Thursday, 16 November 2017

16 Nov: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Kentford

Edward writes: In Hauxton sixteen riders met for our ride out to Horseheath and Kentford, with Edmund doing the honours. Back in the city Rupert led a group of nine. The weather in the morning was benign with barely any wind, but the forecast reckoned it would start to turn cooler later in the afternoon. At the start Edmund outlined the route he would take as we would leave in two groups; in the event this became three groups. We made our way along to Whittlesford and in the process picking up one or two others, Horseheath being a popular coffee stop.


The cycleway into Sawston and out to Babraham brought us to the farm track over the A11 to Abington. We carried on via Hildersham and Linton and then Bartlow.

Running repairs in Babraham

Great Bradley

Owing to a puncture we had become a well-scattered group of riders with the leading group taking the correct route from Bartlow via Shudy Camps, the second group, however, made their choice to go from Bartlow to Streetly End. The third group who had the puncture eventually arrived in Horseheath a little later than all the others, route unknown.

As ever, Horseheath was the venue for several others who had journeyed out independently, and among them was Vic - always good to see him out. Our leaders decreed that coffee should be a short break and almost everybody had started the second leg by 11.30am. This was necessary as the ride to lunch would be twenty-one miles. This leg took us up to Carlton and then via the club favourite road to Little Thurlow and Great Bradley.

Autumn colours near Gazeley

Now followed the country lanes in this Cambridgeshire-Suffolk border region through Kirtling, Upend, Ashley and Gazeley and as we passed through the tree-lined roads the autumn colours were truly spectacular. From Gazeley it was but a short run down to the B1506 with our lunch stop at the Animal Health Trust less than a mile away.

Lunch at Kentford

Fortunately it was still just about warm enough to sit outside but our numbers overwhelmed the staff and for a while they struggled to cope. However, Rupert applied all his well known diplomatic skills and was able to soothe ruffled feathers. Those who wanted food did eventually get it and by 1.45pm we were on the road again, starting in a brief shower.

Our return journey took us up to Moulton with the climb over the hill into Cheveley and the undulating roads to Dullingham. Here there was the final parting of the ways with Rupert taking his city residents via Swaffham Bulbeck and Edmund's groups set course to Balsham via West Wratting. The darkness seemed to have come early and lights were on most of the way home as we finished the ride via Hildersham, Abington and Sawston with the ride finishing at 4pm and 64 miles to the good. Thanks to Edmund and Rupert as manoeuvring such a large group over 64 miles is some feat! Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

New committee for 2017-2018

At our AGM on Sunday 12th December a new committee was elected for 2017-2018. The new committee is listed here. Minutes of the AGM are now available or by following the link on the agenda page.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

12 Nov: Afternoon ride to Hauxton for the AGM

John F writes: Almost perfect cycling conditions, only slightly marred by a cold North Westerly breeze, and the prospect of an excellent tea at the AGM tempted 14 riders to set off from Brookside at 1pm. On Grange Road the number increased by Phil making 15 in all. That must be some kind of record for a winter afternoon ride.

I had planned a route that could be shortened in order to fit into the arrival time of 3pm. In the event we arrived two minutes late. Most riders were familiar with the route through Coton, Madingley, Dry Drayton, Hardwick, Kingston (with magnificent views from the hilltop). From there it was downhill through the Eversdens, Harlton (now sadly with no pub) to Haslingfield. Here I discarded the planned route over Chapel Hill to Barrington and Fowlmere for the direct route through Harston to Hauxton. The so-called "cycle track" beside the A10 is here nothing more than a narrow, twisty and bumpy footpath. How long does it take to make a cycle track?

As leader I was somewhat spooked by the number of riders so no photos and Strava refuses to upload the route. John E did sterling work as sweeper: an essential role with so many cyclists. Tea was as anticipated excellent so many thanks from the afternoon riders to all the providers and helpers. The AGM business was expeditiously dealt with too so it was altogether an enjoyable afternoon.

After tea I returned to Cambridge with three of our group through Trumpington Meadows Country Park - a very pleasant ride after dark. Here Mike K spotted an owl quartering the terrain but the rest of us missed it. John Ferguson

12 Nov: Sunday ride to Saffron Walden, Clavering and Hauxton for the AGM

Ian B writes: In response to Rupert’s recent appeal for leaders for the Nov/Dec rides, I spotted this ride to Saffron Walden and (at the time) Lower Langley. With the finish being at the AGM in Hauxton, I figured that this shorter than usual Sunday ride would be relatively stress free. I planned the route and went out to test it. That was a good idea as RideWithGPS had mapped me through some private property. So after a slight tweak the route was set. That was until a few days before the ride when Rupert found out the chef at the Bull Inn had heard we were coming and suddenly required a holiday. Fortunately Rupert found some spare lunch capacity at the Fox and Hounds in Clavering and after another route change, everything was in place.

The Sunday weather forecast was for the first cold snap of the autumn, with a max. of 6C and gusts of 20mph into our faces expected on the return leg. By 9.30am five of us had mustered at Brookside in full winter kit, Alex, Mark, Rupert, Simon and myself, with Tom H just catching us as we set off. Sheila joined us in Shelford on the usual CTC route to Saffron Walden.


The wind was behind us so we made good time but at the base of Coploe Hill, Alex realised that as it was Remembrance Day, the centre of Saffron Walden would be closed. Rupert redirected us through Littlebury so little time was lost.

At Bicicletta Coffee we met up with several more CTC members who had made their own way there and thankfully were served relatively quickly. Worryingly at one stage a police car arrived outside and an armed officer alighted but thankfully it was just security for the Armistice Ceremony being held at the Cenotaph.

