leading the remainder a few minutes behind.

Dividing into two groups in Great Shelford

The challenges of having a large group are familar to the Thursday riders, but to a Sunday rider like me they are very unfamilar: the last time I was on such a large ride was almost two years ago (when Eva led a similar-sized group to Wicken Fen and Chippenham).

Between the Shelfords (Photo: Alex Brown)

I rode on with the front group to Little Shelford towards Ickleton. Along the road yet more members were waiting to join us.

I've been having a spell of bad luck with punctures in recent weeks, and as we approached Ickleton my luck failed again and we stopped at the foot of Coploe Hill to allow me to repair a flat tyre. Whilst I was working on my bike the rear group arrived and overtook us, with Alex racing up the hill ahead of them to take photographs as they passed.

Ascending Coploe Hill (Photo: Alex Brown)

Ascending Coploe Hill (Photo: Alex Brown)

At Coploe summit (Photo: Alex Brown)

Descending Coploe (Photo: Alex Brown)

After about ten minutes my bike was back on the road and I made my way to the top of Coploe Hill to meet the rest of "my" group. We continued on to Catmere End and then dropped down Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House.

Audley End (Photo: Alex Brown)

My group arrived in Saffron Walden at about 11.20am, about ten minutes behind Rupert's group. The planned coffee stop was at Bicicletta Coffee, though in the event most people went to The Temeraire (a Wetherspoons pub) instead, and just three or four of us ended up at the coffee shop. I had expected it to be quiet on a Tuesday morning but a large group from another club were already there, though fortunately there were preparing to leave and we were able to find a table and be served quickly.

Afterward we wheeled our bikes over to the Temeraire to meet the others. I had expected everyone would be getting ready to move on, but in fact I found several members settling down to hearty Wetherspoons breakfasts.

Keith takes coffee in Saffron Walden (Photo: Alex Brown)

When the time came for us all to leave, we divided once more into two groups for the next stage of the ride to lunch in Thaxted, with Rupert's group taking a slightly shorter route than mine. However we had just departed from The Temeraire when Eva discovered a puncture, and once again Rupert's group set off ahead whilst my group waited for yet another puncture repair.

Setting off from The Temeraire, Saffron Walden

We were soon back on our way again, and I led my group on a very enjoyable loop to the south-west, though Wendens Ambo, Arkesden, Wicken Bonhunt and Rickling Green before turning east to Ugley, Henham and Debden, arriving in Thaxted at about 1.20pm.

The breakaway group (Photo: Alex Brown)

Once again we split up to eat lunch in various different places. Rupert and half a dozen other visited The Swan Hotel, though they seemed a bit overwhelmed by relatively small numbers of customers and most of the others went to Parrishes Restaurant just down the road. Another dozen or so ate there, though by the time I arrived they had stopped taking food orders (also being a bit overwhelmed) and so I bought a sandwich from the shop next door and ate it across the road under the historic Guildhall before rejoining the others in Parrishes for coffee.

The service in The Swan Hotel was extraordinarily slow and the diners there were still waiting for food when it was time for the rest of us to set off again. Rupert suggested we set off without waiting for them, and so I ended up leading a single large group east to Great Sampford and north towards Radwinter and Ashdon.

Approaching Great Sampford

Radwinter

A couple of miles beyond Ashdon we reached Bartlow, where the group divided. Most people were keen to go straight home and so turned towards Linton, taking what I think is a rather tedious way home via Abington, the A11 footbridge, Babraham and Sawston. This left about five of us to continue with me north to Balsham and a very fast descent down to Fulbourn, with the sun setting along the way down. Cherry Hinton and Romsey soon followed, and I arrived hime at about 4.30pm, having cycled 64 miles.



Today's modest mileage means there's no change to my Eddington Number today, and so it looks almost certain that I will end the year with an Eddington Number of 79 miles, missing (by just one 80-mile ride) my 2015 target of 80.

