Sunday, 27 November 2016

27 Nov: Sunday ride to Reed and Rushden

John S writes: It was overcast, and quite chilly, but not too windy when I arrived at Brookside to lead this ride. I was pleased to find Rupert, Sheila, Camille, Mike CC, Alex, Ian W, and Keith there waiting to join me.

Route planning was easy. I had declined the Runs Committee's suggestion of a coffee stop at Ickleton, on the grounds it was not far enough away from the start, and had opted for Reed instead. That's fine, except that the direct route up the often-busy B-road through Fowlmere and Barley is around 30km, which corresponds to an 11am arrival at our normal speed. That then left the problem of extending the route from Reed to Rushden, as the direct route through Sandon is a bit too direct, and the A507 and A505 make it hard to add in extra distance without using busy roads.

Fortunately, Sheila had recently led a Thursday ride from Reed to Ardeley, so I was able to stand on the shoulders of route-planning giants and shamelessly follow pretty much the same route from coffee and on to lunch.

We rode direct from Brookside to Reed in cloudy conditions. The highest altitude we would reach all day was between Barkway and Reed, and here a patch of sun briefly shone through north of Cambridge to pick out the science park in the distance.

On the road to Barley (Photo: Camille Stavrakas)

Adrian, Joseph, Mick C, Sue, Keith and Mike S were already at the Silver Ball Café at Reed when we arrived. The service was efficient and quick as always, and I was looking forward to my bacon and egg sandwich. I was pleased when it arrived, but this feeling was short-lived, as Alex's gigantic bacon and egg roll put my sandwich to shame.

As we left Reed, Mike S experienced a slight problem with his battery connection on his electric bicycle. This was simply and quickly resolved, and I am hoping that I can find a similar simple solution for the lack of power in my legs!

We proceeded south towards Buntingford, through Green End and Mill End and then on through Arkesden, Westmill and Nasty, where we made all the usual jokes about “nasty rides” etc. In Great Munden we then turned north-west along lovely quiet lanes through Wood End and Moor Green, towards Ardeley.

On the road between Great Munden and Ardeley (Photo: Camille Stavrakas)

Here, we turned right to climb up towards Cromer windmill. This is shrouded in scaffolding at the moment, but we still paused for a team photo. From there, it was a short hop to lunch at the garden centre in Rushden, where we found that Adrian had already been and gone, and met up with Susan and Mike S.

A brief pause next to the scaffolding-clad windmill at Cromer

The cafe at Mill End Plants is in a poly-tunnel, and bike parking is easy - you can simply take your bike into the cafe! At the best of times, it is not going to be that warm in a poly-tunnel in November, and when we arrived we found that the main form of heating – a space heater – had stopped working that morning, so warmth was provided by two small oil-filled radiators, which struggled to make much impact on the temperature.

Sue, Susan and radiator

There was a good variety of cyclist-friendly food on offer – soups, hot pasties, baked potatoes, toasties, cake etc. and the service was friendly and efficient. After eating, we set off fairly promptly rather than waiting in the rather chilly conditions.

Setting off from Mill End Plants at Rushden

We then headed north to cross the busy A505, and climb the hill towards Ashwell. Here we turned right and took familiar roads towards Littlington, where we turned off the normal route to take the detour through Abington Piggots. Here we were rewarded with the first real sunshine of the day, and the setting sun beautifully lit up the last leaves of autumn on the beech trees.

From there we entered Bassingbourn and paused to switch on lights before taking the regular route through Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington towards Haslingfield, and on to Harston, where we split into Cambridge and South Cambridge sub-groups and went our separate ways.

The ride was just over 110km, which was helpful to Alex, as it meant that he has now completed 100 rides of 100km or longer, which is another significant milestone (or should that be kilometre marker) in his pursuit of an ever greater Eddington Number (the cycling-related one, and not the number of protons in the observable universe!).

Thanks again to Sheila for having devised a route that provided the basis for an enjoyable day of cycling. John Seton

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27 Nov: Sunday afternoon ride to Potton

Simon writes: Well I can't say that the weather didn't promise the best of the sunshine to be with us this morning and right up to the point when I met David, Neil and Andy at Brookside that's what we'd had. But our ride started with grey skies and teetered on the verge of a few minute spots of rain. So I took off my sunglasses and packed them deeply away into my handlebar bag as an attempt at reverse psychology and it worked, the rain left us alone.

Our route out was the perennial favourite Barton road cycle path to Haslingfield, not an idle decision as there was method in my madness.

Phil had originally wanted to join us at the Barton junction to avoid the city traffic. I toyed with the idea of returning from tea through Wimpole Hall to deliver Phil conveniently back into the Barrington area where he rides from, but from a phone call to the Wimpole NT estate I learnt that they close the gates at dusk and as we couldn’t guarantee to meet the deadline it was decided to meet Phil in Barrington and do Wimpole via Malton Lane on the way out.

