Wednesday, 31 August 2016

31 Aug: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: Although the nights are beginning to draw in, with the sun setting at 7.50pm tonight, it's still August (well, for a few more hours anyway) and tonight's ride was held on yet another fine, warm, evening. Despite the pleasant conditions the turnout this evening was one of the lowest in recent weeks, with just two riders joining me for tonight's ride: Yasmin and Tim.

We set off south from Brookside, following our usual route via the busway and DNA path to Great Shelford and continuing from there to Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford, reaching Ickleton at about 7.30pm.

We climbed to the top of Coploe Hill and paused briefly to admire the setting sun before crossing the border into Essex and dropping down the other side.

Coploe Hill just before sunset

There wasn't time for a loop via Catmere End so we turned right onto Royston Lane and followed it to its end at Chrishall Grange. When we were here two weeks ago, the air was full of the sounds - and dust - of harvesting but tonight the fields were all quiet, the harvest presumably having finished.

After crossing the A505 to Fowlmere and a short loop via the RSPB sanctuary we arrived in Shepreth and stopped at The Plough for drinks and snacks. This pub was as pleasant as always to visit, and Yasmin and I ordered plates of sausage and chips to fuel us for the return journey.

At The Plough, Shepreth

Afterwards we set off for home, passing through Barrington and climbing Chapel Hill. After a fast descent down the other side to reach Haslingfield we turned right towards Harston. Here Tim and I said goodbye to Yasmin, who turned off towards Newton, leaving the two of us to return to Cambridge via Hauxton High Street, Trumpington Meadows and the busway. I arrived home at 9.55pm, having cycled 55km (34 miles).Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 28 August 2016

28 Aug: Sunday afternoon ride to West Wratting

Ray writes: after three days cycling in the Peak District, I was looking forward to a gentler ride today in the Cambridgeshire countryside. I arrived at Brookside to find five riders eager to set off: John E, Ian B, Phil, Matt and Liz. I quickly texted Peter to let him know how many of us to expect for tea.

Gathering at Brookside

We set off down Trumpington Road for our usual route to the guided busway, then cut through Addenbrookes to Wort's Causeway and our first hill of the day. This took us to Fulbourn, then the Wilbrahams and Six Mile Bottom and our second hill, towards Brinkley. We turned past the woodland cemetery and emerged on the B-road at Weston Colville, only a mile from the tea stop.

Approaching Weston Colville

Ian was recovering from an injury so left us here to ride directly to tea, while the rest of us continued on a south-easterly loop via Carlton Green, Little Thurlow, and Great Thurlow where we turned south-west for Withersfield then north-west to West Wratting. Along the way, Phil pointed out rain clouds and what looked like heavy rain in the distance. We hoped we'd make it to tea before it caught up with us.

We arrived (dry) just after 4.30pm to find the all-day riders already there. We were greeted by Peter who immediately rushed inside to return with very welcome cups of tea. Now that we were all here, we could start on the fantastic spread provided by Peter and Lesley. We enjoyed sandwiches, quiche, pies, and scones, and a selection of delicious home-made cakes. It looked like someone had been up all night baking!

While we were eating, the rain that had threatened earlier made itself known with a violent downpour. We had second cups of tea and hoped for it to pass. I checked the Met Office app on my phone  and saw that heavy showers were forecast to continue until 8pm, so I decided to set off into the rain.

Two separate groups headed for Cambridge: John R would lead a direct route back via Fulbourn, while I would lead a small intrepid bunch via Abington and Sawston. I had planned to ride back via Bartlow and Linton, but on Nigel's advice cut off this unnecessary detour to ride via Balsham instead.

Nigel, Susan and David joined me and most of the afternoon riders on the Abington route. We were riding carefully in heavy rain, through streams of surface water running down the hill and giant puddles in the dips. We hadn't gone too far when David shouted that he had a puncture, but not to wait for him. Susan stopped to keep him company while the rest of us pressed on.

The rain eased and finally abated as we approached Abington, and we enjoyed a calmer final few miles home. Phil peeled off as we came into Stapleford, and the rest of us split up as we approached the railway station. I arrived home just after 7pm having ridden about 48 miles. Ray Miller.

