Monday, 30 October 2017

Rides in November or December

Our November and December rides lists are now available. We are into our winter rides now, so our Sunday and Thursday rides are all a bit shorter to try and avoid riding in the dark. But always remember to bring lights on these rides in case we get delayed. Our Wednesday evening rides are now just monthly, aligned to the full moons - but you still need to bring good lights!  

To lighten the mood you can put the AGM and the Christmas lunch dates into your diaries. These are two good chances to socialise and enjoy a meal together, with the added option of a club ride to both events.

Lastly, our regular call for leaders. There are still several of these winter rides that need a leader. It works best when we share the leading and everyone does a few leads each set. So if you haven't volunteered yet, please contact Rupert to put your name down. Rupert Goodings.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

29 Oct: Sunday afternoon ride to Anglesey Abbey

Neil writes: Sunday afternoon was clear, bright, and not too windy, so good conditions for autumn cycling, and I was joined at Brookside by ten other riders. We left Cambridge using the route alongside the river, from Midsummer Common to Fen Ditton and on to Stow-cum-Quy.

At the start

This outing was one of our new, shorter afternoon rides, so we followed the National Cycle Network route through Bottisham and the Swaffhams just as far as Reach. Then we returned via the Lodes Way to Lode and Anglesey Abbey, glimpsing a rainbow along the way.

I have ridden past Anglesey Abbey many times, but never through the entrance. They do have quite a bit of cycle parking, though it is distributed in at least three different locations around the car park.

Tea

After tea, we returned along the B1102. There is now a partially constructed cycleway adjacent to the road. This does not yet cover the whole distance from the Abbey to Stow, but the section that has been built is quite usable, and much more pleasant than the road.

I was home by 4.30pm, having ridden 25 miles (41 km) with 140m of ascent. Neil Spenley



Download GPS track (GPX).

Saturday, 28 October 2017

AGM 2017

The Annual General Meeting of CTC Cambridge will be held at 3pm on Sunday 12th November at Hauxton Village Hall, followed by a club tea during which there will be an opportunity to ask questions of the new committee and socialise with other members.

Please bring your CTC membership card with you if you intend voting on agenda items. Both our rides that day will arrive at Hauxton at time for the start of the AGM.

Minutes of this meeting are now available here.

AGENDA

1. Welcome

2. Apologies for absence

3. Minutes of previous AGM (Minutes of 2016 AGM)

4. Annual Reports

a. Secretary (Secretary's report)

b. Treasurer (Statement of accounts)

c. Runs Secretary (Runs secretary's report)

5. Election of Officers and Committee.

All posts are open for election. Nominations for any post should be sent in advance of the meeting to John Seton, interim secretary (secretary@ctc-cambridge.org.uk). Nominations will also be taken at the meeting.

The committee prior to the AGM is listed here. All existing committee members are prepared to stand for re-election to their current posts with the exception of Sharon Jackson, who will not be standing for re-election to the post of Welfare Officer, and Chris Emerson, who will not be standing for re-election as a general committee member.

a) Officers
  • Chairman
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary

b) Other specific role members
  • Runs Secretary
  • Registrations and Promotions Officer
  • Website Officer
  • Welfare Officer

c) Other non-specific role members
  • General Committee member 1
  • General Committee member 2
  • General Committee member 3

6. Election of Honorary Auditor

Alex Brown has offered to take this role over, but suitably qualified alternative nominations are welcome.

7. Campaigning Report – Rupert Goodings

8. Len Nice Trophy vote introduction – Chris Emerson (voting to take place during tea, with results to be announced at the Christmas Lunch)

9. Open forum – questions to new committee, and discussion of topics including
  • Ride discipline
  • Club events

John Seton, Secretary

Friday, 27 October 2017

27 Oct: A ride around Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

John S writes: Adrian Lee organised another of his car-assisted rides, to Clumber Park, near Worksop, on 27th October. Former CTC Cambridge member George Stevenson, who had moved from Cambridge to Worksop around 30 years ago, had arranged to meet us there, and lead us on trails that were very familiar to him from his time there.

Arrival at The Old Tearoom, Carboulton

I met Adrian, Mike C and Vic at 7.45am in Shelford, to load bikes onto Adrian's car. The journey was very straightforward, with no hold ups. It was chilly start, but this was a portent of the perfect sunny, cloudless and windless day that was to follow. We arrived at the rendezvous café – The Old School Tearoom in Carburton - around 9.45am, after driving through Clumber Park and seeing the wonderful double avenue of lime trees, and wondering why they all had black bands around their trunks. After the regulation bacon baps and coffees, George arrived and outlined the day he had planned for us.

