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

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Interim committee changes

The committee have appointed John Seton (previously membership secretary) to take over as secretary, following the resignation of John Ross. The committee has also appointed John Jackson to join the committee and take over as membership secretary. These are interim appointments until our AGM on 12th November, when there will be an election for these and all other posts. A full list of committee members can be found on our about us page. Andy Carlyle, Chair.

Electric bikes: mid drive or hub drive?

Mike Stapleton writes: I have recently taken a great interest in the relative merits of the two basic types of electric bike that are available: mid-drive and hub drive, although my experience is limited as I have only ridden three different bikes. There are a range of matters that need to be considered but the question of safety, in general and when riding with our club, has to be a major issue.

What's the difference between the two types of drive?

In a mid drive system the motor is located with the crank system beside the bottom bracket. It drives the crank through a gear and has a free wheel system. When the motor stops there is no drag on the system.

In a hub drive system the motor is located in one of the wheels and seems to have a significant level of drag when it switches off particularly uphill. You don't feel the drag at other times.

There is remarkably little info on these matters available on the internet. Cycle, the magazine of Cycling UK, has published £2000 Pedelecs: Cube Touring Hybrid Pro 400 EE vs Giant Prime E +3W. This reviews two bikes, a Cube and a Giant, and suggests the Raleigh Captus and a Kalkhoff as alternatives. Australian website ebikingnow.com has published also a good article Mid drive vs hub drive, which compares the two systems.

Neither of these articles address the problems that may occur when riding with a club. To understand these problems you first need to know just how each drive works.

Mid drive systems


Mid drive systems such as my Captus e-bike drive the bike via a normal chain drive system. This means they are closely aligned to the needs of the rider. Furthermore they have three sensors to determine how much power to apply to the system. These sensors detect pedal rotation, pressure on the pedals and speed. They also have an overall setting from the control panel that determines the general level of assistance. The motor has a connection to the system via a freewheel so that when the motor is not running there is no drag on the system. This means that the response of the system is very fast and is proportionate to the rider's need. When starting from stop it cuts in within half a pedal stroke.

Features: As this type of drive senses reduced effort very quickly, mid drive systems do not need to have an independent stop system on the motor, unlike hub systems which have one which is operated by the brake levers. This means that the brake levers can be used to adjust speed while riding without cutting the motor. This means that with a mid drive system it is possible to ride behind others, except when climbing steep hills. Climbing steep hills behind others is impossible as the motor needs to run at a minimum speed and even in the lowest gear it is not possible to ride below about 7mph. I apologise for having to overtake other club riders when going uphill!

Range: Mid drive systems are a little more efficient and so achieve about a 20% greater range than hub drive systems for the same battery capacity. My experience is that my Captus, with a 300 watt hour battery, is capable of 50-60 miles in "eco" mode and about 45 miles in "tourist" mode. Running speeds are about 12-13 mph in eco mode and 13-15 in Tourist mode. Climbing hills in Cambridgeshire (such as Croydon hill) reduces the range by about 2 miles per hill.

Gearing: The Captus had a 9-speed rear mechanism. It has good bar controls which are easy to reach. The Captus has front shocks which are more trouble than they are worth for a road cyclist.

Battery and Recharge: The Captus comes with a 4 amp charger and recharges from empty in less than two and a half hours. An hour of charge gets you an extra 20 miles of range, which means that charging is fast enough to justify taking the charger with me and recharging at a café or garden centre while having coffee. This increases my range to about 65 miles. Larger batteries are available, but I was not offered one when I bought the bike. Prices are very high and the 500 watt hour version is over £600 online and £800 at a dealer. The battery slides into its position under the carrier and locks in place. It is very easy to remove.

Hill climbing: In eco mode my Captus is capable of about 1 in 20 climbs (5%). In tour mode it is about 1 in 10 (10%). In sport mode is is probably able to climb about 1 in 7 (14%). Turbo mode is even more powerful, allowing you to climb 1 in 5 (20%), though in all these cases you still have to work fairly hard.

Computer: The computer is excellent. It is easily the best computer I have ever had on a bike. The display has a remaining charge indicator, a power meter & speed in the main display. It has also a part of the display showing estimated range, trip time, trip distance, odometer, average speed and time controlled by the handlebar switch which enables you to change up, down or off while riding. This controller has a middle button that selects what is on the subsidiary display. There is a button on the side which puts the bike into walking mode. The unit is removable or can be screw locked to the holder. (There are hidden displays for maintenance purposes).