Download GPS track (GPX).

28 Aug: Sunday ride to Stradishall, Long Melford and West Wratting

Nigel writes: In my report of last Sunday's ride I mentioned that some leaders had started circulating their route in advance, and that this was encouraging some riders to skip the start at Brookside and meet the ride as it made its way out of Cambridge. Since I live fairly close to Brookside I've never felt the need to do that until today, when the frame of my seat-post-mounted bag (an Altura Aero post pack) snapped in two and threw my bag onto the road.

My Altura Aero post pack. I'm not impressed.

I had just enough time to limp back home, strap the bag onto my bike using a couple of elasticated velcro straps, and cycle in the opposite direction to Riverside where I stopped and waited for the ride to pass by.

Riverside, Cambridge

John Ross was our leader today, and his posse consisted of Tom, Mike CC, Sheila, Camille, Mark and me, with Rupert joining a couple of minutes further along on Stourbridge Common. We continued to Fen Ditton where we turned east onto High Ditch Road.

High Ditch Road, Fen Ditton

The weather today was rather more varied than we have had in recent weeks. The day started rather dull, though still comfortably warm. We saw more of the sun as the day progressed, but there was a bit of rain around and from time to time encountered a very short shower of rain. The rain didn't amount to very much until much later in the day, when an almost biblical downpour arrived just as we were having tea. But more of that later.

Newmarket Road, approaching Quy

Our initial destination was Adam's Cafe near Stradishall. That's one of our more distant coffee stops, so to get there John took a fairly direct route via Six Mile Bottom, Brinkley and Carlton Green. John set a comfortable, moderate pace, which allowed Camille and me to speed ahead of the group from time to time and take advantage of the westerly tailwind we had for most of the morning.

Breakfast at Adam's Cafe, Stradishall

We arrived at Adam's Cafe just before 11am and found several members already there: Keith, Andy and Sarah, who were there to join the ride, and John S, who was dressed in civilian clothes and stamping cards for today's Mildenhall Rally 100km Audax. A few minutes later we were also joined by David W.

After we'd all finished our bacon sandwiches, rounds of toast, beans on toast, and similar treats we all set off again in the direction of Long Melford, our lunch stop. The first few kilometres was familiar: a fast sweep down the A143 to the Denston turn and then through Denston and Hawkedon to Hartest. Here we had the rare pleasure of climbing Hartest Hill, possibly the most notorious steep climb in west Suffolk despite the ascent being a mere 40m.

Hartest Hill

Hartest Hill

We turned south towards Stanstead (we wondered how many car drivers end up here looking for the airport) and a few minutes later arrived in Long Melford. Since it was a bank holiday weekend Rupert had advised us to bring sandwiches, which we enjoyed sitting on the huge green just north of the village.

Picnic lunch in Long Melford

After lunch we fancied a cup of tea and a slice of cake. By chance an antiques fair was being held in a hall close by, so we each paid £1 admission and went in to visit the cafe inside.

Setting off after post-lunch tea and cake in Long Melford

Afterwards we set off west, leaving Long Melford and passing through Liston before turning onto a short off-road section towards Foxearth. It started to rain, fairly heavily, but it didn't last more than ten minutes.

Off-road between Liston and Foxearth

We continued west towards our next stop, West Wratting. To get there John led is on a gentle loop around the south of Haverhill, passing through Ashen, Ridgewell, Stambourn and the Bumpsteads. There was a slight headwind on the way there but it was nowhere as bad as last seek. Nevertheless I think this leg of the ride was longer than people expected, and we were glad when we eventually arrived at Peter and Lesley's house for one of their famous home teas. There were several members already there and after a short while we were joined by Ray and the afternoon ride.

As we sat outside, drinking tea, munching sandwiches and eating cake, the weather began to deteriorate and after about half an hour it began to rain. Fortunately there was plenty of room indoors in the conservatory and we were able to sit sit inside whilst the rain got heavier and heavier.

