Sunday, 31 January 2016

Rides in Jan and Feb

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. (more)

31 Jan: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden and Langley Lower Green

Nigel writes: Let no-one say that we're a fair-weather cycling club. Today started damp and drizzly, with the weather forecast promising a morning of steady rain. I didn't expect to have many takers for today's ride, but when I arrived at Brookside for today's ride I found several members already there, and by the time we were ready to set off there were eight of us. It's the convention in these reports to list their names here, but today it is especially appropriate to mention Alex, John, David, Sheila, Greg, Nick, Seb (and me).

Brookside: ready to depart into the drizzle

We set off and headed south towards the busway, DNA path and Great Shelford. We soon discovered that in addition to the rain we were riding into a gentle but cold headwind. In Great Shelford we took the road to Little Shelford and followed it south towards Whittlesford. I was the leader today, but as we made our way towards Whittlesford I became rather engrossed in conversation (and in keeping warm in the rain) and carelessly allowed the pace at the front of the group to increase. As a result, when we reached the A505 south of Whittlesford, and we stopped to regroup, I realised that John, Sheila, David and Greg were nowhere to be seen. Greg soon arrived with the news that the others had stopped in Whittlesford for a puncture. After unsuccessfully riding back to find them I decided that since John was with them there were in good hands and suggested we carry on towards Saffron Walden where we were due to stop for coffee.

We continued through Duxford to Ickleton and climbed over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. As we dropped down on the other side we took the left turn to Littlebury and completing our journey into Saffron Walden by riding along the B184. This is quite a busy road and in today's rain was rather unpleasant, but we were only on it for just over a mile and were soon arriving at Bicicletta Coffee.

Coffee at Bicicletta Coffee

Already in the cafe were Edward, Edmund, Mick, Craig and John S and a few minutes later we were joined (to my relief) by John R, Sheila and David. This cafe can get quite busy at 11am on a Sunday but today there was plenty of room. We ordered coffee and cakes and spent a pleasant half hour dripping water slowly onto the floor.

I like this cafe. It's unique in the Cambridge area as a cafe aimed directly at sports cyclists, and you can't fault the proprietor for his friendly welcome and his practice of rushing out to offer you a lock when you arrive. Others aren't so keen and are put off by the crowds and the prices, so it's likely that we will continue to visit other places in the town for coffee as well as this, but so long as they're not overwhelmed with visiting cyclists I'll be happy to come back.

Setting off after coffee

After coffee various members turned back for home, leaving seven of us to carry on to lunch at Langley Lower Green: John S, Alex, Seb, Edmund, Sheila, David and me. The rain had now stopped (for good), but we were all rather wet and I was keen to get moving again. My route to Langley took us south on the Debden Road for several miles before we turned west towards Widdington. From here onwards the roads became much quieter and as we all warmed up we started to relax and, I think, really enjoy the ride.

Widdington

From Widdington we continued south (past the cycling clubhouses on the Henham Road) to Ugley before turning back north to Rickling Green, Rickling and Clavering.

Nigel and Alex assess the ford in Clavering

Nigel and Alex in the ford in Clavering

We arrived at The Bull in Langley Lower Green at about 1.25pm. This was later than planned but I had phoned them earlier to warn them and when we arrived we received a warm welcome. This is a simple pub in a lovely quiet location which we have visited a few times in recent months, serving a simple range of baked potatoes, paninis and soup, and I'm pleased to be able to confirm that it remains an excellent place for club lunch on Sundays.

At lunch

After lunch

After lunch we set off north towards Cambridge, taking a fairly direct route via Little Chishill, Shaftenhoe End and the short climb up to Great Chishill. At this point several of us realised that we were getting too hot and stopped to take off rainwear, before continuing through to Chrishall and the descent to Chrishall Grange. We crossed the A505 to Fowlmere and then took a small loop through Thriplow (where we noted quite a few daffidils were already in flower) to Newton. Just north of Newston we took the turn to Little SHelford and returned back into Cambridge via the same route as in the morning: DNA path, Francis Crick Avenue and the busway to the station.

