Thursday, 29 June 2017

28 Jun: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today didn't feel very summery at all: rather cool, with a strong north-westerly wind that was strong enough to put off all the other regular evening riders from turning up at Brookside for the start of tonight's ride. Fortunately I was joined by two relative newcomers to the evening rides: John and Andrew, and later by Paul. John, Andrew and I rode a repeat of our last ride to Hemingford Abbots. This started with a ride east along the river to Cambridge North station and then along the busway to St Ives.

With a strong headwind all the way this was quite hard work, at least for me, and it was a relief to reach St Ives and turn onto the much more sheltered Thicket Path to Houghton. Along this section we caught up with Paul who was making his own way to the pub.

On the Thicket Path

From Houghton we crossed the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots where we stopped for food and drink at The Axe and Compasses.

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge. With the wind behind us at least this was an easy, comfortable cruise and we arrived back in central Cambridge at about 10.15pm. Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 25 June 2017

25 Jun: Sunday afternoon ride to Braughing

Ray writes: After leading one of the most popular Wednesday evening rides of the year, today it was only Simon who accompanied me on the ride to Braughing, with John E riding with us as far as Fowlmere. After a different route out from Cambridge, we repeated the climb from Chrishall Grange to Heydon that we had enjoyed on Wednesday, but this time carried straight on in Great Chishill towards Barley. A left turn after Shaftenhoe End took us down one of my favourite lanes to Nuthampstead. Simon was on a new, lighter bike he had built from parts from e-Bay, and he was dancing up hills while I puffed and panted behind him.

We continued on small lanes through Great Hornmead and Little Hornmead before joining the B-road for the last few miles to Braughing, where we arrived at 3.50pm to find the all-day riders well into their tea and cakes.

I had coordinated with Alex so my outward route would not duplicate his route home; this allowed the two rides to join forces after tea and we stuck together all the way back to Cambridge. I arrived home after a hot 60 miles in the saddle.

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25 Jun: Sunday ride to Holme, Whitwell and Braughing

Nigel writes: Last week's early summer heatwave has now passed, and today we enjoyed more typical June conditions: warm and breezy with periodic sunny intervals. We wouldn't have wanted a repeat of last Sunday's 30C temperatures anyway, since today would be one of our longest club rides of the year: a Sunday longer ride of over 90 miles.

Our numbers today was rather lower than usual, with leader Alex leading a small group that consisted of Mike CC, Rupert, Joseph and me. Our first stage was west to coffee at Jordan's Mill near Biggleswade. Although this was only slightly further than usual there was a persistent westerly wind which made this part of the ride slightly harder work than usual.



Between Bourn and Caxton

We followed the "usual route west" along the B1046 to Bourn and then through Caxton and Great Gransden to Waresley. From here we turned south-west to Potton and Biggleswade.

I have spent much effort in the past trying to find a good cycle route through Biggleswade, but without success, and Alex had no doubt done the same with a similar result. However on this occasion the streets weren't particularly busy and we navigated through without difficulty. However it's all rather dull, so I was pleased that after passing through the centre Alex turned right towards the river and onto an off-road path across the meadows and under the A1 to Jordan's Mill.

Meadows by the River Ivel, Biggleswade

Under the A1, Biggleswade

Despite the headwind we made good progress and we arrived at Jordan's Mill at 11am exactly, about ten minutes earlier than Alex had planned. We ordered food and drink and sat ourside on the pleasant terrace by the River Ivel. Here we were joined by Ian B who had led last week's ride.

Coffee at Jordan's Mill

There were quite a few other cyclists in the cafe, including a large group from Cambridge Cycling Club, another from the Hitchin Nomads and a small group from Hertfordshire CTC, several of whom joined us for the next stage of the ride. This took us south through rather more undulating countryside than earlier to Whitwell, where we stopped for lunch at Emily's Cafe.