Tea in the rain in West Wratting

Before long it was time to return home to Cambridge. It was still raining heavily but Ray was keen to make a move with the afternoon ride and John prepared to follow suite. John led the all-day riders back via Six Mile Bottom and Quy, whilst I joined Ray to return via Balsham and Abington. For the first half hour or so the rain was almost biblical in its intensity, with water streaming across the road and huge floods of several inches. It was a relief that there was very little motor traffic, as it would have been miserable to share a road with cars under such conditions.

After a while the rain stopped and the sky brightened a little for the final few miles through Babraham, Sawston and Great Shelford back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 6.50pm, having cycled 127km (79 miles). Nigel Deakin

The map shows the "offical" route taken by ride leader John Ross. Download GPS track (GPX).

Rides in September and October

We've now published our rides lists for September and October. We're still looking for leaders for many of these rides, especially on Thursdays and Sundays: please check the lists and contact Rupert if you're able to lead a ride.

These new rides lists see our rides get slightly shorter as we adjust to the shortening days of autumn.

We still have an interesting mix on Sundays, with longer "full-day" rides alternating with shorter "light day" until the clocks change. Our Sunday afternoon rides continue each week, offering a last chance to enjoy those popular church hall teas.

Our Tuesday and Thursday rides continue every week as usual, whilst our Wednesday evening rides continue to be weekly during September before changing to monthly from October. On Saturdays our "Saturday social" rides rides will take place on the 2nd and 4th weekend in October (a week later than the usual pattern).

Notice of AGM

The Annual General Meeting of CTC Cambridge will be held at 3pm on Sunday 16 October at Hauxton Village Hall. The agenda is here (this page also contains links to the minutes of last year's AGM, and to the accounts). Please bring your CTC membership card with you if you intend voting on agenda items.

The AGM will be followed by a club tea during which there will be an opportunity to ask questions of the new committee and socialise with other members. Both our rides that day will arrive at Hauxton at time for the start of the AGM.

Friday, 26 August 2016

23-26 Aug: Peak District Camping Trip

Ray writes: I had been planning a moving-on cycle tour in the Norfolk Broads, but when Simon suggested using his car to save time getting there, this also opened up the possibility of travelling further afield. After some discussion we settled on a trip to the Peak District. Last year Simon had discovered a quiet campsite at Knotlow Farm near Flagg, a few miles south-east of Buxton, and he was keen to visit again.

Tuesday 23 Aug

We loaded up Simon's car and left Cambridge shortly after 4pm on Tuesday, arriving at the campsite around 7pm, giving us plenty of time to pitch the tents in daylight. I usually carry my tent on the bike so have a lightweight tent in which I can only just sit upright, while Simon is used to travelling by car and has a tent he can stand up in:

Tents pitched

View from my tent

Simon had found a selection of cycle routes published by the Peak District National Park Authority with GPX tracks available for download. Most of these are too short for a full day's riding, but we thought we might be able to piece them together with legs to and from the campsite making for a decent ride. Before setting off, I created a 61-mile and a 32-mile route starting and finishing at the campsite. We would improvise for our third day of riding.

Wednesday 24 Aug

We both woke early on Wednesday morning and, as the weather forecast was good and we were on fresh legs, we agreed to tackle the longer of my planned routes. This took us south from Flagg to Parsley Hay, where we turned east along Long Rake then south again to Tissington.

South of Flagg

En route to Tissington

A couple of miles before Tissington we reached a ford. There was a footbridge to the side, but a motorist shouted that he had seen hundreds cycle through the ford, so I gave it a try. I should have known better:  my wheels slid on the slippery cobbles and I spent the rest of the day riding in wet shoes. After the ford came our first hill marked on the map with a black arrow (1:7 to 1:5), and I was glad of the granny ring: definitely the right decision not to bring my new bike with only a double. Once we had made it up the hill it was a short ride to the picturesque village of Tissington.



Tissington Hall

Tissington Hall

We stopped here for coffee then picked up the Tissington Trail south to Ashbourne. This is a disused railway line that has been converted to a walking and cycling route and offers a gently graded, traffic-free alternative to the roads that wind up and down the surrounding hills.