Weight: about 25Kg

Price: £1480 (in 2017). It is expensive but very well made. I've done nearly 6000 miles on mine and have only replaced one tyre and one chain.

Hub Drive systems


I have experience of riding two slightly different e-bikes with hub drive. One I hired on the Isle of Wight and the other I had the use of prior to a sales display for Peter's Pedals at the Melbourn Hub.

The one I hired on the IOW was called a Red Squirrel and was a Chinese build with a fairly standard controller. This controller was also used for the Peter's Pedals bike.

The computer on the Peter's Pedals and the Red Squirrel Bikes

Bosch controller band level switch

The Red Squirrel had a 500 Watt hour battery. It was removable by pulling it out of the carrier in which it was mounted, it had a lock. The bike came with a 7 speed rear dérailleur. It had fairly good bar controls for the gears. There was a 1.8A battery charger that took approx 6 hour for a full recharge so it was not practical to recharge it at a café.

The rider drives the rear wheel while the hub drives the front wheel. On a dry day it managed a 1 in 5 hill... just! It had front shocks which are more trouble than they are worth, and which could not be turned off.

The computer/controller is very basic. There is no subsidiary bar switch. Changing power level while riding is possible but not easy. Changing power level down is not possible without going through the HIGH mode and OFF. There is a power level indicator with three lights which shows low, medium or high. There is a charge level system using four LEDs. There is a button with LED for a good set of cycle lights. There is a USB socket. The unit is not removable. If you ride solo in mid range there is very little need to change the power setting.

The way the system powers the drive is to provide a set level of drive to the wheel irrespective of the effort you are putting into the bike. If you are following someone it usually catches up with them, particularly up hill. Even reducing effort to a minimum by just turning the pedals, even in LOW mode, is usually too much and you start overtaking the person in front. If you stop pedalling there is a significant delay before the motor cuts. Then you slow down suddenly. If you then need more power you start pedalling and after a couple of revs it cuts in and you find yourself catching up. Uphill it is dramatically worse as the cutout feels like you have thrown an anchor out the back and then you struggle to keep a heavy bike going uphill until the motor cuts in again and the process is repeated. Changing mode in this situation is even more dangerous.

Range: this was excellent and I never got near running out of power in the IOW, despite it being very hilly. I did 40 miles twice. Mark you, one huge hill of over 600 ft took a quarter of the charge in 6 miles at maximum setting.

Price: Not known. I paid £150 for 6 days hire.

The bike I tried out for Peter's Pedals was very similar. It had its battery mounted behind the seat post with a lock. Getting the battery out was a little difficult as you had to remove the Saddle using a quick release on the set post before you could lift it out.

Gearing: 6 speed dérailleur. Could have done with a seventh gear to allow higher top speed without motor assistance. There was a fairly good bar mounted control.

Computer/controller: There are two sensors, Speed and pedal rotation. It is similar to the Red Squirrel but seemed to have a longer delay when starting and stopping. It had a switch on each brake to override the motor.

Drive: The motor was located in the rear wheel.

LOW range: I did several tests on LOW range. I rode it in typical local country areas. In LOW or ECO mode it did 25 miles on less than a quarter charge. I guess 100 miles was possible. There was not much assistance so average speed was about 10 mph on the flat.

MID range: In MID mode it did about 48 miles over fairly hilly county going to Saffron Walden. When ridden gently it was doing about 70 miles. The specification quoted a range of 35 to 45 miles. Assistance is about right.

The battery had a 360 watt hour capacity. Charging was slow at 1.8 amps. An hour of charge gave you a mere 8 miles of range, which meant that it was not practical to recharge on the road.

Performance: The cutout and start up time was about 4 pedal strokes which seemed worse than the Red Squirrel. I tried it up the hill out of Saffron Walden and it was not a nice experience, very similar to Red Squirrel. Riding solo it was a good ride. I was sorry to give it back.

Power: It had three power ranges. LOW, which was too low for easy touring, MID which was about right and HIGH which was far too high for Cambridgeshire.

Weight: about 25Kg

Price: Normally £700 but was reduced to £625 at the Melbourn show (a bargain).

All the bikes I tried had cut-outs set at 15.5mph as required by law. I did not notice any significant increase in drag. There is no increase in drag with mid-drive systems as they have a free wheel on the motor.

