Thursday, 20 July 2017

20 Jul:Thursday ride to Ashwell and Willington

Edward writes: This Thursday our ride would take us westward to Ashwell and on to Willington for lunch with Tony leading from Hauxton (fifteen riders) and Rupert leading from the city with six riders. The weather at the start was a lot cooler than recent days and accompanied by a stiff westerly wind which meant a morning riding into it. We started our ride with a climb over Chapel Hill into Barrington with a short pause in the village to allow everyone to come together again before setting off for Shepreth and Meldreth.



Although showers had been forecast these came in the form of light drizzle leaving the dilemma of whether or not to put on waterproofs. We climbed up to Kneesworth and Bassingbourn and for once we took the direct route to Litlington, omitting the loop round Abington Pigotts. After Steeple Morden we soon arrived in Ashwell and for a change we arrived some ten minutes before the city six allowing us first choice at the bakery.

Coffee in Ashwell followed the usual formula with one group on the little green and another in the village cottage garden.

Three Venerable Gentlemen



By 11.30am our two leaders assembled everyone and offered a choice of two routes, apparently of roughly equal distances. Rupert would take his group in the direction Cardington and Tony would take his via Southill. At coffee there had been reports that Rupert was again out of sight as he lead from Brookside (probably only a rumour), but we hoped that he would stay in sight for the ride to Willington. Meanwhile, Tony led his troops out of Ashwell on the cross-country route through Hinxworth to Edworth where we crossed the A1. This brought us head-on into the wind as we ran down to Langford.

Leaving Ashwell

It was relief to turn northwards in Langford for the run up the B659 before turning for Broom where we saw a field of roses under cultivation. This used to be a familiar sight here but we haven't seen them for a number of years now, so this was a welcome return. We were now in the pretty Bedfordshire villages of Southill, Old Warden and Northill. In the distance we could see the Cardington hangars and also the airship known as the "flying bum".

Roses in Broom

Soon we turned north westwards to climb up to Cople. This left us with a mile or two to bring us to the Home and Garden Centre, arriving at 1pm to find those with Rupert already seated waiting for their meals; so they did manage to keep an eye on him!

There were probably about twenty at the cafe and the staff seemed to have a relaxed attitude to those with sandwiches occupying tables out on the patio.

Lunch at Willington

When we nearly ready to leave it became apparent that Mike CC wasn't ready as he had made a late order for coffee and cake. In the event he had to switch groups and joined Tony's group. As we were leaving the garden centre Mike kept himself at the centre of attention due to a fault with his saddle. Averil provided him with an elastic band which gave him a temporary fix and we all set off again - this time for real.

After a mile or two we came to Danish Camp where we joined the old railway to take us via Blunham into Sandy. However, Mike still wasn't satisfied and brought us to a halt for more repairs. Luckily for him Mike C was on hand and along with Tony they came up with gaffer tape and electrical ties and afforded him a more permanent fix.

Mike CC in Person

Near Blunham on old Railway

We carried along the old railway alignment into Sandy, then through Everton, which reminds some of us that it will soon be the football season, and along to Waresley. At this point we said goodbye to Mike CC and wished him a safe journey home. (Hope you did get home all right, Mike.) Of course now we enjoyed the following wind and we rapidly made our way through Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn.

Just after Bourn the group split, allowing those going to Cambridge to stay on the B1046 and the others to go back via Kingston and the Eversdens to Haslingfield where we arrived at 4.30pm and a nice round 60 miles. It was a good day out and we thank Tony and Rupert for their efforts. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

19 Jul: Evening ride to Barrington

Nigel writes: My companions for tonight's ride were Seb, Camille, Ray and Will: given the growing importance of good food on these evening rides it felt appropriate that 40% of tonight's group were from France. The weather this evening was dull, hot and very humid: for much of the ride it felt as if it would start raining at any time, but fortunately it stayed dry and didn't start raining until the middle of the night.

Tonight's pub stop was in Barrington. We'd visited this about a month ago, when Ray led the ride there on a clockwise loop, setting out south and then turning west. On this occasion I decided to try an anticlockwise loop, setting out west along the Coton path and following the old St Neot's Road west before turning south towards Bourn.