We observed the 2 mins silence in the cafe and, having walked up the hill past the road blocks, set off on the 1 hour leg to lunch, via Widdington and Rickling. Now there were nine of us as Alex went back and Andy, Sarah and Nigel joined us. (Nigel was on his way back from Great Dunmow after receiving his Essex Super Randonneur medal).

Rickling (Photo: Nigel Deakin)

After lunch in Clavering (Photo: Nigel Deakin)

The Fox and Hounds in Clavering was a welcome, warm haven and lunch went down well enough for Rupert to be adding this to our Stops List. However I was conscious that we had 18 miles into a strong headwind back to the AGM in order to get our Runs Secretary re-elected. (I knew I would be drummed out of the CTC if we were late). We needed an average of 12mph to achieve the 3pm deadline, so we set off and in convoyspeak "put the hammer down". Our route home was via Lower Langley, Shaftenhoe End and Fowlmere. At times, unfortunately, the group became fragmented and apologies to Simon who, with his handlebar gauntlets creating some serious drag, lost contact and missed a turn at Barley.

In the end, Rupert sped ahead and was well in time. So all's well that ends well but I'll be more experienced the next time I plan a ride which has to be back by a certain time. The ride totalled 46 miles in all. Ian Bamborough

At the AGM (Photo: Nigel Deakin)

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 9 November 2017

9 Nov: Thursday ride to Gamlingay and Biggleswade

Mike P writes: Our ride from Brookside to Gamlingay and Biggleswade turned out to be an eventful one – at least for me! Seven "regular" riders joined me for the 9.15am start where we welcomed Dennis who was joining the Thursday run for the first time having recently become a Cycling UK member.

The morning was overcast yet dry with the forecast suggesting improving conditions with the promise of sunny intervals by the afternoon.

Dr John led the group out of the City along the Barton Road cycleway with myself taking up position at the back of the group. Crossing the M11 we continued along the cycleway towards Barton before forking right towards Comberton.

The bend in the cycle path at this junction is blind and, unfortunately for me, an approaching cyclist and I collided at speed with both of us coming off our bikes. I escaped unharmed save for a minor sprain to my wrist although, unfortunately, the same could not be said the city bound rider who was in a bad way with a broken collar bone and several bruises from the fall.

An ambulance was called. Peter W and I remained with the casualty for the 50 minutes or so that it took for the paramedics to arrive. In the meantime, Rupert and Dr John assumed “joint” leaders to take the remainder of the group onto coffee at West View Farm.

With the casualty safely on board the ambulance back to Addenbrookes, I checked over my bike to ensure it was rideable. Apart from the shifters having taken a knock out of alignment, all was fine and Peter and I set off to catch up with the ride. We duly achieved this by taking a more direct route to Gamlingay than originally planned albeit arriving just as the main groups were exiting the café.

After a quick pitstop (latte and huge slices of chocolate cake) Peter and I routed via Potton, Everton and Sandy before once again departing from the planned route to arrive at Jordan’s Mill in time for lunch some 5 minutes later than the remainder of the Brookside group and well before the village group.

As ever lunch was served very efficiently, and we were soon being led out of Jordan's by Rupert on one of his "secret" cycle paths which runs north along the River Ivel into the centre of Biggleswade.

Thereafter, we reverted to my planned route home along the B1042 to Dunton and Wimpole. Several of the group turned left at Wrestlingworth to take a more northerly route back to St Ives whilst Rupert, Peter W, Simon G, Dennis and myself continued back to Cambridge via Orwell and Barrington. By now the sky had cleared and, with a tail wind helping progress, it made for very pleasant cycling.

I left the group at Barton to head home at 3.30pm whilst the remaining riders headed into town.

On Reflection: This is the second incident in the past three months when I have come off the bike and count myself very fortunate that I haven't picked up any injuries save for some minor grazes and bruising albeit at the cost of one Condor bike frame.

Could either incident have been avoided? These were unrelated accidents which occurred on unforeseen occasions. Perhaps it was just bad luck although the lessons I have taken away are always to wear the correct gear and to exercise more caution especially when you least expect it.

Cambridge has many cycleways which make travelling and around the City both safe and enjoyable to all. As an inevitable consequence they are popular for commuting as well as for pleasure and heavily used particularly in the rush hours and mid-afternoon when the schools finish. Particularly when cycle paths are narrow (for example the DNA) keep an eye on your speed and exercise considerable caution on bends / junctions and when passing others. Mike Pearce

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Notice of AGM

The Annual General Meeting of CTC Cambridge will be held at 3pm on Sunday 12th November at Hauxton Village Hall, followed by a club tea during which there will be an opportunity to ask questions of the new committee and socialise with other members.

Update: The agenda has been updated and links to the various reports added.

Please bring your CTC membership card with you if you intend voting on agenda items. Both our rides that day will arrive at Hauxton at time for the start of the AGM.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

5 Nov: Sunday ride to Fordham and Ely

Nigel writes: I often hear the view within our club that members don't like going north. I don't mean to the real north. I just mean to Ely. It's set in a rather flat and bleak landscape and there are few decent options to get there. So I was surprised that when Sheila led our last foray into the fens on 15th October we had a decent turnout and a rather pleasant day. But I was even more surprised when, only three weeks later, we returned to Ely with an even bigger turnout.

Our leader on both occasions was Sheila, though our route (and our coffee stop) would be different this time. Today was a rather fine sunny day, which encouraged nine other riders to join her on a foray into the northlands.


Our morning coffee stop was in Fordham, and with a 9.30am start there was really only one route to get there: east along the river to Fen Ditton and the "old" NCN51 route through Bottisham, the Swaffhams, Reach and Burwell. With bright sunshine and a very slight tailwind this was a pleasant and very easy ride.

