Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Rides in Jan and Feb

We've published our programme of rides for January and February. We had plenty of sunshine over Christmas but for the new year we are planning our normal mix of shorter rides in anticipation of more typical weather during the depth of winter.

We've made an important change to our "city start" rides on Thursdays. These will continue to depart from Brookside but the start time will change to 9.15am to give more time to reach the coffee stop without having to rush. Our "village start" rides will continue to start at 9.30am.

Our Sunday all-day rides continue with their winter format, heading home after lunch and aiming to get back just before dark. Our Sunday afternoon rides will take place on alternate weekends in January and then return to our normal weekly pattern from February. We still need a few more leaders for our Sunday rides: please contact Rupert if you can volunteer to lead a ride.

Our seniors' rides have now restarted and will continue every Tuesday, whilst our Wednesday evening rides continue once a month on the night closest to full moon. Lastly, our Saturday morning social rides are taking a short winter break, but will restart in the spring.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

22 Dec: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Wyton

John S writes: We enjoyed some of Alex’s recent luck with the weather today, with a forecast of rain until lunchtime proving inaccurate; instead we enjoyed a lovely day of clear skies and sunshine, with no headwinds. We had just one ride today, starting on Haslingfield Green; there was no city start this week as the middle of Cambridge was likely to be choked with car-borne shoppers.

I met Edward cycling through Harston on the way to the start in Haslingfield, and after dodging around delivery vans parked on the pavement cycleway we both agreed that riding on the path is about as bad a riding on the road, and looked forward to the planned upgrade to the cycling facilities there.

The peloton assembles at Haslingfield Green (Photo: Edward Elmer)

We were the first to arrive at Haslingfield, but were soon joined by others including three assorted Johns, Adrian, Mick, Sue, Simon, Edmund, Sheila, Richard B and Dave W. As we set off, a stranger on a fine white Dutch town bike rode past, but on closer inspection this turned out to be Ian W, who was travelling incognito, without his customary small wheels.

We set off fairly cautiously as there had been a hard frost, but the sunshine won through after half an hour or so. We proceeded via Barton and Coton to Madingley, where we had to do a double-take as regular Sunday rider Nigel sped alongside and made a welcome guest appearance on a Thursday ride.

Dr John's festive bike (Photo: Edward Elmer)

The road from Dry Drayton over the A14 towards Cottenham was busier than usual, but I expect the pre-Christmas panic-shopping traffic on the parallel route via Bar Hill would have been at least as bad. We turned off onto the quieter NCN24 at Oakington and headed towards Longstanton and followed the guided busway for a short distance before turning off onto Reynolds Drove, a short section of off-road that leads to Rampton. This was muddier than usual, which was OK for me with mudguard clearance that would probably allow for tractor tyres, but caused some issues for owners of fancier, sleeker bikes with less mudguard clearance. The ride leader was left in no doubt about the folly of his route choice, and it was suggested that he might like to offer a bike washing service over coffee time to make amends!

At the coffee stop in Cottenham Community Centre, we met riders who had arrived independently from Cambridge and beyond, including Rupert, Susan, Russell, and a brace of Peter Ws. There was quite a queue so it took a while for everyone to get served. A group of 10 then continued towards Willingham and Over.

We paused as we crossed the busway, and decided to take the longer planned route to St Ives rather than a short cut along the busway. Riders who had been at the back of the group helpfully pointed out that they felt we had been holding up cars more than we should, and after that, more of an effort was made to divide into easier to overtake clusters of riders, separated by reasonable gaps, taking inspiration from the new guidelines for riding in a group.

In St Ives, Rupert left us briefly to search for any coffee stop that would be open for the ride on New Year’s Day. We continued along the Thicket Path to Houghton and then on to Wyevale Garden Centre at Wyton. We filed through to the café at the back, where we found both Conrad and Julia, dressed in "civvies", dining with associated young people. We were also joined by yet another John, who was missing his customary red socks.

