Sunday, 23 April 2017

23 Apr: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Buntingford

Nigel writes: I had done rather a lot of cycling over Easter so was happy that today's ride was relatively short: what we call a "short day ride", which means that it had stops for coffee and lunch and then returned back directly to Cambridge without stopping for tea. My companions at Brookside for the first part of the ride were Alex, Rupert, Ray, Tom, Susan and John S our leader.


It's really not very far from Cambridge to our coffee stop in Ickleton, and with a full two hours to get there John took an appropriately circuitous route to get there.

On the Barton Road cycleway

We set off along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, turned off to Haslingfield and climbed over Chapel Hill to Barrington.

Chapel Hill

It was a rather dull morning, and although it felt relatively mild whilst we were stationary, the moment we started moving we felt the chill of the cold air.

From Barrington we continued through Shepreth to Fowlmere, crossed the A505 to Chrishill Grange and then undertook the long but gentle climb to Chrishall.

On Hertford Lane approaching Elmdon

That was just about the last of the climbing for now: after Elmdon we enjoyed a long and fast descent back down to Ickleton, and arrived for coffee at Riverside Barns about fifteen minutes early at 10.45am.

After coffee at Riverside Barns, Ickleton

After coffee we re-grouped: Rupert and Susan returned to Cambridge and we were joined by Sue, Ian B and Mike S (on electric bike) for the next stage of the ride, to Buntingford for lunch.

As we climbed Coploe Hill, the sun came out and the armwarmers came off.

Coploe Hill


After a very pleasant meander through Langley, Meesden and all three Pelhams we arrived in Buntingford at about 1.30pm. Our lunch venue was Buntingford Coffee Shop, where we found David W waiting for us.

After lunch at Buntingford Coffee Shop

After lunch we returned directly back to Cambridge along the B1368. I arrived home at about 4.20pm, having cycled 105km (65 miles) Nigel Deakin

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

19 Apr: Evening ride to Hardwick

Nigel writes: It may be late April but it's still getting quite cold in the evenings, so I donned my winter windproof jacket before setting off to Brookside where I was joined by Alex and Sven. This spring we're trying our some new pub stops, and tonight was our first visit to The Blue Lion in Hardwick. To get there we started with a run up to Girton and then along the busway to Swavesey.

Sven and Alex were both up for a fast ride and I was happy to follow behind them for much of the way. After leaving the busway we continued to fenstanton before crossing the A14 and cutting back south along empty roads to Knapwell before a short final leg along the old St Neots Road to Hardwick.

We arrived at The Blue Lion just after 8pm, a few minutes after sunset. When we went in we found that the pub was very quiet. Instead of ordering drinks and food at the bar we were invited to sit down and receive table service. The staff were friendly and the food and drink, when they arrived, were entirely satisfactory. The food took quite a long time to arrive: it was probably just as well that we had arrived so early.

Relaxing after dinner

Afterwards we set off back to Cambridge, following the direct and very fast route down Madingley Hill. I arrived home at 10pm exactly, having cycled 54km (33 miles).Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 16 April 2017

16 Apr: Sunday afternoon ride to Newmarket

Neil writes: Gina, David, John and Simon joined me at Brookside for the Easter Sunday afternoon ride. I led the group out of Cambridge via Hills Road and Worts Causeway, and on through Fulbourn, the Wilbrahams, and Six Mile Bottom. On Easter Sunday, of course, most of the shops are closed, and the roads are noticeably quieter than usual. My planned route continued to Newmarket from the south, from Dullingham, Stetchworth and Woodditton, and into a long downhill straight on Duchess Drive.


Our tea stop was the 'Tacks Room'. This is the cafe of the National Horseracing Museum, now relocated to a new site on Palace Street, not far from Coffee and Co. I believe this was the first visit to the new venue by the Sunday ride, though I'm told the Thursday ride had been there already. Anyway, the Tacks Room offers table service and a good selection of cakes and scones at usual tea shop prices.


The forecast heavy rain arrived while we were in the tea room, but had mostly cleared by the time we left. We returned to Cambridge on National Cycle Network route 51 (Exning, Burwell, the Swaffhams and Bottisham). I rode 69km (43 miles) from home to home (ascent 264m). Neil Spenley

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Saturday, 15 April 2017

15 Apr: Saturday social ride to Sawston

Ian writes: Somebody casually mentioned after the previous social ride that our next ride would fall on Easter Saturday. I hadn't considered that but I thought "no problem" as I hadn't planned to be away. However things didn't go precisely to plan. Easter Saturday turned out to be a fine day and it was even more encouraging when I found twelve members and one guest rider waiting at Brookside, which together with my own group made a total of sixteen.