After a short run south along the A1198 (which is always very quiet in the evening) we turned back east onto the lovely quiet lane that runs down towards Old Wimpole. Up until this point we had been riding on rather dull roads and it was nice to be on a country lane at last. We crossed the A603 and continued to Orwell.

We could have continued directly from Orwell to Barrington, but it was still not yet 8pm and so I took the group south to tiny Malton and on to Meldreth, stopping to admire the Meridian marker along the way.

Meridian marker near Orwell

We reached Barrington at about 8.15pm and stopped for food and drinks at The Royal Oak.

Dinner at The Royal Oak, Barrington

Camille's Octopus

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge via Chapel Hill, Haslingfield and Barton. With a gentle tailwind this was a very fast ride back, and I arrived home at 9.45pm, having cycled 53km (33 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Happy Birthday Vic!

We'd like to send our best wishes for a happy 90th birthday to Vic Skelton.

Vic is one of our longest-serving members having joined CTC in 1950. Vic still rides regularly with us and continues to show the rest of us how it should be done with his laid-back approach and an impressive turn of speed. The photo shows Vic on a recent club ride in Thetford Forest. Rupert

Thursday, 13 July 2017

13 Jul: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Castle Hedingham

Edward writes: Our destination this Thursday was Castle Hedingham which would be one of our longest rides this summer and today under the leadership of Sarah, perhaps with a little help from Andy. There were twelve at the start in Hauxton, including Simon riding with us for the first time, and over in the city they had ten with Rupert doing the honours here, assuming they could keep him in sight. The weather was good, not much wind and everything was set for a good ride.

Little Shelford

Our route out took us through Little Shelford into the more metropolitan Great Shelford where the good news is that next month the road past the school is scheduled for repair, or if we are lucky, resurfacing. We joined the A1301 and headed south through Stapleford and into Sawston, travelling all the way through it up to the Pampisford turn.

Next it was the cycle path to Abington accompanied by the din off the neighbouring A505. We soon found our way going past Abington Science Park and down to the A1307 for the entrance to Hildersham. Although the harvest has already started yesterday’s rain most likely had put pay to any work today, so we were able to admire the fields in all their golden glory. Next we engaged in our first climb of the day up to Balsham followed by a couple more hills to West Wickham.

Approaching Balsham

This soon brought us to Horseheath with impeccable timing at 11 am and sixteen miles. Already there, of course, were the city slickers, but fortunately for us the cakes were still to be brought out. As expected there were several who came out independently including Bill P who had cycled out from Ely, and Bob B who, after a long absence, is now making a habit of it as this is two weeks running that we have seen him.

As usual the Old Red Lion produced the goods but Sarah was in no mood to allow anyone to dwell too long and with full disciplinary force she gave notice that we would be leaving in five minutes’ time. At this point Rupert relinquished his leadership role and as arranged Edmund took over to lead the city folk.

Leaving Horseheath

At 11.30am we set off in two groups, heading first back over the A1307 through Cardinal's Green, Mill Green into Castle Camps. All went well but we soon came to the roads which are being resurfaced with chippings and they are no fun to ride on, and as were to find out later not without consequences. We got through the Bumpsteads and then Stambourne and as we left Stambourne we started the most enjoyable part of the ride to Toppesfield as the countryside was a joy to ride through.

Approaching Stambourne

We were now heading south and east as we neared the A1017 and Castle Hedingham when my tyre split, but at least it stayed more or less up making it just rideable for the last two miles to lunch. The tyre was probably a bit thin but the loose chippings were enough to finish it off. Adrian, he of the infinite knowledge, said there was a cycle shop just before going into Castle Hedingham and just over the road was a bench under a tree on the little green. So, equipped with a new tyre we settled down for sandwiches and to fix the bike. Enjoying themselves were John F, Tony, Simon G, Averil and of course the joker in the pack, Greg. They all contributed in various ways with Greg supplying most of the humour, having fully recovered from his sleepless Saturday night caused by a Rave in his village.

When it was all done we went to find the others at Buckley's cafe in the village and we found them having a very civilised lunch. Actually, everyone was full of praise; it was very friendly and efficient and even Rupert looks like he can be persuaded that we should come back here again. We must acknowledge Andy and Sarah whose meanderings around the countryside made this discovery.

