Saturday, 16 September 2017

6 Sep: Evening ride to Balsham

Nigel writes: There were six of us on tonight's ride, with a seventh joining us at the pub. The nights are drawing in rapidly now, and the sun set after little more than an hour. The Bull in Balsham is still a relatively new stop on these evening rides, but it has already become a firm fixture due to its excellent location which allows a nice route from Cambridge: over the Gogs to Fulbourn, through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom, up Brinkley Hill to Brinkley and finally a loop through Carlton and West Wickham back to Balsham.

On the way to Great Wilbraham

As always these are chatty, sociable rides and I was probably distracted when I added an unplanned diversion via West Wratting, but we were soon back on track and arrived at the pub in good time at 8.20pm.

Dinner in Balsham

After a pleasant hour or so we set off back towards Cambridge. It was now completely dark, and I encouraged the group to stay close together for the fast descent down to Charterhouse Bridge and Fulbourn. This proved a good road to use in the dark: simple to navigate and free from unexpected bumps and potholes.

From Fulbourn we took the Old Drift route to Cherry Hinton and along the tins to Mill Road, where the group dispersed. I arrived back home in Cambridge at about 10.10pm, having cycled 56km (35 miles).Nigel Deakin



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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Rides in Sept and Oct

We are pleased to announce our rides lists for September and October. We have squeezed a few more longer rides on Sundays and Thursdays to take advantage of your well-honed cycling legs after a good summer of riding. And we've also added a last set of visits to the popular church hall teas in Braughing and Wicken to keep the club cakeaholics happy.

Starting in September, we are trialling a new shorter afternoon ride on alternate Sundays. These are aimed at beginners who would like to try a Sunday afternoon ride ans find our normal afternoon rides a little too arduous, though of course we hope it will be attractive to afternoon regulars too. We also hope some new leaders will volunteer to try their hand at leading with these shorter rides.

Leaders are still needed for many of our other rides as well. A big club thank you to everyone who has already volunteered. But more volunteers are needed to fill the gaps - please do take a look at the ride lists and get in touch with me if you are able to lead one. Rupert Goodings

31 Aug: Thursday ride to Saffron Walden and Clare

Edward writes:Twenty cyclists met at Haslingfield Green in near ideal conditions for today's ride out to Saffron Walden and lunch at Clare. There was only the gentlest of wind, a nice temperature and only the prospect of rain in the late afternoon, and so it proved for any late finishers with torrential rain at 5.30pm (Averil!). Once again Mike C was our leader and back at Brookside Alan had a party of six.

We left Haslingfield in two groups and made our way towards Harston and over the hill into Newton, Whittlesford and down to the A505. This was quite busy but we all crossed safely into Duxford and took the route through the factory area and after a brief wait at the level crossing, over the ford into Hinxton. We rolled along at a leisurely pace and at the Ickleton level crossing we had to wait for another train; not very often that happens.

Hinxton level crossing

Ickleton level crossing

By the time we were going up Coploe Hill, Mike with the second group, had caught us up and we all assembled at the summit for the regulation photo.

Coploe Hill summit

After the run down Chestnut Avenue and the climb up from Audley End mansion we arrived in Saffron Walden and The Temeraire at 11am and as expected found the city group already installed.

Saffron Walden

The Temeraire has extended the outside sitting-out area even further from the last time we were here. It is all laid out on artificial grass and it looks very attractive making it a nice pleasant area to sit out in, especially on a nice day like today. Not only were the city group here but several others who had cycled out independently, including Bill P, Mike S and the indefatigable Vic. Despite our numbers the staff dealt very quickly with us all and we were soon sitting out in the sun.

After the usual comings and goings we left in two manageable groups with Alan's group heading off up the hill towards the war memorial and Mike took his group out of town along Ashdon Road. And after so long in a terrible state of repair it was such a pleasure to find that the road has been resurfaced; previously it was always a nightmare to cycle on. At the top of hill we turned into Newhouse Lane which is always very nice and then into Radwinter and down to Great Sampford.

Ridgewell

Just out of Little Sampford we branched off the main road into the quieter roads to Cornish Hall End. We were now away from most of the traffic and conditions were ideal for a good ride. Cornish Hall End was followed by Stambourne and Ridgewell where we met the A1017. This was only for a few yards before taking the turning for Ashen and from there it was an easy run, mainly downhill into Clare.