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Sunday, 27 December 2015

Rides in Jan and Feb

Happy New Year! We've now published our rides lists for January and February.

On Sundays we have two rides. An all-day ride departs at 9.30am, stops for coffee and lunch and then returns to Cambridge. An afternoon ride departs at 1pm, stops for tea at 3pm, and then returns. Both rides will aim to get back before dark but please always bring lights.

On Thursdays our ever-popular all-day rides depart at 9.30am from Haslingfield or Hauxton, stop for coffee and lunch and then return home before dark. On Tuesdays our Senior Cyclists' Group cycle to a country pub for lunch.

In addition our "Saturday short social rides" continue twice a month, departing at 10am, stopping for coffee and then returning home by lunchtime. And our Wednesday evening rides continue once a month on the Wednesday closest to the full moon. These depart at 6.30pm and include a short pub stop.

In all cases, please watch this website and the members' email list in case rides are cancelled due to bad weather.

We still need some more leaders for some of our Sunday rides. Please email Rupert, the runs secretary, if you'd like to have a go at leading (contact details).

Friday, 25 December 2015

25 Dec: Ad-hoc Christmas Day ride to Kingston

Nigel writes: I hadn't planned on going for a bike ride on Christmas Day until Jim B rang soon after 8am to let me know that he and a small group of others would be meeting for a short social ride at 9:30am.

That gave me ample time to unwap all my Christmas presents, fill a flask with coffee, and get on my bike for the short ride to the Coton Roundabout where we were meeting.

Rendezvous at the Coton Roundabout

Also on the ride was Val, John F, Averil, Jacob, Adrian and Mick C: effectively I would be riding with Newnham CTC. We set off north to Coton and crossed the A1307 towards Madingley and Dry Drayton. The weather was dull and overcast and a little colder than in previous days, and although rain was forecast to arrive later, the morning started dry.

Scotland Road, Dry Drayton

At Dry Drayton we turned south to Hardwick and then continued via Caldecote to Kingston. The plan was to pause somewhere to eat our refreshments so when we spotted a well-appointed bus shelter in Kingston we decided that it would be a good place to stop. Several boxes of mince pies were immediately produced, plastic glasses (and elegant stainless steel cups) were passed around, and Jim opened the first of a couple of bottles of sparking fizz.

Mince pies and champagne in Kingston

After about twenty minutes it started to rain and we decided it was time to return home. Our route back via the Eversdens, Harlton and Haslingfield was fairly direct, and as I was beginning to get cold I was glad I only had a few miles to go. I arrived home at about 12.15pm, having cycled 25 miles. Thanks are due to Jim for arranging the ride.



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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

23 Dec: Ad-hoc ride to Newport

Nigel writes: There's a bit of a void in the clubs's ride calendar at this time of year, with no official club rides until the new year. I suspect that's not because of a reluctance of members to go for a ride, but because our leaders prefer not to commit themselves at a busy time of year. I'd heard plenty of talk around the club of unoffical "ad-hoc" rides, so it came as no surprise that a superb weather forcast for 23rd December was followed by a suggestion from Alex (via the members' email list) for a short morning outing. With "storm Eva" due to arrive the following day, I decided to take advantage of a lovely winter's day and join him.

The rendezvous point was Cambridge Railway Station at 9.30am. Alex and I were joined by Edmund and Phil, making four in total. After waiting to make sure that no-one else was going to turn up, we set off south down the busway.

On the busway

Today really was the most super day: clear, sunny and very mild, with a light south-westerly headwind which made us work a bit on our journey south.

Heading for the DNA path

Alex's route took us south to Great Shelford, west to Little Shelford, and along the B1368 to Newton. After a loop via Thriplow we reached Fowlmere, crossed the A505 and continued to Chrishall Grange.

For most of this part of the ride we were riding directly into a low sun, which was not a problem for us but which made me rather wary of following motorists who, as countless prosecutions have demonstrated, are legally exempt from the requirement to drive carefully in such circumstances.