We took the scenic route out of Cambridge, passing through Newnham to Grantchester Meadows then by way of Trumpington Meadows to Hauxton. We were then back on the minor roads, passing through Little Shelford on our tailwind-assisted way to Whittlesford to pick up Sustrans Route 11 by the church to head back towards Sawston where coffee was planned to be at The Brickhouse.

I had visited The Brickhouse a couple of days before returning from the Thursday Ride. However that was late afternoon and I wasn't surprised to find the cafe closed as it was gone 3.30pm by a long way. I did, however, notice the counter well covered and chairs and tables stacked. However the standard opening times were still displayed in the window so I reckoned it would be fine for our visit today. However this was not to be, since when we arrived on Saturday The Brickhouse was closed.

Sawston, I thought, has numerous alternative cafe options to offer, but all were found to be likewise closed except got Dorringtons. So there we all queued for our coffees and cakes whilst the trainees behind the counter seemed programmed to trying to sell us packets of hot cross buns which were evidently on offer!

In due course we all got served and we headed back over the road to sit in The Brickhouse outside seating area, which was adequate but slightly draughty, perhaps with the sunshine only just compensating.

By this time Ed, Adrian and Averil had joined us so we were quite a throng. Once we had managed to distract Flo from his forestry operations involving some bark chipping mulch and bulldozers and dumper trucks we all initially headed in the direction of Cambridge but soon diverged at the crossroads, Phil and Sue retracing to Whittlesford, some heading straight ahead and the majority turning right to divert via the recently opened Babraham Institute cyclepath. This was all very pleasant until we joined the cyclepath along side the A1307. What with heading into the wind, and the traffic noise, conversation was somewhat restricted so it was just a case of concentrating on climbing up to Wandlebury and coasting into Cambridge where Tom H, Beverley, Mark and Lalita peeled off, soon followed by Rachel leaving Dennis, Liz, AngelaW, Simon, John and the three of us heading for the Busway into town.

All in all a good way to spend a Saturday morning, away from the hustle and bustle. We completed a leisurely 20 miles. Ian Wright

Thursday, 13 April 2017

13 Apr: Thursday ride to Ashwell and Ardeley

Edward writes: In the city Mike P looked after a group of nine and out at Hauxton Edmund had to deal with a group of twenty-one for our ride to Ashwell for coffee and Ardley for lunch. The weather had stepped back a pace from the glorious sunny days we enjoyed for the last couple of weeks. The temperature, after a cold night, didn't really get above 13C all day and we had a cool, brisk west-north-westerly wind. Edmund organised us into two groups and we started with a climb over Chapel Hill which brought us into Barrington. The morning was always going to be a bit of a toil, being mainly into the wind, as we passed through Orwell on our way to Wimpole Hall.


We quickly cycled through Arrington and Croydon, down the hill onto the A603 into the road between Wendy and Steeple Morden. Once at Steeple Morden it was just two more miles to Ashwell for the first stop of the day.

It was as well that we arrived in two groups because we caused the women in Day's to work really hard to complete the orders for coffee and cakes; and they did it, and all with a cheerful smile. As usual we sat on the little green in the heart of the village and there must have been in the region of thirty-five members milling round.

Coffee at Ashwell

On leaving Ashwell we remained in three groups. Edmund's led his group by to Baldock via Bygrave, whereas we in the following group made a last minute decision to reach Baldock via Newnham on the basis that this was one less hill to climb. The downside, though, meant a mile or so on the A507 and a few busy roads in Baldock. We soon reached the turning for Wallington and back on to quiet roads again; also very hilly! In Wallington we paused to look a house once occupied by George Orwell before pressing on to Redhill. This had the effect of bringing us onto the road we most often use on our way to Ardley, meaning we next cycled through Rushden and then Cromer.

Rushden to Cromer

The Mill at Cromer, which is still under renovation, is only a short distance to Ardley where we arrived after thirty miles at 1pm. As usual Adrian checked in having followed his own route and Greg is convinced that Adrian has a twin brother as he frequently disappears and pops up again later.