Lunch at Castle Hedingham

For the return journey there appeared to be two options - a northerly route led by Edmund and a more southerly route led by Sarah. About fourteen chose this route but before we had gone a couple of miles David W’s tyre also split, but ever resourceful, he had a spare tyre with him and it didn't take long for us to be on our way again.

Leaving Castle Hedingham

We now faced mostly to the west and the roads we travelled were new to many of us and, as in the morning, they were, for the most part quiet country lanes. We passed through Wethersfield and a few miles later we reached Great Bardfield and finally into familiar territory as we turned for Thaxted.

Leaving Thaxted

Another four miles brought us to Debden where we stopped at the little village shop for ice creams. This left us with a couple of miles of hills into Saffron Walden and then onto the A1301 through Littlebury and Little Chesterford where we said goodbye to Sarah and Andy with the remainers finishing off through Ickleton, and Duxford. Here Greg showed us how to get across the A505 when it's busy. Using his past experience as a lollipop man he put his hand up and the traffic came to a halt and we all safely crossed with the bemused drivers looking on. Didn’t someone do something like this with the Red Sea? Or has Greg got biblical powers we didn’t know about? Anyway it was a fun way to finish off the day which, in fact, was one of the best we have had this year. Those going back to Hauxton would have completed the predicted 68 miles. Thanks to our leaders, Rupert, Edmund and Sarah and Andy for a great route and for finding the lunch stop. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

13 Jul: Evening ride to Babraham

Nigel writes: The weather forecast was right: after a rather cloudy day the sky cleared and the sun came out, allowing us a gorgeous evening ride in the low evening sunshine. Joining me in this very pleasant activity were Camille, Dimitris, Mark, Neil, Tom, and John. Once again the club was visiting a new pub stop, The George Inn in Babraham. To get there we set off from Brookside and followed our usual route east along the river to Fen Ditton and Quy.

Ditton Meadows

Just beyond Quy we turned onto the long road which follows a fairly straight line from there to Six Mile Bottom. As leader I decided to set a moderate pace which everyone was comfortable with, but I could see that Camille, John and Dimitris were feeling a bit frisky so invited them to go ahead and have some fun, waiting for us at the cross-roads in Six Mile Bottom.

When we reached Six Mile Bottom Camille and Dimitris were waiting for me and the others. However there was no sign of John: clearly I had not been precise enough if my instructions about where to wait. The rest of us turned right along the main road before turning left again for the long and very pretty hill that climbs towards West Wratting. In the evening sun this was a beautiful stretch of road.

Chilly Hill by Wadlow Farm

After a pause by Wadlow Farm to regroup we carried on to West Wratting and joined the main B-road for the short distance to Balsham.

For those who find the climb too Balsham to onerous

In Balsham we were joined by Chris, who had been chasing us ever since arriving at Brookside about 15 minutes after we had departed. We continued past the pub we visited last week and, after briefly stopping to allow Nigel to revisit the bus shelter where he had tried to sleep at 4am on an overnight Audax last month, dropped down towards Hildersham.

The descent from Balsham to Hildersham

Crossroads near Hildersham Photo: Camille Stavrakas

Crossroads near Hildersham Photo: Camille Stavrakas

At Hildersham we crossed the A1307 to Abington and then followed a rather dull loop round the village and along part of the A505 cycleway before turning back towards our pub stop in Babraham.


The George Inn in Babraham is a large pub but, like last time I visited it, was relatively empty. We ordered food and drink and sat outside near our bikes. Whilst waiting for our food to arrive our conversation covered various erudite topics including an interesting discussion of quantum entanglement with Camille.

Photo: Camille Stavrakas

Photo: Camille Stavrakas

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge via the Babraham Research Campus and the A1307 cycleway. This didn't take long but I was reminded just how poor this relatively new cycleway was: narrow, encroached by vegetation, and with loss of priority at numerous side turns (many of them with poor sightlines). Despite this we arrived back in Cambridge without incident and the group dispersed near Addenbrooke's. I arrived home just before 10pm having cycled 51km (31 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 9 July 2017

9 Jul: Sunday ride to Ely and Chippenham

Nigel writes: It's high summer, and today was a suitably hot and rather humid day, with a temperature of 20C at the start and rising to over 25C during the afternoon, and although there was plenty of cloud around it there was enough sun to leave me slightly sunburned by the end of the day (oops). Our leader today was Ian B, and his charges for this ride were Alex, Nick, Tom, Rupert, Chris, Camille and me.