Approaching Chrishall Grange

From Chrishall Grange, and on very quiet roads, we took the long climb to Chrishall itself, and during a pause at the summit I explained to anyone who cared to listen that Chrishall Grange, Chrishall Grange and Great Chishill were three different places.

This very pleasant ride continued south through Duddenhoe End and Langely Upper Green to Hill Green near Clavering, where we joined the B1038 for the final few miles east (and so with the wind behind us at last) to Newport.

For working sage slave like me, one of the pleasures of a weekday ride is the opportunity to visit coffee stops that are closed on Sundays. And so today I was able to visit Dorrington's Bakery, a longstanding Thursday favourite but which I had never visted myself.

Dorrington's Bakery, Newport

Already at the coffee stop was Craig who had arranged to meet us there.


After a very pleasant half hour drinking coffee and consuming warm sausage rolls and cakes we said goodbye to Craig and returned back north to Cambridge. With a tailwind behind us we made rapid progress, and with the sun behind us, casting long shadows across the fields, this was a very pleasant ride back.

Wendens Ambo

Our route back took us via Wendens Ambo, Catmere End, Coploe Hill and Ickleton, and I arrived home at about 1.45pm, having cycled 45 miles. Thanks are due to Alex for leading the ride, for taking the initiative in organising it, and in inviting members via email rather than relying on word-of-mouth.



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Sunday, 20 December 2015

20 Dec: Sunday afternoon ride to Ashdon

John writes: For the last official ride of 2015 I was joined by five riders. But for a fresh southerly breeze the weather would have been perfect for a winter ride.

I was somewhat alarmed on calling the museum to be told there was a staff party for the final opening of the year and there might be nothing to eat by our ETA of 3.15 p.m. I was also told we would have to sit outside.

Brookside

We set off, despite this discouraging exordium, following our route of 13 September along the river bank to Fen Ditton and thence to Dullingham via Quy, Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck. After a brief pause at the tree pruned to a big Y, rapidly acquiring a covering of ivy, we turned southwards. This route is a favourite of mine being very rural and high affording good views and passing only two villages (West Wratting and Bartlow).


But the headwind slowed us considerably so we reached the museum between 3.30pm and 3.50pm (ten minutes before closing). We also ran into a brief shower which none of us had seen forecast. However there were plenty of cakes and tea and, having got quite heated battling into the wind, we did not mind an al fresco refreshment.

There too were John Seton (who had been to see a film about the unmasking of Lance Armstrong), Steve and another Simon from Cambourne whom we had met at Waresley two Sundays previously.

Ashdon

It was now getting dark very rapidly and we were also getting chilly so we set off taking the direct route back to Cambridge via Barton, Linton, Abington, Babraham, Sawston. Through these villages our way was lit by numerous Christmas decorations and the powerful cycle lights that are now available. At Stapleford John E suggested we make for the Genome path via Chursh Street and Mingle Lane (one of the most expensive road in East Anglia!).


From Addenbrookes we followed the guided busway cycle path to the station. I had previously left the path at Long Road but the final stretch to the station is now very good, being wide, well-surfaced and lit. I was home at 5.50pm having cycled approximately 40 miles. John Ferguson

20 Dec: Sunday ride to Waresley and Houghton

Nigel writes: This month is turning out to be the mildest December for many years, and the benign weather ensured a good turnout for our last Sunday all-day ride before Christmas.

There were ten of us at Brookside: Alex, Greg, Jerry, the two Sebs, David, Shiela, Edmund, Ian and me.

At the start

We set off from Brookside towards Newnham and followed the Barton Cycleway west out of Cambridge.

On the Barton cycleway

When we reached Barton we turned south to Haslingfield before turning west for a loop through Harlton and the Eversdens to Kingston.

