Thursday, 30 June 2016

30 Jun: Thursday ride to Newmarket and Depden

Edward writes: At Hauxton, for today's ride we were a bit overwhelmed with numbers, with twenty-three arriving for an Adrian-led trip to Newmarket and Depden Green. The weather was a better than last week with only light cloud cover and the possibility of rain considered to be low, but it was probably Adrian's pulling power that brought out so many. We heard later that there were eight starters from Brookside with Peter W leading from there.

The "village start" at Hauxton(Photo: John Ferguson)

With so many riders starting from Hauxton we split into two groups and went to Great Shelford to join the DNA path. This could do with a visit from the mowers as the grass is intruding into the path.

Heading from Great Shelford towards Addenbrooke's on the DNA path

On the DNA path

On the DNA path

Once we emerged from the hospital limits we climbed over the Gogs and went down to Fulbourn and Great Wilbraham. There was a bit of a breeze coming from the south west and for the most part it gave us assistance. The road down to Six Mile Bottom can often be a bit fraught with fast traffic but today for once none of the cars seemed to be in a race and we all arrived safely in Six Mile Bottom. We crossed the railway and began the long climb towards Brinkley and it was with relief that we reached our turning for Dullingham and for a while leaving the climbing behind us, at least until after lunch.

Dullingham

After Dullingham we joined the B1061 for the run into Newmarket and the Horse Racing Museum for coffee, arriving at 11.15 am, the same time as the city start group.

This would be the last visit to this cafe as it is closing next weekend so that they can prepare for the move to their new premises. They will reopen in September and we were told that there will be provision for parking bicycles, so that’s good news. But above all it will be staffed by the same friendly people as now, so that’s more good news. As always here we enjoyed a nice break which included both Vic F and S and also Peter Woodward and Geoff, and as always the staff coped very well with at least thirty people.

Coffee at the Horseracing Museum, Newmarket

Coffee at the Horseracing Museum, Newmarket (Photo: John Ferguson)

Finally, two groups led by Adrian and Peter left using the back streets of Newmarket to join the B1063 which put us on a long climb past Cheveley to Ashley. The climb wasn’t really hard work and we had the beautiful rolling countryside to enjoy as we rode by. When we reached Dunstall Green we turned towards Ousden and later Hargrave for the final part of our journey down to Depden Green, turning at that well-known landmark the water tower.

Dunstall Green

For lunch about eight went to the farm shop, which roughly equated to our estimate.

Lunch at Depden Farm Shop (Photo: John Ferguson)

Everyone else sat on the little green with their sandwiches.

Lunch at Depden Green

Whilst six more went to the farm shop for a cup of tea about a dozen wanted to go back early and it fell to Rupert to lead this group back home. When the final group of about fourteen started the return journey we re-traced our steps back to the Wickhambrook road. Before reaching Wickhambrook Adrian took us a little road called Duddery Lane which took us via a ford over the river and by-passed Wickhambrook bringing us out at Malting Green, a neat Adrian manoeuvre.

Leaving Depden Farm Shop (Photo: John Ferguson)

Leaving Depden Farm Shop (Photo: John Ferguson)

Some more country lanes brought us to the A143 at Stradishall for a short ride to the turning to Little Thurlow. We often use this road on our way to Stradishall and usually it is very quiet, but today we met the traffic going to Little Thurlow school and it was very busy.

Approaching Little Thurlow

Soon after we were on the home stretch, passing by Carlton Green, West Wratting, Balsham, Hildersham, Sawston and the Shelfords, finishing at 4.50pm after 64 very pleasant miles. Thanks to our two leaders, with assistance from Rupert, for a successful day out. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Rides in July and August

Our July and August rides lists are now available with details of our programme of rides over the hottest months of the summer, with many of our rides extended slightly to take advantage of the good weather.

On Sundays our all-day rides will alternate between a longer Sunday full day ride (with an afternoon tea stop) and a shorter Sunday light day ride (which heads home after lunch), with separate Sunday afternoon rides every week. Our Sunday riders have three "home teas" at members' houses to look forward to this summer: these will be in Over, Clavering and West Wratting, and will be visited by both our rides that day.

Our Thursday rides will continue to operate with separate city and village start points to help us manage the numbers better. The two groups always meet up at coffee before dividing back into two for the ride to lunch.

Our evening rides continue every Wednesday. Our senior cyclists' group continues to meet for lunch every Tuesday, and our leisurely Saturday short social rides take place twice a month.