Lunch was delivered fairly promptly and accurately, thanks to the electronic tags that tell staff where different diners are sitting. I ordered a "Festive Christmas Bap", expecting perhaps a soft bread roll with a bit of turkey and some stuffing. When this arrived, it exceeded my expectations in every way, with a saucer-sized roll, a separate jug of gravy, and managing to incorporate turkey, sausages, roast parsnip, stuffing, cranberry sauce and bread sauce.

Asking Santa for new bikes for Christmas

After eating, we filed out, pausing briefly for a group photo next to the giant inflatable Father Christmas. We set off via Houghton Mill and the Hemingfords back towards St Ives, where people left us for Swavesey and Cambridge. From there we re-traced the morning route to Fenstanton, where Dr John left us, and then crossed under the A14 and on towards Conington, where Ian W and Peter W left us.

The sat-nav geeks amongst us compared notes on how different models of sat-nav coped with the cross-over between the morning and afternoon rides, based in the same route information. Mine had a tantrum, and declared there was a route error, and promptly switched itself off, Susan's got confused and tried to take her back to the start of the ride the long way round, reporting that there was more and more distance to complete as we rode on, while others seemed to cope with the confusion.

Lighting up time in Bourn

There were now just five of us to continue back towards Haslingfield, pausing only to sort out our lighting when we got to the turning for Bourn. We continued through the Eversdens and Harlton to arrive back at Haslingfield just before 4pm, after a round trip of 87km (54 miles). Here we were treated to a wonderful "red sky at night" over Chapel Hill, which was made even better by not having had to cycle up it to enjoy the spectacle. John Seton



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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Award of Len Nice Trophy

The Len Nice Memorial Trophy is awarded each year for exceptional service to the club, following a vote by members.

This year it was awarded to Rupert Goodings, our runs secretary. The presentation took place at the club's annual Christmas Lunch on 11th December 2016.

More information about the Len Nice Memorial Trophy may be found here.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

15 Dec: Thursday ride to Ickleton and Dullingham

Edward writes: When we met in Hauxton there were fourteen riders readying themselves for our ride out to Dullingham via Ickleton. The mild weather continued with a rather gloomy, overcast day, but little or no wind. Meanwhile, over at the "city start" in Cambridge just five joined the ride, with Rupert acting as stand-in leader (he ungallantly suggested that Averil, the designated leader, was late as she was waiting for her nail varnish to dry). I'm sure that there was no truth in such a suggestion; Averil is noted for her good time-keeping.

The village start in Hauxton

Ickleton is only about eight miles from Hauxton so it was necessary to extend the route a little so we first went to Newton, followed by Thriplow and Fowlmere. Luckily the A505 wasn't very busy so we were able to cross quickly and get to Chrishall Grange to prepare ourselves for the long climb up to Elmdon. Actually this isn't that big a climb but several people grumbled that their muscles weren't warmed up enough, thus making it a much tougher climb than usual. Eventually we all got to the top and paused for a while to enable everybody to regroup, except a couple (who will remain nameless, but one had a new bike) who sneaked away at the bottom of the hill to take a short cut down Ickleton Grange.

Crossing the A505

Crossing the A505

The reward for climbing to Elmdon is a three mile descent to Ickleton, that is apart from a short, stiff climb half-way along. This brought us into the village from where a short ride towards the B1383 took us to the Riverside Barns, arriving just before 11 am. Unusually for a weekday morning it was fairly busy and the arrival of twenty-plus cyclists certainly kept the staff on their toes.

Hertford Lane, Elmdon

By 11.35 am we were all ready to set off again. There were the usual comings and goings but fourteen left to head for lunch in Dullingham. From Ickleton to Dullingham isn't straightforward as to go south means using the main road and Saffron Walden. The only other alternative, and the one we took, was to head back into Ickleton, then Hinxton and join the cycleway to the McDonald's roundabout at the end of the Sawston bypass.

