Wednesday, 31 May 2017

31 May: Evening ride to Shepreth

Nigel writes: Tonight was a glorious early summer evening, allowing us to enjoy one of the best evening rides so far this year. Tonight's riders were Alex, Neil, Ray, Gareth, Camille and Ray, who all joined the start, and Yasmin who joined us along the way in Whittlesford.

Approaching the DNA path

Our pub stop was the Green Man in Shepreth. The last time we went there, on 5th August, Alex was in the lead, and I was so impressed by the route that he took that I decided to repeat it again tonight.

Little Shelford

We followed our usual route south to Duxford. There, instead of continuing south to Ickleton and climbing Coploe Hill, we turned west and followed Grange Road to Chrishall Grange.

Chrishall Grange (Photo: Camille Stavrakas)

Chrishall Grange (Photo: Camille Stavrakas)

From Chrishall Grange we climbed up to Chrishall and continued via Heydon to Great Chishill. This is the highest village in Cambridgeshire, and allowed us to enjoy almost 3.8km of continuous descent to the junction with the B1368 near Flint Cross.

Approaching the long descent at Great Chishill

After a short run along the B1368 to Fowlmere we arrived in Shepreth at about 8.10pm, well ahead of time. This allowed us a relaxing and unhurried visit to The Green Man.

Pub stop in Shepreth

At about 9pm we set off back to Cambridge.

About to set off for home from the pub

Last time we had cycled home via the A10 cycleway, but tonight I decided to stick to the classic route back, via Barrington and Chapel Hill.

Chapel Hill

I arrived home at 10pm exactly, having cycled 58km (36 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

28 May: Sunday ride to Braughing

John F writes: Seven riders set off at 1.30pm from Brookside for this most popular of Sunday afternoon rides. The weather was warm and humid with a light south-westerley breeze. We followed the B1368 from Harston through Fowlmere, where Phil joined us, to the A505. We left the B1368, minus John E who left the group, and climbed to Great Chishill and thence through the quiet lanes of Shaftenhoe End, Nuthampstead Anstey and Great Hormead rejoining the B1368 just South of Hare Street for the final run to Braughing.

We reached the Church Hall at 3.45pm to find it crowded including Mike Stapleton from Melbourn. This is the earliest by half an hour that I have managed to get there and shows a rapid pace despite the hills!

The day-riders turned up, led by Alex, a few minutes later. The tea was as excellent as ever.

We (minus David S who returned home along the B1368) left at 4.30pm taking the rural route through Furneux Pelham, Clavering, Arksden and Littlebury Green to Catmere End. There was one minor hold-up just after Berden where the group helped Phil to replace a shredded inner tube.

After Duxford we dispersed, taking different routes to our homes. The outward journey recorded by Greg's GPS was 26 miles (I having forgot to switch my Strava app on) and the homeward leg 29 miles. An afternoon ride of 55 miles in total, with 2350 feet of climbing, made for a most exhilarating outing.

Future riders to Braughing would be well advised to get there early: a late arrival might mean no tea! John Ferguson

28 May: Sunday ride to Wimbish, Hatfield Broad Oak and Braughing

Alex writes: Today I was leading the first of this year's longer rides, with a projected distance of 150 km. I was joined at Brookside by Camille, Nigel, Ray, Rupert, Sheila, Susan and Tom for this adventure.

Turning onto Hills Road (photo Nigel)

We took the B road up to Balsham and zoomed down to Linton where Joseph joined us en route to coffee. With a long way to go, I was conscious of the need to keep a steady pace, but the group seemed rather frisky and started riding ahead, meaning by the time we got to coffee (early!) I had only Susan as a wheelmate. Still, most people did manage to get to the correct coffee stop.

Bikes at rest, Elder Street Café

After a successful break at the Elder St Café (our first use of the café for coffee), we set out for a pleasant ride South, skirting Stansted airport and sticking mostly to quiet lanes.