From Ashbourne we headed north-east to Kniveton before turning south to Osmaston. There are several different bridleways heading south from here, but we only got quarter of a mile or so down the wrong one before being turned back by an assertive but polite game keeper who told us that we were trespassing on a private road. He pointed us in the right direction and we picked up a rough bridleway towards Shirley. This dropped steeply to a water mill before climbing up the other side, where we had to walk as even our 32mm tyres could not get enough traction on the steep ascent. We were soon back on the road and continued on a loop through Shirley, Hollington, Longford, Rodsley, Edlaston and back to Ashbourne.

South of Ashbourne

Back in Ashbourne, we bought a picnic lunch at Sainsbury's and stopped to eat on a nearby bench. We then set off on minor roads in a north-westerly direction through Mappleton, and picked up the Tissington Trail again a mile or so south of Tissington. We followed the trail to Parsley Hay, and continued north, where it becomes the High Peak Trail. We left the trail at Hurdlow for the final few miles by road back to the campsite. Total distance today was 61.5 miles.

Thursday 25 Aug

On Thursday morning we woke up to thick fog. Rain was forecast in the early afternoon, so we planned to do the shorter of my prepared routes, get back to the campsite in time for lunch, and visit a nearby tram museum to pass the wet afternoon. Today's route took us east from the campsite to Bakewell, where we stopped for tea and a second breakfast. (I felt I had earned this as a missed turn had us descending a steep hill towards Ashford in the Water only to have to turn around and climb it again.)

We left Bakewell on another converted railway, the Monsal Trail, leaving the trail after a couple of miles to head north to Hassop, east to Baslow, then south to Beeley and Rowsley. From Rowsley it was a steep climb to Stanton-in-Peak, which we both agreed deserved its name. The ride today was very hilly, and after a long descent to Bakewell we had climbed back to about the same height as the campsite. I wondered if we would maintain our height now, and was soon answered in the negative by a sign warning "test your brakes" and  a 1:6 descent.

From Stanton-in-Peak it was a very scenic route through Alport, Youlgreave and Middleton. Our leisurely breakfast and time spent wandering around Bakewell, combined with slow progress up the many hills, meant we were not going to be back at the campsite before the rain started. Our last few miles back to Flagg via Parsley Hay and Monyash were spent pedalling in heavy rain and an awful lot of surface water: day two of riding in wet shoes. Today's ride was 32 miles.

Simon wanted to go back to Bakewell to buy a new camping mattress we had seen in Millets, and our late return from the ride meant there would not be time to take in the tram museum. We got into the car to find it wouldn't start: the battery was flat. Luckily Simon had parked at the top of a hill and we were able to get going with a bump start. Our priority now was to get a replacement car battery. We couldn't find a repair shop in Bakewell; Google Maps told me the nearest was in Chesterfield, another 11 miles down the road

With a new battery in the car we headed back to Bakewell and Millets for Simon's mattress and some other bits and pieces in the sale that we didn't really need. As the weather was still miserable, we decided to eat in Bakewell rather than back at the campsite, and enjoyed a delicious curry in a warm and dry restaurant. No photos today because of the adverse weather conditions.

Friday 26 Aug

For our final day of riding we were greeted by a bright, sunny morning. Simon had been studying the maps the previous evening and had devised a route that would take us to Buxton and along another stretch of the Monsal Trail. We left the campsite and retraced our steps from Wednesday as far as Hurdlow, where we picked up the High Peak Trail north. 

A bright morning

This only took us a couple of miles before coming to a stop at a bridleway, then picturesque minor roads to Earl Sterndale. Here we passed a pub called "The Quiet Woman." I wasn't paying attention, but Simon tells me picture on the pub sign is of a headless woman.

Near Earl Sterndale

We turned left onto the B5053 and followed this as far as Glutton Bridge, where we turned right for the most scenic section of the whole trip, a gated road that wound up a valley to join the A53 near High Edge Raceway. We passed a tumulus near the beginning of the valley:


The road started to climb shortly after passing through a gate:

Disappearing into the valley

The A53 was a shock to the system after this beautiful quiet road, but it was only a short downhill stretch before we turned right onto a minor road skirting the south of Buxton. We then turned north for the town centre where we stopped for an early elevenses.

