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

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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

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

14 May: Sunday afternoon ride to Wicken

David S writes: After a difficult week for me ("Two funerals and a ...") I woke up on a boat on the River Orwell on Sunday morning to rain showers and a looming problem about getting back in time to lead the ride! Fortunately everything worked out (just) and I met Neil S, Ray M, and two new Sunday afternoon riders Jeff B and Sara H (both experienced and fit riders). With only one navigation mistake, we got quickly out of Cambridge to Chery Hinton and Fulbourn and, thanks to a flat route and a partial tailwind we headed through Wilbrahams and Upware to Wicken at an average of 13mph.

Mark, Lali, Jeff, Sara, Ray, Neil

The Methodist Chapel provided a delicious tea (my favourite tea stop!) where we were joined by Lalita and Mark, who had arrived late at Brookside and followed us to Wicken. As we were leaving, the all-day ride arrived and John ? took a photo of all seven of us (to follow?). Strong headwind slowed us down on the return ride, but with warm sunshine and beautiful views, we forgave everything as we cycled through Burwell, Swaffhams, Quy (NCN 51). The Leader then appointed Ray as Acting Deputy Leader and shamefully deserted his lovely team! They returned along the river, while he cycled home alone along Airport Way.

A perfect Spring ride! David Secher

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Thursday, 11 May 2017

11 May: Thursday ride to St Neots and Kimbolton

Edward writes: The much-longed-for change in the weather finally arrived today. After weeks of the wind being in the north-east it had finally shifted to a more pleasant south easterly direction. As often happens the change is quite sudden and with it came a big rise in humidity. With blue skies and sun it also brought a change in attire with many getting into shorts for the first time this year. Those still wearing longs found it a bit hot to say the least. Out at Haslingfield there were thirteen riders and back in the city Dr John led his group for our long ride out to Kimbolton by way of St Neots.

Preparing to leave Haslingfield

Mindful that this would be one of our longer rides, from Haslingfield we took a direct route out to St Neots which meant Harlton, the Eversdens, Kingston and Bourn. All this came with helpful assistance from the following wind. We took a short break in Bourn to allow for some "stripping off" and some much needed water.



Then it was straight through to St Neots passing Caxton, Great Gransden and Abbotsley before arriving in St Neots a minute or two after 11am and found four or five who had cycled out independently. Five minutes later the city group arrived swelling the numbers at coffee to about thirty. The Ambiance Cafe had no trouble dealing with all the tea, coffee and cakes they had to serve.

Coffee at St Neots

After coffee both groups opted to follow John's route to Kimbolton and we left the cafe in two groups but not before many chose to head for home. With roughly seven or eight in each group we headed west to Duloe before turning south to make for Colesden. We were now into the best part of our ride; the countryside was at its best, with blossom everywhere and the occasional sounds of skylarks. And the mere fact that the sun was shining and it was warm made all the difference.

A little after Colesden we turned north, still being helped by the following wind, and went through Colmworth and onto Little Staughton. Pertenhall came next and Kimbolton was almost in sight but first we had to deal with Averil's puncture, and where was Mike when we needed him? But we managed and Mike's tuition must have rubbed off as we were soon on our way again enabling us to arrive in Kimbolton at about 1.15pm after 35 miles.

Lunch followed the usual pattern with about eight going into Oliver's for their meal and a similar number eating their sandwiches in the church cemetery!

We all met again in Oliver’s for tea ready to start the return journey at 2.30pm. Both groups started out by travelling east along the B645 as far as the turning for Dillington which, after a couple of steep climbs, took us up to Perry beside Grafham Water.

Now on the B661 we headed to Buckden and the parting of the ways with John's group going home by way of Huntingdon, the Hemingfords and the busway while the South Cambs group opted for the Offords (no wait at the level crossing) and then Graveley.


The journey home soon became a repeat of the outward ride and we arrived back in Haslingfield at 5pm, 66 miles after leaving it in the morning. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

9 May: Ride in the Derbyshire Peak District (Car-assisted)

John S writes: This turned out to be a very select group of riders – just Mike C, Adrian and I met in Shelford to set off at 6.30am. I had been on two previous car-assisted rides in the Peak District, but these had been on Sundays when there is light traffic, so I was not really looking forward to the drive up the M1 through the rush-hour traffic on a weekday. As it turned out, apart from a five-minute hold-up to get off the M1 onto the A50 near Nottingham, we encountered no hold-ups at all.