Cromer Windmill

In the past we have sat on the little green outside the farm entrance to eat our sandwiches, but today we found a nice green area about a couple of hundred yards away and this proved very satisfactory, even more so on a nice summer's day.

Lunch at Ardley

The three groups left separately and we, being a group of nine, followed Ed's recommended route. Aided by a following wind and with Rupert out in front setting a furious pace we soon covered the four miles to Great Munden. On our way home on several occasions we were lucky enough to see buzzards circling above us; and as we passed some of the fields we could hear the skylarks. Facing northwards we went through Nasty, Westmill, Buntingford and Wyddial before arriving at the B1368. We paused briefly here where Greg fell off the second time today. No harm done but he should be aware that we don't keep records for the number of times people fall off their bikes. More lovely lanes followed on the road through Anstey to Nuthampstead where we stopped to look at the memorial for the U.S. Airforce Bomber Group who used to be stationed at Nuthampstead.

Anstey to Nuthampstead

American Memorial at Nuthampstead

The last leg of our day out took us through Shaftenhoe End, the climb up to Great Chishill before the two mile descent to Flint Cross. This wasn't as pedal free us usual as the wind today was against us. This left us with Fowlmere, Thriplow, Newton and Great Shelford to finish the ride after 64 miles at 4.20 pm. Thanks to our two leaders, particularly Edmund who volunteered as a late replacement. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

12 Apr: Evening ride to Lode

Nigel writes: There were just two of us tonight. Dimitris and I enjoyed a loop over the Gogs, down to Six Mile Bottom and then up to Cemetery Crossroads. A run along the ridge to Dullingham was followed by a fine descent down to Swaffham Bulbeck. After a short diversion to visit Commercial End we reached The Shed in Lode at about 8.15pm.

Ditton Meadows

After a pleasant meal we returned to Cambridge. I arrived home at 10pm after having cycled 50km (31 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

11 Apr: Senior cyclists ride around Santon Downham

John S writes: This week Adrian organised and led a Tuesday car-assisted ride starting from Santon Downham – a village between Brandon and Thetford. This used to be part of the Downham Hall Estate, but the Hall was demolished in the early 20th Century, and the village found a new life, and grew as the Forestry Commission developed a new community with housing for its employees, hidden away in the middle of Thetford Forest.

These car-assisted rides make a nice change from our regular rides, as they give a chance to explore different areas. I knew from Thursday and Sunday rides that Adrian is always keen to explore short-cut off-road sections that usually mean he re-appears ahead of the main group, but I had not yet been on one of his rides that planned go off-road for quite a distance.

Seven of us (Regular Tuesday riders Adrian, Clive, David and Vic, joined for this special ride by Steve G , Mike Bonner, plus me) met in the (free) car park in the middle of the village, and we set off north east across the railway and along a Forestry Commission road.

Clive, Vic and Steve riding along Harling Drove Road

After a short distance we turned east onto Harling Drove Road and began exploring some of the off-road trails through the forest. These were variously sandy, gravel-y or just a series of parallel ruts in grass, and presented quite a technical challenge for those of us used to riding on roads with narrow tyres.

A pause on the Forestry Commission trail (Photo: Adrian Lee)

It was quite depressing to see that these beautiful secluded trails had been used for fly-tipping, with piles of rubble, old fridges and washing machines dumped beside and across the path at several points.

On Hereward Way near East Wrentham Heath

We all made slow but steady progress, with a few gentle skids and slides along the way, and after a short spell back on tarmac, we joined the off-road Hereward Way before passing under the railway line and crossing the A11. Here we turned off the trail, and in a clearing found what looked like a shipping container that had been re-purposed as a snack bar.

The Pit Stop Snack Bar at Roudham Heath Picnic Area

I went for the misleadingly-named breakfast baguette. This turned out to be a full English breakfast – sausage, 3 rashers of bacon, 2 fried eggs and fried mushrooms – somehow shoehorned into most of a large baguette.

Others wait as John struggles with breakfast baguette (Photo: Adrian Lee)

Although very good value, this proved to be more than even I could cope with, and I am ashamed to admit that while I ate most of the contents, but found myself unable to deal with all the bread! Others had been here before, and so knew to select more moderate choices from the menu.