Apsley End

Lilley Bottom, approaching Whitwell, Approaching Whitwell

Lunch at Emily's Cafe, Whitwell

The next stage after lunch took us east to tea in Braughing, and with the wind directly behind us this was a rather more relaxing than in the morning. Our route was essentially the reverse of the Chiltern Pathfinder, and took us east through the pleasant undulating farmland that forms a kind of green belt between Stevenage to our north and Welwyn to our south.



There was just one point where we deviated from the Chiltern Pathfinder route. This was east of Dane End where, instead of heading directly to the south end of Puckeridge we continued north to Great Munden before turning east to cross the A10 at a pedestrian crossing point which brought us to the northern end of the town. There was little traffic on the main road so this was straightforward enough.

Crossing the A10, Puckeridge


We arrived at Braughing Village Hall just after 3.30pm, about half an hour early. A short while later we were joined by Ray and the afternoon ride, which today consisted of just him and Simon.

Tea at Braughing

After about an hour Alex gave the signal that it was time to return home.


Today's two leaders, Alex and Ray, had previously agreed that both groups would ride back to Cambridge together, following a very pleasant route that took us north-east through Furneaux Pelham and Berden before turning north to Clavering and over what Alex calls "the three peaks" - Quicksie Hill, "Telegraph" Hill and Coploe Hill.

Heading home from Braughing

The wind was still mostly behind us for most of this final section; Rupert certainly had a spring in his step and was repeatedly off the front. Rather to my surprise my own legs were beginning to ache and I had to work hard to keep up, which is unusual on a normal club ride and which I attributed to a few strenuous hikes in the Lake District earlier in the week.

The promised rain never arrived, and I arrived home in Cambridge at 6.30pm, having cycled 150km (93 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Saturday, 24 June 2017

CTC Cambridge Summer Barbecue

We are pleased to announce a Summer Barbecue event on Sunday 13th August. This will be hosted by Sarah and Andy at their house in Little Chesterford and will run all afternoon with lots of nice food and good company. For this event, we want to make it completely clear that "BBQ means BBQ".

The cost is £6, which includes all the food plus soft drinks, tea and coffee. Please book and pay in advance using this form by 31st July.

We plan to limit numbers to 40 people, on a "first come, first served" basis, with priority given to club members. Initial bookings are therefore restricted to club members only. Guest places (one guest per member) may be available later - but only if numbers permit. Rupert Goodings

Thursday, 22 June 2017

22 Jun: Thursday ride to Ashwell and Braughing

Edward writes: This morning in Haslingfield the stifling heat of the last few days had come to an end and today we had far more civilised temperatures. Our rides today were to Ashwell for coffee and on to Braughing for lunch. In the city with Peter W as leader there were seven riders, and out at Haslingfield there were sixteen. Our thanks are due to Sheila who came off the bench as a late replacement to lead our ride.

With the formalities completed we were just about to set off when lightening and thunder preceded a five minute downpour causing all to scatter and seek shelter. With this over we started with a climb over Chapel Hill into Barrington, Shepreth and Meldreth.

Ladies' team (almost) in Barrington

Men's team - Road not wide enough for everyone

Another few moments of rain meant a stop in Meldreth with some putting on waterproofs which must have been pretty hot.

Cambridge Express in Shepreth

It rained in Meldreth

We were soon on our way again as we wound our way up the hill to Kneesworth followed by Bassingbourn. Here Sheila put in a loop round Abington Pigotts which would have met with Mike C's approval had he been with us. This brought us to Litlington, then Steeple Morden and we arrived in Ashwell just as the church clock was striking 11 am which was perfect timing.

Coffee in Ashwell

With almost thirty riders to deal with it was as well that we had pre-warned Day's bakery that we would be coming and they got through all the orders in good time. At 11.30am, again with the church clock striking, we started the second phase of our day.