We set off east from Brookside, down to Midsummer Common and along the river to Stourbridge Common.

Midsummer Common: Nigel rushes ahead to take a photo...(Photo: Nick Wilkinson)

The photo he took...

This is a familiar route when we want to head east to Fen Ditton and Quy, and is also emerging as a good route to reach the busway to St Ives.

Stourbridge Common

However today's route was one we do less often, which is to cross the river at the Green Dragon bridge and follow the north bank of the river for a further 6km or so to Clayhithe.

Along the river (Photo: Nick Wilkinson)

Along the river (Photo: Nick Wilkinson)

At Clayhithe we left the river and turned west towards Waterbeach. We had been maintaining a necessarily slow pace along the river but once we were back on tarmac the pace picked up significantly, and I found myself having to make an effort to keep up with the others. We crossed the A10 and continued through Landbeach to Cottenham and then north along the B1049 to Wilburton.


The B1049 is a relatively busy road but it served its purpose well, taking us north and across the River Great Ouse to Wilburton. After that we were on empty fen roads that took us across the wonderfully-named Grunty Fen towards Wentworth. Ian's original plan had been to turn east towards Ely somewhere around here, but since we had quite a lot of time in hand led us further north to Coveney, which with its slightly elevated position offers fine views towards Ely and I think offers a better approach to Ely than along the A142 cycleway.


We reached Ely City Centre at 11am exactly, and stopped for refreshments Silver Oak coffee, a rather nice (and very popular) coffee stand in the Market Place. We spent a pleasant 45 minutes or so chatting in the sunshine. Adrian was already there and a short while later Cheryl and her son Johnny passed by on their own ride.

Ely Riverside

The next stage of today's ride took us south along the River Great Ouse, following the path on the top of the floodbank before dropping down onto a rough but dry farm road to Barway.

By-pass works on NCN11 south of Ely

NCN11 south of Ely

From Barway we could have continued south along NCN11 to Padney and Wicken, but today we turned east, past its huge vegetable processing factory and on to Soham. From there a loop through the fen-edge villages of Isleham and Freckenham brought us to Chippenham, and our lunch stop at La Hogue farm shop.

East Common Soham

Lunch at La Hogue was as pleasant as ever. Due to the hot weather I wasn't especially hungry, but Alex was able to follow his personal tradition and enjoyed a Strawberry Pavlova.

After lunch we returned to Cambridge, joined by Mike CC who had made his own way to lunch. Our route home took us through Snailwell to Exning and then through Burwell and along the Lodes Way back to Quy. I arrived home at 4pm, having cycled 114km (70 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

5 Jul: Evening ride to Balsham

Nigel writes: This was perhaps our hottest evening ride so far this summer, with a temperature of 24C at the start and very little wind. As I would have expected this brought out a good turnout of riders: Alex (B), Ray, Neil, John E, Andrew S, Nick M and a second Alex (R). Our pub stop tonight was The Black Bull in Balsham, which we were visiting for only the second time on an evening ride.

Balsham is perfectly placed for an evening ride as it allows us to take an excellent route of just the right distance to get there, including two of our best local hills. After taking a rather roundabout route to avoid roadworks on Hills Road we climbed the Gogs before dropping back down to Fulbourn. This is a relatively easy climb, rising to a modest 68m over about 1km, but which provides an excellent payoff in the form of almost 3km of almost continuous descent back down to Fulbourn.

After a flat run through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom we reached out second climb of the evening. This was the ascent to Brinkley. This climbs rather higher, to about 110m, but over a long 5km or so. In this case the payoff is not an immediate descent, but instead the pleasant flatter landscape that lies beyond.


Wratting Common

Our route from Brinkley took us to Carlton and then across the plateau-like Wratting Common to West Wickham. Here we dropped off the plateau with a short descent followed by a short ascent back up to Balsham.