Five riders on the Peddars Way

At this point we had just left the Hereward Trail, and instead joined the Peddars Way and headed south for a short distance. As we crossed the next road, we found that the path was temporarily closed, and so Adrian improvised a road detour past Shadwell Park.

No pedalers' way for Clive and Vic at Peddars Way

We then joined the road through West Harling Heath. Before North Lopham, Adrian decided to turn North West towards East Harling, and on to lunch at the Angel Inn in Larling, which we have visited several times before.

After a nice lunch in this friendly pub, and stories of past CTC Cambridge off-road cycling adventures and late-night encounters with farmers, we proceeded over the bridge across the A11 from where we could just about see the motor racing circuit at Snetterton. We passed through Snetterton village and on to Shropham, were our planned route was blocked by another road closure. Adrian again improvised a detour on the fly, and we headed north to Mount Pleasant, and then zig-zagged towards Stow Bedon, where we crossed the A1075, and joined the Pingo Trail, which runs along the path of the former branch-line to Watton.

Adrian and Steve clearing the blocked Pingo Trail

Like me, you are probably wondering what on earth a Pingo is. I looked it up here: "Pingos were originally low hillocks that formed 20,000 years ago during the last ice age when water beneath the surface froze to form lenses of ice pushing soil upwards. During the summer thaw, the soil on the surface would sludge off and accumulate around the periphery of the hillocks. Shallow craters were left when the ice finally melted, causing the hillocks to collapse". The English word pingo is apparently derived from an Inuvialuit (Western Canadian Inuit) word for ice.

Even Adrian had to dismount to avoid the "sludging off" on the Pingo Trail

This stretch was probably the most entertaining part of the day, as the track had certainly been doing some recent "sludging off", and was made even more exciting as several trees had blown over across the path in the recent storms. These gave opportunities for a bit of amateur Ray Mears-style bushcraft, and much lifting of bikes. This trail was very much singletrack, with several boggy sections where we had to wheel our bikes.

We left the trail at Hockham Heath, and proceeded on-road through Stonebridge and East Wrentham to rejoin the morning’s route through Thetford Forest where we had earlier joined Hereward Way.

Mike, Clive and Vic back on-road again near East Wrentham

We finished our adventure around 6pm, having cycled about 40 miles in total, enjoying perfect weather conditions along the way.

A big thank you to Adrian for devising such a fantastic route for us, and for dealing with the various unplanned diversions. It made a nice change to avoid traffic for hours at a time, and to experience a wide range of different off-road conditions. I am now very much looking forward to Adrian’s next car-assisted ride in Derbyshire in early May (see here for details). John Seton

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

9 Apr: Sunday afternoon ride to Potton

Ray writes: Today was the warmest of the year so far and the spring sunshine had brought out most of our regular riders and a few new faces for this afternoon's ride to Potton. Ten of us set off from Brookside, quickly leaving behind the city centre pedestrians and traffic as we made our way down Barton Road. Today's route would take us over Chapel Hill, through the grounds of Wimpole Hall, up the hill to the Hatleys, and on through Gamlingay to a welcome cup of tea at The Coach House in Potton.

There were a few comings and goings on the ride out. We were joined at Barrington by Mike S and Phil N, taking our number to twelve. David F left us shortly afterwards, as we came through Orwell, and John F made his own way home from Gamlingay via Waresley, so we were ten again. John E left us after tea for a more direct route home (he had to get all the way back to St Ives).

I wanted to make the most of the nice weather, so had planned quite a long route home. We headed south from Potton then turned left for Sutton and Eyeworth. Our plans to ride this road earlier in the year were scuppered by roadworks, so this was my first time here. It turned out to be a quiet, pleasant lane. When we got to the ford at Sutton, most of us crossed on the footbridge while Simon braved the water - without incident, I am happy to report.

From Eyeworth we made our way towards Ashwell. We had been fighting a headwind most of the way out, and it was a very noticeable sidewind on this exposed stretch of road. We didn't get the tailwind I had been looking forward to until we reached the edge of Ashwell, where we turned towards Steeple Morden. From here it was a familiar route home, the "Bassingyawn" route as Mike K calls it, through Littlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Melbourn and Fowlmere, then Shelford and the DNA path to Cambridge.