Passing Quy Church


After coffee at Simpson's Nurseries in Fordham we set off north to Ely. There really is only one sensible route to take, along B-roads via Isleham and Prickwillow, which we had another easy to Ely. Here we stopped for lunch at the same place as last time, the Cutter Inn by the river.

After lunch Sheila decided to abandon her planned route home via Wicken because NCN11 south of Ely was expected to be muddy. So at Sheila's invitation I took over the lead for what is in practice the only alternative route, via Wilburton and the B1049. After crossing the River Great Ouse we turned off onto Long Drove and returned to Cambridge via Landbeach, Milton and the A14 cycle bridge. I arrived home at about 4pm, having cycled 84 miles (52 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Book now for the Christmas Lunch

Our annual Christmas Lunch will be on Sunday 10th December 2017 at Bourn Golf and Fitness Club. 12.30pm for 1pm.

Three courses are £25.95, two courses £21.95, with the club paying the service charge. To book, please print the menu, make your selections and send it with a cheque to the address on the form by Sun 26th Nov.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

1 Nov: Evening Ride to Barrington

Tom N writes: The evening rides have now become night-time riding and despite clear skies and a near-full moon we were down to three riders at the 18:30 start: Gareth R(leading), Andrew S and me. Although a little lower on numbers than the summer evening rides, the smaller group enabled us to do more of our own thing.

So we set off at a good pace heading southbound down the DNA path to Great Shelford, then on to Whittlesford and Ickleton. From Ickleton we took a turn to the right, heading west up Quickset Road and we started the inevitable and steady climb to Elmdon.

This was the point at which the pace we had initially set started to differentiate us. Gareth climbed the hill as if nothing was really there, Andrew was somewhere in the middle, recovering from a cold and doing impressively well in the circumstances, and I dropped down a gear to make a slightly slower ascent (albeit faster than my normal uphill pace), us all regrouping at each suitable mini-summit before pushing on again.

We were making great time and were enjoying the opportunity to set a faster pace and and for each of us to push ourselves a little bit more than a typical CTC ride, particularly as the evening rides are relatively short.

A right turn at the end of Hertford Lane and we were downhill all the way though Chrishall Grange to Fowlmere which we cruised through at about 8pm and then pedalled the last few miles to Shepreth and beyond to our pub stop at the Royal Oak in Barrington, arriving at 8.15pm. Here we had a drink and some great pub food (I can recommend the fish and chips), which set us up well for the immediate climb over Chapel Hill and, once completed, the gentle ride home.

We arrived back in Cambridge with approximately 55 km (34 miles) behind us, although Gareth's cycle computer was double-counting and indicated an impressive 110 km (68 miles) had been completed. We may have been slightly faster than normal but not that fast!

Monday, 30 October 2017

Rides in November or December

Our November and December rides lists are now available. We are into our winter rides now, so our Sunday and Thursday rides are all a bit shorter to try and avoid riding in the dark. But always remember to bring lights on these rides in case we get delayed. Our Wednesday evening rides are now just monthly, aligned to the full moons - but you still need to bring good lights!

To lighten the mood you can put the AGM and the Christmas lunch dates into your diaries. These are two good chances to socialise and enjoy a meal together, with the added option of a club ride to both events.

Lastly, our regular call for leaders. There are still several of these winter rides that need a leader. It works best when we share the leading and everyone does a few leads each set. So if you haven't volunteered yet, please contact Rupert to put your name down. Rupert Goodings.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

29 Oct: Sunday afternoon ride to Anglesey Abbey

Neil writes: Sunday afternoon was clear, bright, and not too windy, so good conditions for autumn cycling, and I was joined at Brookside by ten other riders. We left Cambridge using the route alongside the river, from Midsummer Common to Fen Ditton and on to Stow-cum-Quy.

At the start

This outing was one of our new, shorter afternoon rides, so we followed the National Cycle Network route through Bottisham and the Swaffhams just as far as Reach. Then we returned via the Lodes Way to Lode and Anglesey Abbey, glimpsing a rainbow along the way.

I have ridden past Anglesey Abbey many times, but never through the entrance. They do have quite a bit of cycle parking, though it is distributed in at least three different locations around the car park.


After tea, we returned along the B1102. There is now a partially constructed cycleway adjacent to the road. This does not yet cover the whole distance from the Abbey to Stow, but the section that has been built is quite usable, and much more pleasant than the road.

I was home by 4.30pm, having ridden 25 miles (41 km) with 140m of ascent. Neil Spenley

Download GPS track (GPX).

Saturday, 28 October 2017

AGM 2017

The Annual General Meeting of CTC Cambridge will be held at 3pm on Sunday 12th November at Hauxton Village Hall, followed by a club tea during which there will be an opportunity to ask questions of the new committee and socialise with other members.

Please bring your CTC membership card with you if you intend voting on agenda items. Both our rides that day will arrive at Hauxton at time for the start of the AGM.

Minutes of this meeting are now available here.


1. Welcome

2. Apologies for absence

3. Minutes of previous AGM (Minutes of 2016 AGM)

4. Annual Reports

a. Secretary (Secretary's report)

b. Treasurer (Statement of accounts)

c. Runs Secretary (Runs secretary's report)

5. Election of Officers and Committee.

All posts are open for election. Nominations for any post should be sent in advance of the meeting to John Seton, interim secretary ( Nominations will also be taken at the meeting.