We set off east from the café, back into Clumber Park. We soon left the road, and turned onto one of the many cycle-friendly paths that criss-cross the area. This led us to a bridge over Clumber Lake, and on via other paths and lanes to cross the River Poulter by a long footbridge over a ford.

Distant cyclists beyond the ford over the River Poulter (Photo: Adrian Lee)

Clumber Park is in an area of North Nottinghamshire called the Dukeries. It was once the estate of the Dukes of Newcastle. The main house at Clumber Park was demolished in 1938, but the outbuildings, farms and stables are still intact, and used as shops and cafés, along with a chapel - more cathedral-sized than chapel-sized. We continued through the half-term crowds, past water meadows, through the park gates, and on back to the café where we had started, for lunch.

Passing through Clumber Park Gates

After lunch, we explored the area to the west of Clumber Park, passing through the villages of Norton and Holbeck. Here George took a turn onto a delightful off-road stretch that rejoined the road network near Creswell.

Vic tackles some rough stuff near Creswell

At this point, we briefly crossed from Nottinghamshire into Derbyshire, and up a new road to Creswell Crags – a limestone gorge lined with caves where in 2003 archaeologists found the only UK examples of Ice Age rock art. Usually, bridleways disappear over time, and more roads are built. In this case, the former B-road through the Crags has been turned into a tranquil bridleway, by-passed by a completely new road to the north.

The former B6042 – now a bridleway through Creswell Crags

From Creswell Crags we continued along quiet roads through Hodthorpe - a mining village - and on to a great section of rough stuff – part of an off-road trail called Robin Hood Way passing through another of the 5 Dukeries Estates – Welbeck. This passed through woodland, where most of us had to accept defeat and wheel our bikes for a short distance. Here we saw more recent examples of rock art – messages from the 1960s – 2010’s carved into sandstone next to the trail.

George, Adrian and Mike C riding along a quiet lane near Hodthorpe

George and Vic on Robin Hood Way (Photo: Adrian Lee)

We then re-entered Clumber Park and retraced the morning route back to the start/finish café just after 4pm.

Returning through the lime tree avenue in Clumber Park

In the car, on the way back through Clumber Park, we again puzzled over the black bands around every single lime tree. Suggestions included marks to measure how quickly individual trees were growing, or an early warning of tree disease. An internet search on the way home revealed that these bands date back to 1906, and are lines of grease that were put around the trees to prevent wing-less insect parasites from climbing up the trunks and infesting the trees.

Over the day, we rode around 25 miles, but as much of this was off-road, this was more of a challenge than the distance alone suggests. We arrived back in Cambridge around 7pm after a day of perfect late-October weather and great cycling along tracks we would never have found without our "native guide" George. A big thank you to George for his local knowledge, and to Adrian for driving us all, and for arranging another fascinating CTC Cambridge car-assisted ride. John Seton



Download GPS track (GPX).


Thursday, 26 October 2017

26 Oct: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Thurleigh

Sheila writes: There were nine of us at Brookside for the start of the ride this morning with four more joining us en-route before coffee. The coffee stop was Woodside Farm in Gamlingay which we reached by climbing Chapel Hill in Haslingfield, negotiating the crowds of runners and spectators through Wimpole Hall, into Croydon and through the Hatleys.

Chapel Hill

Fortunately we had made good time as Woodside Farm was virtually full. We succeeded in securing enough chairs to join the half dozen cyclists already there and it was some 45 minutes later eight of us continued on to Thurleigh with the remainder returning home.

Morning coffee at Woodside Farm

After Sandy we picked up the cycle path where, for a large section of the way, we cycled parallel to the River Ouse. Being a cycle route it limited progress but the scenery was delightful. Following a fiddly section of cycle paths through housing and with a north headwind along a four mile straight, we cycled the final stretch to Thurleigh arriving just five minutes later than estimated.

Leaving Gamlingay

After our first experience at Scald End Farm we were unsure how this stop would work out but we weren’t disappointed. The food was good, except for one burnt sausage, and excellent value for money. I had a baguette filled with a generous portion of thickly sliced, locally sourced ham garnished with salad and crisps for £3.55p. I certainly recommend this venue for future lunch stops.

Lunch at Scald End Farm, Thurleigh

We left looking forward to a tailwind and sped along the road to St Neots. It was how it should always be - flat, with the sun shining and the scenery at its best. After circulating a roundabout two, maybe three, times due to unclear instructions from David T we made our way to Abbotsley, Gt Gransden and Bourn.