Francis Crick Avenue, Cambridge

I arrived home a few minutes later at about 4.10pm, having cycled 57 miles.

Nick (who was with us until coffee) wrote a ride report on his blog: Saffron Walden for coffee.



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Thursday, 28 January 2016

28 Jan: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Wyton

Edward writes: As with last Thursday, we were lucky enough to have Alex volunteer to lead today’s ride from our alternative start point at Brookside in Cambridge where twelve people gathered. This left Andy to lead sixteen riders away from the traditional start point at Haslingfield Green, and here we met under blue skies even if a little nippy after an overnight temperature of two degrees. After a mixed bag of weather over the last few days - rain and high winds - this was very acceptable for our ride out to Cottenham for coffee and Wyton for lunch.

Harlton

Even with sixteen riders we thought it sensible to create two groups with Andy at the front of the first group and Mike leading the second group. We went out of Haslingfield and up to Harlton and at the village pond turned into Washpit Lane which took us up to the A603 where we encountered a little more traffic than usual. After everyone was across we headed on the quiet road which leads up to Comberton, over the high street and out to the long undulating stretch to Hardwick.

Approaching Comberton

We went over the A428 and then downhill into the quiet village of Madingley and on to Dry Drayton. With the sun out our countryside seems to have come to life again after the gloomy days of January and this enabled us to observe snowdrops and aconites to add to the colour.

Approaching Hardwick

Madingley

We went over the A14 which put us on the road to Oakington and after crossing the busway, through Westwick, eventually arriving in Cottenham Community Centre at 11.am.

Already there were at least half a dozen members who had made the trip independently and when the twelve from Cambridge arrived it’s safe to assume we had somewhat taken over the place. (It was good to see Mike S on his electric bike and he can be seen happily bowling along in the second picture.)

Cottenham

Despite our numbers the cafe dealt really well with the various requests and we were able to get under way again by about 11.45 am. With so many people it’s difficult to keep track of who did what and who went where but somehow three groups set out on the journey to Wyton. Andy led the first, Sarah the second and possibly Rupert the third group.

Over

After Cottenham we came to Rampton, then Willingham before arriving in Over. Along with the sunshine we also had the added advantage of a following wind thus making it easy riding.

Busway at Swavesey

When we got to Over we went down to the busway for the run into St Ives where a navigational error occurred, i.e. not looking at the list Andy had provided. Thus the second group went through St Ives town centre along the Thicket cycleway into Houghton whilst Andy’s group went by road through Wyton.

Along the Thicket Cycleway, St Ives

Whatever the route we all arrived safely at the Wyevale Garden Centre in Wyton at 1.pm. and this began a very pleasant lunch break. The cafe is very big and after a little queuing to order our food we sat down and our food was very soon with us - most people having a light lunch such as jacket potato whilst others indulged in something rather more substantial.

A nice lunch!

For such a big place the service was very friendly and efficient with enquiries to check that we were all happy and so it’s easy recommend it for future rides.

Preparing to set off from Houghton

By about 1.45pm Andy assembled everyone for the ride home. Quite a few chose a direct route back along the busway but about a dozen took the designated route which meant for some a second ride through the Thicket. This was all very pleasant and after another trip through St Ives town centre we joined Low Road to Fenstanton, back under the A14 and on to Connington. For the first time we had to ride into the wind and through Connington and Knapwell it is always climbing right up to the St Neots old road. We managed it easily enough and two more miles into the wind, but now downhill, brought us into Bourn. By now the sun had left us but there was no threat of rain and we finished off the ride through Kingston, the Eversdens, Harlton and finally Haslingfield. This was a journey of 51 miles and thanks to Andy plus his band of helpers for another successful day out. Thanks also to Alex for leading from Cambridge as this is showing that starting the rides from two places is proving a success. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

27 Jan: Evening ride to Quy

Nigel writes: Despite a rather unpromising weather forecast, with thick cloud cover promising rain showers, this evening turned out to be dry and mild with a gentle westerly breeze: perfectly comfortable conditions for a jaunt into the countryside. I wasn't sure whether anybody else would come out to join me so when I arrived at Brookside for the start of tonight's ride I was pleased to find Paul waiting, and after a few minutes we were joined by Seb.