Leaving Ashwell

Leaving Ashwell

This next phase was to take us due south for ten miles though Redhill and Rushden to Cromer. In Cromer we turned south easterly which gave us the benefit of a fairly stiff westerly breeze. At this point the clouds started to dissipate giving us a lovely sunny ride through Ardley and Wood End before arriving in Great Munden. This left only a few miles to travel into Puckeridge, a short bit on the A10 and we all arrived at the Brown Bear in Braughing by 1pm.

About twelve people chose to have lunch there and this caused the pub some difficulty and it was 2.40pm before the last group could start for home. This isn't a criticism of the pub; they provided nice food but twelve lunches obviously stretched them a bit, and this would always be a problem expecting a small establishment to be able to cope with large numbers all at once, even if a booking has been made. Before leaving we thanked the pub for their efforts as we know they had worked hard. We did, though, enjoy the spectacle of a low flying red kite passing overhead!

Lunch in Braughing

When Sheila's group of ten started for home it was decided to make some changes to the original route and we went along the B1368 with the intention of going all the way up to Barley. However, after we passed through Hare Street we changed our minds and took the turning to Anstey and on to Nuthampstead. This put us on much quieter and far more pleasant roads.

Family life in Braughing

As we passed through Shaftenhoe End it looked as if we had surprised a buzzard which took to the skies immediately in front of us. Another debate at the Barley turn and we decided to carry on to Great Chishill which, despite a couple of steep climbs, would give us the long two mile plus descent to Flint Cross. Our ride ended through Fowlmere, Thriplow and Newton which was the last parting of the ways. This gave a journey of 57miles, for the countryfolk at least, and our thanks to Peter and Sheila for their efforts in making a successful day out. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

21 Jun: Evening ride to Barrington

Ray writes: We are in the middle of the hottest June for 40 years and I had foolishly taken the week off to sort out my garden. Instead of sitting in a cool, air-conditioned office, I have been hiding from the sun with all the windows open (it was too hot to work outside, the garden remains neglected). I was glad to get out on the bike into a light breeze as the evening came on. I arrived at Brookside to find a handful of riders waiting, including first-timer Alex and Brian on his recumbent. More arrived as I was sorting out Alex's guest entry form and by the time we set off we were 10. On our way out of town we were joined by Chris, riding in from Sawston. I don't think I've seen this many riders on an evening ride before!

The regular Alex volunteered to act as back marker until we got to Duxford, which made my job as leader much easier. We took the usual route to the guided busway then the DNA path to Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford. Then it was Grange Road and up the hill to Heydon. I was planning to take the minor road via Shaftenhoe End to Barley before dropping down to Flint Cross on the B1368, but this turned out to be too ambitious if we were to get to the pub on time, so we turned right in Great Chishill for the long descent to Flint Cross we had enjoyed on Nigel's ride to Shepreth last month.

We skipped the detour past the nature reserve and rode directly to Barrington down the B-road, arriving at the Royal Oak at about 8.25pm. Some of us ordered full meals (fish and chips, veggie burger, home-made soup) while others went for the usual bowls of chips. They obviously run an efficient kitchen here as our food arrived quite quickly.

Re-energised and refreshed (did I mention the excellent beer?) we set off for the short ride home. Today was the summer solstice and the sun was just setting as we left the pub. We made our way over Chapel Hill then rode into Cambridge down the Barton Road cycle track. We'd left two riders at the pub, and everyone else dispersed as we came into the city, leaving me and Tom to make our way north via (a different) Grange Road and Storeys Way. I arrived home at 10.10pm having covered 36 miles.

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

18 Jun: Sunday afternoon ride to Clavering Lakes

Simon writes: I had hoped that this would be the hottest day this year, but there could be worse jobs to have to do in a heatwave. Mounted sentry outside Buckingham Palace for hours at a time, or being locked in a car with Derek Jameson and Tony Blackburn on the radio... in any weather. Though in my case it's rolling around the floor in grinding grit, welding sparks and the rust and sticky underseal that falls off the remains of a VW camper-van that's even older than but about the same condition as me!