As usual some went to local cafes in the town but many others went to the park and found a newly opened cafe in the old station buildings. This was very nice and now makes the trip to Clare and even better destination. Being a former railway station there was some railway memorabilia, including a timetable from 1961 which showed Sudbury to Cambridge took an hour and a quarter, which didn’t seem bad.

Cafe at the old station, Clare

The old station, Clare

Alan first led a smaller group away and Mike followed at 2.35pm with a dozen. After heading north for a short while we turned west and went through Chilton Street and Brockley Green before passing through Kedington. After we had crossed the A143 our journey home took us through Great Wratting and Withersfield where we noticed that one of occasional coffee venues, the pub, formerly Bradman’s is now called the White Horse, so it might be worth checking if they would still do coffee for us.

We finished our ride through West Wickham, Balsham, Hildersham, Abington, Sawston and Great Shelford. Those going back to Haslingfield would have completed 70 miles. As always thanks to both our leaders for another good late summer’s ride.
Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

30 Aug: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes:Tonight was a premonition of autumn. Although the evening was dry following a day of light rain, the temperature was unexpectedly cold. It was just over 10C at the start of the ride and although it didn't fall much further than that after dark I had to keep reminding myself that it was still August and that we had had enjoyed the hottest August Bank Holiday for decades just two days earlier.

On the busway

Our members aren't easily put off by a spell of unseasonably cold weather, however, and I was joined at Brookside by five others: David S, Gareth, newcomer Abi, Andrew and Tom. Along the way we were joined by Mark, and Paul joined us at the pub, making a total of eight in total.

On the busway

Tonight's ride consisted of a run along the busway to St Ives followed by a ride along the Thicket Path and across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots. We reached the Axe and Compass at about 8.10pm and stopped for drinks, bowls of chips and burgers.

The Ouse at Houghton

Drinks in the Axe and Compass

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge via Hemingford Grey, St Ives and the busway. I arrived back home at 10.30pm after having cycled 62km (38 miles). Nigel Deakin



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Sunday, 27 August 2017

27 Aug: Afternoon ride to West Wratting

John writes: One guest (William) and a new CTC rider (David) joined me and seven others in perfect weather for the afternoon ride to West Wratting. We hope to see the new-comers again soon but we cannot guarantee a tea up to the standard of Leslie and Peter's home tea.

Catmere End

Coploe Hill

Ten riders required a back-marker for which Rupert volunteered. Not wishing to repeat much of the previous Sunday's ride to Newmarket and a home tea not being as time critical as others I opted for the anti-clockwise route via Coploe Hill, Saffron Walden and Ashdon. An early puncture and short pauses for regrouping at hill tops meant we arrived at tea round about 4.30pm.

Tea

Tea

Tea was splendid so many thanks to Leslie and Peter for their magnificent hospitality. The weather was so hot we had the unusual experience of having to sit in the shade to admire the fine garden. After tea I led a group of eight riders on the quiet route home via Abington, Babraham and Stapleford. Strava recorded a distance of 48 miles, with 1630 feet of climbing. John Ferguson



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27 Aug: Sunday ride to Clare, Greenstead Green and West Wratting

Nigel writes: Today's ride was advertised as a "Sunday longer ride", one of an occasional series that are intended to push the distance up slightly from our normal rides and allow us to ride further afield than usual. In the past these have reached 100 miles (161km), though today the distance ended up being only slightly more than normal.

Brookside

Our leader today was Alex, and he was joined at the earlier-than-usual 8.30am start by seven others: Ray, John R, Simon, Andy, Mark, Sheila and me. We set off down Hills Road to Addenbrooke's and an initial warm-up climb over the Gogs from there to Fulbourn was followed by an easy but much longer climb from Fulbourn up to Balsham.

It was a warm, sunny and very pleasant day, with a very light westerly breeze. We continued east, through West Wratting (which we would visit for tea in the afternoon) and on through Wethersfield, Great Wratting and Kedington to Clare.

West Wratting

Wethersfield

Wethersfield

Kedington

Brockley Green

When we reached Clare we stopped for coffee at Platform One Cafe, in the former station buildings in Clare Country Park. This has opened fairly recently and this was the club's first visit. With a simple menu that included both cake and bacon sandwiches everyone was very satisfied, and we will certainly be visiting again in the future.

Clare: Platform One Cafe

Remains of station platforms behind the cafe

Setting off after coffee

After coffee we continued our progress east and south, passing through a series of tiny villages which we only visit one or two times a year, and along a series of delightful quiet lanes.