Simon had hoped to leave Buxton via Ashwood Dale to join the Monsal Trail east of Buxton, but when I looked at the map I saw his proposed route was an active railway. As the map was printed about 20 years ago, I agreed we should take a closer look. It turns out this is still an active goods line serving a quarry near Buxton. I managed to pick out a route through residential streets, avoiding the A6, and taking us onto a minor road heading north-east past the golf course. This turned out to be quite busy too, with lorries serving the same quarry, but once we were past the quarry it was a nice quiet ride down to Miller's Dale.

Simon wanted to follow the Monsal Trail in the direction of Buxton to see how far we could get, but I persuaded him to explore in the other direction first. So when we reached Miller's Dale we turned left onto the B6049 then right onto a minor road to Litton Mill. I had hoped we would be able to cross the river at the mill to go back via the Monsal Trail, but there was nowhere to cross so we had to retrace our steps up the road as far as a footbridge we had seen a mile or so back. We explored on foot and found a stepped footpath up to the trail, so went back for the bikes and carried them up the steps.

Simon carrying his bike up the last few steps to the Monsal Trail

It wasn't long on this nicely graded track before we were back at Miller's Dale. We crossed a viaduct just before Miller's Dale, and I got a shot of a disused viaduct crossing the same gorge:

Viaduct on the Monsal Trail

We pressed straight on through Miller's Dale and went through the three Chee Tor tunnels to arrive at the end of the line in Wye Dale (this is where the line would have joined the still-active goods line to Buxton).

End of the Monsal Trail at Wye Dale

Time for another U-turn to retrace the trail back to Miller's Dale before picking up the B6049 in the opposite direction then minor roads back to the campsite. We only rode 34 miles today, but it felt a lot further with all the climbing.

Tonight being Friday, a mobile fish and chips van visited the campsite. The queue didn't look too long, but most of the people in front of us were ordering for their entire extended families and friends, so it was more than an hour before we were enjoying our fish and chip suppers.

Saturday 27 Aug

Saturday came and it was time for me to pack up the tent and head back to Cambridge. Simon drove me back and dropped me off with time to unpack and do some laundry before leading Sunday's afternoon ride. His next job was to replace the worn blocks on his rear brakes then head north again to pick up a friend from a music festival and take her back up to Flagg for a few days walking and cycling with their dog.

All in all an excellent three days' cycling, with more good weather than bad. Many thanks to Simon for all the driving. Ray Miller.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

25 Aug: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Dunmow

Edward writes: After a night of spectacular lightning, thunder and heavy but short-lived rain, fourteen riders met in Hauxton nicely split evenly between the sexes. There had also been some early morning rain but this had cleared before our start time, although there did seem the prospect of further showers throughout the day. Tuesday and Wednesday had been unbearably hot but today was not expected to be so bad but temperatures were still forecast to be in the high twenties centigrade.

In town only three riders met. Our two leaders today were Rupert from Brookside and Edmund from Hauxton and our destinations were Newport for coffee and Great Dunmow for lunch.

From Hauxton we left in two groups and proceeded through Little Shelford and Whittlesford where we crossed the A505 into Duxford. We went by the factory area to the ford where, despite the camera being in position, Mike CC wouldn’t oblige and try his luck again through the water. That was a bit disappointing for the cameraman.

Hinxton Ford

Hinxton-Ickleton Level Crossing

Hinxton-Ickleton Level Crossing

When we reached Ickleton we began the climb up our old favourite Coploe Hill. At the top we stopped for a few minutes to allow those worst affected by the effort to recover.

Mike CC recovers after climbing Coploe HILL

Whilst at the top we were caught by Rupert and his city slickers and here Rupert pulled rank and took over leadership of both groups and this wasn’t altogether unwelcome as it avoided the climb Edmund’s leading group were taking up to Arkesden. So after Catmere End and the Wireless Hill descent we turned left into Wendons Ambo which artfully allowed us to pull into Dorrington’s at Newport in front of the lead group which went via Arkesden.