However, just as we were leaving Hinxton Adrian took a tumble and Mike, ever the gentleman, volunteered to escort him home. From the McDonald's roundabout we used the cycleway beside the A505. We shouldn't complain about cycleway provision here but it's so noisy, making it impossible to hold a conversation, but at least it's safe. This took us into Abington, across the A1307 to Hildersham and then up the hill to Balsham.

Balsham

Now we were on more cycle-friendly roads, passing first through West Wratting and Weston Coleville and then Brinkley. In Brinkley we turned onto the B1052. This heads al the way to Dullingham but instead of doing this, by way of a change, we branched off after a few miles for a loop through Westley Waterless.

Soon after, at 1.25 pm, we arrived at The Boot in Dullingham. With only eight people taking lunch in the pub the staff were able to very easily deal with our orders, so much so that by 2.05pm we were on our way again. The food was very good and Rupert (that well-known expert on Newmarket sausages) was particularly satisfied, even though he failed the football quiz. He does need to brush up his knowledge on this subject...

As it was such a gloomy day there was no demand for an extended afternoon ride and Rupert led Russell and Peter back towards the A1303 whilst the remaining five of us retraced our steps towards the road to Six Mile Bottom. This brought back memories of a month ago when we cycled this road and ran into that tempest/hurricane/typhoon, but today it was calmness itself.

From Six Mile Bottom we used the well-known race track to Little Wilbraham; it's always a relief to get there away from the fast moving traffic. The ride ended though Great Wilbraham, Fulbourn, a climb over the Gogs and a long wait in Great Shelford to allow four trains to pass through. Tbhose going back to Hauxton would have completed a round trip of 50 miles. Two phone calls at the end of the ride confirmed that both Averil and Adrian were OK. Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

14 Dec: Evening ride to Lode

Nigel writes: Tonight was an excellent evening for a night ride: mild and dry, with very little wind, and a sky that was clear enough to allow us to enjoy the full moon all the way. Despite the promising conditions only two other riders joined me at Brookside: Paul and Dimitris.

Full moon over The Gogs

Our route this evening was one of our classic loops, the one I call an "anti-clockwise Dullingham". We set off from Brookside and headed out of Cambridge along Hills Road before turning onto Wort's Causeway for a warmning climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn. From there we continued east through the Wilbrahams before turning east onto the long, straight road that leads to Six Mile Bottom.

From Six Mile Bottom, Dimitris and I continued up Brinkley Hill to Cemetery Crossroads before north to Dullingham and Swaffham Bulbeck, whilst Paul took a shortcut along the main road which saved sufficient time to allow Paul to reach the pub first.

Many houses along the way were decked with Christmas Illuminations, and the moderate pace of tonight's ride allowed plenty of time for me to stop and take photos of some of the best.

Fulbourn

Great Wilbraham

Great Wilbraham

The planned pub stop for tonight's ride has been The White Swan in Lode, but I was aware that the kitchen there was closed so we took the opportunity to try a new pub for a change. This was The Shed in Lode.

Beer and chips at The Shed, Lode

It's quite a large pub/restaurant located in a former social club which opened a couple of months ago. I'm pleased to report that our visit was entirely satisfactory (though it would benefit from some cycle parking outside), and the bowls of chips we ordered arrived very quickly. We all agreed this place was well worth another visit next year.

Setting of from The Shed, Lode

Afterwards we returned home via Bottisham, Quy and Fen Ditton.

Bottisham

I arrived home just after 10pm, having cycled 50km (31 miles).Nigel Deakin



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Sunday, 11 December 2016

11 Dec: Ride to Christmas Lunch

Nigel writes: Today's ride was a short and fairly gentle-paced ride from Brookside to Bourn for the club's Christmas lunch. The ride started at Brookside at the leisurely time of 10.30am, with John Ross leading about a dozen other riders (or perhaps that should be "diners") for a rather complicated loop through the villages west of Cambridge.