Unexpectedly, he decided he really needed the exercise, so climbed Chapel hill to meet us on our side before climbing it again with us (and again on his way hone). At Wimpole the mechanical shock of the first cattle grid that serves the ancient deer grazing parkland had his front light reverse engineer itself into its component parts. (Yes – another front light)

Wimpole Estate

From there we climbed Croydon Hill and continued through Hatley St George. It was at this point that I took the group off-road onto the path that runs alongside Hatley woods and St John the Baptist Church, whose four mini-spires can just be seen in the photo (below) north of Cockayne Hatley. The ground was surprisingly dry considering the rain we've had recently, though I knew this because I had visited it the day before to check its suitability for the group. The same photo also shows that the sun had returned to grace the last three miles of our ride out.

North of Cockayne Hatley, with church in distance

Tea at the Boundary Café was pleasant and nowhere near as populated as it was two weeks ago, when our club riders descended upon the caterers in their dozens.

Tea in Potton

Tea in Potton (spot the difference)

On the way home, it had got dark by the time we reached the turning on the outskirts of Little Gransden and I got a puncture in Toft. Unlike Eva's punctures of Thursday this week, no "Super Simon" leapt out from a phone box like a well known Monty Python character sporting a flat cap and a tool box to fix it, but the residents who live just opposite Church road in Toft kindly lent me their track stirrup pump which sped things up made the job easier. Many thanks, if you're reading this: your public spirit is a credit to you. Simon Gallaway

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

23 Nov: Thursday ride to Swavesey and West Perry

Edward writes: Our two leaders today were Peter W at Brookside with five riders and out in Haslingfield we had JJ leading fifteen. The weather was certainly cool with a North-east wind and there was never going to be glimmer of sunshine, with leaden skies all day. From Haslingfield our route took us to Harlton into Washpit Lane, up to the A603 and on to Comberton.

Leaving Haslingfield

Leaving Haslingfield


Next we climbed up to Hardwick and followed this to Madingley and Dry Drayton. When we reached Oakington the two groups’ routes diverged with JJ taking his down the busway whilst Adrian led the second group via the airfield to Longstanton before arriving in Swavesey and the Baptist Chapel for coffee; those using the busway arrived a few minutes later.

Oakington Airfield

Back at Brookside it seems Peter used a novel route through the town past the Round Church before arriving at the river which was used as far as Milton. Here they came across Eva who was dealing with a puncture and it’s on good authority that we heard that Simon with true gentlemanly gallantry immediately came in to assist. They were not held up for long and they arrived in Swavesey in good time.

At coffee we were joined by ten others, making thirty in total, another good Thursday turnout.

After coffee, and the usual comings and goings, a number of groups started out for Grafham Water. It’s difficult to know where everybody went to but probably most went via Graveley and the Offords whilst another smaller group went via the Hemingfords and Godmanchester. At the railway crossing in Offord Cluny two sub-groups met and were able to continue together through Buckden to Grafham. Most went on to the Harbour View and few took lunch at the visitor centre and also took the opportunity to look at the cycle shop. This group rejoined the others at the Harbour View where a mass exit of all eighteen riders took place.


Leaving West Perry (Grafham Water)

Leaving West Perry (Grafham Water)

It seems the planned route home was via Staughton Moor and indeed Adrian, accompanied by Richard M, went that way, but apparently there had been a last minute change of plan and we all headed back to Buckden and Offord Cluny. Most of the group headed towards Godmanchester leaving a small contingent to head for home via Graveley and Great Gransden. This was quite a long winter ride with some probably clocking up seventy miles. As always thanks to Peter and JJ for leading the rides.
Edward Elmer

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

19 Nov: Saturday social ride to Ickleton

Nigel writes: With heavy rain forecast for Sunday, and both our rides cancelled that day, I decided to take advantage of bright sunny weather on Saturday morning to join our twice-monthly "Saturday social" ride. This is our "entry-level" ride, shorter and slower-paced than most of our other rides, and since it was first introduced a few years ago has turned out to be consistently popular.

At Brookside I was joined ten other riders: Angela, Alison, Rachel, Phil, Tom, Matt, Simon, Julia, Ian W and Florian (althugh young Florian was sitting in a child seat in front of Ian, he still definitely counts as a rider even though he wasn't pedalling).


Ian was our leader today (Ian leads most of these rides), and took us south to Ickleton on a fairly direct route via Sawston, Whittlesford, Duxford and Hinxton. The ride down was delightful, with clear skies, bright sunshine and very little wind. As a result it felt warmer than the 6C shown on my Garmin, and I felt very slightly overdressed.

On the busway

On the DNA path we met John S coming the other way. He didn't recognise me and shot right past, but when he reached the others behind me he turned round and joined us.