Approaching Brick End (photo: Camille)

You are in a maze of twisty lanes ... (photo: Nigel)

It was getting rather hot as we arrived at Cammas Hall, and we were glad to be able to sit inside a marquee out of the sun.

Lunch at Cammas Hall

As usual the food was excellent, as it was good to come here before the wasp season had got underway.

Savoury at Cammas Hall (photo: Camille)

Sweet at Cammas Hall (photo: Nigel)

After lunch I had planned a loop to the south, taking in lanes which even Rupert confessed he had not ridden before.

Leaving Cammas Hall (photo: Nigel)

The loop proved rather pleasant, with very light traffic and the wooded lanes affording dappled light and some cover from the Sun.

A road less traveled (photo: Camille)

A road less travelled (photo: Nigel)

Soon, we turned North and rode through Hatfield Heath heading towards tea. There, a cricket match was in progress.

Howzat? Hatfield Heath (photo: Nigell)

At Much Hadham I turned left on the road towards Standon. I had an ulterior motive for this: the road is part of the London-Edinburgh-London route and I wanted to check it out. Amazingly, I had never ridden it before but in the event it held few surprises and Standon is an attractive village to cycle through.

As we approached Braughing we saw a large peloton of Stevenage CTC riders leaving. We wondered how much cake would be left and without a word, the pace picked up.

As it turned out, we were just okay – though Rupert noted that with only two slices of lemon drizzle cake left we were cutting it fine, especially since the early arrival of the afternoon ride had depleted the cake supply further.

Afternoon riders (photo: Nigel)

The church hall was quite crowded, so we were directed to sit in the Old Boys' room, which felt rather special.

In the Old Boys' Room, Braughing

After tea we had a fairly long ride planned to get home, taking in the "classic" trio of Quicksie Hill, Telegraph Hill and Coploe Hill. The sky had clouded over and there were a few spits of rain in the air, but it never started raining properly and the cooler weather was welcome.

Escape from Braughing (photo: Nigel)

Camille crests Telegraph Hill (photo: Nigel)

I arrived home at 18:30, having cycled 150 km (93 miles) and climbed 1,100 m (3,600 ft).

24 May: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Evening rides this spring have been rather poorly-attended in comparison with earlier years, but I think I now know what everyone had been waiting for: some nice weather. Tonight was effectively the first evening ride of the summer, with fine, sunny weather and very warm temperatures. As a result, this evening's ride had the largest turnout since last summer: at Brookside there were Alex, Dimitrios, John R, John E, Carina (here on her first ride with us), Neil and me, with Tom and Ray each joining us along the way and even more waiting for us at the pub.

Our destination this evening was Hemingford Abbots, which means we had the pleasure of a long run along the busway. To get to the busway I decided to skip our usual route through town and up Huntington Road to Girton in favour of a gentle ride along the river to Chesterton. We crossed the river at the Green Dragon bridge and then followed a new route - for the first time on any Cambridge CTC ride - along Fen Road and then down a minor residential street (Moss Bank) onto a new section of cycleway to the new Cambridge North Station.

Cambridge North Station

After pausing briefly to survey the unfamiliar scene, we carried on, with our cycle path continuing without interruption, wide and smooth, to form the path along the new busway extension. Once on the busway it was simply a case of relaxing and cruising all the way to St Ives.

Sometimes on evening rides the pace picks up a bit and the faster riders storm ahead, but on such a warm evening everyone seemed happy to roll along together .

On the busway

On the busway

At St Ives we rode through the town centre and onto the Thicket Path to Hemingford Abbots. After dismounting to walk past the mill we got back on our bikes and crossed the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots.

Ouse Meadows, Hemingford Abbots

We reached the Axe and Compasses at about 8.05pm, which was what I had predicted. We ordered drinks and food and sat outside to wait for our food to arrive. Already sitting outside we found John S and Paul who had made their own way there.