29 Jun: Evening ride to Quy

Nigel writes: There were just three of us out tonight: Andrew, Kenny and me, but we enjoyed a leisurely lap around one of my favourite local loops followed by a pleasant half-hour of beer and chips. No doubt many of the regulars had been put off by the unpromising weather: it was dull, damp and dreary, though we didn't actually encounter any rain until we we were almost home at the end (and that was little more than light drizzle).

Our route was an "anticlockwise Dullingham loop". This involved leaving Cambridge along Hills Road before turning onto Wort's Causeway for our first short climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn. We then continued on the flat through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom, arriving there at about 7.25pm. Although we probably had time for an extended loop via Wadlows Farm I felt in a leisurely mood and so we took the more direct route directly up the hill to Cemetery Crossroads before turning north to Dullingham. The weather stayed dull and overcast throughout, with quite a strong southerly wind, but there was no rain and once we had warmed up it wasn't cold.

Kenny and Andrew pass the Polo Club at Dullingham

Dullingham marked the most distant point on the ride. From there we turned west towards Swaffham Bulback, Bottisham and Quy. The rides list had originally proposed visiting The Plough in Fen Ditton so that we could sit out by the river in the warm evening sunshine, but tonight wasn't really the weather for sitting outside so at about 8.20pm we called in at The White Swan in Quy instead, where our bowls of chips were served almost immediately.

Afterwards we continued home to Cambridge via Fen Ditton and Ditton Meadows. Along the way it began to rain, but it didn't amount to much and I didn't bother to put on my waterproofs. I arrived home a few minutes later at 9.30pm, having cycled 48km (30 miles). Nigel Deakin



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Sunday, 26 June 2016

26 Jun: Sunday ride to Depden, Lavenham and West Wratting

Alex writes: The equivalent ride to this last year was one of my favourites, so as leader I adopted exactly the same route as then – one of Joseph's creations.

At Brookside

Five other members joined me at the start: Ian B, Mike CC, Ray, Rupert, and Susan. The weather was a little dull and in the morning there were a few spits of rain but as the day wore on the spells of sun gained sway and in the end it was a lovely day for a ride.

Approaching Silverley

At coffee we met up with Adrian, Conrad, Joseph and Keith; with Susan heading home and Adrian making his own way that meant eight of us rode the next leg to Lavenham on delightful quiet Suffolk lanes.

At Lavenham (inside)

At Lavenham some of us elected to eat food on the benches in the Market Square, while Conrad Mike and I took advantage of the NT tea tooms.

At Lavenham (outside)

We took a fairly direct route to Lavenham and met up with a strong showing from the afternoon ride, making eighteen of us in all. As always the Chestnut Tree put on an excellent spread and a couple of us enjoyed a pint of beer too.

Preparing to the The Chestnut Tree

After tea Peter offered to lead a pretty route for those who wanted more cycling, while I rode directly to Cambridge via Fulbourn with the remainder of the group. When I arrived home I had cycled 133 km (83 miles).

26 Jun: Sunday afternoon ride to West Wratting

Peter writes: Hoping for a more pleasant afternoon than the previous day (hail in Cambridge!), six of us left Brookside: John F, Matt, Mike K, Stan, Simon and myself.

We headed straight down Hills Road, using the finished part of the cycleway, on to Worts Causeway and over the hill into Fulbourn, aiming to get out of town as quickly as possible. We then continued through the Wilbrahams and on to Brinkley. Here is John with a great view behind him on the climb up from Six Mile Bottom:

John climbing from Six Mile Bottom

At Carlton Green we decided we had time for a longer loop via Temple End Road and The Thurlows. Here we are with the sun out:

The ride at Carlton Green (John is behind the camera)

The roads around the loop had been hit pretty badly by the previous days’ weather: there was an informal ford at one point and countless places with gravel and earth scattered right across the road so care was needed. At Withersfield the ride got separated as some of us didn’t hear me call to turn right towards West Wratting. After a token attempt to chase them I gave up and led the rest to the tea stop. The others turned up about ten minutes later, having taken a longer loop (I was not too worried as they all know the area.)