On the DNA path

We arrived at the Riverside Cafe in Ickleton at about 11.15am. Already in the cafe were Adrian, Averil, Edward and Mick C, who had made their own way there, and would make their own way home afterwards.

Ready to depart after coffee in Ickleton

After coffee we turned back north to Cambridge. The sky had clouded over and it began to feel noticably colder: I switched to a thicker pair of gloves as a result. Fortunately it didn't take long to get warm again and we had a pleasant ride back, arriving in Cambridge at about 1.30pm; I had cycled 45km (28 miles).

Nigel Deakin

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Thursday, 17 November 2016

17 Nov: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Dullingham

Edward writes: This week so far has given us a mixed bag of weather and today this continued with the weather exhibiting several different moods all in the same day. Our ride today would take us to Horseheath for coffee and on to Dullingham for lunch with John R leading nine from Brookside which included, after a lengthy absence, a welcome return to the fold of David M. In Hauxton, where Sharon was leading, there were fourteen riders.

Leaving Hauxton

Horseheath is seventeen miles from Hauxton and Sharon helpfully provided each of us with a route and a phone number. The weather at this stage of the day was breezy from the west but the forecast predicted (threatened as it turned out) a stormy hour or so in the afternoon. It was supposed to be dry in the morning but soon after setting out towards Whittlesford a light drizzle set in which would last on and off all the way to Horseheath.


From Whittlesford we crossed into Sawston and Babraham via the cycleways and took the farm track over to Little Abington. Hildersham and Linton followed where we crossed the A1307, through Bartlow to the junction for Shudy Camps.

The farm track to Little Abington

Mill Green

The last leg of the morning session took us through the hamlets of Mill Green and Cardinal’s Green before re-crossing the A1307 into Horseheath and The Old Red Lion Inn for coffee. Already there, or soon after, we found Peter W, John S and Gerry, exceeding by some distance my estimate of numbers, but as usual they coped very well.



With so many we set off after coffee in separate groups into Streetly End and West Wickham where we turned towards the east and gained the full benefit of the westerly wind as we crossed Wratting Common. We now entered the best part of day with the sun breaking through and for the most part a following wind. At Carlton we turned right and passed through the minute settlement of Temple End, arriving shortly after in Little Thurlow where we joined the B1061 to run through Great Bradley and Burrough Green and finally down to Dullingham and The Boot for lunch.

Nine chose to have lunch at in the pub and despite being a bit overwhelmed the landlady managed to get through it all and everyone was happy. At least another nine who had brought a packed lunch came in from the cold for a warming tea or coffee. The Boot is a country pub and this being the shooting season we were soon joined by a group from the local shoot. They had probably seen the storm brewing up which was to overwhelm us shortly after starting for home.

Preparing to leave Dullingham



When we did set off from lunch John led his group on a more direct route back to Cambridge whilst Sharon took her group by way of West Wratting. No-one, however, would have escaped what came next.

Just as we left Dullingham and into open country we found ourselves under a torrential hailstorm and gale force winds so much so it was impossible to stay on the bikes and we had to take cover where we could find - in a ditch, behind a tree or near a hedge. For five minutes we were in the middle of a severe tempest. Sharon sure knows what day to pick to lead a ride!

Smiles after the storm

Finally the storm passed and we pressed on towards West Wratting and now into dazzling sunlight. In fact as the day changed again with the sky clearing it gave the prospect of a cold night to come. Balsham was next, downhill to Hildersham, but this time returning through the village, past Great Abington to the Granta Science Park. We finished via the A505 cycleway, Babraham, Sawston, Stapleford and Great Shelford and those completing the full circuit would have cycled 50 memorable miles. This was certainly a ride for the scrapbook if not for the usual reasons but everyone took it in their stride and our extra special thanks to Sharon and John for all their efforts today, a day which won't easily be forgotten. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Roger Bassenger

We are very sad to hear the news that Roger Bassenger has passed away.

The funeral will be at in the small chapel at Cambridge Crematorium at 12.15pm on Tuesday 22nd November. Lesley says that members wearing cycling gear, especially club tops, would be most welcome

Roger had ridden with us since the 1960's, and in recent years rode with our senior cyclists' group.

Roger's wife Lesley and their son Keith continue to ride regularly with us. We send our sympathy to Lesley, Keith and the rest of their family. Nigel

Sunday, 13 November 2016

13 Nov: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Baldock

Nigel writes: I'm not sure how he manages it, but Alex has led some very enjoyable rides recently (including this one in July, this one in August and this one in September). Today's ride followed the same impressive trend, with fine sunny weather, a couple of very nice food stops, and a nice quiet route which gave us some fine views of autumnal colour.

At Brookside at 9.30am I found Rupert, Shiela, Ray, Phil, Ian D, Joseph, John S and of course Alex. The first stage of today's route took us west to Gamlingay. As is his usual practice Alex had published a GPX route beforehand, which I loaded onto my Garmin. This gave me the confidence to sprint ahead of the group, pausing from time to time to take photos as the rest of the ride went past.