At the Axe and Compasses, Hemingford Abbots

Also there was Seb, who was on his way back to Cambridge on the return half of a solo 200km Audax: the Cambridge Pork Pie Perm

Seb, looking fresh after 170km

John had cycled there on his latest new machine: an Elephant Bike. This is a refurbished former postal bike, sold as part of a fund-raising scheme whereby the cost of the bike pays for a second such cycle to be sent to a charity in Malawi. It looked sturdy and reliable, with a large load-carrying area at the front.

John and his Elephant

This is one of our favourite pubs for an evening ride, but tonight the kitchen seemed a bit overwhelmed by our food orders, and we had to wait about half an hour before our burgers arrived. But on a warm, light, evening we weren't in any particular hurry, and when the food arrived it was entirely satisfactory.

We set off back to Cambridge at about 9pm. The sun was now settings and we turned on our lights for our return journey via Hemingford Grey, St Ives and the busway. It was still quite warm, and although I put on another layer I probably didn't need to. Although our pace quickened slightly on the way back it was after 10.30pm when we arrived back in Cambridge. I arrived home at about 10.40 - rather late for an evening ride - after having cycled 61km (37 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

21 May: Sunday ride to Hare Street and Thaxted

Nigel writes: There was a feel of early summer today, with warm sunshine for the whole of the day. Warm enough for me to set off to Brookside with exposed arms and knees for the first time this year. And about time too, given that we're in the second half of May. When I arrived at Brookside I found Alex, Eva, Tom, Cheryl, Joseph, John P on his first ride with us, Andy and Sarah.


Our leader today was Sarah, with Andy acting as co-leader. The first stage of today's ride would take us to one of our most distant coffee stops in the village of Hare Street. To get there they led us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway to Barton, where we turned left to Haslingfield.

Being overtaken on Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

We climbed Chapel Hill before dropping back down to Barrington. On the hill we were overtaken by a group of faster cyclists, the first of many others cycling groups that we met during the morning.

Approaching Shepreth


We continued to Shepreth, crossed the A10 to Fowlmere and continued south to Chrishill Grange. Here our first climb of the day begun, the long but very gentle climb to Chrishall. Once at the top we maintained our elevation through Heydon, climbing very slightly to reach Great Chishill, the highest village in Cambridgeshire.

Great Chishill

There were so many other cyclists around in Great Chishill that it was clear that there was some kind of event going on. This was the Paul Simon Homes Road Race, which was based at the Village Hall.

We ignored the marshalls and continued straight across at the crossroads to drop down onto the glorious roller-coaster that took us down to Shafenhoe End. There we turned left for Nuthampstead.

Between Shaftenhoe End and Nuthampstead

Between Shaftenhoe End and Nuthampstead

Between Shaftenhoe End and Nuthampstead

We continued through Nuthampstead to Anstey and on via Great Hormead to Hare Street. Along the way we encountered riders on another cycling event. This was clearly a different event: unlike the riders earlier these ones didn't display race numbers on their bikes, and they seemed a bit slower. I stopped to ask a marshall. This was a charity bike ride for Isabel Hospice, with a choice of 50km or 100km rides (ha!)

We stopped for coffee at the March Hare cafe. It was very busy, with several large groups of cyclists already there. Although there was plenty of space to sit, and the staff seemed to be working as quickly as they could, they were clearly a bit overwhelmed and some of us had to wait quite a long time for our refreshments.

Coffee at the Match Hare Cafe, Hare Street

Afterwards we set off again, this time heading east towards our lunch stop in Thaxted.

Between Furneaux Pelham and Manuden

We reached Thaxted at about 1.30pm, which I thought perfectly reasonable on a two-stop ride. We stopped for lunch at Parrishes Restaurant. It was very quiet when we went in. They seemed pleased to see us, and directed us to the large table that Sarah had reserved for us earlier. Adrian was already installed and eating his lunch.