Foxearth

I remembered Gestingthorpe from my last visit a couple of years ago and stopped to take a second look at the village sign. This shows, amongst other things, a sad and very poignant vignette of Captain Lawrence Oates, hero of the tragic 1912 expedition to the South Pole.

Gestingthorpe village sign

We continued south, passing to the east of Halstead to reach the village of Greenstead Green. Here we stopped for lunch at Greenstead Farm Cafe. Once again this was the club's first visit, and although the menu was very simple I think everyone agreed that it was entirely satisfactory.

Greenstead Green

After lunch we set off back towards Cambridge, returning back to West Wratting via a more southerly route than we had taken in the morning.

Lanes south of Halstead

We reached West Wratting just after 4pm, and stopped for tea at Peter and Lesley's house for a "home tea". After a short while we were joined by John Ferguson and the afternoon ride, together with a number of other members who had made their own way there. As on previous occasions this was an excellent and very enjoyable occasion, and a highlight of the year for the club.

Our bikes during tea

Tea in West Wratting

After tea we returned home via Balsham and a fast descent to Fulbourn and Cambridge. I arrived home just after 6pm, having cycled 142km (88 miles) Nigel Deakin



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Thursday, 24 August 2017

24 Aug: Thursday ride to Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds

Edward writes: We arrived at Hauxton this morning to discover that we had a new leader with Mike C coming on as an 89th minute substitute. No need to worry about this as Mike's knowledge of the byways is almost as encyclopaedic as Adrian's. The weather was warm, not too much of a south-westerly breeze, but overcast, as it was to remain for the rest of the day. In the end ten riders took to the roads and we hadn't gone far before being joined by Craig and Mike B. Back in the city where the slickers meet they had six with the ride being led by Mike P. Also out was Susan making a welcome return to the fold with a brief cameo appearance.

Great Shelford

On the DNA path at Great Shelford

After Great Shelford we took the DNA path past the hospital and followed our new route by exiting the site through the Ninewells development; another chance to admire, or not, yet another new high-priced development in Cambridge. Leaving all this behind we climbed the Gogs and descended into Fulbourn, through the Wilbrahams to join what always feels like an expressway, which is the road to Six Mile Bottom.

Gog Magog Hill

Before we reached Six Mile Bottom there was Adrian having just done one of his disappearing and reappearing acts, but this time mending a puncture. As Greg has said in the past it is possible that there is more than one Adrian. Once over the level crossing in Six Mile Bottom we began a serious climb which must be for two miles to the Dullingham turn. As the wind was in the south-west it gave us some very helpful assistance. After Dullingham it was all downhill which was just as well as by the time we arrived at the horse racing museum in Newmarket it was 11.30am. With the country group leaving fifteen minutes after the city slickers and further to travel this always gives them first choice of the coffee and cakes which might be one of Rupert’s artful plans; not called slickers for nothing.

Our youngest member

As usual we were joined by several other members who had made their own way there. As expected Mike P's group set off first and when we followed it was midday. We left Newmarket alongside the gallops on NCN 51 which, after the initial climb, was downhill, freewheeling all the way into Moulton.

Leaving Newmarket

After the packhorse bridge we had another climb followed by a short descent into Gazeley. This is a really lovely route and after a few dry days we can see that the farmers are getting on top of the harvest.

Gazeley to Denham End

Gazeley to Denham End

At Barrow we left NCN 51 until we reached Little Saxham where we rejoined it for the run into Bury St Edmunds.

Denham End to Barrow

We arrived at the Abbey Gardens, and what beautiful display they have, at 1.30 pm. We found a couple of unoccupied benches to enjoy our picnics followed by a cup of tea at the nearby kiosk. Not long after we arrived Mike P’s group started for home, possibly taking a more southerly route, with Mike C's group starting for home at 2.20pm.

Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

When we left Bury St Edmunds it was immediately apparent that the wind had grown stronger and for the most part we would be riding into it. However, with many roads lined by hedges they offered good protection, making the face wind less arduous. With the A14 on our left we headed for Risby and then towards Cavenham before making the turn for Kentford. For the most part these roads are very quiet but occasionally we are confronted by huge lorries, possibly going to the local farms. Wherever they are going they are quite intimidating. When we arrived in Kentford Peter W left us with a reminder that he is hosting a home tea next Sunday and with Leslie having already made at least twenty cakes a good time is assured. (The number of cakes might be an exaggeration, but Peter can also show off his lawnmower!)

