Sunday, 8 May 2016

8 May: Sunday ride to Wimbish and Langley

Nigel writes: This was the weekend when summer arrived in Cambridgeshire. This was easily the hottest day of the year so far, with a temperature of nearly 20C at 9am, rising to almost 25C by the late afternoon. And with clear skies and bright sunshine all day, this was definitely a day for dark glasses and sunscreen. Not surprisingly there was a good turnout at Brookside for the start of today's ride: I counted Mike CC, John R, Rupert, Veera, Alex, Nick W, Peter H, me, and John S our leader for today.

At the start: Brookside, Cambridge

With such a hot day in prospect I was pleased that today would be what we are now calling a "light day ride". This is the name we've started giving to our summer rides which have two stops, coffee and lunch, with a return to Cambridge afterwards. We're currently alternating between these and "full day rides" which add an afternoon stop as well. That would have been fine too, but might have involved a bit more riding in the sun.

Hills Road, Cambridge

John writes: We headed out of Cambridge along Hills Road, carefully avoiding the roadworks (should that be cycleworks?) involved in building the new southbound cycle lane. After Addenbrookes we got on the cyclepath that runs alongside the A1307 to Babraham.

The ascent from Addenbrooke's to Wandlebury

The ascent from Addenbrooke's to Wandlebury

The ascent from Addenbrooke's to Wandlebury

Nigel continues: The cycleway ends suddenly at the roundabout by the Babraham Institute. One day soon a new cycleway will be opened through the Babraham Institute to Babraham village, but until this happens we have no option than to ride for about three-quarters of a mile along the busy A1307 before turning right to Babraham, from where a rough but usable cycle path leads to a footbridge over the A11 and a further short path to Abington.

On the footbridge over the A11 near Abington

On the path to Abington

We cycled through Abington, crossed over the A1307 and followed the back road to Linton.

The back road to Linton

Just beyond Linton we crossed over the A1307 a second time and continued through Bartlow to Ashdon, where we were joined by Andy, Sarah and Joseph.

John continues: At Ashdon I opted to add in an extra loop so we could go along two of my favourite roads in the Cambridge area – Redgates Lane and New House Lane. I like these because they are normally quiet and traffic-free, but today we met three horses, and then a particularly wide Bentley and Range Rover that pretty much filled the narrow road. Then we turned towards Radwinter and in Water Lane, all bravely forded the half-inch of water in the river and on to Wimbish.

Quiet lane north of Sewards End

Nigel continues: Eventually we reached in Radwinter from where it was only a few miles further to Wimbish and our morning coffee stop at the Mutton and Kipper Cafe. I've eaten here before, but today was my first visit since it came under new management (and a new name) last year.

Morning coffee at Mutton and Kipper Cafe, Wimbish

Already in the cafe were Edward, Ian D, Sue and perhaps one or two others. Apart from them the cafe was almost empty, so we were able to enjoy some excellent and devoted attention from the staff, who took our orders and delivered the food efficiently and promptly. My only criticism (which I remember from previous visits) is that they need a few more sun shades for their tables. Nigel Deakin

John continues: We enjoyed great service, with welcome glasses of cold water to accompany the teas and cakes we had ordered.

Morning coffee at Mutton and Kipper Cafe, Wimbish

After coffee the majority of members headed off to go home, leaving a smaller group of Sarah, Vera, Sue, Rupert, Nigel, Andy and me to cycle on to lunch at Langley Lower Green.

The smaller group proceeded through Debden and Widdington, and then turned south towards Ugley and Patmore End, where we admired the carpet of bluebells in the woods. From there we turned left and went through Rickling Green and Rickling towards Berden. When we got to the Clavering road, we had a choice of being either a bit earlier or a bit later than we had said we would be at the pub for lunch, and we chose the more direct route through Clavering to cut out an additional loop.

Bypassing the ford at Clavering

This proved to be a good call, as soon after crossing the ford, Veera had a puncture, and we almost exactly used up the time we had saved in mending the puncture.

Puncture between Clavering and Langley

When we arrived at The Bull in Langley Lower Green, we found another CTC group from South Herts there, who had ridden from Hatfield. They had arrived billing themselves as “the cyclists from CTC” and had been offered Alex’s water bottle that we were due to pick up, and had consumed some of the extra lunches that had been prepared for “the cyclists” who had phoned ahead earlier (i.e. our group). All was not lost though, and there was still plenty of choice and we enjoyed some refreshing cold drinks and a nice lunch before setting off again. At this point Andy and Sarah left us and the even smaller group headed back towards Cambridge.

The Bull is in a good location for rides, and offers cyclist-friendly food rather than the ubiquitous Sunday roast, and in my experience they are always welcoming, and the food gets prepared to order, but is served quickly. They are keen to do more for cyclists, and were asking for advice on what they could stock / offer that would be helpful – they were planning puncture repair outfits and bike stands, but we suggested generic sizes of inner tubes and a track pump might be more useful. Anyway, a great lunch stop, and one that is keen to develop its facilities for cyclists.

After lunch at The Bull, Langley Lower Green
Setting off from the pub, I suggested that we take a bit of “off-road” that Adrian had shown me last year. This is a farm track that offers a shorter and much flatter route direct to Chrishall, but it is a bit rough in places. Since I last used it, it has been “improved” by filling the areas that had potholes with loose chippings, and this has probably made it worse for cycling as there are now big patches of loose stuff to avoid where there had been smaller well defined holes before.

I received feedback from Rupert to the effect that these off-road conditions were about as bad as were acceptable on CTC rides, so with any luck I will never get asked to lead a ride again as a result of this carefree and risky approach to ride planningJ Seriously, the off-road had been made worse for cyclists by “improvement” since the last time I used it, but it does offer a great view, and avoids more uphill work at the end of a hot day ride, so it is a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Byway to Building End

Building End

We all survived the off-road section and proceeded through Chrishall and then down the hill to Chrishall Grange and across the A505 into Fowlmere, where Sue left us to go to Foxton, and we proceeded back along familiar roads towards Cambridge via Newton, the Shelfords and the DNA path. We had enjoyed a great day out in perfect weather conditions, and when I got home I found I had covered 60 miles.

I know Rupert sometimes has a challenge finding enough different leaders for the rides we all enjoy. I think there may be a perception that leading a ride is difficult and involves a lot of work, which puts people off offering to do this. Planning a ride is easy enough, and if you are stuck for ideas, Rupert will help you fill in the gaps on a possible route. You can also be selfish, and use roads you like best and change things as you wish. There is also always plenty of accumulated wisdom out on any ride if you need to change things on the fly. So, for me, leading today’s ride as opposed to being led by someone else probably involved 10 minutes planning, so if any of you are put off the idea by the thought of all the work involved, please do have a go! John Seton



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