During the ride back my fellow cyclists had been branching off to take direct routes home and so I found myself riding solo from Bourn back to Cambridge. We’d enjoyed lovely sunshine all day, albeit with a stiff north wind, but typical for the season there was a sudden, sharp drop in temperature as I rode into Cambridge.

My Garmin didn't record my ride due to pilot error but it was about 68.5 miles at an average speed of 12.5mph. Sheila George



Download this route (GPX).

Sunday, 22 October 2017

22 Oct: Sunday ride to Sturmer, Long Melford and West Wratting

Mike P writes: Four members joined me at Brookside on Sunday morning for the run out to Long Melford and return: Rupert, Dr John, David T and Sheila. This was to be the last three-stop ride of the season. An inclement weather forecast, coupled to a number of regular riders opting to enter Nick Wilkinson's Cambridge Autumnal Audax rides the day before, were such that the turnout would be lower than usual.

Nonetheless, we departed at 9am sharp heading out on the city on Hills Road following the usual route over the Gogs before dropping down to Babraham. Edmund joined the ride at Hildersham as we continued at pace aided by a blustery 20 mph Westerly wind. Linton, Bartlow, Castle Camps and Steeple Bumpstead were visited before heading North to the garden centre on the A1017 at Sturmer, arriving for coffee just before 11am barely out of breath. Here we were met by Adrian and Susan who had made their own way.

After coffee we headed up to Kedlington where Rupert and Dr John peeled off for home. The remaining group of five namely, myself, Sheila, David T, Edmund and Susan continued on with the wind on our backs through quiet and picturesque lanes and villages via Clare, Blecham st Paul and Foxheath, arriving at Long Melford at 12.30pm for lunch. Glimpses of sun and warming temperature made for very pleasant riding.

Lunch was originally planned at the Crown although none of us felt the need for a major refuel so we opted to try Fanny Anne's Tea Room on the High Street a short distance to the South. The ladies running this very traditional establishment were most accommodating even allowing us to bring our bikes into the café. There was a wide range of reasonably priced hot food on the menu not to mention a great selection of freshly made cakes all served with speed and efficiency. Definitely to be recommended.

Fanny Anne's Tea Room, Long Melford

More photos below

Suitably replenished, we headed out of Melford at 1.40pm with skies clearing to bring some lovely autumnal weather albeit we were now heading into that blustery westerly. Keeping our heads down and to a steady pace we headed up to Glemsford via the B1066 before making our way westwards along some exposed ridges to Stansfield and Deniston which made for some difficult riding on occasion.

From Stradishall there are few options other than to plug along the A143 past Highpoint before dropping down to Thurlow. By now legs were beginning to tire from battling the full force of that westerly. Attempting to keep a close peloton with David taking point for much of the way made life easier for the remainder of us and we arrived for our tea stop at the Chestnut in West Wratting at 3.45pm, a few minutes after the afternoon group.

Susan and Edmund elected to carry on to Shelford. After tea, David , Sheila and myself headed back into town via Balsham and Fulbourn, arriving back at Brookside just after 5pm having cycled 128kmwith a moving time of 6h 10m at an average of 20.6 km/h Mike Pearce



Download GPS track (GPX).


Electric bikes: mid drive or hub drive?

Thinking of buying an electric bike? One of the most important things to consider is what kind of drive to chose. Mike Stapleton has written an article describing the two main types available.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

21 Oct: Cambridge Autumnal audaxes

Alex writes: Today was the second running of the Cambridge Autumnal audaxes. These are Audax UK calendar events organized by Nick Wilkinson under the banner of Cambridge Audax. Despite dire warnings of bad weather from the forecasters (typically overblown as is the way these days), 160 riders took part: 100 on the 200km ride, and 60 on the 100km.

The route for the 200 was slightly tweaked from last year, but the idea is simple: ride to Framlingham (approx. 100km) and then back via the Maglia Rosso café near Hawstead.



Beside me, 6 other CTC Cambridge regulars were out this year: Bill P (on the 100), John P, Nigel, Seb, Simon and Tom. Their accounts follow ...

Anciens – Nigel wears a LEL gilet; Nick a PBP one

Gareth manning the desk

Tom's audax

This was my second attempt at a 200km audax. The first resulted in me almost collapsing in a pub to rehydrate and a grand finishing time of about 15 hours ± 15 minutes (who would keep timing at this point?).

The aim of this audax was solely to see some improvement on my earlier performance.

This time I was better prepared with a hub dynamo, map holder, helmet lights and some idea of the pace that would suit me best. The aim was to keep a steady pace with shorter breaks to refuel on food.