Still it was my pleasure to lead our first Sunday afternoon visit to Clavering Lakes. A small posse consisting David S, Simon D, Johns E and F joined the start of the ride, soon to be joined on the railway bridge at Addenbrookes by Mike K.

Our ride out, and its mirror image return back, followed the fast-track no-frills standard CTC route to Ickleton so as to have more time for exploring villages and hitherto never seen before little country lanes beyond, normally only visible from behind an all day ride leader.

Speaking of which, I'm sure we met them just outside Lower Langley Green on our way to further Ford End. With the snapshot fleeting glimpse in passing I recognised David W and John S, our membership secretary (or "Paperwork Troll" as he describes the role to us).

Having orbited Clavering instead of by-passing it we reached the Fishing Lakes, to add a mile and a half to the 24 mile distance.

All the staff that we met there were friendly and enthusiastic which enriched our experience and I look forward to taking our group there again.

The outlook over the lakes from the veranda appended to their Lodge Cafe is reminiscent of the Riverside Café at Ickleton, on a slightly more grand scale and they stayed open until the time that their website says they do.

It was about 5pm as we were passing Duxford back towards the A505.

I was occasioned by a young Z750 ninja rider wearing cut off jeans, who felt it necessary to try telling me from inside his full-face helmet, that despite being on a vehicle not much wider than mine and a power to weight ratio greater than a twin turbo Porsche 959 Sport, that he couldn’t get past us with only a meagre 10 foot gap and half a km of dead straight visibility ahead, because we were flouting his interpretation of the Highway Code by riding two abreast!

But to start a sentence with a conjunction, we all got home safely having covered 52 miles including my 6 mile round trip to Brookside and back. Simon Gallaway

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18 Jun: Sunday ride to Baldock and Much Hadham

Ian writes: When you're just about to set off on a day’s ride at 9am and it's already 25C and flat calm, you know you're in for a testing day in the saddle. Fortunately for me, leading my first ride, there were six very experienced riders to share the first leg out to coffee at Tapps Garden Centre at Baldock, namely Mike CC, Alex, John R, Dave C, Rupert and Alan.

After the Barton Cycleway, Chapel Hill, too many miles of vibrating handlebars through the poor road surfaces of Shepreth, Meldreth and Steeple Morden, we climbed out of Ashwell via Bygrave to arrive at the Garden Centre at 11am, where Dave W was waiting for us, (we had already picked up John S en route). So, with a maximum of nine, I was wondering how many were just out to coffee and whether I would have any company for the last 50 miles. Well if you are wondering how many CTC "Englishmen" were going to "go out in the midday sun", it was five, as Rupert, John R, Dave C and Mike CC returned to Cambridge via a variety of routes.

Having had our water bottles refilled, we set off with most of us knowing that the infamous Chalk Hill beckoned. This is the longest, steepest hill I have ever climbed and having struggled up it twice on cooler days I was not relishing the challenge now that it was pushing the high 20s. In the end we all managed it OK and continued on the middle leg through the very pleasant lanes of North Herts, travelling predominantly SE through Ardeley and Haultwick towards Dane End.

After cooling our feet off through the river Rib ford, at 1.15pm Hopleys Cafe appeared out of the heat haze in Much Hadham. This is great spot to have lunch on any day but none better than when sitting outside under the shady trees. As it was Father's Day the service was understandably relatively slow but we were in no hurry.

With 45 miles achieved, there was just the 30 miles left to Cambridge, navigating through Stocking Pelham, Meesden and Chrishall. One of the many good cycling customs is that most fellow cyclists acknowledge each other but on approaching Langley Lower Green I thought we were overdoing the banter a little until I realised that the party coming the other way was Simon leading his CTC Sunday afternoon ride out to Clavering. With some of our water bottles dangerously short of water, it was decided that an emergency stop was necessary at the Bull Inn. Suitably refreshed, and after an off-road short cut suggested by John, we were soon back onto the plains of Cambridge. At Fowlmere I was dismissed, leaving the intrepid 4 to cruise back to Cambridge where those completing the full route would have clocked up 75 miles.