Now that Dorrington’s get advanced notice of our visit they are well prepared for the rush and deal very well with the numbers and get us through quickly. By this time the sun was out and it was very hot sitting outside on the pavement. Someone noticed that Rupert was wearing his waterproof overshoes which showed that he was taking the weather forecast seriously even if no one else did.

New pair of waterproofs required?

After coffee it was again in two groups that we left which meant a ride along the busy B1383 to the turning beside the M11 and then on the quiet lanes to Henham.

After Henham we went east along the B1051 for about two miles before turning south to Broxted Brick End and after stopping for some consultations of the map we arrived in Little Easton. This was a really nice part of the journey where at times it seemed if there were more aircraft overhead in and out of Stansted than there were cars on the road.

We arrived in Great Dunmow at and thirty miles after leaving Hauxton. The designated lunch stop was a cafe called Rhubarb but as is often the case in the summer most people had sandwiches and we sat on the grassy bank beside a small lake to enjoy them before joining the others having lunch at the cafe for a cup of tea.

Lunch in Great Dunmow

After lunch Rupert led a group with a slightly earlier start leaving a dozen to follow Edmund a little later.

We started the return leg by retracing our steps out of Dunmow to Little Easton. What followed was a delightful ride which went near to familiar names like Tilty, Duton Hill and Great Easton without actually visiting them.

Little Bardfield

This was all very pleasant showing the success of a well-planned route which in the end took us to Thaxted. Now we could have returned by a familiar route down to Debden and Saffron Walden but this ride wasn’t finished yet and we now made our way eastwards to Little Bardfield and then north to Hawkspur Green and Great Sampford where we joined the B1053 for the undulating run up to Radwinter, and it was noticeable how much heat was coming off the recently harvested fields. Finally we were on more familiar territory as Ashdon, Bartlow and Linton came next.


In Hildersham we chose the route to Little Abington and the farm bridge to Babraham. We finished in Great Shelford at just after 5pm leaving Eva, Sheila and Mia to ride to Hauxton with 65 miles under their belts. This was a very successful ride out and many thanks to Edmund for spending time planning the route, and there was no rain! Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

24 Aug: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today was yet another hot, humid, August day. During the afternoon the temperature in Cambridge had risen to nearly 29C, and by the time I set off to Brookside for tonight's ride, it was still about 23C. At the start I was joined by seven other riders: Gareth, Mike CC, John R, Sven, Dimitris, Kenny and newcomer Dave, here on his first evening ride with us.

The start at Brookside

Today's route was a run along the northern busway. After a brief discussion about alternative routes to the busway (via King's Hedges or via Arbury) we agreed to go there by the shortest route which was via Girton.

We set off, rode through the City Centre and headed out of the city along Huntington Road. Several riders were quite frisky this evening and pushed up the pace, though we stayed together until Mike CC and John suggested that the rest of us went ahead at a faster pace whilst they followed on behind.

On the busway

After we joined the busway our pace relaxed and we paused briefly to allow Mike CC and John to catch up with us. Nevertheless the pace for the journey was fairly brisk, despite a light headwind, and we made good progress to St Ives and then along the Thicket Path to Houghton. There we dismounted briefly to walk past the mill before getting back on our bikes to ride across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots.

Crossing the Ouse Meadows

Crossing the Ouse Meadows

We arrived at The Axe and Compass in Hemingford Abbots at about 7.50pm, slightly ahead of schedule, and went inside to order drinks and food, with several of us ordering burgers and others ordering bowls of chips.

After a slightly longer-than-usual 50-minute session in the pub we all got ready to ride back to Cambridge. It was now well after sunset so we turned on our lights.

Mike CC and John didn't have far to go so they said goodbye and invited the rest of us to go on ahead of them. Our route home took us back to St Ives via Hemingford Gray and back along the busway.

When we reached St Ives we crossed the river by the old bridge and rode down Bridge Street towards the town centre. As we approached the end of the street Gareth suddenly turned left into Merryland, taking him in completely the wrong direction. I called on the others to ignore him and we continued to the end of the street before turning right towards Market Hill and the busway.