We arrived in Tissington around 9.15 and unloaded the bikes. The skies were leaden, and it was quite chilly, so we looked to be facing a cold day in the saddle. Adrian led us off down the Tissington Trail for a short distance to turn off at Thorpe, and head towards Ilam at the end of Dovedale, passing from Derbyshire into Staffordshire. We found a lost lamb in the road and chased it back through a gap into a field. A retired farmer then came along and started to freely share his views on Brexit, immigration, and the world in general. After about 10 minutes of hoping another car would come along to make him move on, we made our excuses and set off again.

The road becomes a farmyard at Throwley Hall

We climbed to Throwley Hall where the road passes through a farmyard, and then climbed up Mere Hill and then down again to Greensides where we joined the Manifold Trail, which follows the path of the Leek and Manifold railway – a narrow gauge railway that was only briefly open between 1904 and 1934 - up the river valley. The river bed was completely dry, and we took this as a sign of drought, but it turns out that except in times of peak flow, the river water follows a separate underground path, which explains why there was water in the river further upstream but not lower down.

Cold and dark on the top of Mere Hill

On the Manifold Trail near Wettonmill

We stopped for coffee at Wettonmill, in a café that somehow managed to be colder inside than it was outside.

Grey skies at Wettonmill café

From there we continued along the trail and through a tunnel in the direction of Hulme End. Here we re-joined the roads, and passed through the intriguingly named Glutton Bridge. I had done the same ride, but in reverse, over 4 years ago, so it was interesting to see familiar junctions and go up and down the hills from the other direction.

Emerging from tunnel on the Manifold Trail

We crossed the busy A515 near Harpur Hill on the outskirts of Buxton, and descended through Cowdale to briefly join the A6 before getting on to the Monsall Trail near Millers Dale. This follows the path of the old line from Buxton to Derby, through the Wye valley. The trail passes through rocky valleys, and has many tunnels which are now lit, and over the spectacular viaduct at Monsall Head.

On the Monsall Trail near Bakewell

I stopped to try out the information point, which is powered by turning a handle, and offers spoken information about the line, and plays a song too. This has worked for years, sitting outside in all weathers, and needs no power or network connection – a sort of post-apocalyptic iPod.

We stopped for lunch at the café / bookshop in the old station building at Hassop. We then left the trail in Bakewell, where we took a steep climb out of the valley and then headed south along switchback roads. Near Youlgreave, Adrian stopped at a gate into a field full of sheep, and convinced us that this was in fact a byway that avoided a steep and difficult bit of road. Even by Adrian’s standards, this was towards the rough end of rough-stuff!

Off road and under blue skies

We continued on through Brassington, where we passed a rental house I had stayed in nearly 20 years ago, where the seeds of my daughter’s aversion to cycling with me were first sown. I still maintain that it is very character-forming for a three year old to be taken out on a bike in a child seat in freezing temperatures.

We had seen the reservoir at Carsington Water shimmering in the distance, and were soon nearby. Adrian and Mike had told me about a café there called the Pudding Room, which sounded very exciting. I was therefore bitterly disappointed when we found we were 15 minutes too late, and this was compounded by the menu in the window listing all the delicacies we had just missed.

We continued through Bradbourne to cross a ford and then make the final climb back to Tissington, where we arrived just after 6pm and set off home. The return journey was just as easy in terms of traffic, and even the A14 from Huntingdon was flowing freely by the time we got back.

The final climb of the day back to Tissington

We rode about 55 miles and climbed lots of hills. Thanks to Adrian for arranging this great day out and leading us on a fantastic route. Although we had an early start and a long day, it made a nice change to ride somewhere different, and climb some real hills. John Seton

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Sunday, 7 May 2017

5 May: Sunday afternoon ride to Ickleton

Simon writes: "Well it would seem that both our tea destination and the wind would carry us effortlessly along in a southerly direction today. Everyone with us started at Brookside and that included Phil N, Sue H, John E, David S, Mark T and Lali R.

With the wind making our progress easy and the tea stop being open until 5pm I thought we would indulge with a full 25 miles of trekking and exploration along the way there and employ the CTC standard direct DNA route to get us back.

Back in March David S had talked about leading the group from Stapleford to Babraham, short cutting Sawston, using the public footpath. This starts at Bury farm and crosses a little well finished wooden bridge over a babbling river Granta, before progressing past a woodland area of the Babraham estate. I had to miss his original ride to tea as it was Mothering Sunday and had arranged to meet my family in Saffron Walden. Only then did the cunning fox who went to the university of cunning decide to cycle there and meet David’s group 3 doors down at the Bicicleta later that same afternoon so that I could at least ride home with them!

However, back to today’s ride, the rapeseed crops are in full bloom at the moment and we could easily have been in a small boat surrounded by oceans of rolling waves of it.

The off road terrain is interrupted only briefly along Babraham main street before continuing to the steepish foot bridge over the dual carriageway A11. The photo either makes it look like it’s hard work getting a bike over it or I'm a merciless slave driving leader who will get his comeuppance one day…….. narrowly avoided later today as you will find out.