This seemed to be working well on the outbound trip and I found myself shadowing Simon G most of the way. Simon has done several audaxes this year and that gave me the confidence to stick at the pace he was setting. Simon and I rode with Seb on and off for many miles too, although Seb had a slightly different riding style, his cycling pace varying depending upon his energy (cake) levels at the time! It was good to have their company on the way.

16km done – with Simon G

After Maglio Rosso the miles and the headwind on the return leg were taking their toll. Simon had accommodated my slower pace and had helped me to pull through this difficult leg of the trip (Thanks Simon!). However, I was exhausted at Balsham and had to stop. I asked Simon to go on as time was pressing.

After a good drink of water, an energy bar and a caramel shortbread I was ready to go again. I now knew my way back. I arrived back at Girton at 9.15pm, just 20 minutes before the allotted time.

Tom celebrates his new randonneur status with some soup at the arrivée

Seb's audax

On my way to the start, I met Alex, who was cycling the other way, surely to position himself for some photos ahead? I arrived with just 10min to spare, enough to get my brevet and to enjoy 2 crumpets with a cup of coffee, I soon was on the Start line, and into a peloton through Cambridge.

I went on my own pace to Newmarket, where there was horses about. Whilst I stopped for a banana and a biscuit before Bury St Edmunds, riders went past me, including Simon and Tom.

Leaving Bury, I went past Tom & Simon who'd stopped on a bench and after another banana stop past Bury, they had caught up, and I joined them. So far the day had proven only a bit windy and rather sunny.

As we progressed, we started to see cyclists heading the other way, many familiar faces went by. We stopped at the café in Framlingham and I had a sausage roll, pizza bread, cream cake, soda and a coffee.. a bit too much so I had to leave Simon and Tom to pace ahead once back on the bike.

I noticed the old rescue vehicle in Earl Soham and stopped to take a picture, eventually I caught up with Tom & Simon. The weather had changed, there was a few drops of rain, nothing requiring a waterproof, it was windier but still okay compared to what was forecast.

We arrived in Maglia Rosso with 10/15min to closure for cakes and coffee, after a quick stamp and chat with Alex -manning the control- , banana, cake&coffee, all 3 of us headed off with our lights on. I was going a bit fast for Tom and I moved ahead, eventually riding more with Steven as I we were heading toward Balsham.

Seb at the Maglia Rosso

Increasingly the wind was a problem, due to being more exposed and higher up in the land. Past Balsham I lost Steven ahead as I was keeping a low speed in order to control the bike, past Balsham I didn't get much advantage from the downhills, surely not bombing down in the drops! Only when reaching Cherry Hinton did I feel more safe. I reached the arrivée by around 20:50, half an hour after I expected.

I was well looked after and got some cake, tea, bread/cheese, got some soup too! Cheers! Simon had got here before me I think and Tom wasn't long to follow.

Many thanks to Nick, Ewa, Gareth, Alex and all involved in making it such an event.

Simon's audax

The lead up to this Audax met me with a degree of anxiety that registered as lethargy and the frequent need to sleep for the last two days.

I guess part of this was the inevitable aspect of having to navigate in the dark, from a route sheet by the feint glimmer of a head torch, possibly in wind and rain whilst fatigued.

News of Storm Brian only added slightly to this apprehension An email airing concern to Nick prompted his response describing weather forecasters as scare mongers and an assertion that Audax riders were made of stiffer stuff strengthened my resolve to attempt it come what may.

The grapevine at Girton headquarters also detailed that John R and David T had fallen prey to the less than realistic reports of wind conditions. This prompted a revised Cambridge CTC group compliment of Tom, Seb, Nigel and me, although it was given that Nigel would probably do his own thing at heady paces we can only dream of.

Seb is a vibrant and amusing character whose fitness to overtake us or dwell behind appeared dependant on how long it was since his injection of cake at the last coffee stop and so it was that Tom was my main ride partner for today, and very well we did too.

Alex stamped our Brevet cards at Maglia Rosa whilst taking some more photos for the blog. We had made good time from the Café at Framlingham and managed to be the last ones to get served at Maglia Rosa before they wound down for the day.

Simon at the Maglia Rosso

Daylight left us somewhere before Highpoint prison on the A143. At Audax speeds I strained to see the road ahead properly even with my 80 lux B&M headlight, where by comparison Tom’s 100 Lux IQX carved acres of light in front of us…. Must get one

Several of Nick’s Audax routes share a common route home from Lt Thurlow onwards and having done the delightful Shipping Lanes twice recently meant that once across the A143 I didn’t need to see my route sheet again for the rest of the ride.

On the approach to Balsham Tom said he needed to stop, eat, rest and insisted that I carry on not to risk DNF by missing the deadline.