A minute later Gareth caught back up with us, and explained that the route we had taken had actually taken us past a no-entry sign and the wrong way down a very short (10 metres or so) one-way section of the street. Later inspection using Street View confirms what he said; cyclists wanting to get to the market place (which is a through route only for cyclists) are presumably expected to turn left down Merryland and loop back at the mini-roundabout, or perhaps take a completely different route from the bridge via The Quay. In any case this seems unnecessary and if I get around to it I'll write to the County Council to request a cycle exemption here.

A couple of minutes later we were on the busway and making our way along the busway back to Cambridge. We had a slight tailwind (certainly we had no headwind) and our pace was quite high, and this was a fast and enjoyable ride back.

As we rode back through the darkness we enjoyed the spectacle of a thunderstorm in the distance, directly ahead of us. At first we could see only the lightning bolts across the sky; as we approached the edge of Cambridge we heard thunder as well.

After having lost two members from my ride on Sunday I was anxious not to do so again. It's easy to get separated in the dark, so as we rode along I kept looking back and counting how many white lights I could see. As we approached Longstanton we realised we had lost two riders, so the remaining four of us stopped under a street light to wait for them. Dimitris and Kenny were not in sight, so I phoned Dimitris to find out what had happened. He explained he had sustained another puncture (he'd had one on Sunday), but Kenny was keeping him company so he urged us to continue without them.

The rest of us carried on. After a short while it started to rain a little, with sporadic but fairly large rainsrops. Although we expected this to turn into a deluge at any point, it never did, and we managed to get all the way back to Cambridge without getting more than slightly damp.

I arrived back at home at 10.05pm having cycled 58km (36 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Monday, 22 August 2016

Sunday 14th August: approaching the tea stop in Westmill, Herts

Sunday, 21 August 2016

21 Aug: Sunday afternoon ride to Wicken

John F writes: Six riders (of four nationalities) assembled at Brookside for the 2p departure of today's afternoon ride to Wicken Village Hall. This is one of three places in Wicken which take it in turns to serve Summer Sunday afternoon teas offering excellent value-for-money.

The start at Brookside

Simon, today's leader, led us out of the city by way of the Carter Bridge, the Tins and the Old Drift into Fulbourn. Turning right at Queen's farm we were now in the country. Hot dry weather had allowed the harvest to be completed and there were now no fields of standing corn. We reached The Bell at Bottisham at 3pm and continued through the Swaffhams and Reach into the straggly village of Burwell. Turning left into Dyson's Drove we touched the edge of Wicken Fen and reached the Village Hall at 3.50pm. There was still a good collection of cakes on offer.

Tea at Wicken Village Hall

After an enjoyable three-quarters of an hour we set off taking the fen route into Upware, Lode and Quy. The gusty wind which had been largely favourable on the way out was now predominantly adverse with little vegetation to shelter us.

We entered the city on the traffic-free route from Fen Ditton and across Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common. I was home shortly after 6pm after a very enjoyable ride of 40-45 miles and excellent value tea. Thanks to Simon for leading. John Ferguson

21 Aug: Sunday ride to Barrow and Hawstead

Nigel writes: During the course of a year CTC Cambridge organises rides in all directions from Cambridge: north, east, south, north, and most directions in between. However in my experience of riding with the club the best rides tend to take place towards the east and south-east and (to a lesser extent) towards the south. So when I was looking recently for a Sunday ride to lead, and saw that the club had organised a ride that headed east into Suffolk, visiting an intriguing new coffee stop and a familar but delightful lunch stop, I immediately decided that this was the ride for me.


I arrived at Brookside just before 9am to find six other members waiting for me: Mark, Dimitris, Ned, Tony, Joseph and Sheila. After taking a quick photo we set off and made our way across Parker's Piece and down to the river.

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

As we continued east along the river to Ditton Meadows and on through Fen Ditton to Quy we encountered three separate members who just happened to be waiting for us: Seb on Riverside, Rupert on Midsummer Common, and Keith at Quy Church. This came as a pleasant surprise, but then I realised that I had circulated details of our route yesterday, and that by telling people which way we would be heading I had made it much easier for members to meet us along the way.