We stopped briefly while Simon scavenged a spirit level someone had fly-tipped at the side of the road. He cycled all the way home with this zip-tied to his crossbar, but texted me later to tell me it didn't work; his bubble was burst.

I hadn't been paying attention to the time, but it had gone 6pm as we came through Newton and it was 6.45pm when we got to the railway station, a round trip of 55 miles from Brookside.

9 Apr: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Perry

John R writes: We were riding to Gamlingay and Perry today and as promised by the weatherman it was to be the hottest day of the year so far.

John J (aka Dr John) had said he would join me and ride to coffee. I waited for a few minutes at Swavesey bus stop before heading off down the guided busway alone wondering if he would have picked up my email the previous night reminding him of the early start. Thankfully as I approached Brookside I saw John there albeit in a fairly sweaty state as he had picked up the message whilst having breakfast and had ridden at breakneck speed to get to the start on time.

Although the weather was going to be hot this early start was still a bit on the chilly side.

There were six of us for the start – me, Dr John, Rupert, Alex, Sheila and Tom. I like the Sunday all day rides as the lesser numbers make the group riding easier and there is plenty of time to chat to all the other riders with you. We set off an one of our standard routes out of Cambridge via Newnham Common and the Barton cycleway to Haslingfield where we turned right to head up the first of our “Cambridgeshire Hills” – Chapel Hill early on in the ride still clears the airways!!!

Pausing in Barrington

After Barrington I had added a small loop to extend my planned route by just a few extra miles to get up to my target of 23/24 miles in two hours (average ctc pace of 12mph!) for coffee at 11am. So we travelled via Shepreth and then Molton Road into Orwell. We crossed the A603 and into the Wimpole estate where there was a parents and kids fun race on – most kids were clearly being dragged around and few seemed to be having fun – but the competitive parents were!

From Wimpole we headed up Croydon Road before turning right and up another Cambridgeshire Hill – Croydon Hill which maxes at 10%.

Croydon Hill

Stopping at the top most of us took a layer of clothing off as by now the sun was out with some real warmth in it. After the hill it was a nice relaxing ride through Hatley St. George and into Gamlingay from where it was only a few minutes ride to our first stop at Woodview Farm shop and café. The Woodview Farm site has been known for fresh produce since 1926 when there were 12 market gardeners and one dairy in the village. Already in the café was Edmund and we shortly joined by Adrian, Susan and David W. Whilst Rupert ordered his usual healthy bacon buttie and Alex a healthy scone albeit with extra cream and jam the rest of us settled for various cakes, scones and teacakes.

11.30am and time to set off for lunch stop. Dr John had to return home, Adrian was making his own way to Grafham café but Edmund, Susan and David W were all keen for a pub lunch in the sun. We headed off toward Gamlingay, cinq along Cinques Road. Gamlingay Cinques is a 3.4 hectare nature reserve on dry sandy soil, which is apparently an unusual habitat in the county of Cambridgeshire. Then up Tetworth Hill and Potton Road into St Neots where we chose the well marked cycle route across the meadows area crossing the Willow Bridge and into Eaton Socon. We then travelled along Bushmead Road and into Little and Great Staughton. This is a lovely quiet road which eventually brings us up toward the Grafham Water end of the B661. We were now only a mile or two from our lunch stop at the Wheatshief Pub at Perry. Rupert had booked us in for 1pm and we duly arrived on time.

The pub had said that they expected to be very busy and could only offer us an outside table but of course as it turned out this was perfect and we had excellent food and drink in very pleasant surroundings. The pub was busy but I noticed that although there were a lot of bikes besides ours the majority had clearly been hired at Grafham Water bike shop for a very short round trip to the pub!!!

Just before 2pm we set off heading East and as we approached the end of the Grafham Water shop entrance road we saw a tall lycra clad man wearing open-toed sandles – that could only mean one rider – John Seton!

By all accounts John had had a very trying morning going back and forth between home and the bike shop trying to resolve various bike malfunctions. John had guessed right as to which route we would take after lunch and so he joined us for our ride back towards Cambridge.

As we rode from Graveley towards Croxton and Abbotsley we realised that the wind had picked up and changed direction – we were now into a strong headwind which Tom was starting to really struggle with. After a while Tom told us to ride on as he knew the way home and we so the rest of us pushed ahead through Caxton, Bourn, Toft and Comberton.

John S and I stopped off at Burwash Manor tea rooms for a well deserved drink and a final cake.