When I have a lonely half hour to kill by myself I will often recite Tony Hancock’s “The Missing Page”. Funny then that it should take ¾ of an hour between Balsham and Cambridge Castle Hill given that Hancock’s 1960s radio programmes were billed as “HHHHHH Hancock’s Half Hour”. Must have been all the huffing and puffing, cursing at arrogant drivers and apathetic pedestrians!

To my relief it wasn’t long after controlling at Girton headquarters that Tom caught up, and still with 25 minutes to spare.

It might not have been my fastest 200km so far but the comfortable pace left me feeling decidedly fresh, high spirited and full of beans.

Ewa’s bean soup was just right for the end of the ride and her carrot cake is nothing short of perfection on a plate!

Our thanks go to Nick and Ewa for being the life and driving force behing these events.

And the side slightly tail wind … was really refreshing and hardly a drag at all.

John P's audax

Too close to put my cycle in the car. So I was up and out on the road well before it was light to be in time for the Girton start of the Cambridge Autumnal. This was a beautiful morning for a ride other than a stiff headwind all the way to the start. After a cup of coffee and the briefing we headed east across Cambridge. The traffic lights split us into groups and by the time we had reached the far side of Newmarket I found myself with a group of four from St Ives. Together, we made excellent progress in stunning scenery and made Baker’s Café in Framlingham in good time. After the stop I took up with Jan from Little Baddow. It turns out that he has done a whole lot of audaxes. Again, good progress was made with a bit of effort, needed to overcome the headwind, in some glorious countryside. The better for the autumn sunshine. We got to our second stop, Maglia Rosso Café just south of Bury St Edmunds, where we found Alex officiating as controller. More coffee and cake!

John P at the Maglia Rosso

After meeting up with Alex, I took off towards Cambridge and met up again with the St Ives contingent. The landscape becomes flatter at this point and the headwind became more of an issue. We plugged away and with our slower progress, as we got near Cambridge, the light faded so on went our lights.

After a round trip of 132 miles, we got back to base. This was a very welcome sight! It was made all the better by the wonderful food laid on by Ewa, Nick’s wife. After this brief rest, I was on my cycle to find the wind at my back, thank goodness, for the ride home. A wonderful day and the longest cycle ride of my life. I have a target of 100 rides of 100 miles or more. This is my 18th, including my 3rd audax of 200 km, so only 82 to go!

Nigel's audax

One of the things I like about Audax calendar events is that they give you the freedom to choose whether to ride on your own or with others. That's different from Audax perms, when you're usually riding with a group of friends (or indeed with club rides, where cycling with others is the whole purpose of the ride). With a calendar event you can have the best of both worlds: you can combine riding on your own when you want to push yourself, or take it easy, or just spend time with your own thoughts, with riding with others when you want to catch a passing train, when you find yourself going at the same pace as someone else, or when you feel like some company.

With my usual Audax wheelmates either not taking part or helping run the event, I knew that today's ride would be mostly solo, which gave me the opportunity to try something new. My plan today was to see how quickly I could get round the course, partly by riding quickly, and partly by keeping the stops as short as possible.

Nigel charging along the A1303 towards Newmarket

The dominant feature of today's ride was of course the wind, which was mostly from the south-west and so gave me a decent tailwind for the run out to Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Framlingham. But it was also a gorgeous sunny day; the quiet wooded sections beyond Bury were particularly pretty in the sunshine with plenty of fine October leaf colour.

With the help of the tailwind I enjoyed a fast, non-stop run to Framlingham, taking exactly four hours to cover the 102km. I called in at the co-op to control before sitting down in a sunny corner to eat my sandwiches.

I was back on the road within twenty minutes. I wanted to find out how short a stop I could handle, but was also mindful of the weather forecast. I knew I'd have a headwind for most of the way back, but with the forecast predicting that the wind would get worse I decided I should try to get as far as I could before that happened.

Some people say that riding into a headwind is a technical challenge, solved by riding in a group and taking turns at the front. But for me the challenge is mainly psychological. You have to come to terms with the fact that you can't ride as quickly as you would want to. There's no point in getting frustrated, or turning it into a struggle. You need to relax, drop down a gear or two, and take it easy. (I think that approach served me well on "Windy Thursday" on LEL).

However as I made my way back west I felt I was more tired than usual, even after taking account of the headwind, and began to wonder whether taking such a brief stop in Framlingham had been false economy. In particular I hadn't been drinking very much, so I stopped at a petrol station in Stowmarket for a can of pop and a coffee, which I enjoyed in the classic Audax way, sitting on the ground next to the sacks of barbecue charcoal.