After drinks, chips and burgers at The Black Bull we all returned back to Cambridge. Balsham is perfectly placed for a post-pub return, with a fast descent down to Charterhouse Bridge and an easy flat run from there to Fulbourn, Cherry Hinton and the City Centre. I arrived back home at 10pm, having cycled 57km (35 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Monday, 3 July 2017

Rides in July and August

We have now started our rides programme for July and August. We're taking advantage of the sunny weather and the longer days to have some longer rides so that we can visit more distant destinations. But we have also kept some shorter rides in the mix for those who prefer a lighter option.

Summer is also the time for the delights of home teas and we have three Sunday events to enjoy this year. We start with a home tea in Foxton. We then have a summer Barbecue lasting all afternoon on 13th August (book here) and on 27th August we have two rides - a longer all-day ride and an afternoon ride - which enjoy a home tea in West Wratting. How can you resist - just remember to pump up your tyres to handle the extra weight as you head home after these treats.

Lastly, and importantly, we still need more of you to volunteer to lead our rides. Leading is not difficult, and we are always happy to help with route planning. Our rides cannot go ahead without a leader, so we would welcome more offers to lead the rides. If you are new to leading, I can recommend the Sunday afternoon rides as a good place to start. Rupert Goodings

Sunday, 2 July 2017

2 Jul: Sunday ride to Finchingfield, Stansted Mountfitchet and Foxton

Alex writes: I was joined at Brookside by Dimitris, Keith, Mike CC, Nick W, Ray, and Simon G for today's ride to Finchingfield, Stansted Mountfitchet and Foxton. The day was already set fair with sunny warm conditions, though not so unbearably baking as it has been of late.

Ready for the off (Photo: Nick W)

Finchingfield is one of our more distant coffee stops, being a good 40 km (25 miles) distant. Still, at normal club pace that means we would have time to arrive in time for an 11 o'clock stop.

We headed out of town on the Babraham road, took the footbridge over the A11 and then cycled to Linton and Bartlow. We then turned on to the very attractive lane past Camps End and bimbling along in the dappled light it was hard to imagine a better way to spend a Sunday morning.

Over Wandlebury Hill (Photo: Nick W)

Over Wandlebury Hill (Photo: Nick W)

Over Wandlebury Hill (Photo: Nick W)

Post footbridge (Photo: Nick W)

As we approached Finchingfield the pace quickened as the prospect of a second breakfast asserted its special pull.

Approaching Finchingfield (Photo: Nick W)

Approaching Finchingfield (Photo: Nick W)

Approaching Finchingfield (Photo: Nick W)

We arrived just after 11 to find Edmund already enjoying the delights of Bosworth's Tearooms. This was my first visit here and I was impressed with the service and the generosity of the cream tea (2 scones!).

Edmund joins us after coffee (Photo: Nick W)

After coffee we made our way indirectly to lunch, on a route designed to be a laney as possible, culminating in John S's "Snakes Lane" approach to Stansted from the North.

Mike CC! (Photo: Nick W)

Alex (Photo: Nick W)

Laney days (Photo: Nick W)

Ray a'wheel (Photo: Nick W)

Alex a'wheel (Photo: Nick W)

Mike CC a'wheel (Photo: Nick W)

At Stansted Nick left us to go harass the riders on the London-Cambridge ride, while the rest of us stopped for lunch.

Selfie (Photo: Nick W)

The Bean House was as excellent as ever, and after an hour, rested and replete, we set off into the hot afternoon starting with a sweaty climb out of town.

For some reason I had in mind it was 40 km to tea, and so was keen to keep things moving to get there in time. I cracked the whip, anxious to make steady progress. But I needn't have: after a glorious long descent from Great Chishill we found ourselves on course to arrive earlier than I thought. It was after all only 35 km we'd had to cycle.

Home teas are always some of the highlights of the year, and Sue H's was a real treat with a spread of sandwiches and so many beautiful cakes it was sadly impossible to sample them all (I tried the cherry cake and the Victoria sponge; Ray raved particularly about the chocolate cake).

Mike CC amid the sandwiches

Rupert goes for lemon drizzle

Tea scene

After dallying in Sue's beautiful garden until we could eat no more, we all set off for a gentle ride home along the A10 cycleway.

When I got home I found I had ridden 118 km (73 miles).