Tea at The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting

There were eighteen of us at tea in total. Afterwards most of the ride returned straight back via Balsham to Cambridge, but a small group came with me via Dullingham and Swaffham Bulbeck for a bit more riding. Along the way I had a good chat with Lesley about her electric bike conversion; her bike is a similar vintage to mine and she has added a new front wheel, battery pack and sensor, and the result seemed to be working very well. I arrived home at 7pm after riding around 47 miles. This was good timing as heavy rain started about half an hour later. Peter Hutchison

Thursday, 23 June 2016

23 Jun: Thursday ride to Hare Street and Standon

Edward writes: During last night there was very heavy rainfall, but by the time we all left home to head to Brookside and Haslingfield we only had overcast skies. In fact the outlook didn't look promising and thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day. This was also one of those oppressive days when the air seems to hang heavy making simple tasks (cycling included) more of an effort.

This week's ride was a joint Averil - Mike C production, with Averil leading from Brookside (6 riders), and Mike from Haslingfield (8 riders). Low numbers, but perhaps the weather outlook may have deterred some.

From Haslingfield we went through to Harston and over the hill into Newton. One big plus for us was the absence of any wind which always makes it easier, so we were able to make good progress through Thriplow and Fowlmere.

Thriplow

On the ride up to the A505 at Flint Cross there is a field given over to wild flowers, mainly poppies, and it turned a quite ordinary road into something very attractive.

Between Fowlmere and Flint Cross

After we crossed the A505 we had our first encounter with the hills in this Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire border area.

After Flint Cross

However, we all successfully arrived in Barley, including Mike CC, and now began the rolling roads through Shaftenhoe End to Nuthampstead and Anstey, all very delightful.

Barley

Barley

In Anstey we headed towards the B1368 but turned to our left and used the quiet road which runs parallel to it and brought us out in Great Hormead. This left us with a mile or so to Hare Street and our coffee break at the March Hare Coffee Shop. Averil’s group arrived a little later having spent time trying to repair Rupert’s patches (sorry, it should be tube). There was a suggestion that we should have a whip round to buy Rupert a new tube, but sadly there were no takers. It was as well that we came to the cafe as, apart from one local, we were the only customers, but we were well looked after and had an enjoyable break.

Hare Street

After coffee quite a few went home, but with the addition of Peter W we still had a dozen going on to Standon for our next break. This started with a short ride to Buntingford and Aspenden.

Hare Street to Buntingford

We now headed southward taking in Westmill and Nasty before turning off in Great Munden. Adrian, meanwhile turned off in Nasty to take in a loop round Cherry Green. After Great Munden we quickly came to the A10 which gave us a trip round Puckeridge and back to the A10 again for the crossing into Standon. Unusually, everyone had brought sandwiches or chose to buy a roll in Day’s meaning nobody went into the pub for lunch, so we all sat outside on benches in the village street.

Between Aspenden and Great Munden

Between Aspenden and Great Munden

At 2 pm we started the afternoon session by going back to Puckeridge and briefly joined the B1368 up to Braughing where we were able to turn off and join quiet country lanes again. This enabled us to complete a hat trick of Pelhams passing through Furneux, Stocking and finally Brent Pelham. Not only did we do the hat trick we were also passing through wonderful countryside and despite there being no sun it’s noticeable that the fields of barley are beginning to take on a golden glow which is a sobering thought as next month it will be being harvested.

Brent Pelham

All this brought us to Langley Lower Green, Upper Green and Duddenhoe End where the descent from the hills begins. We came home through Chrishall, Chrishall Grange, Fowlmere and Thriplow arriving in Shelford just after 4.0 pm having covered 56 miles. We missed all the rain and we had a really good day out which means a big thank you to Averil and Mike for successfully navigating us round all the little lanes. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

22 Jun: Evening ride to Thriplow

Nigel writes: It's midsummer this week, and with sunset at 9.25pm we would be enjoying the longest evening of any of our Wednesday evening rides this year. Today had been a warm, humid and cloudy day but although there had been rain earlier we were forecast a dry evening. I cycled across to Brookside where I was met by my companions for the evening: Gareth, Tom, Neil, Sven, Ray, Neil and John F. Earlier I had received a message from Conrad who would be joining us along the way.

Brookside

We set off south from Brookside and followed what has become our "classic" route south, joining the busway at Long Road and switching to the DNA path at Addenbrooke's for the short distance to Great Shelford. There we switched to the road and continued south via Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. As if often the case, Gareth was soon speeding ahead into the distance. However no-one gave chase and I knew we'd see him again at the pub. The rest of us stayed together at a more moderate pace, nevertheless making good progress and arriving at the top of Coploe Hill at almost exactly 7.30pm.