Mike Stapleton


12 Oct: Thursday ride to Hare Street and Stansted Mountfitchet

Edward writes: Today, according to the forecast, was destined to be ideal for cycling, sunny, a light south-westerly breeze made it a near-perfect autumn day. Our ride today was coffee at Hare Street and then onto Stansted. In Haslingfield Susan had seventeen riders and back at Brookside Alan had nine, making a very good turnout for the day.

We had to start with a ride over Chapel Hill into Barrington and Shepreth where we crossed the A10 to reach Fowlmere. After Flint Cross on the A505 we began the two and quarter mile climb up to Great Chishill and as we reached the top we found that Alan and his city team had caught us up.

Great Chishill

About three different groups then headed off to Shaftenhoe End and at the same time enjoying the views this route accords us. Nuthampstead and Anstey followed after which there may have been one or two different routes taken, i.e. some turning left at Flint Hall and going into Great Hormead whilst others went straight to the B1368 but all eventually arrived safely at Hare Street. Somehow Angela had become detached from the groups but luckily salvation soon arrived in the form of David W and he was able to guide her to the coffee stop. With the 'independents' there was quite a lot for the staff to do but eventually everyone was served and we had a pleasant time in the garden enjoying the autumn sunshine.

Hare Street

Hare Street

We left the March Hare Tea Rooms shortly after mid-day and those following Susan retraced their steps to Hormead and Flint Hall which allowed us to take a longer loop to reach Brent Pelham. We were now on quiet country roads which took us via Sheepcote Green and thence to Clavering, and given the weather, this was becoming a classic cycle ride. After Clavering we headed almost due south into Manuden and it was then only a short distance into Stansted, if a bit hilly. On the way in Richard noticed two Red Kites circling above us. We arrived in Stansted at 1.20pm and the Bean House which is one of our favourite lunch stops. It's no surprise that it is liked so much, the staff always being cheerful and obliging especially as our estimate of about ten was more than doubled; in fact the comment was 'the more the merrier'. It doesn’t come any better than that!

Although Alan’s group left Hare Street before Susan's they arrived after us but not sure of their route. After the excellent lunches it was 2.15 pm when we began the journey home. Most of Susan’s group had to make the climb up the hill to Elsenham with Adrian and one or two others going via Ugley Green but we all met again at Elsenham station.

Elsenham

We ran parallel to the railway until the turning for Ugley where we met the B1383 for a few hundred yards to the turning for Rickling Green. This was followed by Rickling and Arkesden where we are able to meet up with Mike C who had had to make a late start.

Rickling

Arkesden

Alan's group came through as we waited and we followed only a few minutes later heading for Duddenhoe End and Elmdon.

Duddenhoe End

Although Elmdon to Ickleton is basically downhill there is a sting halfway along with a steep climb before the final descent into Ickleton where we found Alan and his group at the foot of Coploe Hill. This brought us all together giving a very satisfactory end to the day. When the ride ended it was 4.45 pm giving most a ride from Haslingfield of 60 miles. As ever our thanks to the two leaders and the combination of their routes and the weather made this a great day out. Edward Elmer



Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 8 October 2017

10 Oct: Sunday afternoon ride to Braughing

John writes: Six members set off at 1.40pm. The ten-minute delay cwas aused by a front mech problem on Mike K’s Mercian. I planned a figure-of-eight circuit to include the unadopted road from Langley Lower Green to Chrishall. This is a favourite of mine and is best negotiated from the Langley end making it predominantly downhill. We were rewarded by seeing a herd of deer (Muntjac, Fallow, Roe?) running parallel to us but too quick to photograph. There was a slight delay while Jeff disentangled a stick form his rear wheel.

At Brookside, adjusting gears and mechs

The outbound route crossed the A505 at Whittlesford where Phil joined us. John E left us before Elmdon for his long ride home to St. Ives. Passing through Heydon, Great Chishill, Nuthampstead, Anstey and Great Hormead we joined the B1368 for the final two-and-a-half miles to Braughing.

When we arrived, Mike S was just leaving the church hall and informed us that the day-riders had left 40 minutes previously. However there were plenty of cakes left! This will be our last tea at Braughing in 2017 and it was as splendid as usual.