Between Risby and Kentford

Between Risby and Kentford

As we were leaving Kentford Adrian had another puncture but he issued strict instructions not to wait as was "going to fix it properly this time". No one would bet against him getting back to Cambridge before we did. We came to Chippenham, followed by Snailwell where we had to cross the very busy A142. This was so busy that it required a "Greg". Two mentions and he’s not even on the ride! Doing a Greg requires stepping into the road and putting the right hand up and miraculously the traffic comes to a halt. It’s not recommended that anyone else tries this as it requires someone with a special presence. We came into Exning followed by Heath Road to Burwell. At last we were on the homeward straight as Reach and the two Swaffhams came next. When we reached Lode we stayed on the main road to Stow-cum-Quy where we were able to observe progress on the new cycle path. As our numbers decreased we finished the ride through Cherry Hinton and the DNA path again to Great Shelford. This left Simon P to head back to Hauxton at 5.45pm and 78 miles. A good, long ride. Thanks to the two Mikes for taking charge and especially to Mike C who had stepped in at the last minute.Edward Elmer



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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

23 Aug: Evening ride to Thriplow

Nigel writes: My companions on tonight's ride were Ray, Tom and Neil, though John S turned up on foot at the start to cheer us on our way. Our route this evening took us to south, following our usual route through the Shelfords, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. It was another warm, dry evening, with a light southerly breeze providing us with a slight headwind for this part of the ride. From Ickleton we climbed Coploe Hill (for me this was the first time for over a month) and paused at the top as is the club tradition, and to mark the half-way point of our ride to the pub.

Coploe Summit

We continued on to Catmere End, between fields of brown stubble that showed that we were now well into harvesting season. We frequently see deer in this area, and tonight we spotted groups on both sides of the road: Tom remarked that they were rather too large to be muntjack and were perhaps fallow deer.

After a loop through Littlebury Green, Chrishall and Chrishall Grange we arrived in Thriplow at about 8.25pm and stopped for drinks and snacks at The Green Man. As usual this popular pub was completely full of diners and it looked as if we might have to wait some time for meals, so we ordered bowls of chips instead which arrived quickly. Whilst we were there John S (and dog) arrived by car and joined us.

At the pub

By the time we were ready to return home it was completely dark. Our route back took us via Newton, Harston and Trumpington Meadows, and I arrived home just before 10pm, having cycled 55km (34 miles). Nigel Deakin



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Sunday, 20 August 2017

20 Aug: Sunday afternoon ride to Newmarket

Greg Writes: And it came to pass that on the twentieth day of the eighth month a bike ride occurred. Though not exactly starting with a census it had the required rider registration process to begin with as nine intrepid souls joined Greg for the Sunday afternoon ride from Brookside. Two Simons, Phil, Jeff, John F, Lalli, Mark, Tom and finally Bob.

Census time at Brookside

We set off up Trumpington Street using the new cycle path – a great improvement since we no longer fear being "cardoored" at the start of the ride. ("Editor's" note : Cardoored - a new verb declines as: I car door, you car door, he hospitalises. Transitive, very transitive...)

After a brief swerve into Bentley Road Greg self-corrected and we took the next left into Barrow Rd. There is a car joke in there about moving from a Bentley to a Barrow but I can't quite find it... (try harder – Ed.) There is always an Ed on a CTC ride, apparently – even if sometimes just a virtual one!

We came through the gap onto Porson Road and thence to Long Rd and the busway.

Through the gap

We wove our way through the ever expanding Addenbrookes site and emerged via Red Cross Lane onto Wort's Causeway.

Bob observed that he might be dropped on the hill but, like the US Cavalry, Greg assured him that "No one would be left behind". We would wait at the top.

This we duly did – where the time passed pleasantly enough as Phil regaled us with tales of Sky Box problems. Ah the joys of being a Newcastle supporter – not only the endless despair of the football but also the technical challenges of recording the match. Still Phil was hopeful that his wife had sorted things out for him and the "Lads" undoubted triumph over the newly promoted Huddersfield journeymen would be a chance to watch his team winning for once... the hope, the hope...

Phil speaks, Jeff yawns...

We set off once again – surprised on the downward rush to Fulbourn to have Bob fly past us and lead us briefly. We went on the usual Fulbourn and Wilbrahams route – stopping briefly to admire the finest cottage garden that Wilbraham has to offer.