The committee prior to the AGM is listed here. All existing committee members are prepared to stand for re-election to their current posts with the exception of Sharon Jackson, who will not be standing for re-election to the post of Welfare Officer, and Chris Emerson, who will not be standing for re-election as a general committee member.

a) Officers
  • Chairman
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary

b) Other specific role members
  • Runs Secretary
  • Registrations and Promotions Officer
  • Website Officer
  • Welfare Officer

c) Other non-specific role members
  • General Committee member 1
  • General Committee member 2
  • General Committee member 3

6. Election of Honorary Auditor

Alex Brown has offered to take this role over, but suitably qualified alternative nominations are welcome.

7. Campaigning Report – Rupert Goodings

8. Len Nice Trophy vote introduction – Chris Emerson (voting to take place during tea, with results to be announced at the Christmas Lunch)

9. Open forum – questions to new committee, and discussion of topics including
  • Ride discipline
  • Club events

John Seton, Secretary

Friday, 27 October 2017

27 Oct: A ride around Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

John S writes: Adrian Lee organised another of his car-assisted rides, to Clumber Park, near Worksop, on 27th October. Former CTC Cambridge member George Stevenson, who had moved from Cambridge to Worksop around 30 years ago, had arranged to meet us there, and lead us on trails that were very familiar to him from his time there.

Arrival at The Old Tearoom, Carboulton

I met Adrian, Mike C and Vic at 7.45am in Shelford, to load bikes onto Adrian's car. The journey was very straightforward, with no hold ups. It was chilly start, but this was a portent of the perfect sunny, cloudless and windless day that was to follow. We arrived at the rendezvous café – The Old School Tearoom in Carburton - around 9.45am, after driving through Clumber Park and seeing the wonderful double avenue of lime trees, and wondering why they all had black bands around their trunks. After the regulation bacon baps and coffees, George arrived and outlined the day he had planned for us.

We set off east from the café, back into Clumber Park. We soon left the road, and turned onto one of the many cycle-friendly paths that criss-cross the area. This led us to a bridge over Clumber Lake, and on via other paths and lanes to cross the River Poulter by a long footbridge over a ford.

Distant cyclists beyond the ford over the River Poulter (Photo: Adrian Lee)

Clumber Park is in an area of North Nottinghamshire called the Dukeries. It was once the estate of the Dukes of Newcastle. The main house at Clumber Park was demolished in 1938, but the outbuildings, farms and stables are still intact, and used as shops and cafés, along with a chapel - more cathedral-sized than chapel-sized. We continued through the half-term crowds, past water meadows, through the park gates, and on back to the café where we had started, for lunch.

Passing through Clumber Park Gates

After lunch, we explored the area to the west of Clumber Park, passing through the villages of Norton and Holbeck. Here George took a turn onto a delightful off-road stretch that rejoined the road network near Creswell.

Vic tackles some rough stuff near Creswell

At this point, we briefly crossed from Nottinghamshire into Derbyshire, and up a new road to Creswell Crags – a limestone gorge lined with caves where in 2003 archaeologists found the only UK examples of Ice Age rock art. Usually, bridleways disappear over time, and more roads are built. In this case, the former B-road through the Crags has been turned into a tranquil bridleway, by-passed by a completely new road to the north.

The former B6042 – now a bridleway through Creswell Crags

From Creswell Crags we continued along quiet roads through Hodthorpe - a mining village - and on to a great section of rough stuff – part of an off-road trail called Robin Hood Way passing through another of the 5 Dukeries Estates – Welbeck. This passed through woodland, where most of us had to accept defeat and wheel our bikes for a short distance. Here we saw more recent examples of rock art – messages from the 1960s – 2010’s carved into sandstone next to the trail.

George, Adrian and Mike C riding along a quiet lane near Hodthorpe

George and Vic on Robin Hood Way (Photo: Adrian Lee)

We then re-entered Clumber Park and retraced the morning route back to the start/finish café just after 4pm.

Returning through the lime tree avenue in Clumber Park

In the car, on the way back through Clumber Park, we again puzzled over the black bands around every single lime tree. Suggestions included marks to measure how quickly individual trees were growing, or an early warning of tree disease. An internet search on the way home revealed that these bands date back to 1906, and are lines of grease that were put around the trees to prevent wing-less insect parasites from climbing up the trunks and infesting the trees.

Over the day, we rode around 25 miles, but as much of this was off-road, this was more of a challenge than the distance alone suggests. We arrived back in Cambridge around 7pm after a day of perfect late-October weather and great cycling along tracks we would never have found without our "native guide" George. A big thank you to George for his local knowledge, and to Adrian for driving us all, and for arranging another fascinating CTC Cambridge car-assisted ride. John Seton

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 26 October 2017

26 Oct: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Thurleigh

Sheila writes: There were nine of us at Brookside for the start of the ride this morning with four more joining us en-route before coffee. The coffee stop was Woodside Farm in Gamlingay which we reached by climbing Chapel Hill in Haslingfield, negotiating the crowds of runners and spectators through Wimpole Hall, into Croydon and through the Hatleys.

Chapel Hill

Fortunately we had made good time as Woodside Farm was virtually full. We succeeded in securing enough chairs to join the half dozen cyclists already there and it was some 45 minutes later eight of us continued on to Thurleigh with the remainder returning home.

Morning coffee at Woodside Farm

After Sandy we picked up the cycle path where, for a large section of the way, we cycled parallel to the River Ouse. Being a cycle route it limited progress but the scenery was delightful. Following a fiddly section of cycle paths through housing and with a north headwind along a four mile straight, we cycled the final stretch to Thurleigh arriving just five minutes later than estimated.

Leaving Gamlingay

After our first experience at Scald End Farm we were unsure how this stop would work out but we weren’t disappointed. The food was good, except for one burnt sausage, and excellent value for money. I had a baguette filled with a generous portion of thickly sliced, locally sourced ham garnished with salad and crisps for £3.55p. I certainly recommend this venue for future lunch stops.