At Brookside

The ride started with brief a tour of west Cambridge before turning north towards Girton.

The sky was generally overcast but with periods of pleasant sunshine during the morning, and it remained dry all day and relatively mild. There was, however, a gentle but cold westerly headwind.

Grange Road

Grange Road

Normally on a ride in December I would have worn heavy gloves, waterproof socks and overshoes, but I dressed less warmly today, thinking that the ride was quite short and the weather not particularly cold. That was a bit of a mistake and the cold breeze made me feel a bit under-dressed, so once we had passed through Girton on the road to Oakington I decided to speed ahead of the group to keep-up. I had previously spotted John's planned route on Strava so I was able to follow exactly the same route as everyone else, albeit a few minutes ahead of the others.

Storey's Way

John's route (see map below) was rather complicated in shape, with a number of gratuitous loops which had no doubt been added to ensure the ride had a sufficient distance whilst allowing scope for short-cuts if the ride was running late. Obviously no-one would want to be late for Christmas lunch! As a result it was rather fun to be following the route on Garmin: just as it looked as if I was on a direct route towards our destination my device would bleep and take me on another diversion.

Along the way I encountered a number of other riders with the same destination as me, including a small group composed of Sue, Mike S and Phil. As I approached them from behind I was welcomed by a tickertape shower of Christmas cards which were scattered from Sue's bag, and I stopped to help her pick them up again. A followed car had stopped, unsure of what was happening, and I have a friendly wave in acknowledgement before beckoning them past. The driver turned out to be Dave W, who later stopped to greet the group (and perhaps offer safe custody of the Christmas cards for the remains of the journey).

Riding on my own once again I arrived at Bourn Golf Club at about 12.05pm. There was just one bike parked outside and when I walked in I discovered I was the first member to arrive. I was mildly concerned I had come to the wrong place but Mike CC soon appeared to buy me a drink and before long everyone else did as well.

Christmas Lunch at Bourn Golf Club

Bourn Golf Club has been the venue for our annual Christmas lunch for several years now, and once again it demonstrated to be an excellent venue. Our dining area was a large conservatory which gave us the maximum amount of light on an dull winter's afternoon. The food was entirely satisfactory and certainly worth the price.

After we had finished eating, our new chair, Andy Carlyle, stood up and said a few words before handing over to our treasurer, Mike "CC" Culnane, to announce the award of the Len Nice Trophy.

Andy (Chairman) makes some remarks

The Len Nice Memorial Trophy (more details here) is chosen by an ballot of members and is given for exceptional service to the club. This year it was awarded to Rupert Goodings who has been our runs secretary for several years now. Rupert also won this award in 2012 which shows how important Rupert's contribution to the club has been for several years now.

Mike CC (Treasurer) announces the award of the Len Nice Trophy

Presentation of the Len Nice Trophy and a £50 gift voucher to Rupert Goodings (right)

The meal concluded with coffee and mince pies, after which we dispersed to ride home. For the ride back to Cambridge we had the wind behind us and once again I sped ahead of the group in an attempt to burn some of the calories I had just consumed. I arrived home at about 4.10pm, having cycled 52km (32 miles). Nigel Deakin



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Thursday, 8 December 2016

8 Dec: Thursday ride to Waresley and Willington

John S writes: There were just two riders - Adrian and Peter - by the bench at Haslingfield when I arrived, early for once. By 9.30am we had grown in number, with the arrival of Averil, Russell, Mick, Sue and Phil, and then a streak of metallic orange appeared: it was Sheila's car - she had been held up by an incident on the A505 and had parked right next to the start point to catch up time.

We set off from Haslingfield towards Harlton where we turned down Washpit Lane, which had more potholes than I remembered, and was also muddy from lots of farm traffic, quickly undoing the bike cleaning I had done before leaving home. (I will try and remember this another time).