Cottage Garden Magnificence

We then turned due East and headed off towards Six Mile Bottom. Once again we agreed to wait at the top – giving Greg a chance to declaim in his best Mid-Western accent (which is v similar to his worst one…) "See y'all at the Cemetery Crossroads." He was amused...

Cemetery Crossroads

Whilst we waited at the crossroads for the last rider to finish the hill Jeff was able to fill us in on his new WMD. Apparently he had been wearing his overshoes for the previous 3 weeks. Given that at this stage the sun was out and it was a balmy 22C the thought of the foetid contents of the overshoes being revealed filled us all with horror. Something about this threat made us all keen to get ahead and we duly picked up the Balsham Rd and headed further "Into them thar hills."

Jeff and his overshoes

Phil refused to indulge us by checking either the score or whether the Sky box had been successfully reset by the Domestic IT Department and so we were simply left to guess the current state of play: 3-0, 4-0, who knew? The hope was what drove Phil on.

We powered ahead enjoying the rolling hills as we came into the Newmarket environs and Horse Country (no, no more Western jokes - Ed.) There was a brief halt whilst a strange sound from Mark’s rear end was investigated. A bent derailleur cage was diagnosed and duly sorted. So much better than Diocalm.

There was the slight matter of a further haul up past some rather swanky stud farms on Woodditton Road and then it was the fast descent towards Newmarket. Eschewing the tedium of the straight route Greg threw a sharp right at the first opportunity and we duly waited there for the group to reform. Both Phils' score and Jeff's socks provided conversational centrepieces until a few minutes later we spied Bob speeding past. He spotted us at the last minute and swerved right to rejoin the group. The initial ten was briefly eleven as Keith had been with the all day group earlier and was returning home and found us. We then duly cycled through the back streets together to arrive at the Palace Road Tea Room and Horseracing museum just after 3.30pm.

The weather was pleasant enough to sit outside for some – and Jeff's thermonuclear socks were definitely not likely to be permitted inside a confined space.

Coffee indoors – note Jeff is banished outside

Greg chivvied everyone along after thirty minutes, proclaiming that there were now no more hills for the return trip.

We went briefly down the High Street before making the earliest possible right turn and picking up the backstreets to avoid the traffic. This brought us out on Hamilton Rd and the private road through the stud farms where we could smell the money.(So much sweeter than socks - Ed)

Greg had to remind the group that the incline they were tackling at that moment was definitely and categorically a figment of people's imaginations and was not a hill – the illusion not helped by a pedestrian crying "Keep going, nearly at the top".

We crossed the road onto the cycle path – Greg facilitating the manoeuvre by holding up the traffic. Then down the path and through Exning on NCN 51.

Once out into the countryside we had the rather tedious flog on straight roads – briefly running close to the noise of the A14. This was a chance to do some committed spinning and stretch the legs after coffee. Simon was "recovering" from his inaugural 200km Audax on Friday (Chapeau – or should it be Stetsons?) and was keen to have a bit of a go for a mile or two to loosen the muscles. This was duly accomplished with him and Greg leading off the group.

We all stopped and reformed at the end of this single road – with a brief discussion about route options. The original plan was maintained and we set off towards the Swaffhams. Bob left us at this stage and we then went through Bottisham and headed towards Quy.

With a most opportune photo moment appearing we discovered a pub that referenced Jeff's Sartorial Contributions – and he duly posed with said "Socks" on display. He has threatened to include a statement item of clothing at all subsequent rides but this may just be attention seeking. Phil was still moaning about the football so with Jeff showing off his clothes and Phil grumbling it was absolutely clear that all was well with the world.

Socks appeal

Further departures from the group occurred as we neared Cambridge and the remaining cohort was brought to an abrupt halt in Fen Ditton by Greg complaining of a rubbing on his behind. It rapidly transpired that this was due to Extreme Fatigue – his pole had sheared due to overuse. This is a cycling failure for those who may have thought otherwise – see photo!

Extreme Fatigue

Emergency repairs turned his cycle mounted pack into a backpack and the ride resumed.

Though Fen Ditton and onto the Stourbridge Common and, like a dodgy Agatha Christie novel, we duly started losing people on by one. The groups eventually had dissolved by Riverside as people found their way home after the required 40 miles of fun filled action.

Do remember to ask Phil when you see him about the score and how his team is doing – he will be delighted to give you all the details of their 1-0 loss to Huddersfield. "Away The Lads!" Greg Tucker



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