Lunch at Scald End Farm, Thurleigh

We left looking forward to a tailwind and sped along the road to St Neots. It was how it should always be - flat, with the sun shining and the scenery at its best. After circulating a roundabout two, maybe three, times due to unclear instructions from David T we made our way to Abbotsley, Gt Gransden and Bourn.

During the ride back my fellow cyclists had been branching off to take direct routes home and so I found myself riding solo from Bourn back to Cambridge. We’d enjoyed lovely sunshine all day, albeit with a stiff north wind, but typical for the season there was a sudden, sharp drop in temperature as I rode into Cambridge.

My Garmin didn't record my ride due to pilot error but it was about 68.5 miles at an average speed of 12.5mph. Sheila George

Download this route (GPX).

Sunday, 22 October 2017

22 Oct: Sunday ride to Sturmer, Long Melford and West Wratting

Mike P writes: Four members joined me at Brookside on Sunday morning for the run out to Long Melford and return: Rupert, Dr John, David T and Sheila. This was to be the last three-stop ride of the season. An inclement weather forecast, coupled to a number of regular riders opting to enter Nick Wilkinson's Cambridge Autumnal Audax rides the day before, were such that the turnout would be lower than usual.

Nonetheless, we departed at 9am sharp heading out on the city on Hills Road following the usual route over the Gogs before dropping down to Babraham. Edmund joined the ride at Hildersham as we continued at pace aided by a blustery 20 mph Westerly wind. Linton, Bartlow, Castle Camps and Steeple Bumpstead were visited before heading North to the garden centre on the A1017 at Sturmer, arriving for coffee just before 11am barely out of breath. Here we were met by Adrian and Susan who had made their own way.

After coffee we headed up to Kedlington where Rupert and Dr John peeled off for home. The remaining group of five namely, myself, Sheila, David T, Edmund and Susan continued on with the wind on our backs through quiet and picturesque lanes and villages via Clare, Blecham st Paul and Foxheath, arriving at Long Melford at 12.30pm for lunch. Glimpses of sun and warming temperature made for very pleasant riding.

Lunch was originally planned at the Crown although none of us felt the need for a major refuel so we opted to try Fanny Anne's Tea Room on the High Street a short distance to the South. The ladies running this very traditional establishment were most accommodating even allowing us to bring our bikes into the café. There was a wide range of reasonably priced hot food on the menu not to mention a great selection of freshly made cakes all served with speed and efficiency. Definitely to be recommended.

Fanny Anne's Tea Room, Long Melford

More photos below

Suitably replenished, we headed out of Melford at 1.40pm with skies clearing to bring some lovely autumnal weather albeit we were now heading into that blustery westerly. Keeping our heads down and to a steady pace we headed up to Glemsford via the B1066 before making our way westwards along some exposed ridges to Stansfield and Deniston which made for some difficult riding on occasion.

From Stradishall there are few options other than to plug along the A143 past Highpoint before dropping down to Thurlow. By now legs were beginning to tire from battling the full force of that westerly. Attempting to keep a close peloton with David taking point for much of the way made life easier for the remainder of us and we arrived for our tea stop at the Chestnut in West Wratting at 3.45pm, a few minutes after the afternoon group.

Susan and Edmund elected to carry on to Shelford. After tea, David , Sheila and myself headed back into town via Balsham and Fulbourn, arriving back at Brookside just after 5pm having cycled 128kmwith a moving time of 6h 10m at an average of 20.6 km/h Mike Pearce

Download GPS track (GPX).

Electric bikes: mid drive or hub drive?

Thinking of buying an electric bike? One of the most important things to consider is what kind of drive to chose. Mike Stapleton has written an article describing the two main types available.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

21 Oct: Cambridge Autumnal audaxes

Alex writes: Today was the second running of the Cambridge Autumnal audaxes. These are Audax UK calendar events organized by Nick Wilkinson under the banner of Cambridge Audax. Despite dire warnings of bad weather from the forecasters (typically overblown as is the way these days), 160 riders took part: 100 on the 200km ride, and 60 on the 100km.

The route for the 200 was slightly tweaked from last year, but the idea is simple: ride to Framlingham (approx. 100km) and then back via the Maglia Rosso café near Hawstead.

Beside me, 6 other CTC Cambridge regulars were out this year: Bill P (on the 100), John P, Nigel, Seb, Simon and Tom. Their accounts follow ...

Anciens – Nigel wears a LEL gilet; Nick a PBP one

Gareth manning the desk

Tom's audax

This was my second attempt at a 200km audax. The first resulted in me almost collapsing in a pub to rehydrate and a grand finishing time of about 15 hours ± 15 minutes (who would keep timing at this point?).

The aim of this audax was solely to see some improvement on my earlier performance.

This time I was better prepared with a hub dynamo, map holder, helmet lights and some idea of the pace that would suit me best. The aim was to keep a steady pace with shorter breaks to refuel on food.

This seemed to be working well on the outbound trip and I found myself shadowing Simon G most of the way. Simon has done several audaxes this year and that gave me the confidence to stick at the pace he was setting. Simon and I rode with Seb on and off for many miles too, although Seb had a slightly different riding style, his cycling pace varying depending upon his energy (cake) levels at the time! It was good to have their company on the way.

16km done – with Simon G

After Maglio Rosso the miles and the headwind on the return leg were taking their toll. Simon had accommodated my slower pace and had helped me to pull through this difficult leg of the trip (Thanks Simon!). However, I was exhausted at Balsham and had to stop. I asked Simon to go on as time was pressing.