That break seemed to do the trick, and when I reached the control at Maglia Rosso I didn't feel the need to do more than get my card stamped and chat to Alex for ten minutes before carrying on. The wind, despite giving me a 20mph headwind every time I turned south, never reached the intensity that was predicted. I was certainly going slowly, but I never had any problems with being blown around.

The return journey took me nearly two hours longer than the ride out, and I arrived back at Girton at about 6.20pm, giving me a total time of 10h 20 mins. That's ten minutes faster than last year, despite the wind, with the shorter stops more than compensating for the slower return. Today's ride had been an experiment: how few stops can I get away with on a 200? Today I had confirmed that I can ride 100km easily non-stop. But then I really do need to stop and rest.

Alex's audax

Since I had volunteered to help with the the event, I was not riding it. But Audax UK regulations allow “helpers” to ride the course just before or after the day itself and have it validated alongside the main field – so I rode the course the weekend before, checking Nick’s routesheet (flawless as always) and the roads for any hazards.

I enjoy cycling into the dawn and so opted for an early start, setting off from Girton at 05:30. Past Newmarket the sun began to rise: a vivid orange dawn presaged a lovely day ahead.

Barrow sunrise

In Bury St Edmunds I paused momentarily by the McDonald’s – the only thing open so early – and looked through the window at the glum customers tucking into their plastic meals. The mood didn’t encourage me to eat, so I decided to press on to Framlingham for breakfast.

It was a glorious autumn morning with the soft morning light streaming through the trees, and then as the day ripened the clear blue sky made a striking backdrop for the autumn leaves at their most colourful.

Beyond Bury

At Framlingham I stopped at the bakery for breakfast – the place was busy with cyclists but none I think had that smug “I’ve just cycled 100 km to get my breakfast” aura that I was radiating.

Framlingham breakfast

On the return leg I noticed there was a bit of a wind. On the exposed sections heading West it was bothersome, and I wondered what the weather would be like on the day: a strong westerly would make this hard work!

After a slice of cake at the Maglia Rosso I plodded on home, encountering near Cowlinge a cyclist with whom I got chatting – turned out he was signed up for the audax and was doing a recce of part of the route. Then at Fulbourne I bumped into Seb, out for a spin on his snazzy new bike.

Back at Girton I reflected on a great ride – the riders on the day would have a treat in store if the weather held.

Come the day, I was up early again to get to Girton before 07:00. My duties were card stamping for both the 100km and 200km rides, and I had decided to fit some photograph-taking opportunities in too, so I set off twenty minutes before the start to get in position. I had picked a spot on the A1303 where the road rises to cross the A14/A11 and turns into the morning light. I got set up and shortly thereafter the head of the field steamed past. With a slight tailwind, fresh legs and bright sunny weather everyone looked pleased to be out on the bike!

From here it was 16km up to Great Thurlow to stamp the cards of the 100km riders. The wind was quite buffeting, but not too bad.

The need to stamp cards had introduced me to an exciting niche within the audax world: some people often take a special pride in having their own distinctive stamps, and so in this spirit I had designed my own which I hoped was echt-audax.

At the control it was good to see many familiar faces, including that of Bill! Everything went smoothly except for an irate driver who identified me as being “in charge” (I wasn’t) and complained that riders were riding two-abreast. “Oh, that’s good!” I replied cheerfully. This didn’t seem to mollify him.

From Great Thurlow I rode the 24km to the Maglia Rosso to man the control for the 200km ride. This would need to be open between 13:00 and 18:00 – a long stint, but with the delights of the café and a constant stream of cyclists to chat to was in fact very enjoyable – and I was enjoying developing what I hoped was a certain amount of pomp and gravity in using The Stamp. The secret is in the little pause before the press I think.

Between the first rider at around 13:30 and closure, 93 riders passed through the control (there were a few abandons and one late rider), and then it was time to ride back to Girton. I opted to take the official route reckoning, on fresh-ish legs, to be passing riders at the back of the field. This was working well and I had reeled-in a few when, at Denston, I heard the tell-tale latex whooshing sound that told of a puncture. It was a nasty one, and by now the wind had really picked up and there was rain in the air. I opted to fit a new tyre and an inner tube, waving on other riders who kindly offered to assist (“go ahead – save yourselves”). Job done I started working my way up the field again. By now Storm Brian was blowing a proper gale and the exposed stretches nearing Balsham were very hard work – I felt for those on tired legs dicing with the time limit.