From Abington we hopped briefly over the main A1307 to see if anyone fancied riding through the ford in Hildersham and back over the main road in Linton. This was to pursue a pleasing route, sadly often neglected during our club rides, through Hadstock and Little Walden past the old converted airfield control house and into Walden itself. I promised Sue that I would arrange the hills on my next lead to be all down hill…..

Once through Walden we were only two villages (and, of course, the afore promised downhill section of Coploe hill) from tea but the spectacle of bluebells along the wooded northern boundary of Audley End just outside Littlebury had us compelled to stop and take photos.

As John hails from St Ives he bade us Au Revoire without stopping for tea but now we think he may have had a subconscious premonition, for when we got to the Ickleton Barn Café the proprietor was in the throws of shutting up shop. He exclaimed that he'd had no custom all afternoon and wouldn't serve us.

As is customary in this situation the leader duly volunteered to be an edible sacrifice for the riders, but they all managed to find varied but plausible reasons to break with convention.

If there is a deity at work (s)he must have planned my salvation (after our salivation!) as the remainder of the journey home should be occasioned by John pushing his bike against the increased resistance of a flat tyre. We repaired one of his punctures whilst a pilgrimage of ants crawled up the concrete wall and between the items of tools that this “bicycle repair man” carries when called upon.

So, 25 delightful miles and 11 villages to a virtual tea, 12 miles 4 villages and 2 punctures to a real home. Simon Gallaway

Download planned route (GPX) (not a GPS track).

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

3 May: Evening ride to Balsham

Nigel writes: Although we're getting quite a lot of daylight during the evenings just now, these evening rides are turning out to be a bit of a niche activity this spring, with just one or two other riders each week - though often different people each week. Tonight I was accompanied by Alex, who (in addition to looking for a gentle recovery ride as part of his Audax training) was probably attracted by the opportunity for a new pub stop.

Our goal tonight was Balsham, which allowed us to visit some new lanes we haven't ridden before on an evening ride. After the usual exit down Hills Road, over the Gogs and through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom, we climbed the whole length of Brinkley Hill to Brinkley.

Approaching Brinkley

At Brinkley we could have turned right and followed the B-road directly to Balsham, but we still had plenty of time so instead we carried on east for a very pleasant loop via Carlton and West Wickham, still arriving at The Black Bill in Balsham quite early at about 8.10pm.

The pub itself was just fine: very quiet with plenty of space to sit, and a good pub menu that was slightly less expensive than some of the other places we sometimes visit, and very friendly. It's also very well located for the pre-pub ride as well as an easy, fast return home afterwards. We will be back.

After a pleasant burger and pint we rolled back down the hill to Fulbourn and Cambridge. I arrived home at 10pm, having cycled 55km (33 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Rides in May and June

Rupert writes: We're pleased to announce our May and June rides lists. With longer days we can start to enjoy some longer rides.

Our Sunday day rides continue with a mix of full-day and light day rides on alternate weekends. But pay attention to the ride details - some of the full day rides are marked as "longer rides", indicating a longer ride than usual.

The Sunday afternoon rides also have some longer rides over the summer. But we have made a small change this year: we will have a regular 1.30pm afternoon start time and instead we will vary the time we stop for tea by 30 mins for the more distant stops to have enough time for an enjoyable ride.

Don't forget that we have some extra rides over the summer. Our Wednesday evening rides are now a weekly event and there are also some car-assisted rides on Tuesdays. Why not try one of these rides for a change?

Lastly, a reminder to you all to please volunteer to lead a ride or two so that all our rides have a leader. Thank you to everyone who has already put their name down. Rupert Goodings, Runs Secretary.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A10 Awareness Ride

Mike Stapleton writes: The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign is running its annual cycle ride to publicise the need to complete the cycle path from Cambridge to Royston. The ride takes place on Sunday 7th May starting at 10am from Trumpington Park and Ride just off the A10.

The ride will terminate at Phillimore Garden Centre where refreshments will be available. The Park and Ride site can be accessed easily from Cambridge Station by following the guided busway south which leads directly to it.

We started these rides just four years ago when the first small section of the route was completed. Since then we have achieved a huge success with help from various agencies. Only one major section of the route between Melbourn and Cambridge remains which will be completed shortly. The campaign is now focused on the final section to Royston which runs through two counties and has to cross a major road. This section needs a bridge and is expensive. Getting two counties and various supporters involved to co-operate has been a major task. The ride will attract cyclists of every persuasion demonstrating that a large number of users need the facility. Those attending will range from children to commuters and leisure cyclists.