With thanks to Rupert for suggesting the route and having the foresight to book us an outside table at Hopleys, and to my fellow cyclists for looking after me on my first lead. And to any of you thinking it’s time you led a ride, go for it - you will get loads of support. Ian Bamborough

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

15 Jun: Thursday ride to Wicken and Kentford

Edward writes: Summer continues. Twelve members started from Hauxton and in the city where Glyn was the leader there were fourteen. Today's ride would take us out to Wicken for coffee and on to Kentford for the lunch interval. We could expect temperatures in the mid-twenties but accompanied by a stiff westerly breeze. This would help in the morning but would be a bit less forgiving in the afternoon. In view of the distance to Wicken we brought forward the start from Hauxton a quarter of an hour to 9.15am. The start from Hauxton took us through both the Shelfords to the DNA path via the hospital. As always it never ceases to amaze us how rapidly the building landscape changes here in such a short time; already a large building is appearing out of the ground right beside the DNA path. We made use of the new access to Hills Road by going through the Ninewells development ready for the climb over the Gogs and down into Fulbourn.

With the wind behind we made good progress through the Wilbrahams to Bottisham and both the Swaffhams. In Swaffham Prior we turned to go into Adventurers Fen and the Lodes Way. Given the choice of taking the shorter route to Wicken, using the gravel tracks, only John F and David H opted for it with the rest remaining on the road up to Upware. With the wind behind we made good progress and we arrived at Wicken Methodist Church at 11.15am and after 24 miles, thus justifying the decision to leave earlier.

When we entered the church hall we were overwhelmed as not only were there the fourteen city riders but numerous others and apparently someone counted thirty-five members - some turnout. The church laid on lots of cake and it was unlikely that anybody went short, and for this we thank Simon and Sara for organising such a successful coffee stop.

Wicken Methodist Church

As usual these days quite a few returned home from Wicken leaving two groups to head for Kentford. We left Wicken on NCN 11 to Barway as far as the G's hostel where we set our course for Soham. When we arrived in Soham we had to use the main road to bring us to Fordham, but this was achieved without too much discomfort and now it was on to Chippenham where we noticed that the Tharp Arms is under new management.

After Chippenham as we approached the A11 there was a bit more traffic about but with only Kennett to go through we were almost at the Animal Health Trust where we duly arrived at 1pm and a further 16 miles.

Lunch at Kentford

With the weather so good everybody sat outside in the courtyard, later to be joined by those with packed lunches. At 2 pm we started the return journey and this would be a lot harder than this morning’s effort, especially as it seemed the wind had increased in strength.

Preparing to leave Kentford

When we got to Moulton we had the biggest hill of the day before dropping down to Cheveley. A brief stop here enabled Averil to pursue one of her favourite pastimes with a visit to the local library.

Cheveley's Librarian


When we were all assembled again we went via Saxon Street to Woodditton, Stetchworth and Dullingham. In Dullingham Averil, Clive, Adrian and Tony left us leaving the last six to head for home via West Wratting, Balsham, Hildersham and Abington. We finished the ride at 4.45 pm and those going back to Hauxton would have completed 70 miles. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

14 Jun: Evening ride to Thriplow

Nigel writes: Tonight was another fine, warm, summer evening, though a persistent south-easterly breeze made us work for our supper before gently blowing us home. We assembled at Brookside for the 6.30pm start; my companions for this ride were Alex, Ray, Tom, Mark and Tim, with Chris as usual joining us as we headed out of Cambridge.