Back at Girton rec. I could now savour the highlight of the day: Ewa’s cakes. I could not stop myself from sampling all three. An exemplary carrot cake, a chocolate and banana cake with amazing depth of flavour, and then the lightest and airiest of lemon cakes. Yumsk.

More photos from the event can be seen here.

15 Oct: Sunday ride to Chippenham and Ely

The Dalek, the Fens and the Music. John S writes: I was surprised by the huge turnout and low average age of the riders I found waiting at Brookside as I turned the corner. The crowd of younger riders I had seen turned out to be a University cycling club who were meeting at the same place. Across the road, I found a more typical number of eternally youthful riders – Tom, Nigel, Mike P, Susan, John R and Andrew.

Brookside

We set off across Parker's Piece and along the river path. Soon after starting, Nigel had a puncture on Riverside, and stopped to make a quick repair. Nigel informed me of the unwritten club rule that pictures are not to be taken of members who are mending punctures, so instead I photographed Mike, Susan and John offering their full moral support from a safe distance.

The quick repair turned into a longer process, as Nigel discovered that the replaceable valve core in his inner tube had developed a fault, that meant that it leaked when pumped up. Fortunately, John R turned out to have a dedicated anodised aluminium replaceable valve core tightening tool, but even this was unable to recover the situation, so the only option was to replace the inner tube a second time.

Riverside, waiting the Nigel to fix a puncture

We moved on, and were not surprised to find that Rupert had given up waiting for us at the Green Man Bridge. We proceeded through Fen Ditton and Bottisham to Swaffham Bulbeck.

Quy

Between Quy and Bottisham

In Swaffham Prior I deviated from the route I had sent out before the ride, and managed to lose Nigel, who had paused to remove arm warmers, and then tried to catch us up by following my route on his Garmin. My own Garmin is somewhere in one of 24 identical cardboard boxes in the garage while we have some work done at home, so I was instead using my flawed recollection of the route I had sent out.

A quick phone call allowed us to find Nigel again, who had passed a Dalek and an elephant on his more direct route, and we bade farewell to John and Mike in Burwell, and then to Tom in Exning.

Scarecrow competition in Swaffham Prior

As just four of us rode on through Snailwell to Chippenham, Susan and I discussed the way that rides to the north of Cambridge don't seem to be so well supported, and the limited route options there are for getting to and from Ely.

Chippenham

We arrived at La Hogue to find Adrian, Rupert and Keith already installed. We were soon joined by Dave W, and after assorted permutations of bacon, egg and sausage baps and some reassuringly expensive apple pie, we continued towards Isleham, seeing a magical display of brightly coloured pumpkins along the way.

While riding, there was a discussion about 'you and the night and the music' – I have no idea how this came up, but the Fens can do funny things to people. I maintained that this was the name of a Radio 2 programme, while Nigel insisted it was originally a song, and backed this claim up with a very tuneful rendition. He then went one better, and managed to track down an earlier version by someone called Frank Sinatra, and was also able to play this through the Bluetooth speaker he has fitted to his bike to pass the time on long night rides.

Pumpkins in Isleham

After Isleham, where Rupert turned off to go home, we met Edward coming the other way, and then proceeded via Prickwillow to Ely, taking care on the three successive level crossings in Queen Adelaide.

Lunch in Ely

Ely

We stopped for lunch at The Cutter in Ely, and then continued home via the river path, Padney, Upware and White Fen Drove. This involved riding into quite a brisk headwind, and as ride leader, I was somewhat chastened to find that I was slowed down more than the rest of the group, who kindly waited for me to catch up at various points. A range of non-cycling distractions (a.k.a. 'real life') have stopped me doing any full day rides for a couple of months now, and riding into the wind revealed just how quickly you can slip backwards in terms of fitness.

Along the River Great Ouse south of Ely

Rather than ride the planned route into the wind through the Wilbrahams and Fulbourn, we collectively decided to cut the ride short after Lode, and took a more direct route home, checking out how they are getting on with the new cycle path on the way. I arrived home after cycling around 70 miles. John Seton




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21 Oct: Saturday social ride to Shepreth

Ian writes: A fine sunny (yet rather breezy) morning greeted the three of us at Brookside with Angela T, Liz, Rachael, Mike K, Phil and John E waiting and John A arriving just as I was thinking about setting off, so ten in total. It probably wasn't going to get less windy, so the plan was to take the direct route along Barton Road and over Chapel Hill heading SW into the wind.