Kingston

Just beyond Kingston we joined the B1046 for a short distance, passing Bourn Golf Club where we had our Christmas lunch a week ago, and then turned off towards Bourn. We splashed through the fords at Caxton End and continued on to Caxton itself, followed a few miles later by Great Gransden.

Caxton End

The sky started cloudy and overcast but as the ride progressed the sky brightened and as we rode the final few miles from Great Gransden to Waresley the sun emerged for a while.

The road from Great Gransden to Waresley

We arrived at Waresley just after 11am and stopped for coffee at Waresley Park Garden Centre. There were several other members already there, including Mike S, Mike CC, Adrian and David W. After purchasing coffee and cake some of us sat outside on the patio whilst the rest of us judged that it wasn't quite warm enough and so remained inside.

Coffee at Waresley

After coffee we regrouped as usual, with eight of us carrying on to lunch: Edmund, Sheila, Alex, French Seb, David W, the other David and me, with Seb M, Mike CC and Ian riding with us for part of the way, and Adrian riding separately at his own pace. We rode over Lily Hill to Abbotsley and then turned north to Croxton, and Toseland. A couple of miles beyond Toseland we reached Graveley, where the road turned north-east towards Hilton and Fenstanton. Along this section we enjoyed a gentle tailwind which, together with some smooth road surfaces, allowed us to make quick work of this relatively dull area of countryside.

At Fenstanton we turned west and rode through the Hemingfords and across the Ouse Meadows to Houghton.

Across the Ouse Meadows at Houghton

About a mile beyond Houghton we reached our appointed lunch stop. This was Wyevale Garden Centre, a large garden centre and retail park on the A1123. The place was packed with pre-Christmas shoppers, with long queues of cars trying to get out of the car park. When we reached the cafe it was very busy and unappealing, so we decided to hear back to Houghton and have our lunch there.

Wyedale Garden Centre, Wyton

When we back to Houghton we stopped in the main square. One or two people went into the Three Horseshoes for lunch whilst Alex and I joined Adrian in the Houghton tearoom across the street. This was small and friendly and a good choice. Although it offered a good spread of cakes it didn't have much choice of hot meals, but a plate of scrambled egg on toast was perfectly adequate for me.


Houghton tearooms

After lunch we followed the Thicket Path to St Ives, where we picked up the busway for what I expected to be an easy ten-mile cruise back to Cambridge.

As we passed Swavesey station I pointed out the public bike pump that was installed there just over a year ago (there's a photo in our ride report for 21 Dec 2015). In the past I've remarked that I couldn't see the point of public bike pumps, given that you'd need to get a puncture right next to it for it to be any use. I was just about to repeat my view when, about ten yards beyond the bike pump, I realised I had a flat tyre.

I quickly replaced the tube, spurning the public pump in favour of my own, and we were soon back on our way. However two miles further along tyre went flat once again. Obviously I had not inspected my tyre carefully enough, and there was still a stone in the tyre. However I didn't fancy messing about with patches on a damp day like this so pumped up the tyre and limped home, stopping to re-inflate my tyre every mile or two whilst the others stood by patiently. I arrived home at 4pm, a few minutes after sunset, having cycled 57 miles.



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Saturday, 19 December 2015

19 Dec: Saturday social ride to Barton

Ian writes: It may have been a little overcast initially but as soon as the sun appeared it was quite conceivable the temperature rose to around 15C as forecast, so remarkably mild for the time of year for this final social ride of 2015.

Arriving somewhat last minute it was good to see Tom, Lorraine, Angela, David, Phil, Craig and Simon G patiently waiting, so without much further ado we were soon heading towards Trumpington to access the rather exposed meadows by Byron's Pool car park. Today any dog walking activity was well away from the gravel tracks so there was only the headwind to slow progress as we made our way to rejoin the A10 by Hauxton Mill.

Fortunately the cyclepath through Harston wasn't at all busy so it was just a case of attempting to avoid the worst of the bumpy surface before regaining the road heading to Haslingfield as the going became easier with more shelter.