The round trip day ride had been around 70 miles.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

6 Apr: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Ely

Edward writes: Two weeks ago we were in the Fens and today’s ride was another trip to the Fens. This time, however, there was a huge difference in the weather. Two weeks ago we all struggled against a cold east wind as we rode out to Isleham. Today, in contrast, we had lovely sunny weather, in fact a lot better than the forecast, and only a light breeze. In town, where once again John R did the honours, there were eleven riders and out in the country we started with thirteen. Starting a ride to Ely from Hauxton rather than Haslingfield proved a little tricky to plan a route. In the event, though, we left Hauxton by heading out to the A10 at Hauxton Gap where we were soon on to the new tracks developed for Trumpington Meadows and this turned out to be a very nice start to our ride.

Trumpington Meadows

Trumpington Meadows

This took us down to the entrance to Byron's Pool and on to Grantchester where the leak still hasn't been plugged and water still runs across the road. We came out on Barton Road where most of the early morning traffic had cleared and we were soon over into Grange Road. We reached Huntingdon Road via Madingley Road and Storeys Way and by this time we had been joined by Averil. After we had left Huntingdon Road at Girton corner the worst of the heavy traffic was behind us as we went through Girton and on to the road that leads to the busway.

Busway at Oakington

Busway at Oakington

By now the temperature had risen, the sun was shining brightly and we could see a good ride was in prospect especially with all the colour around us at this beautiful time of the year. Last week the oil seed rape was just starting, but this week there were lots of fields of bright yellow. There were some agricultural experts among us who wondered out loud if this was not a couple of weeks earlier than usual; an interesting point but nobody really knew the answer. Colour was abundant everywhere with trees in blossom and daffodils still showing strongly. After this discourse we found ourselves approaching Cottenham via Westwick. We arrived at the Community Centre at 10.45am, a few minutes before the City starters.


The Community Centre must be a very popular stop as we counted at least thirty-four and possibly one or two more as some had gone outside to sit in the sun. This is a paradox as many people claim that don't particularly like rides in to the Fens. The staff at the Centre did very well and it didn't take long to serve everybody such that we were able to get everyone organised ready to start the second leg by 11.20am. Maybe because it is school holiday time Twenty Pence Road to Wilburton didn’t seem its usual busy self which was good for us; obviously we travelled in two well separated groups, and made easy progress with a helpful breeze.


After Wilburton we crossed Grunty Fen to Wentworth where we had to cross the A142 and made our way to the little village on the hill of Coveney with its fine views to Ely Cathedral. Once again expert opinion was on hand to tell us about the design and construction of such a wonderful building.

Coveney (and Mike CC)

It was now only 12.15 pm so this allowed for a rearranging of the groups as some wanted to go directly into Ely whilst others went for a longer ride via Little Downham. Going via Little Downham gave us perfect timing as we arrived in Ely at 1pm. Although The Cutter is the nominated lunch stop our usual practice is to eat in Ely wherever we choose and meet for the return journey at the Cutter.

Bill P had very kindly extended an invitation to those with sandwiches to eat in his garden and so we all descended to Chez Perry and we had a very enjoyable three quarters of an hour relaxing in his garden and of course tea and coffee were provided. Thanks, Bill.

We all headed for the Cutter for 2 pm to find that, with the exception of Jill and Jim, who once again had joined us from Stevenage, everyone had left for home some twenty minutes earlier. So that left a group of twelve to head for home starting along Fen Rivers Way to Barway, past G's hostel to Padney.

Freight at Ely

As we approached Wicken we turned west on the A1123 for half a mile and then on to the road to Upware.


This left us with a trip across the Fens, including part of the Lodes Way and coming out in Lode. Rather than go straight to Quy we chose to go to Bottisham and join the cycle route beside the A1303.


Along the way people dropped off to head for their homes and the last few went via Airport way, Cherry Hinton, Addenbrooke's and Great Shelford. Those going back to Hauxton would have completed a round trip of 60 miles with the ride finishing at 4.15pm. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

5 Apr: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: Tonight's evening ride had just three takers: Alex, Dimitris and me. Alex was our leader tonight, and he took the opportunity to take us on a quite different route to the one we usually take when we have a pub stop in Shepreth. We set off and followed our usual route south, along the busway and DNA path to Great Shelford and then on through Little Shelford and Whittlesford and Duxford. There, instead of continuing south to Ickleton and climbing Coploe Hill, we turned west and followed Grange Road west towards Chrishall Grange.