Coploe Summit

I tend to use Coploe Hill as a decision point on evening rides. If we get there after 7.40pm or so I usually suggest turning right onto Royston Lane to shorten the loop. However we were in good time today so we continued south to Catmere End.

Coploe Descent

During the descent the clouds cleared a little and the sun came out.

Up to Catmere End

Catmere End was followed by Littlebury Green, and the long, fast descent down to the B1039.

Littlebury Green

Whilst we were riding through Littlebury Green I became briefly confused about where our pub stop was, and thinking that we were heading for Shepreth rather than Thriplow I suggested we skip the climb to Elmdon and instead slightly shorten the ride by continuing along the B1039 towards Chrishall. Although I soon realised that this wasn't actually necessary, this is actually a rather nice route which we don't use very often. The additional section of B1039 that it entails is quiet, flat and pleasantly wooded, whilst the climb up to Chrishall is easier than the climb to Elmdon but every bit as pretty.

From Chrishall we had a long, fast, descent to Chrishall Grange, and after a short run along the flat through Fowlmere we arrived in Thriplow, where we stopped at the Green Man slightly early at about 8.20pm.

Thriplow

After a typically pleasant 40 minutes or so enjoying chips and beer in the warm evening sunshine we set off back to Cambridge. Although it was about 9.15pm the sun had not set, and we rode back through Newton we enjoyed fine views of the approaching sunset. As usual Gareth set a rapid pace up and over the little hill north of Newton, with Sven and Conrad just behind. I followed at the back until the turn for Great Shelford where I stopped to wait for Tom, Neil and John, who had been delayed whilst Tom attended to a broken front light.

John continued along the B1368 towards Harston and Trumpington Meadows, whilst Tom, Neil and I turned right for Little Shelford and returned home via Great Shelford and the busway. It was just beginning to get dark when I arrived home at 9.45pm, having cycled 56km (35 miles). Nigel Deakin



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Sunday, 19 June 2016

19 Jun: Sunday ride to St Neots and Willington

Nigel writes: Today was a pleasant, warm, summer's day. The sun only emerged occasionally, but with no rain forecast, and only a light south-westerly breeze, and very comfortable temperatures, it was a fine day for a bike ride. I arrived at Brookside just in time to join the others before they set off. Already waiting were Rupert, Sheila, Ian D, John S, John R, Keith and Conrad our leader.

Brookside

A few moments later we set off and followed the Barton Road cycleway west out of Cambridge to Barton. There we turned onto the B1046 and followed it through Comberton and Toft to Bourn.

Crossing the city limits on Barton Road

We left the B1046 at Bourn and turned onto the road that leads to Caxton and Great Gransden. As is usual on Sunday morning rides the ride out of Cambridge was relaxed and convivial, and now that we were on quiet lanes with little traffic we could relax and concentrate on the business in hand, which was to catch up with other riders whom we'd not seen for a while.

On the road between Caxton and Great Gransden

We continued from Great Gransden to Waresley, where we paused briefly outside the Duncombe Arms.

Waresley

Our Senior Cyclists' group have occasionally visited the Duncombe Arms for lunch so I was disappointed to see that the pub had closed very recently.

The Duncombe Arms, Waresley is no more

From Waresley we continued towards St Neots, taking the very quiet and rather lovely lane that leads over Lily Hill before joining the B1046 (again) for the final few miles into St Neots.

Riverside Park, St Neots

We crossed the River Great Ouse using the foot/cycle bridge in Riverside Park before stopping for coffee at Ambiance Cafe. This is promisingly positioned at the edge of the park, right next to a small lake, but the location is rather wasted since the entrance and almost all the outdoor seating are placed on the other side facing a large car park.

Nevertheless I think this modest cafe is one of the stars of our repertoire, serving a good range of light meals and breakfasts and suitable for visiting at any time of day. Despite being very busy the service was impressively efficient: we didn't have to queue for more than a few minutes to give our order, and after sitting down outside my beans on toast arrived in less than five minutes. I particular liked the way that your coffee is supplied at the time of ordering, so you have something to drink whilst waiting for your food. It seems obvious, but it's surprising how many places don't get even these basics right.

Amusingly, one basic they don't get right is spelling: the large sign over the main entrance proclaims its names as Ambiance Cafe (see photo here) whilst the smaller sign at the other end (below) spells it correctly.