Barrow Road, Cambridge

Tonight we followed our classic south out of Cambridge to Great Shelford and then through Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton. From here a short climb took us to the top of Coploe Hill, which we reached just before 7.30pm. We were making good progress despite the headwind so I discarded my original plan to return via Royston Lane in favour of a slightly longer loop via Catmere End, Littlebury Green and Chrishall.

Littlebury Green

The bottom of Littlebury Hill

From Chrishall a fast descent (with the wind mostly behind us now) took us down to Chrishall Grange and the final few kilometres through Fowlmere to Thriplow.

Descending from Chrishall to Chrishall Grange

We stopped at The Green Man for food and drink. This is a lovely pub, but is very popular with diners and I had been a little anxious that they might not have room for our group. However there was a large table free and when we eventually managed to order food it arrived fairly quickly. This confirmed my experience that although this is the busiest pub we visit on evening rides, we have never failed to get the food we want and have always had a very pleasant experience.

Afterwards we returned back to Cambridge, following the B1368 through Newton and Harston and then through Trumpington Meadows and the busway back into the City Centre. I arrived home at about 10.15pm, having cycled 56km (34 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 11 June 2017

11 Jun: Sunday ride to Stradishall, Lavenham and West Wratting

Nigel writes: It doesn't seem very long ago that we were welcoming the arrival of spring, so it comes as a bit of a shock (to me anyway) to realise that midsummer is only just over a week away. Yes, it's the middle of June, and after a brief spell of wet and windy weather we're now back to enjoying dry, warm and sunny days - though that wind hasn't gone away entirely, as we found today.

Meeting at Brookside for the start of today's "full day ride" were Shiela, Ray, Alex, Alan, Mark, Chris, John Seton (our leader for today) and me. We set off and headed down Hills Road to Addenbrooke's before turning left onto Worts Causeway for the short climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

Climbing The Gogs

The road to Six Mile Bottom

We continued through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom and climbed Brinkley Hill all the way to Brinkley. We often climb this hill on evening rides as far as "Cemetery Crossroads" (where we usually turn left onto Balsham Lane), so today was an opportunity to go all the way - and discover that there isn't very much climbing after the junction apart from a short "kick" (as Alex described it) just before the top.

We continued to Great Bradley (with another short kick just before the village) before turning towards Cowlinge and our coffee stop at Cafe 33, on the A143 near Stradishall. Already here was David W who joined us for the remainder of the day,

Setting off after coffee

After coffee we retraced our route for a short distance to Co0ck and End before turning east towards Stradishall itself. However instead of visiting the village centre (which I don't think I have ever cycled through) we took the lane to Denston. Hawkedon and Boxted.

Cock and End

The most direct route from Boxted to our lunch stop in Lavenham would have taken us through Hartest and up its notorious hill, so to spare us that ordeal John took us on a slightly longer route to the south through Long Melford.

Long Melford

We didn't have a designated cafe in Lavenham so when we arrived we divided into two groups, with some of us heading for the National Trust Tea Shop in the Guildhall, and others calling in at one of Lavenham's two competing Co-ops to purchase a picnic lunch.

Lunch in Lavenham


After lunch we set off west in the direction of Cambridge and our tea stop in West Wratting. We were now riding into the wind, and although it was quite warm it proved a rather tiring hindrance for the next two hours.


Great Wratting

We arrived at The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting at 4.15pm, where a booked tea of sandwiches, cake and tea was waiting for us. The afternoon ride was already here, led by Simon, but there was plenty of food left. It felt strange to have to explain to other riders what the arrangement was: effectively unlimited sandwiches, cake and tea for a fixed price of £4.50. When I started riding with this club in the late 1990s we had a tea stop like this on virtually every ride.


Setting off for home after tea

After tea we divided once more into separate "all-day" and "afternoon" groups, with Simon leading his charges for an extra loop whilst the "all-day" group returned directly to Cambridge via Balsham and Fulbourn. I arrived home at 6pm exactly, having cycled 131km (81 miles). Nigel Deakin

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