From there we took usual roads through Comberton and Toft to Bourn, where we decided to avoid the ford and head up to Caxton End. Soon after Caxton we were overhauled by the city riders led by John Ross, who sped on ahead of us to spread out the orders for coffee. I had been to Waresley on the previous Tuesday in freezing fog, and it was a pleasant change not to have frozen toes, and to be able to see the church spire in the distance rather than having to be right next to it before it appeared through the cloud.

When we arrived at Waresley, we joined a big crowd of CTC Cambridge cyclists in the garden centre cafe. I counted 30 in all, which is a fantastic turnout on a grey December day.

As we got ready to set off afterwards, three people were variously mending punctures and pumping tyres up, so for a few moments an act of sabotage was suspected. On further investigation it turned out that these were all pre-existing slow punctures rather than co-ordinated acts of mischief. We left Waresley in two groups, with the remains of the city group heading off ahead of the village group.

Some way after leaving Waresley, I realised to my annoyance that I hadn't got my fancy photochromic cycling glasses with built-in reading lenses any more, and assumed I had either left these at coffee, or dropped them when unlocking my bike. I made a mental note to call the cafe at lunchtime and worked out a way to divert and drop in there on my way home.

After passing through Everton, Adrian and Richard left us we turned right and dropped down towards Tempsford, being a bit more cautious than usual as the descent was a bit damp and slippery-looking. In the far distance we could just about make out flashing red lights at the level crossing, and we took this as a sign that we could expect to get straight across after the train had gone.

When we arrived at the level crossing, we found the other group still waiting, and just as we pulled up, a train sped past. On a good day at the level crossing, there may be a wait for one or two trains. Bets were placed as to how may trains we would be waiting for, with Rupert going for three and Mike S gambling on four. Everyone was wrong in their guesses, and in the end we waited patiently as five different trains went by - which must be some kind of record.

Trainspotting at Tempsford level crossing

As we crossed the tracks, I noticed that my cycling helmet was getting very uncomfortable, and stopped to investigate. I found that I had managed to put my helmet on over my cycling glasses, which were still on the top of my head, squashed by the helmet. I felt a little foolish, but doubly relieved as the glasses slowly un-bent themselves without damage, and also to be able to see the route on my Garmin sat-nav again.

We crossed the A1 and turned south towards Moggerhanger and then looped north and then east towards Coploe, We had been riding into a bit of a headwind until then, so it was a welcome relief when we made the turn and started to get the benefit of the weather behind us.

The lunch stop was at a place we had not visited before in Willington - Blossom Cafe in the garden centre. This had space outside for people who were eating sandwiches, and was nice and warm inside. The food on offer was very good: soups, jacket potatoes, paninis and cakes, with quick and friendly service and very reasonable prices. It was good to visit somewhere new that ticked all the boxes, and all were in agreement that this should become a regular stop for the future.

Leaving Blossom Café at Willington

After lunch we headed off to join the NCN51 path by the river next to the Danish Camp. We followed the path into Sandy and then variously took two routes through Sandy, meeting up to cross the railway line (there was a bridge, so no risk of waiting for five trains this time!) and climb the hill towards Everton and Gamlingay. Here the city group and a Swavesey-area sub-group continued, while I turned off with the remains of the village group (Susan and Sheila) to ride to Wimpole Hall via Hatley and Croydon. We paused briefly at the entrance, next to the decorated tree, which we admired for its tasteful simplicity, with no garish flashing lights.

Sheila and Susan and festive tree at Wimpole

From Wimpole we continued through Orwell and on towards Barrington. It was only when we turned south after Orwell that we realised how helpful the tailwind had been all the way from Willington. A final effort over Chapel Hill returned us to Haslingfield at 4pm, just as darkness was falling. The round trip from Haslingfield was around 87km.