After a good drink of water, an energy bar and a caramel shortbread I was ready to go again. I now knew my way back. I arrived back at Girton at 9.15pm, just 20 minutes before the allotted time.

Tom celebrates his new randonneur status with some soup at the arrivée

Seb's audax

On my way to the start, I met Alex, who was cycling the other way, surely to position himself for some photos ahead? I arrived with just 10min to spare, enough to get my brevet and to enjoy 2 crumpets with a cup of coffee, I soon was on the Start line, and into a peloton through Cambridge.

I went on my own pace to Newmarket, where there was horses about. Whilst I stopped for a banana and a biscuit before Bury St Edmunds, riders went past me, including Simon and Tom.

Leaving Bury, I went past Tom & Simon who'd stopped on a bench and after another banana stop past Bury, they had caught up, and I joined them. So far the day had proven only a bit windy and rather sunny.

As we progressed, we started to see cyclists heading the other way, many familiar faces went by. We stopped at the café in Framlingham and I had a sausage roll, pizza bread, cream cake, soda and a coffee.. a bit too much so I had to leave Simon and Tom to pace ahead once back on the bike.

I noticed the old rescue vehicle in Earl Soham and stopped to take a picture, eventually I caught up with Tom & Simon. The weather had changed, there was a few drops of rain, nothing requiring a waterproof, it was windier but still okay compared to what was forecast.

We arrived in Maglia Rosso with 10/15min to closure for cakes and coffee, after a quick stamp and chat with Alex -manning the control- , banana, cake&coffee, all 3 of us headed off with our lights on. I was going a bit fast for Tom and I moved ahead, eventually riding more with Steven as I we were heading toward Balsham.

Seb at the Maglia Rosso

Increasingly the wind was a problem, due to being more exposed and higher up in the land. Past Balsham I lost Steven ahead as I was keeping a low speed in order to control the bike, past Balsham I didn't get much advantage from the downhills, surely not bombing down in the drops! Only when reaching Cherry Hinton did I feel more safe. I reached the arrivée by around 20:50, half an hour after I expected.

I was well looked after and got some cake, tea, bread/cheese, got some soup too! Cheers! Simon had got here before me I think and Tom wasn't long to follow.

Many thanks to Nick, Ewa, Gareth, Alex and all involved in making it such an event.

Simon's audax

The lead up to this Audax met me with a degree of anxiety that registered as lethargy and the frequent need to sleep for the last two days.

I guess part of this was the inevitable aspect of having to navigate in the dark, from a route sheet by the feint glimmer of a head torch, possibly in wind and rain whilst fatigued.

News of Storm Brian only added slightly to this apprehension An email airing concern to Nick prompted his response describing weather forecasters as scare mongers and an assertion that Audax riders were made of stiffer stuff strengthened my resolve to attempt it come what may.

The grapevine at Girton headquarters also detailed that John R and David T had fallen prey to the less than realistic reports of wind conditions. This prompted a revised Cambridge CTC group compliment of Tom, Seb, Nigel and me, although it was given that Nigel would probably do his own thing at heady paces we can only dream of.

Seb is a vibrant and amusing character whose fitness to overtake us or dwell behind appeared dependant on how long it was since his injection of cake at the last coffee stop and so it was that Tom was my main ride partner for today, and very well we did too.

Alex stamped our Brevet cards at Maglia Rosa whilst taking some more photos for the blog. We had made good time from the Café at Framlingham and managed to be the last ones to get served at Maglia Rosa before they wound down for the day.

Simon at the Maglia Rosso

Daylight left us somewhere before Highpoint prison on the A143. At Audax speeds I strained to see the road ahead properly even with my 80 lux B&M headlight, where by comparison Tom’s 100 Lux IQX carved acres of light in front of us…. Must get one

Several of Nick’s Audax routes share a common route home from Lt Thurlow onwards and having done the delightful Shipping Lanes twice recently meant that once across the A143 I didn’t need to see my route sheet again for the rest of the ride.

On the approach to Balsham Tom said he needed to stop, eat, rest and insisted that I carry on not to risk DNF by missing the deadline.

When I have a lonely half hour to kill by myself I will often recite Tony Hancock’s “The Missing Page”. Funny then that it should take ¾ of an hour between Balsham and Cambridge Castle Hill given that Hancock’s 1960s radio programmes were billed as “HHHHHH Hancock’s Half Hour”. Must have been all the huffing and puffing, cursing at arrogant drivers and apathetic pedestrians!

To my relief it wasn’t long after controlling at Girton headquarters that Tom caught up, and still with 25 minutes to spare.

It might not have been my fastest 200km so far but the comfortable pace left me feeling decidedly fresh, high spirited and full of beans.

Ewa’s bean soup was just right for the end of the ride and her carrot cake is nothing short of perfection on a plate!

Our thanks go to Nick and Ewa for being the life and driving force behing these events.

And the side slightly tail wind … was really refreshing and hardly a drag at all.

John P's audax

Too close to put my cycle in the car. So I was up and out on the road well before it was light to be in time for the Girton start of the Cambridge Autumnal. This was a beautiful morning for a ride other than a stiff headwind all the way to the start. After a cup of coffee and the briefing we headed east across Cambridge. The traffic lights split us into groups and by the time we had reached the far side of Newmarket I found myself with a group of four from St Ives. Together, we made excellent progress in stunning scenery and made Baker’s Café in Framlingham in good time. After the stop I took up with Jan from Little Baddow. It turns out that he has done a whole lot of audaxes. Again, good progress was made with a bit of effort, needed to overcome the headwind, in some glorious countryside. The better for the autumn sunshine. We got to our second stop, Maglia Rosso Café just south of Bury St Edmunds, where we found Alex officiating as controller. More coffee and cake!

