Thursday, 29 June 2017

29 Jun: Thursday ride to Newmarket and Barrow

Edward writes: Greg may not have mentioned but, as last week, he came off the bench as an 89th minute substitute for the original leader who was nursing an injury. Greg not only brought us to Newmarket but made another contribution with one of his quotes saying that this ride was becoming Darwinian. He can probably explain this himself.

Hauxton Photo: Edward Elmer

Little Shelford Photo: Edward Elmer

The DNA Path at Addenbrooke's Photo: Edward Elmer

Passing the Beechwoods Photo: Edward Elmer

Six Mile Bottom Photo: Edward Elmer

Approaching Dullingham Photo: Edward Elmer

Greg continues: A bright, sunny and summery day dawned on Thursday – but somewhere other than in where we were! Despite the dull, dreary day some of the Village People had gathered ready for a fun filled Thursday adventure, starting from Hauxton.

After a pleasant ten minutes chatting with Greta there was heard a cry of ‘Let’s be going,’ from one or two of the assembled troops. Greg was acting as stand-in leader and consulted his watch as he considered this early rebellion from the ranks. He regained command (briefly) by declaring that it was only 9.29 and we should leave on time! He tarried a minute – sufficient time to allow Gerry to sweep up in magisterial splendour (well, he appeared from around the corner!) at exactly 9.30. Stylishly done and the team was now complete.

The Dirty Dozen Depart Photo: Greg Tucker

To the cry of ‘Wagons Roll’ the Dirty Dozen departed. 2 x Eds, 2 x Mikes, 1 x Averil (there’s only 1 Averil – I feel a chant coming on…) plus an Andy, Richard, Peter, Gerry, Ian, Sarah and myself made for a single peloton of 12.
We powered on through Little and Great Shelford – well more of a chatting gaggle really – making astute observations about the state of the roadsurface, the likely effects of Virgin Media work digging up the road, how cold it was compared to the forecast etc. etc. In short, the usual CTC moans – so clearly all was well with the world then!

Vigorous Cycling Photo: Greg Tucker

Domestic Bliss Photo: Greg Tucker

We went through Gt Shelford and picked up the DNA path which we followed towards Addenbrookes before taking the right fork through the new Ninewells estate. Much tutting over the price of these new houses and the lack of personal outside space. I consider a CTC ride is at its finest when complaining about weather, roadsurfaces and housing developments. I think we really are World Class at such matters. If Channel 4 wish to make a Gogglebox special programme around this then I am sure we could be hired at favourable rates….

After a slight left/right jig we emerged onto Worts Causeway. Richard shouted something about the questionable legality of traffic manoeuvres – but he frequently does this to all and sundry so he was ignored – a response he seems equally at home with…

We hit the first real incline of the day as we went over the Gogs. Mike CC calling out the increasing percentage of the gradient made for a well known and much loved rhythm to the pedal strokes – though Andy & Sarah decided they wished to enjoy the sound of silence and they roared on ahead. The group reassembled at the top of the hill. Here we were all now slightly warmed at long last and we enjoyed the rapid descent into Fulbourn.

As we went through Fulbourn Mike CC announced the church had more than he did! Somewhat bemused at this line some further investigation was required. It transpired that he was referring to the name of the church – St Vigor’s. A quick check amongst those close to Mike at the time established two salient facts:
  1. We agreed that the church looked suitably vigorous and somewhat more so than MikeCC at that moment
  2. no one had a clue what St Vigor could have done to earn his place in paradise – but it sounded fun.
Subsequent Google analysis has established that Fulbourn’s church is one of only 2 in the UK to be dedicated to this Saint and he was responsible for leading the devil into the woods at some time in the past and so saving a French village. That Mike CC should be so enamoured of a saint who actively supported the French at some stage was the revelation of the day – Mr Farage should be told!

From Fulbourn we went on to the two Wilbrahams. This is a relatively rural piece of road with some pleasant sweeping turns. However, today it was to be the scene of an epic Road Racing piece of action. With the Tour de France starting next week clearly the juices were up!

Our esteemed leader – no not me but the Club Chairman – was riding at the front chatting when from nowhere (well obviously from somewhere but we didn’t know them) a group of 6 cyclists swept past. This would have been OK if said cyclists were in their twenties etc. but these riders looked – well, old enough to be in the CTC! The honour of the club was at stake and Andy, Greg, Sarah and Ed decided that ‘This would not do!’

We gave chase and the 200 yard gap that the imposters had opened up as we left Fulbourn was reduced to zero by the time we left Great Wilbraham. The other group had obviously been chastened by their clear and public humiliation by Cambridge CTC and they slunk off, defeated (well actually they carried straight on and we turned right to start the haul towards 6 Mile Bottom). Our victory complete we then waited for the rest of the group to catch up – the group had become spread out and we were in danger of losing some of the back markers. Greg declared that this was because he was leading a ‘Darwinian Ride.’ Much head scratching and puzzlement but the others reappeared and no more was said – for now.

This pause gave Andy a chance to check the phone message he had received….only to discover that the ferry he had booked for the crossing to the Scilly Isles the next day had been cancelled due to inclement weather.

‘Never mind’, said Sarah, ‘At least we had that Ferry cancellation insurance they offered so prominently in the booking.’

The look on Andy’s face was somewhat difficult to discern for us mere mortals but his spouse knew all too swiftly what was being revealed….Andy had clearly decided that his extensive professional experience in the field of transportation and logistics meant that he could absolutely, definitely and categorically be 100% certain that ferries being cancelled in June was so unlikely as to be a ridiculous prospect and insurance would be a waste of money….