My plan this eveing was to follow a familar loop to Quy that I sometimes refer to as an "anticlockwise Dullingham. This entailed riding down Hills Road, climbing over the Gogs to Fulbourn and then continuing through the Wilbrahams and along the long straight road to Six Mile Bottom. At that point Paul suggested we separate for a few miles to allow Seb and I to blow off some energy, so Paul continued straight up the hill to Cemetery Crossroads and then waited for about ten minutes whilst Seb and I turned south for a loop via Wadlow Farm and Chilly Hill, before meeting up with Paul once more.

We continued north to Dullingham and turned west towards the station, arriving at the level crossing just a couple of seconds after the gates had been re-opened following the passing of the Harwich train. By now it was approaching 8pm and I realised we were running a little late, so I was particularly disappointed to fiscover a few minutes later that I had a puncture.

We agreed that Paul would carry on to the pub at the pub in Quy, taking a short-cut along the A1303, whilst Seb remained with me, holding the light whilst I changed my tube. After about twenty minutes we were ready to set off again, taking the same short-cut as Paul did and arriving at the White Swan in Quy at about 8.55pm.

Paul was already at the pub, of course, and had persuaded the landlord to leave the chip fryer switched on until Seb and I arrived. We all duly ordered beers and bowls of chips and settled down for a typically pleasant and relaxing half hour. Indeed it was so pleasant and relaxing that time flew and it was approaching 10pm by the time we were ready to set off once again towards Cambridge.

In the White Swan, with condensation on the camera lens

After riding through Fen Ditton, across Ditton meadows and along the River into Cambridge I arrived home at 10.25pm, rather later than usual on evening rides, having cycled 32 miles.



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Sunday, 24 January 2016

24 Jan: Sunday afternoon ride to St Ives

Susan writes: Six of us met at Brookside last Sunday afternoon for the cycle to St Ives: John F, Simon, Ray, Neil, me and Sherly, who was joining us for the first time. It was a good day for it: warm-ish with occasional sun.

We set off crossing Parker's Piece heading towards the Green Dragon bridge and then on to the towpath leading to Bait's Bite lock and Waterbeach. This was my first time leading to the group and I quickly discovered there was more to it than meets the eye and that I had to FOCUS with 5 riders following me... especially through Cambridge.

At Brookside

The towpath was very busy as it was a beautiful afternoon for January and progress was slow.

Bait's Bite Lock

We came off the towpath at Waterbeach and were heading towards crossing the A10 when Sherly developed a puncture which Simon mended rapidly, supervised, of course, by the rest of us.

Puncture!

We passed through Longbeach, Cottenham, Rampton, Willingham and Over, before heading south to Swavesey, crossing over the guided bus route. We then headed through Fen Drayton and Fenstanton. We had intended cycling through the Hemingfords, however, time caught up with us and we had to make a choice between tea at River Tea Rooms or the additional Hemingford loop. Tea won! Though, sadly, as we didn’t arrive there until 3.30pm anyway, they had run out of their delicious scones, jam and cream tea. I had been looking forward to this for a good part of the ride!

Tea in St Ives

Tea in St Ives

After tea, we cycled to the guided bus route for a straight run back to Cambridge. The total ride was about 42 miles. As I said before, this was my first time leading the group and I'd like to thank Simon for coming out with an injured shoulder and co-leading. Susan Goodrich

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.