Lunch at Parrishes Restaurant, Thaxted


After lunch we set off back north to Cambridge. We followed the B184 to Saffron Walden, where the ride appeared to disperse. Andy and Sarah had invited us all to tea at their house in Great Chesterford, but when I reached it I found that only John and I had taken up the offer. After a very pleasant cup of tea and slice of cake John and I continued back to Cambridge via Ickleton, Hinxton and Whittlesford.


I arrived back in Cambridge just after 5pm, having cycled 118 km (73 miles).
Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 18 May 2017

18 May: Thursday ride to Newmarket and West Stow

Edward writes: When we met in Hauxton the weather was set fair for us. After yesterday's very welcome deluge, today we enjoyed very calm conditions and there being almost no wind made for almost ideal riding conditions. Back in the city Rupert was in charge of a group of nine whilst back in Hauxton Susan assumed command of thirteen for our ride out to Newmarket for coffee and then on to West Stowe for our lunch break. Before we left we had a chance to welcome Sarah who was making her debut on a Thursday having previously been out on a Sunday afternoon ride.


Susan promised us that the ride to Newmarket would be 26 miles and a further 14 miles to West Stowe. Soon after leaving Hauxton we ran into the familiar Great Shelford problem of a lengthy wait at the level crossing.

Waiting for a train in Shelford

After the crossing it was the DNA path and a short diversion through the Ninewells housing development before beginning the climb from Worts Causeway over the Gogs into Fulbourn. This was soon followed by the Wilbrahams, Bottisham and both the Swaffhams. This was a familiar route to most of us as we made for Reach, Burwell and Exning and entering Newmarket by way of Hamilton Road which hosts many of the horse racing facilities. We arrived at the Horse Racing Museum at about 11.50 am to find that the city group had fled and flown.



We had coffee booked in the Tack Room but it seems that the Tack Room and the little kiosk outside are part of the same organisation so it doesn’t matter where you buy your coffee. As we were a bit late in arriving Susan cracked the whip and we were on the road again at 12.40 and this took us on the road to Moulton which starts with a long climb out of Newmarket going past the Gallops.

Moulton to Gazeley

Moulton to Gazeley

Once at the top we were able to appreciate the fabulous countryside and as we passed the hedgerows the scent of the mayflower was very strong. Not only that some of the wild flowers are starting to show in the grass verges, at least those that the local council hasn't put a mower through.

We climbed past the pack horse bridge to Gazeley where we turned and went through Needham Street and under the A14 near Kentford. We now entered tree-lined roads which gave us welcome protection from the sun and more pleasant country lanes brought us to Lackford and two or three more miles we arrived at West Stowe for our lunch break where we finally caught up with those city slickers already enjoying their lunch.

West Stow

Most of the Hauxton group had sandwiches and sat outside on the benches. Soon after 2 pm both groups set off within a few minutes of each other with Susan’s group heading east before turning south going via Flempton and Risby where we crossed the A14. Although the breeze was against us it was so slight it was barely noticeable which was very different to recent rides when the wind has seemed to have blown continuously, and cold with it.

We continued to make good progress through Little Saxham, Barrow, Dalham, Ashley all the way down to Dullingham.


After we climbed out of Dullingham on the way to West Wratting we were treated to the sight of a Barn Owl just ahead of us - what a treat. In fact this was about the time the weather started to change as some dark clouds started to appear in from of us and it became a question of would we make it home before it rained. As we left Balsham on the way down to Hildersham the first spots of rain started to fall although it was so light it hardly mattered. We finished our ride through Abington, Babraham, Sawston and Stapleford and by this time the rain was a bit heavier. The ride finished in Hauxton at 5.20 pm and those doing the full circuit would have cycled a very pleasant 78 miles. Our thanks to Rupert and from those who started from Hauxton a special thanks to Susan as she had worked hard in devising today's ride and was always mindful of everybody’s position in the group. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).