Tea at Braughing

The return route encompassed all three Pelhams, Langley Lower Green and Chrishall with a splendid sunset to our left. By Fowlmere the twilight had turned to darkness and foolishly I led the four remaining riders on the dark track into The Lane, Hauxton. The so-called cycle track beside the A10 to the M11 crossing is nothing more than a narrow badly maintained footpath: it is the first and last time I will use it.

Near the A505 crossing at Whittlesford

This was a wonderful afternoon and evening ride but perhaps next year, in the Autumn, we should bring the start time earlier.

The bald statistics recorded faithfully by Strava were 58 miles, with 2360 feet of ascent over 5 hours 6 minutes of cycling, and a steepest gradient of 10.9% (near Nuthampstead). John Ferguson



Download GPS track (GPX).

8 Oct: Sunday ride to Langford, Whitwell and Braughing

Nigel writes: Today was our final "Sunday longer ride" of the year. These are Sunday rides which aim to go slightly further than normal, a distance of 90-100 miles rather than the 75-85 miles we normally ride on a typical summer Sunday. Several years ago, when these riders were first added to the calendar, they were rather select events, offered as an alternative to a "normal" ride and with only two or three riders taking part. However nowadays they have become much more popular and on the days they operate are offered as our only day-long ride.

There were seven of us at Brookside for the start of today's ride, with more joining us at coffee and along the way. Our leader, as is usual for these rides, was Alex.

Brookside

The first stage of today's ride was to Langford where we were due to stop for coffee at the garden centre there. This is to the south-west of Cambridge, and to get there Alex led us by a relatively direct route via Barrington, Kneesworth and Ashwell, reaching the Ivel Valley Coffee shop at Langford Garden Centre at 10.55am.

This was the first time the club had visited this particular cafe, though several of us had visited here on other rides. We all agreed it was an excellent place to visit, with plenty of room and a decent range of cakes, bacon rolls and other treats on offer.

Haslingfield

After coffee we set off once more. Our lunch stop in Whitwell was directly to the south, but since the direct route wpuld have taken us through Hitchin we followed a sweeping arc to the west of Hitchin that took us into the relatively hilly region that lies between Hitchin and Luton, whilst staying well away from either.

approaching Hexton

We stopped for lunch at Emily's Teashop in Whitwell before turning east for the third stage of the ride to tea at Braughing Village Hall. As usual we had a slight tailwind and we arrived at there half an hour early at about 3.30pm.

Knebworth

Approaching Whempstead

Since we were early we left early, and didn't have an opportunity to meet the afternoon ride. We returned home via all three Pelhams, Langley and Great Chishill. After enjoying the long descent to Flint Cross and a fast run back along the B1198 to Harston we entered Cambridge via Trumpington Meadows. I arrived home just after 6pm, about having cycled 151km (94 miles) Nigel Deakin



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5 Oct: Thursday ride to Wicken and Isleham

Edward writes: After high winds overnight and the forecast predicting a stiff wind for most of the day it was something of a surprise to find twelve riders at the Hauxton start for the ride into the fens calling at Wicken and Isleham. The wind was northwesterly, but for the most part the day remained sunny. Back in the city with Peter W leading there were seven riders which en-route became about ten. We had scheduled a 9.15am start but poor Sharon was stuck in the usual morning Cambridge traffic chaos and we delayed our start so she could join us.

Our route from Hauxton was pretty straightforward through the Shelfords, the ever-changing Addenbrooke's scene, and up over the Gogs to Fulbourn. As we were kind of crossing the wind and with walls and hedgerows protecting us we had no difficulties and we made good progress into Bottisham and the Swaffhams. After Reach and Burwell we entered the fen droves and encountered our first serious ride into the wind which lasted for about a mile but soon after we reached our coffee stop at the wicken Methodist Church. As expected the city group were already there and nearly ready to set off for Isleham. Sara, Ida, Julie & Susan at the church laid on a wonderful choice of cakes and looked after us extremely well.

(Photo: Adrian Lee)

We left Wicken and took a relatively short ride to Isleham along the A1123 to Soham. Peter and the city group had taken the slightly longer route via Barway. As we left Soham to ride across the flat fen roads to Isleham the wind was behind us so it was easy going so much so that it was only 12.40 when we arrived in Isleham, not long after Peter’s group. Once again the hospitality at the Griffin was very good and they, too, looked after us very well.