On top of Chapel Hill (Photo: Julia Hochbach)

Progress was steady with a 16kg passenger sheltering behind me and a set of under-inflated tyres and a squeaky chain; next time must remember to be better prepared. Regardless no one seemed to be in that much of a hurry to sneak ahead until Chapel Hill, but in due course we all made it to the top and admired the autumnal view before rolling down into Barrington. Quite soon thereafter we arrived at the Teacake in Shepreth for a welcome break and the prospect of a wind assisted return to Cambridge, sitting cosily inside rather than disturbing the outside seating under wraps.

At the Teacake Cafe in Shepreth (Photo: Julia Hochbach)

With Julia requiring to be back for the afternoon's committee meeting we didn't linger quite as long as usual and were soon flying along the cyclepath alongside the A10 to Harston, now enjoying the strong tailwind. Phil peeled off at Foxton, then Angela at Harston, whilst the rest of us continued east of the river Cam following the lesser used bridleways onwards to Hauxton to rejoin the cyclepath.

Bridleway between Harston and Hauxton (Photo: Julia Hochbach)

It was then just the usual matter of crossing Trumpington Meadows to reach the Busway close to the P&R, which led us back to the railway station and beyond to complete a very pleasant 20-mile ride. Ian Wright

Trumpington Meadows (Photo: Julia Hochbach)


Trumpington Meadows (Photo: Julia Hochbach)


Trumpington Meadows (Photo: Julia Hochbach)


Trumpington Meadows (Photo: Julia Hochbach)

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

18 Oct: Evening ride to Shepreth

Tom writes: This was my first time leading a ride with the club and we had a small select group of riders ready to head out into the October darkness, Nigel joined me and, shortly afterwards, a very welcome guest rider, Vas, who was trying out one of our last evening rides of the calendar year. Vas explained that he usually rode with another Cambridge cycling club but he was looking for some evening rides - and ours had been strongly recommended.

We headed out of Cambridge and south down the DNA strip to Great Shelford, As we left Great Shelford we also left the traffic behind us and we had the chance to enjoy a very sociable ride.

The other side of Duxford we started our ascent to Great Chishill, turning right at the summit and making a quick descent to Fowlmere and our main destination - the Plough at Shepreth. We made it there in good time, arriving at 8.20pm.

Whilst we were waiting for our meals to arrive we chatted to a man on the neighbouring table who told us about the campaign to stop this pub being turned into houses after it closed in 2010. As a publicity stunt, the villagers converted a nearby phone box to "the smallest pub in Britain" and gave it the brilliant name "The Dog and Bone". Our drinking companion was the landlord: apparently the beer was served in suitably-tiny glasses. The campaign was a success, the local planners prevented the change of use, and in 2014 the pub re-opened under new owners. It has since become a firm favourite on our evening rides.


Leaving the Plough we headed back to Cambridge via Barrington and Chapel Hill, feeling well-fed and well-educated, with Nigel provided us with some night-time music to encourage us on our way.

A very enjoyable evening ride, the weather having been kind to us considering the inclement weather experienced earlier in the day. We hope to see Vas again! Tom Nash



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Sunday, 15 October 2017

15 Oct: Sunday afternoon ride to Melbourn

David writes: The weather played tricks on us today. Early morning was beautiful. As 1.30pm approached, the clouds rolled in and I for one packed a waterproof. But as the afternoon wore on, the weather improved and most of the ride was in warm sunshine with blue skies. A dozen riders gathered at Brookside: Sue H, Anne K, John E, Lali R, Mark T, Mike K, Neil S, Phil N, Ray M, Tim H, Dennis S and David S (Leader). Several shiny new bikes and my –not-worth-50-quid-town-bike. (The much-loved Orbit tourer I wrote off last month has not yet been replaced. If anyone has a large-frame tourer or relaxed geometry road bike for sale, please let me know.)

At the start

This afternoon's ride had been advertised as a short one, suitable for beginners. Apart from one wrong turn and an excessively fast start, everything went well until Ickleton, where the level crossing was closed. (Really closed – and not as I had assumed, closed to cars, but open to bicycles). The day was saved by Ray, who with his local knowledge, was able to lead us through Wellcome’s wetlands to the next level crossing. A dozen curses for the leader, for not checking the route was open, were averted.

As a result of the delay, we modified the route and took Royston Lane and bypassed Elmdon. We got to Wyevale Garden Centre around 3.45pm. We thought we were only 15 minutes late, but Simon G and Simon, who had been waiting since 3pm pointed out that the website said tea at 3pm! A gentle ride through Shepreth and Barrington took us over Chapel Hill and back to Cambridge via Barton Road. The actual route, with all the detours, can be viewed on Strava and my distance recorded as 32.7 miles with 883 ft of ascent.

In summary a beautiful autumn ride in warm sunshine and a yellow card for the leader! David Secher