This situation ever improved as we looped round through Harlton. Reaching Comberton it was a tailwind pushing us nicely along to our coffee stop at Romano's Kitchen, just opened at Burwash Manor. Upon arrival we were greeted by the new proprietor of the tearooms and welcomed inside.

Fruit scones with tea was the most popular choice of our group today and after a leisurely half hour or so, around midday we reassembled for the short return into Cambridge, thus a slightly shorter route at 16 miles.

Thanks to all those who have supported these rides this year, which we decided shall resume next year on 2 Jan so see you then and in the meantime enjoy the festive break. Ian Wright.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

17 Dec: Thursday ride to Lode and Newmarket

Edward writes: Who would have expected this? We had twenty-four cyclists for the start of our ride and when we reached Anglesey Abbey for coffee we had forty-one cyclists for what may be some sort of record; in fact at least equalling the number at the Christmas lunch. Sharon, our leader, may have thought she had drawn the short straw with so many bikes to organise for our trip to Newmarket via Anglesey Abbey.

Little Shelford

This morning we continued the run of extremely mild temperatures encouraging one member to bring out his shorts as winter shows no sign of making an appearance, and soon after the start the temperature had risen to sixteen degrees. Needless to say we divided into two groups and we left Hauxton into Little Shelford where we noticed daffodils on bud and about to flower, and Great Shelford where the second group was held at the level crossing for some minutes which had the benefit of ensuring there was no catching-up and merging into one group.

Great Shelford

After Shelford we went past the golf club and the beechwoods as we made the climb up the Gog Magog hills on our way to Fulbourn.

Gog Magog Hills

Gog Magog Hills

Gog Magog Hills

Fulbourn came and went and was followed by the Wilbrahams and the run down to the A1303 and the turn into Bottisham where quite of few students from the local village college seemed to have turned out to give us a cheer as we went through.

Fulbourn

Bottisham

After Bottisham a further mile or two brought us to Lode, and Anglesey Abbey, where we all took coffee and cakes and almost completely took over the dining area.

Anglesey Abbey

After our break as usual some did leave us but this still left us with more than thirty and Sharon took the unprecedented step of creating a second and a third group, these led by Mike C and Rupert.

Anglesey Abbey

Sock rivals

As we left the Abbey we went into Lode village and out to White Fen Drove which is the beginning of the Lodes way, and took us away from the traffic and to a few miles of tranquil riding across a typically flat fenland landscape.

Lodes Way

We came to the lovely old village of Reach and then on to Burwell and the long ride round Heath Road which now passes the newly installed solar farm, and Exning. It was barely two more miles before we arrived in Newmarket and the Horse Racing Museum for our lunch stop.

Once again we somewhat overwhelmed the cafe as we all queued up for lunch. This is a nice place to visit and the reception staff always willingly allow us to bring our bikes through into the courtyard. The biggest burden, however, fell to the kitchen staff, but they coped admirably and their courteous apologies for delays were not necessary as they did a great job.

After offering our thanks and appreciation at 1.40 pm we started the return leg which would take us along the fast stretch of road to Dullingham and then past the junctions for Westley Waterless and Balsham. As Mike CC hadn’t featured in any of the photos to date Andy ushered him to the front so that he could appear in the final photo of the day. The sun hadn’t been out all day and as we headed to West Wratting we could see a threat of rain in the far distance.


From Dullingham (featuring Mike CC)

Balsham was next and for the last downhill of the day into Hildersham, over the A1307 to Great Abington. This left us with the cycleway alongside the A505 (very noisy), Babraham and Sawston and lastly the cycleway over to Whittlesford where a few drops of rain were felt, and Little Shelford, with those going back to Hauxton completing a most satisfying 50 miles. A special thanks to Sharon who didn’t appear daunted by the difficult task of shepherding so many cyclists through the Cambridgeshire countryside. Edward Elmer



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