Whilst we were having coffee several more members arrived: Adrian and Doug, Susan, and David W.

Morning coffee at the Ambiance/Ambience Cafe, St Neots

After coffee we regrouped and set off for the next stage of the ride, to lunch in Willington. My companions for this part of the ride were Rupert, Sheila, Alex, Ian, John S, and Conrad our leader, with Adrian and Doug making their own way there at their own pace.

From Riverside Park we followed the relatively main B1428 that leads south towards Eaton Socon and the A1. This wouldn't have been my own choice, not because it was busy (it wasn't) but because of the badly-designed traffic calming that increases conflict between cyclists and drivers. Fortunately we didn't have to follow it for more than a kilometre before turning west onto the quieter country road that leads west, over the A1 and on to Bushmead.

The road from Bushmead to Great Barford

At Bushmead we turned south and followed the road south for about 10km to Great Barford. After crossing the River Great Ouse for the second time today we turned right towards Willington. After a short distance we joined the NCN 51 railway path for the final 2km to our lunch stop.

Approaching Willington on the railway path

We arrived at Danish Camp at 12.30pm. This had been a fairly short stage of the ride, but Conrad reminded us that Danish Camp was notoriously slow and we might well need the extra half hour.

Lunch at Danish Camp, Willington beside the River Great Ouse

Danish Camp is essentially a cafe surpunded by a very large of lawn leading down to the River Great Ouse. It's a very pleasant spot and after queueing inside to order food we went outside and spent a very pleasant hour sitting at a table by the river. This is a nice place to visit and the menu here is just right for our needs, but, as Conrad predicted, the service today was rather slow, and we had to wait quite a long time for our food to arrive. Whilst we waited we wondered whether there was anywhere better in the area. Any suggestions?

After a while we were joined by Adrian and Doug who had made their own way here from St Neots.

After lunch we set off once more. Since today's ride was designated as a "light day ride", which no afternoon tea stop, we would simply be riding back home to Cambridge. The first part of our route involved riding back east along the railway path to Sandy, except for a short section past Willington Lock where cycling is not permitted.

Cycling is not allowed on this section of NCN 51 east of Willington

I've cycled through Sandy many times but I'm always disoriented by the route taken by NCN 51 as it winds its circuitous way through housing estates on the east of the town. Today was no exception, but fortunately Conrad was in the lead and it wasn't long before we reached the quiet road that leads east out Sandy to Everton.

Through the woods at Sandy

The road from Sandy to Everton is pleasantly wooded and starts with a short climb out of the valley of the River Ivel towards Everton. Although this doesn't feel like much of a climb (it only climbs about 40m and, unlike nearby Tempsford Hill, is not steep) it takes you to the top of the Greensand Ridge, a long escarpment which runs all the way from Cambridgeshire to the Chilterns. Along the way I spotted a small thatched cottage with a pig on the roof. Whilst I've seen plenty of ornamental birds and insects on the top of thatched roofs, this was the first time I'd seen a pig.

Pig on a roof between Sandy and Everton

We passed through Everton and continued to Gamlingay, where we turned onto the pleasant road that leads through The Hatleys to Croydon. This is a familiar route home and normally involves turning left part-way down Croydon Hil towards Croydon, Arrington and the back entrance to the Wimpole estate. Croydon Hill is one of the longer and steeper hills in the area so I was pleased when Conrad announced that today we'd be riding all the way to the bottom instead. This was great fun and both Alex and I briefly touched 66kph (41mph) on the way down. Fortunately the road has a good surface and a long runout to the T-junction at the bottom, and I felt completely confident on my new bike.

We continued south through Wendy and Shingay to Bassingbourn, where we turned east to follow another of our other familar return routes home to Cambridge. This took us through Meldreth, Shepreth, Barrington and over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield.

Suspicious character in Haslingfield

At this point there were just three of us: Rupert, John and Sheila had disappeared earlier and Ian had peeled off in Shepreth. (I later discovered Rupert, John and Sheila had split away at Wendy taking a more direct route home). Conrad turned left to follow the usual route home via Barton, but Alex announced that doing Barton Road *again* was boring and turned right instead. I decided to follow him back through Harston and Trumpington Meadows and then along the busway for the final few miles into Cambridge. I arrived home at 4.35pm, having cycled 117km (72 miles). Nigel Deakin



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