Phil between Bourn and Caxton

Ian D


Our coffee stop was at Woodview Farm Cafe near Gamlingay, where we found several more members including Mike S and Edmund, who both joined us for the remainder of the day.

Breakfast at Woodview Farm Cafe

After coffee we turned south for a relatively short stage to Baldock.

Setting off from the Woodview Farm Cafe


Between Eyeworth and Ashwell

The descent from Bygrave to Baldock

At Baldock we stopped for lunch at Tapps Garden Centre. Afterwards we set off eastwards along a route I had not cycled before, a bridleway which skirts the edge of Clothall Common before crossing over the A505 and connecting with a quiet lane that leads up to Wallington. This appears to follow the remains of a old road that was closed following construction of the Baldock by-pass and mostly has a hard asphalt surface except for a new section near the A505 overbridge which was rather rough gravel.

Crossing the A505

Bridleway from Clothall Common towards the Wallington road

The bridleway had a number of anti-motorcycle obstructions which caused some difficulty to Mike S on his wide-handlebar bike, but after a delay he was able to get through.


From Wallington we continued eastwards through Sandon and Reed to Barkway, where we turned north and joined the B1368 for a fast run northwards back towards Cambridge. I arrived home at 4.10pm, just as the sun was setting, having cycled 100km (62 miles).

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Thursday, 10 November 2016

10 Nov: Thursday ride to Lode and Newmarket

Edward writes: When we all gathered for our ride today it followed a cold night and the weather didn't look very promising. In fact as we left home it was to short showers of rain. This probably influenced the numbers who arrived for the ride. At Brookside, where the city slickers met, we had eight riders, and out at Hauxton the village people had a mere five. I was the leader from Brookside and Mike C had the honour from Hauxton for today's ride to Newmarket via Anglesey Abbey.

So we set off in unpromising weather from Brookside along Trumpington Road to Brooklands Avenue where Rupert (behaving well this week) introduced me to a much better route to reach the busway, through the new developments. For Brookside regulars this may well be a familiar route, but even so it avoided the busy station area itself and was much safer.

We went into the hospital complex which at this time of the morning was very busy, along Dame Mary Archer Way and at last breaking clear of the busy roads, onto Worts Causeway. With much less traffic we climbed past the Beechwoods to the top of the Gogs and down into Fulbourn. After Fulbourn it was all straightforward via the Wilbrahams, Bottisham and we arrived in Lode and Anglesey Abbey at about 10.50am and surprisingly at least ten minutes before the village people arrived who had followed the same route over the Gogs. Already there we found Clive, Sean, Susan and Peter Woodward and later we were joined by Cheryl who was making a rare but welcome ride with us.

After coffee some of course left us to head for home and others would leave us before Newmarket and as such we continued the ride as one group. Mike and I agreed the route and we left the Abbey to join the Lodes Way through to Reach and then Burwell.

White Fen Drive, Lode

Lodes Way near Reach


After Burwell we took the long trek via Heath Road to Exning. At some point this runs very close to the A14 and it's often confusing as the noise from there quite often appears to be coming from behind us on our road requiring a quick check over our shoulders.

At the war memorial in Exning we took the road up to the A142 which put Landwade on our left. After the A142 we crossed into Snailwell which is a nice, if brief ride into the village; a shame there is so much litter in the grass verge.

Snailwell to Newmarket

Our route into Newmarket brought us back to the A142, but luckily there is a cycleway which took us up to the Clock Tower roundabout.

We arrived at our lunch stop, the Palace House, which is part of the new site of the horse racing museum, which only last week was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen. The usual format occurred for lunch but those with packed lunches, following the new guidelines, went elsewhere before returning for tea or coffee. The Tack Room, where lunches are served, appeared at first glance to be very busy but towards the back there were some tables available and three took advantage of this. It was nice to see a familiar face from the previous cafe and she ensured we were served quickly. It's certainly more expensive than before but the food on offer all looked very good.

Lunch in Newmarket

H.M. The Queen

Our ride home took us along the B1061 to Dullingham where we said goodbye to Rupert, Russel and Simon as they headed back to Cambridge. This left the remainder to make for West Wratting, where Peter left us, and then Balsham. The weather at times appeared threatening but our luck held and we seemed to dodge the showers which must have been falling somewhere around us. From Balsham it was pretty standard stuff to Hildersham, Abington and over the farm bridge into Babraham.

Two Mikes at Dullingham

Mike CC after Dullingham

After Sawston and Stapleford we finished the ride in Great Shelford at 3.45pm, just as the rain started. Anyone completing the full circuit back to Brookside would have completed 54 miles. Edward Elmer

Anvil Cloud?

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