Sunday, 24 January 2016

24 Jan: Sunday ride to St Ives and Woodhurst

Nigel begins: Whilst parts of the US endure the heaviest snowstorms for many years, here in Eastern England the weather has suddenly turned very mild, with the temperature today reaching 14C during the afternoon and never falling below 10C at any stage. Quite a change from the freezing temperatures of only a few days ago.

Our Sunday rides have been quite well-attended recently, and I when I arrived at Brookside for today's ride I wasn't surprised to find eight members already there including John S, our leader for today.


John continues: Overnight rain had only just stopped when I set off for Brookside, so I was hoping the weather would get better, and not worse. When I got there I was pleased to find a large group of people at the start of the ride, including Nigel, Alex, Rupert, Seb, Sheila, Lee, Ian D, Dr John and Greg.

We set off along Silver Street and Grange Road, and from there went across to Girton and along Regional Route 24 to Longstanton, picking up Ian D and Paul D along the way, and Mike CC at the guided busway.

John at the head of the pack in Silver Street, Cambridge

In my keen-ness to be a well-prepared leader, I had stuffed too many inner-tubes into my seatpack, which as a result suffered a hernia just before St Ives, where Eva caught me up as I scrabbled around picking up tyre levers and inner tubes.

On the busway

Nigel continues: Today was dull and overcast, but there was no rain, and it was almost warm. The roads were quite wet so it wasn't a day to ride directly behind another rider: even those with full mudguards were casting a fine spray of dirty water on the rider behind. So I sprinted ahead and arrived at the cafe in St Ives a few minutes before the others. Adrian was already there, of course (he usually is), and we were joined by several other members including Vic, Adrian, Mick C, Andy, Sarah and Edward.

In the River Tea Rooms, St Ives

John continues: Fourteen riders continued from St Ives, passing through the Hemingfords and along the raised and dry bridleway across the partly flooded Houghton Meadows.

Crossing the Ouse Meadows at Houghton

From there we went up the hill to aptly-named Wyton-on-the-Hill, and on to Kings Ripton. From there we passed through Wistow (passing Andy and Sarah’s old house) where we turned right up the short hill towards the road from Ramsey to Warboys. There was quite a bit of traffic on this road, so we singled out for a while. Andy pointed out a metal pelican sign on a pole, telling us the local tale that the wood used to make HMS Pelican had come from near there.

Pelican Corner

From Warboys we went on to Pidley, pausing to marvel at the sign for the Pidley Mountain Rescue Team, and then took in a quick detour via Oldhurst and Woodhurst as we had made good time and were a little early for lunch.

Between Fenton and Pidley

As we got closer to Woodhurst, part of the reason for the traffic became clearer. A big Sunday treat for people in these parts seems to be to drive as quickly as possible with trailers full of garden refuse towards the Recycling Centre on the road to Bluntisham.

Lunch was at the Raptor Centre off the busy B1040 from St Ives. It took a while for everyone to order food, but once ordered it arrived promptly so we were able to get on our way by 2pm.

Leaving The Raptor Foundation

Nigel continues: After lunch we set off back to Cambridge, taking a fairly direct route through Bluntisham and Colne to Earith, where we joined the A1123 for a mile before turning south onto the B1050 to cross the River Great Ouse. These are relatively busy roads but we didn't have any particular difficulties today.

Alongside the River Great Ouse at Earith

When we reached Willingham I (Nigel) separated from John and most of the the "official" ride. They would be joining the busway at Longstanton (where we joined it this morning) and following it back to Cambridge. However I was in the mood to take a slightly different, and only slightly longer, route back via Rampton, Cottenham and Milton, and was joined by Eva, Paul and Adrian.

John writes: The main group proceeded through Willingham to the busway, where we met some earnest Cambridge University Triathlon Club members who were riding with steely determination in the opposite direction.

At this point I had a puncture and left the rest of the riders to go ahead into Cambridge rather than hold things up right at the end of the ride, leading just myself back a little later, grateful that I still had some tyre levers and inner tubes in my bag.

It was nice to have a day out on the bike without getting wet or cold, and without having to ride in the teeth of a gale. The days are starting to get noticeably longer, and it was good to be home in time to wash the mud off my bike in daylight rather than throwing it in the garage in the dark and hoping it will clean itself.

I would suggest modifying the route I took another time, as several of the roads we took were quite busy on a Sunday. I had ridden round the same route a couple of Saturdays ago, and the level of traffic had been quite different. A future ride therefore needs to factor in the amazing local popularity of a Sunday trip to the tip! John Seton

Alongside the River Great Ouse south of Earith

Nigel concludes: Paul rode with my small breakaway group as far as Cottenham, and Eva as far as Milton. This left just Adrian and me. I had planned to use the cycle bridge across the A14, but Adrian suggested riding along the river instead. The River Cam was very busy with rowers, and the Halingway was busy with cyclists, almost every one of which was a coach shouting instructions to a boat on the river. I'm familiar with rowing coaches on bikes, of course, and I'm very aware that their eyes will be on their boat more than on the path ahead of them, but I was surprised by just how many of them were on the towpath today.

Soon enough we were back in Cambridge. I bade farewell to Adrian in Chesterton before crossing the Green Dragon bridge and continuing back towards the City Centre. I arrived home at 4pm (still in broad daylight), having cycled 59 miles. Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

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