Our enlarged group of ten continued east to Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck before turnng east onto Swaffham Heath Road, the long and rather pleasant road that leads to Dullingham.

Swaffham Heath Road

The weather forecast for this weekend had not been good, with rain and strong winds forecast. Yesterday had certainly been very windy, and had seen a few showers, but today was rather quieter and dryer though there was still a persistent westerly wind of 20-25mph which would be the dominant feature of the weather today.

Since we were heading east today, we enjoyed a tailwind all morning, and we made good progress to Dullingham and on through the rolling lanes south of Newmarket to Cheveley and Ashley.

Approaching Cheveley

The morning had started rather cool and dull, but the sun soon came out and the temperature soon rose to remind us that it was still mid-August,


We continued east through Dalham to Denham. A few minutes later we arrived in Barrow, and stopped for coffee at a cafe we hadn't visited before: The Udder Room. This was set in some converted farm buildings just north of the village: the same premises also accommodated a Post Office. Adjacent (in a huge and impressive converted barn which was apparently once a cow shed) was "Forelock and Load", selling selling equestrian and shooting equipment, and possibly the first gun shop I had ever walked into.

Coffee stop in Barrow

Already at the cafe were Geoff and Adrian, and a few minutes later we were joined by Edmund. The cafe was very pleasant and I'm sure we will be visiting it again.

After coffee we said goodbye to Geoff and Adrian, whilst Edmund joined my group and no-one left it, increasing our number to eleven.

Our lunch stop today was in Hawstead, This is only about nine miles away, so rather than head directly there I took the group on a loop of about seventeen miles which took us right through the middle of Bury St Edmunds and out the other side. I would have preferred to have avoided Bury completely but that would have made for a much longer loop.

As it turned out, our progress folloiwjng NCN51 through Bury was straightforward and, after a dull initial section through suburban streets, was rather interesting, with much of it on surprisingly-good traffic-free paths.

A rather poor section of NCN 51 in Bury St Edmunds

A rather good section of NCN 51 crossing the River Lark in Bury St Edmunds

NCN 51 on the eastern edge of Bury St Edmunds

It wasn't too long before we were back in open countryside and able to turn south towards our lunch stop at the Maglia Rosso cycle shop and cafe in Hawstead, which we reached at 1.15pm. There were few other customers apart from John S, who had made his own way there.

Lunch at Maglia Rosso, Halstead

After a very pleasant lunch it was time to set off for home. Since today's ride was a "light day ride" there was no tea stop, and so we had to ride the 55km (34 miles) back to Cambridge in a single leg. We were now riding directly into the wind, and although the headwind was fairly tiring and slowed us we had a pleasant ride home. We followed a more southerly route than on the ride out, which took us through Hartest, Hawkedon and Denton before crossing the A143 near Stradishall to Farley Green and Cowlinge.

Unfortunately I managed to lose two members of the group on the way back: John S had said he would be riding back with us, but we managed to set off without him, whilst somewhere along the route Dimitris had a puncture but I didn't notice (and no-one else did either). My apologies to both for some careless leading (both riders later sent me messages that they had got back home).

The lanes near Farley Green are lined with high hedges and are normally charming but today the road was covered in hedge-clippings and Joseph sustained a puncture, his second of the day. Since he wasn't heading to Cambridge he waved us on our way, with just Keith staying to keep him company.

The rest of us carried in through Great Bradley to Brinkley and a long, fast descent (despite the headwind) to Six Mile Bottom. After a brief stop to buy drinks at the shop there we continued to Little Wilbraham, where the ride bifurcated. Most of the group continued with Rupert to Quy, returning to Cambridge via Fen Ditton and the reverse of the route we had used in the morning, whilst three of us turned left towards Great Wilbraham and Fulbourn.

I rode back to Cambridge with Sheila, parting company somewhere near the station. I arrived home at 5.30pm, having cycled 127km (79 miles).

Download GPS track (GPX).