John Ross and I had planned the combined route together with a bit more thought than usual (for me), and in consultation with Rupert, who helped us improve an early draft of the planned route. This turned out well, as the two rides met up and then parted with military precision exactly as planned, and for once we arrived for coffee at exactly 11am and for lunch at exactly 1pm. This was a novel experience for me as a ride leader - usually over-optimistic and never early, always late. John Seton



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John R (leader from Brookside) adds: I set off from home to Brookside with the "Swavsey area section", which comprised Mike CC and Dr John (Mike P would catch us up later). I had been impressed by Mike CC offering to ride into Brookside from home as he normally drives to the village start. He had sent me an email the previous night saying that he wanted the extra distance as he was “feeling frisky”. Well, what could I say? As it turned out his enthusiasm let him down as after a couple of miles he started to slow and Dr John told me to race ahead to get to Brookside in time.

At Brookside I was joined by several other riders and by the time we had collected Mike CC, Dr John and Mike P plus Yasmin and a few others we totalled twelve - four more than the village group. We took the quiet route out via Silver Street, Grange Road and onto the Coton cycle path. After Coton we dropped onto the cyclepath along the St Neots road up to Hardwick and continued on until we turned left onto the Bourn road. Just before we dropped into Bourn we turned right toward Caxton - this is a wonderfully undulating piece of quiet road. After Caxton it was the usual route toward Great Gransden where we saw the village start group just ahead of us. Having caught John S's tidy little group up I indicated to John that to ease the flow of numbers for coffee at Waresley I would chase ahead with a slightly quicker group which in the end comprised myself, Dr John, Mike P, Alex, Yasmin and Eva.

All worked well as the two groups streamed into the garden centre café at Waresley. Gathering riders to move out for the ride to lunch is never easy when we have a big group gathered at coffee and today was no exception – shouting to all milling riders I was leaving with a first group I was followed by Alex, then after a minute or so by Rupert and Russell, leaving John S to rally the remaining half a dozen or so riders for the leg to Willington. As John S describes above we all met up sooner than we had anticipated at the railway crossing on Tempsford Road. John Ross

Monday, 5 December 2016

Roger Bassenger

Last month we received the very sad news that club member Roger Bassenger had passed away. Lesley has now asked us to publish the following message:

"Lesley, Keith and Cheryl would like to thank those from CTC Cambridge who sent us cards and kind messages, and who attended the funeral service at Cambridge Crematorium.

"It was lovely to see so many familiar faces, both from the past and from the present. It helped to lighten a very sad day."

Sunday, 4 December 2016

4 Dec: Sunday ride to St Ives and St Neots

Nigel writes: Once again Alex managed to arrange glorious sunny weather for today's relatively short winter ride to St Ives and St Neots. At the start I was joined by David T, Rupert, Susan, Camille, Russell and Johns J, S and R and of course Alex our leader. Our morning coffee stop was in St Ives, and Alex led us straight there along the busway, arriving at the River Tea Rooms at about 10.45am.

Brookside

Cambridge's new suburb. What's your Eddington Number?

On the busway

After coffee we were joined by Yasmin and continued west along the Thicket Path to Houghon, across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Grey and along Eastside Common to Godmanchester.

On the Thicket Path beside the River Great Ouse

At Godnanchester we turned south, following the B1043 towards St Neots. If we had stayed on this road we would have arrived at our lunch stop far too early, so when we reached Offord D'Arcy we turned east for a short loop via Graveley and Toseland before rejoining the B1043 a few kilometres north of St Neots.

Wind Turbines near Toseland

Wind Turbines near Toseland

When we reached St Neots we crossed the river and stopped for lunch at the Ambiance Cafe. I sat inside with Camille, with everyone else bravind the cold outside.

After lunch we returned back to Cambridge, following the B1046 all the way except for a diversion via Caxton. I arrived home at about 3.45pm with the sun still shining, having cycled 91km (56 miles).



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