Brookside

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



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Thursday, 21 January 2016

21 Jan: Thursday ride to Clavering and Wimbish

Edward writes: With the mild weather now behind us those who started out for today’s ride met in freezing conditions after a night of heavy frost. This ride was particularly auspicious as we experimented with two start points, the traditional one in Hauxton where eleven members met, and a further seven who began the ride at Brookside in Cambridge.

For some time we have wrestled with the problem of dealing with large numbers on Thursday rides and Alex developed the idea of starting the ride in two places; he, in fact, led the ride from Cambridge, whereas Peter W was the designated leader for the ride from Hauxton. At 9.30am we left Hauxton with the temperature at zero but at least the conditions were still with no wind to speak of.

Little Shelford

In Little Shelford we took the road over the hill into Newton followed by Thriplow and Fowlmere and out to the A505.

Fowlmere

After passing through Chrishall Grange we climbed up to the Hertford Lane turning to Elmdon and a pause to regroup.

Chrishall Grange

By now the temperature had gone up a little and was about 2 degrees which started to make the roads wet with the possibility of hidden black ice so care was needed especially as we were entering the hills associated with the Essex and Cambridgeshire border area.

Elmdon

After Elmdon we climbed again to Duddenhoe End and on to Langley Upper Green which left three more miles for the run up to Clavering.

Langley Upper Green

Strangely, as we approached Clavering we all noticed that the air felt colder, over 400ft high according to Mike CC’s Garmin, and so we were all glad to reach the Christian Centre for our cakes and coffee break.

Clavering

Only five minutes later the group from Cambridge arrived and this gave us the opportunity to welcome Alan who was making his first ride with us. This is probably the third time we have been here to the Christian Centre and it is rapidly establishing itself as another favourite stop. With eleven different types of home made cake to choose from it’s not difficult to see why!

Shortly before midday, after the usual exchanges of personnel, fourteen set off again and headed south to the Berden and Rickling junction where we took the easterly route to Rickling and Rickling Green.

Between Clavering and Rickling

At Rickling Green we had to join the B1383 northwards for a mile or so which took us through Quendon, over the M11, to the relative quiet of the Henham road. We were only on this road for a short while before we turned off for the sharp climb up to Widdington. After Widdington it was more or less straight through, past Carver Barracks, to arrive at the Mutton and Kipper in Elder Street, Wimbish at 1pm.

This is the first time we have visited here since it took over the premises previously occupied by the Elder Street Farm Shop which has moved just down the road and is now on the site of Debden Barns. This turned out to be a very pleasant experience, not least for the warm welcome by the owner, hot soups and several light lunches which were ideal for cyclists especially on such cold days.

The Mutton and Kipper Cafe, Wimbish

At 2pm we started the afternoon session, now in the company of Adrian who had made his own way out to lunch, and went through Tye Green Wimbish through to Radwinter where we crossed the B1053 where we joined Water Lane. A bit surprisingly neither of the fords in this road were running high and most of us were able to cycle through them without difficulty. This took us out to the Ashdon road and soon after we arrived in Ashdon where Andy and Sarah left us leaving the remaining twelve to head for Bartlow.

Water Lane, Radwinter

It was now nearly 3pm and the clouds had given way to some blue sky and sunshine with the temperature rising to a pleasant 5 degrees which in some way made us forget the cold of the morning. In Bartlow we divided again with six going up to Balsham, presumably to make their way home to Cambridge via Fulbourn, and six who followed Peter to Linton. We now took a traditional route home along Back Road, Linton to Hildersham, over the A1307 to Great Abington where we joined the A505 cycle path, via Babraham to Sawston. After Stapleford and the Shelfords the ride finished back in Hauxton at 4pm after a regulation winter ride of 51 miles. The experiment of two start points clearly worked and also this was Peter’s debut as a ride leader and so our thanks to him for such a successful and enjoyable day out. Edward Elmer



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