The group departed towards 6 Mile Bottom leaving Andy frantically making calls and trying to rescue the situation!

Go West! Photo: Greg Tucker

The Dirty Dozen paused to regroup at the Cemetery Crossroads (it sounds like a scene in a Western!) A somewhat breathless Andy now reappeared having caught us up. Flights were now booked in place of the cancelled ferry and domestic bliss had been restored….we were now ready to turn left and head towards Newmarket.

On the fast descent many of us were somewhat surprised to see Peter streaking (metaphorically not literally!) past. He was duly hauled in on the next incline by the rest of the peloton. All became clear as Peter had become something of a ‘New Yoof’ and was adopting a more modern and contemporary approach to the task of cycling. He proudly declared that he was pursuing a policy of ‘Momentum Cycling’. This was clearly Peter’s response to the surprising election result and he had decided to become one of Jeremy Corbyn’s acolytes. Peter’s new role in senior echelons of the Momentum organisation and its advance of socialist principles would be something we would follow in the coming months with interest. When he went on to describe what Momentum Cycling meant (ie. To wizz on the free downhills to reduce the uphill pain) then it became clear that I had somewhat misread his message. Ah well, Momentum Cycling as a route to global domination will have to wait!

Though what couldn’t wait a moment more was a learned discussion between the two Ed's (yes, Two Eds are better than one – a joke that simply had to be cracked.) Greg had announced earlier that it was to be a Darwinian Ride and he was pressed for an explanation. He was merely making a quip that those at the back could be dropped since it would be survival of the fittest. Now, as we all know Darwin never wrote that term and so in a strict sense it is not a Darwinian explanation – though it is a neat encapsulation of his theory….The eyes of both Eds (yes I know I am flogging the ‘Ed/Head’ bit a little far) glazed over as the tedium of the explanation ended their desire to hear more. They shut their ears (no, no more!!) to any further details – we resumed the cycling.

Two Eds & friends! Photo: Greg Tucker

There was one final steep ascent and as we laboured uphill the cry went up from Andy, ‘White Avenger approaching’.

Now I know that there has been some adjustment to the acceptable lexicon of CTC terms to describe traffic approaching from either direction but this was clearly a new page that was vouchsafed only to senior committee members. Were we now to have to describe the colour and model of any vehicle that was approaching? What if we weren’t sure if it was a Quashqai or a Subaru – the potential for chaos was immense and this struck me a step too far! I asked for clarity to the calls rules. It turns out that actually ‘The White Avenger’ is not a 70’s throwback (oh no!) but was actually Andy’s new term for Averil. I believe the technical term for such a thing is ‘Brave’. Perhaps his hastily arranged flight tickets were an attempt to avoid the wrath of more than one woman – we should be told!

In a display of group harmony we sped downhill towards Newmarket in a united peloton. The traffic caused a brief split into two smaller groups but we arrived at the tea rooms at the museum at 11.26. A fair effort considering the adventures on the way and the hills – 23.5 miles in a shade under two hours is absolutely bang on CTC pace. The remainder of the ride was to be lead by Rupert who was waiting with the City Slickers who had already arrived at the cafĂ©. Their earlier start meant they had had an advance look at the cakes but the Village People were not to be denied – there was plenty to go round and that fuelled them all for the next stage as they prepared to ‘Go West’.

Best wishes go to Susan who had to retire from leading the ride at the last minute due to injury. Get well soon!

Many thanks to all who took part – here’s looking forward to when The Dirty Dozen Ride Again! Greg Tucker

Edward continues: With our late arrival for coffee we were unable to leave with Dr John's group and Rupert took over the role of leader. Unsurprisingly he suggested a change of venue for lunch and finally Barrow was chosen as Hawstead seemed a bit too far for us to reach in a reasonable time.

With Rupert as leader there was always the possibility that he would disappear into the distance behind a cloud of dust, but credit where it's due he stayed close to us and carried out his role diligently.

Eleven of us left Newmarket on NCN 51 to Moulton which is always a nice ride, especially after the climb past the gallops is over. In Moulton we passed the Packhorse Bridge and then did a bit more climbing on the road to Gazeley.

Gazeley Photo: Edward Elmer

Gazeley to Barrow Photo: Edward Elmer

NCN 51 continues along the road to Higham and takes us onto a beautiful up and down route all the way to Barrow where we arrived at 1pm. Three adjourned to the Udder Room for lunch whilst all the others ate their packed lunches on the village green, and later to the Udder Room for drinks. This is the Thursday ride's first visit to the Udder Room, although it has been used for Sunday rides, and it was very nice and reasonably priced.

Lunch at Barrow

Finally, at 2.15pm we started for home by heading south towards Denham and passing near to, but not actually going through, Dalham and Ousden before reaching Wickhambrook.

Whichever way we go in this part of the country we are guaranteed a nice ride on mainly quiet country roads although the odd car or two may be held up because of the twists and turns in the road. We came to Great Bradley and then downhill to Little Thurlow and onto a club favourite, the two mile stretch to Carlton Green.

Weston Colville was next, followed by West Wratting where some accepted Peter's generous invitation for a cup of tea and no doubt one of Lesley’s cakes.

This left three to head for home via Balsham, Hildersham, Abington, Sawston and Shelford, finishing the ride at 5pm and after 67 miles. As always thanks to all the leaders, especially Greg and Rupert who were late replacements. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. A great and amusing missive Greg! Pleased that I am in 6 photos and was mentioned in dispatches 4 or 5 times. Keep it up! Mike CC