John P at the Maglia Rosso

After meeting up with Alex, I took off towards Cambridge and met up again with the St Ives contingent. The landscape becomes flatter at this point and the headwind became more of an issue. We plugged away and with our slower progress, as we got near Cambridge, the light faded so on went our lights.

After a round trip of 132 miles, we got back to base. This was a very welcome sight! It was made all the better by the wonderful food laid on by Ewa, Nick’s wife. After this brief rest, I was on my cycle to find the wind at my back, thank goodness, for the ride home. A wonderful day and the longest cycle ride of my life. I have a target of 100 rides of 100 miles or more. This is my 18th, including my 3rd audax of 200 km, so only 82 to go!

Nigel's audax

One of the things I like about Audax calendar events is that they give you the freedom to choose whether to ride on your own or with others. That's different from Audax perms, when you're usually riding with a group of friends (or indeed with club rides, where cycling with others is the whole purpose of the ride). With a calendar event you can have the best of both worlds: you can combine riding on your own when you want to push yourself, or take it easy, or just spend time with your own thoughts, with riding with others when you want to catch a passing train, when you find yourself going at the same pace as someone else, or when you feel like some company.

With my usual Audax wheelmates either not taking part or helping run the event, I knew that today's ride would be mostly solo, which gave me the opportunity to try something new. My plan today was to see how quickly I could get round the course, partly by riding quickly, and partly by keeping the stops as short as possible.

Nigel charging along the A1303 towards Newmarket

The dominant feature of today's ride was of course the wind, which was mostly from the south-west and so gave me a decent tailwind for the run out to Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Framlingham. But it was also a gorgeous sunny day; the quiet wooded sections beyond Bury were particularly pretty in the sunshine with plenty of fine October leaf colour.

With the help of the tailwind I enjoyed a fast, non-stop run to Framlingham, taking exactly four hours to cover the 102km. I called in at the co-op to control before sitting down in a sunny corner to eat my sandwiches.

I was back on the road within twenty minutes. I wanted to find out how short a stop I could handle, but was also mindful of the weather forecast. I knew I'd have a headwind for most of the way back, but with the forecast predicting that the wind would get worse I decided I should try to get as far as I could before that happened.

Some people say that riding into a headwind is a technical challenge, solved by riding in a group and taking turns at the front. But for me the challenge is mainly psychological. You have to come to terms with the fact that you can't ride as quickly as you would want to. There's no point in getting frustrated, or turning it into a struggle. You need to relax, drop down a gear or two, and take it easy. (I think that approach served me well on "Windy Thursday" on LEL).

However as I made my way back west I felt I was more tired than usual, even after taking account of the headwind, and began to wonder whether taking such a brief stop in Framlingham had been false economy. In particular I hadn't been drinking very much, so I stopped at a petrol station in Stowmarket for a can of pop and a coffee, which I enjoyed in the classic Audax way, sitting on the ground next to the sacks of barbecue charcoal.

That break seemed to do the trick, and when I reached the control at Maglia Rosso I didn't feel the need to do more than get my card stamped and chat to Alex for ten minutes before carrying on. The wind, despite giving me a 20mph headwind every time I turned south, never reached the intensity that was predicted. I was certainly going slowly, but I never had any problems with being blown around.

The return journey took me nearly two hours longer than the ride out, and I arrived back at Girton at about 6.20pm, giving me a total time of 10h 20 mins. That's 50 minutes slower than last year without the wind . Today's ride had been an experiment: how few stops can I get away with on a 200? Today I had confirmed that I can ride 100km easily non-stop. But then I really do need to stop and rest.

Alex's audax

Since I had volunteered to help with the the event, I was not riding it. But Audax UK regulations allow “helpers” to ride the course just before or after the day itself and have it validated alongside the main field – so I rode the course the weekend before, checking Nick’s routesheet (flawless as always) and the roads for any hazards.

I enjoy cycling into the dawn and so opted for an early start, setting off from Girton at 05:30. Past Newmarket the sun began to rise: a vivid orange dawn presaged a lovely day ahead.

Barrow sunrise

In Bury St Edmunds I paused momentarily by the McDonald’s – the only thing open so early – and looked through the window at the glum customers tucking into their plastic meals. The mood didn’t encourage me to eat, so I decided to press on to Framlingham for breakfast.

It was a glorious autumn morning with the soft morning light streaming through the trees, and then as the day ripened the clear blue sky made a striking backdrop for the autumn leaves at their most colourful.

Beyond Bury

At Framlingham I stopped at the bakery for breakfast – the place was busy with cyclists but none I think had that smug “I’ve just cycled 100 km to get my breakfast” aura that I was radiating.

Framlingham breakfast

On the return leg I noticed there was a bit of a wind. On the exposed sections heading West it was bothersome, and I wondered what the weather would be like on the day: a strong westerly would make this hard work!

After a slice of cake at the Maglia Rosso I plodded on home, encountering near Cowlinge a cyclist with whom I got chatting – turned out he was signed up for the audax and was doing a recce of part of the route. Then at Fulbourne I bumped into Seb, out for a spin on his snazzy new bike.

Back at Girton I reflected on a great ride – the riders on the day would have a treat in store if the weather held.

Come the day, I was up early again to get to Girton before 07:00. My duties were card stamping for both the 100km and 200km rides, and I had decided to fit some photograph-taking opportunities in too, so I set off twenty minutes before the start to get in position. I had picked a spot on the A1303 where the road rises to cross the A14/A11 and turns into the morning light. I got set up and shortly thereafter the head of the field steamed past. With a slight tailwind, fresh legs and bright sunny weather everyone looked pleased to be out on the bike!