Grange Road Duxford

We've had some very mild weather recently, and tonight was a fine, sunny evening. However it felt quite cold, with a chilly breeze in our faces, and since I was dressed for spring rather than winter I felt a little under-dressed.

Grange Road approaching Chrishall Grange

Chrishall Grange

At Chrishall Grange we turned left for the long but gentle climb to the little plateau just south of Chrishall where four roads meet. Of the three roads on offer, Alex ignored the temptations of Elmdon and Chrishall and chose the road that leads through Heydon to Great Chishill. This is Cambridgeshire's highest village and this was probably the first time we had ever visited it on an evening ride.

By now it was about 7.30pm and it was time to turn north in the direction of our pub stop in Shepreth. This allowed us to enjoy an almost continuous descent down to Flint Cross almost 4km away: as we descended I wondered whether this was the longest continuous descent in the area.

From Flint Cross a short run along the A1368 took us to Fowlmere from where it was a short distance to our pub stop at The Plough in Shepreth.

After a drink and a light meal in the pub we set off back to Cambridge. With Alex still our leader he eschewed the traditional route home via Barrington and Chapel Hill in favour of a shorter and flatter run along the A10 cycleway back to Trumpington and the busway. I arrived home just before 10.15pm, having cycled 57km (35 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 2 April 2017

2 Apr: Sunday afternoon ride to Hare Street

Simon writes: "What a rip roarlingly perfect, galactic wow factor ride we had this afternoon!" For a start this is the first time in two and a half ice ages since I've seen a ride without a headwind in double figures. It was comfortably warm but cool enough to enjoy Rupert's recent promotion of a winter's end crop of windproof jackets with unzipable arms.

Phil N rang me earlier this morning to ask if he could meet us where I planned to cross the A505 and the Ickleton road cycle crossing was nominated.

Having met David S, John E, Greg T and guest rider Sophie D at Brookside it took us just 39 minutes of easy riding that was more akin to floating on a cloud of evaporated 50 year old single malt Laphroaig.

This was Sophie's second ride with the club, the first being that slightly ill-fated windy damp Sunday a few months ago on the all day ride when we very nearly did more mileage in the afternoon than they deemed sensible with caution in mind.

From Ickleton we took Quickset Hill to Elmdon, crossed over Royston Lane to Duddenhoe End and down to Langley Upper green. Now at this point many might expect to be led turning right towards Langley Lower Green, but with the extra half hour that our Sunday afternoons runs organiser Ray had given us to play with we swung a left to explore hitherto unknown territory. It's a three and a half mile loop round somewhere called Butts Green, Roast Green and Further Ford End. Actually if one were taking tea at Clavering lakes it might be visible just half a mile to the west. We were half way round and deep within its off-beat recesses. I needed to check my hand drawn map on the back of the rider registration form to make sure we were following the loop. The other riders hovered waiting and hoping for the telltale happy leader signs. Yup! That’s it, don’t turn left into Sheepcote, that's a dead end.

Further Ford End did have mud and water running downhill on the tarmac but the signs warning against large vehicles and the moss growing down the middle gave us a sense that we really weren't likely to meet anything menacing coming the other way. A mile ahead brought us to Brent Pelham and from there is was three miles straight to tea at the Old Swan.

Like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn, who appears at the end of another exciting and thought provoking adventure, Adrian L was there to greet us (If anyone under 50 asks who Mr Benn was, I’m showing my age), and most unusually the three remaining all-day riders caught up with us only 30 minutes later.

The visit to the tea shop toilet was intrepid, after the daughter of the tea room owners warned me that it was home to a VERY big spider. My nieces and nephew are older now but I can still do the "petrifyingly-scared expression" for their amusement.

Leading the day ride, Alex announced his intention to take his group back home along the "efficient" B1368 but we voted to explore yet more lovely quite lanes though Hormead, Anstey, Nuthampstead, Shaftenhoe, Chishill and Heydon. I arrived home (the boat) having pedalled a distance that a beam of light would only take 0.3 milliseconds (now there's efficient), otherwise known as 62 English Earth miles." Simon Gallaway

Download GPS track (GPX).