From here it was 16km up to Great Thurlow to stamp the cards of the 100km riders. The wind was quite buffeting, but not too bad.

The need to stamp cards had introduced me to an exciting niche within the audax world: some people often take a special pride in having their own distinctive stamps, and so in this spirit I had designed my own which I hoped was echt-audax.

At the control it was good to see many familiar faces, including that of Bill! Everything went smoothly except for an irate driver who identified me as being “in charge” (I wasn’t) and complained that riders were riding two-abreast. “Oh, that’s good!” I replied cheerfully. This didn’t seem to mollify him.

From Great Thurlow I rode the 24km to the Maglia Rosso to man the control for the 200km ride. This would need to be open between 13:00 and 18:00 – a long stint, but with the delights of the café and a constant stream of cyclists to chat to was in fact very enjoyable – and I was enjoying developing what I hoped was a certain amount of pomp and gravity in using The Stamp. The secret is in the little pause before the press I think.

Between the first rider at around 13:30 and closure, 93 riders passed through the control (there were a few abandons and one late rider), and then it was time to ride back to Girton. I opted to take the official route reckoning, on fresh-ish legs, to be passing riders at the back of the field. This was working well and I had reeled-in a few when, at Denston, I heard the tell-tale latex whooshing sound that told of a puncture. It was a nasty one, and by now the wind had really picked up and there was rain in the air. I opted to fit a new tyre and an inner tube, waving on other riders who kindly offered to assist (“go ahead – save yourselves”). Job done I started working my way up the field again. By now Storm Brian was blowing a proper gale and the exposed stretches nearing Balsham were very hard work – I felt for those on tired legs dicing with the time limit.

Back at Girton rec. I could now savour the highlight of the day: Ewa’s cakes. I could not stop myself from sampling all three. An exemplary carrot cake, a chocolate and banana cake with amazing depth of flavour, and then the lightest and airiest of lemon cakes. Yumsk.

More photos from the event can be seen here.

15 Oct: Sunday ride to Chippenham and Ely

The Dalek, the Fens and the Music. John S writes: I was surprised by the huge turnout and low average age of the riders I found waiting at Brookside as I turned the corner. The crowd of younger riders I had seen turned out to be a University cycling club who were meeting at the same place. Across the road, I found a more typical number of eternally youthful riders – Tom, Nigel, Mike P, Susan, John R and Andrew.


We set off across Parker's Piece and along the river path. Soon after starting, Nigel had a puncture on Riverside, and stopped to make a quick repair. Nigel informed me of the unwritten club rule that pictures are not to be taken of members who are mending punctures, so instead I photographed Mike, Susan and John offering their full moral support from a safe distance.

The quick repair turned into a longer process, as Nigel discovered that the replaceable valve core in his inner tube had developed a fault, that meant that it leaked when pumped up. Fortunately, John R turned out to have a dedicated anodised aluminium replaceable valve core tightening tool, but even this was unable to recover the situation, so the only option was to replace the inner tube a second time.

Riverside, waiting the Nigel to fix a puncture

We moved on, and were not surprised to find that Rupert had given up waiting for us at the Green Man Bridge. We proceeded through Fen Ditton and Bottisham to Swaffham Bulbeck.


Between Quy and Bottisham

In Swaffham Prior I deviated from the route I had sent out before the ride, and managed to lose Nigel, who had paused to remove arm warmers, and then tried to catch us up by following my route on his Garmin. My own Garmin is somewhere in one of 24 identical cardboard boxes in the garage while we have some work done at home, so I was instead using my flawed recollection of the route I had sent out.

A quick phone call allowed us to find Nigel again, who had passed a Dalek and an elephant on his more direct route, and we bade farewell to John and Mike in Burwell, and then to Tom in Exning.

Scarecrow competition in Swaffham Prior

As just four of us rode on through Snailwell to Chippenham, Susan and I discussed the way that rides to the north of Cambridge don't seem to be so well supported, and the limited route options there are for getting to and from Ely.


We arrived at La Hogue to find Adrian, Rupert and Keith already installed. We were soon joined by Dave W, and after assorted permutations of bacon, egg and sausage baps and some reassuringly expensive apple pie, we continued towards Isleham, seeing a magical display of brightly coloured pumpkins along the way.

While riding, there was a discussion about 'you and the night and the music' – I have no idea how this came up, but the Fens can do funny things to people. I maintained that this was the name of a Radio 2 programme, while Nigel insisted it was originally a song, and backed this claim up with a very tuneful rendition. He then went one better, and managed to track down an earlier version by someone called Frank Sinatra, and was also able to play this through the Bluetooth speaker he has fitted to his bike to pass the time on long night rides.

Pumpkins in Isleham

After Isleham, where Rupert turned off to go home, we met Edward coming the other way, and then proceeded via Prickwillow to Ely, taking care on the three successive level crossings in Queen Adelaide.

Lunch in Ely


We stopped for lunch at The Cutter in Ely, and then continued home via the river path, Padney, Upware and White Fen Drove. This involved riding into quite a brisk headwind, and as ride leader, I was somewhat chastened to find that I was slowed down more than the rest of the group, who kindly waited for me to catch up at various points. A range of non-cycling distractions (a.k.a. 'real life') have stopped me doing any full day rides for a couple of months now, and riding into the wind revealed just how quickly you can slip backwards in terms of fitness.

Along the River Great Ouse south of Ely

Rather than ride the planned route into the wind through the Wilbrahams and Fulbourn, we collectively decided to cut the ride short after Lode, and took a more direct route home, checking out how they are getting on with the new cycle path on the way. I arrived home after cycling around 70 miles. John Seton

Download GPS track (GPX).