Waiting for Rupert outside Freckenham

By 1.45pm we were on the road again with Peter taking his group home via the Swaffhams and our group taking a slightly longer route north of Newmarket This took us to Freckenham and still with a favourable wind; Rupert, however, incurred his second (slow) puncture of the day, possible trying to outdo Averil. When we reached Chippenham Rupert, in the manner of Captain Oates, nobly decided not to delay us and diverted to go home on a shorter route. We pressed on to Kentford, Moulton, Cheveley, Saxon Street, Stetchworth and Dullingham. It was only after we turned towards Six Mile Bottom that the wind was really a struggle as it was head on, but it was soon over and we came home through Fulbourn and once more over the Gogs. We finished the ride after 64 miles at 4.30 pm.and a much better day than expected. Edward Elmer



Download this route (GPX).

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

4 Oct: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Tonight was our first evening ride of the winter season, with sunset taking place at 6.29pm, just before the start of the ride. Since a bike ride entirely in the dark might be considered as having limited appeal, these rides will now be less frequent. We have just two evening rides this month (the next will be on 18th October), and from November they will become monthly.

But perhaps I should revisit that assumption that few people want to go for a ride in the dark, since tonight we had one of our largest turnouts for some time, with a seven riders at Brookside and three more joining us along the way, making a total of ten: one of our biggest evening turnouts for quite a while.

Of course the route helps, with the busway being perfect for easy and relaxed night riding. As usual, we followed what has become our standard route to the busway: east along the river and over the Green Dragon bridge to Cambridge North station, from where the busway offers twelve smooth, traffic-free miles to St Ives.

On the busway

When we reached St Ives we rode through the town centre and followed the Thicket Path to Houghton. After wheeling our bikes under the mill we cycled across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots where we stopped for food and drink at the Axe and Compass.

At the pub in Hemingford Abbots

Afterwards we returned to Cambridge, taking local roads through Hemingford Grey for the short distance to St Ives and then back along the Busway the way we had come. I arrived home at about 10.15pm, having cycled 62km (38 miles). Nigel Deakin



Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 1 October 2017

1 Oct: Sunday ride to Stansted Mountfitchet and Westmill

Ian B writes: There had been a big question mark over the weather leading up to our Sunday ride to Stansted Mountfitchet and Westmill but thankfully the rain was only light when seven of us set off from Brookside: Sheila, David, Simon, Rupert, Alex, John P and myself.

After the usual route south via the DNA path to Great Shelford, we collected another couple of riders for our merry band - Edmund and Susan.


As the coffee stop at 26 miles was almost the maximum we ride to, it was thought best to go the most direct route. This meant we started with the triple climbs of Coploe, Telegraph and the long ascent into Arkesden. Tackling these hills in rain would have been enough of a challenge but add in a strong headwind and suddenly Stansted seemed a long way away. But at Clavering the riding became a little easier and as we ticked off Manuden, the rain stopped and we had the happy prospect of leaving the headwind behind us at coffee.

Unfortunately Simon picked up a flint at this point but managed to limp to The Bean House where his rest stop was spent repairing his inner tube. Here we met Adrian, Sarah and Andy who had made their own way there. I've stopped here four times now with CTC, three for lunch and this time for coffee and have been pleased each time.

After half an hour, we started the 16 mile journey west to lunch. Shouldn't take long with the headwind gone should it - except during coffee the wind direction had switched and was now a westerly and a headwind again! When I checked the ride on Thursday, I had a puncture a few miles before Braughing (Averil - I feel lucky to only have had one!) and it turns out Alex had had a similar experience on that road recently as well. However we were fortunate this time.

After safely negotiating the pedestrian crossing of the A10 at Puckeridge and Great Munden, we freewheeled into Westmill where the Tea Room was ready for us with our reserved table. I think this is a new lunch stop for us but they seemed pleased to see us despite my slightly mud-splattered look from the earlier rain. It's not very big but it is in a lovely setting.



We were aware that a band of rain was due in Cambridge later that afternoon so we didn't dally and soon set off for the usual route back from Buntingford via Wyddial and Nuthampstead, thankfully this time with mostly a tailwind. Those returning to Brookside will have got back around 4pm having ridden 68 miles and climbed 2900 ft. Ian Bamborough



Download this route (GPX).

1 Oct: "Shorter" Sunday afternoon ride to Wimpole

John writes: Today's ride was an example of what IT professionals refer to as "software reuse", but us mere mortals might instead call "shamelessly stealing someone else’s ideas"! As Ray only signed me up to lead this ride on Saturday morning, I didn't have much time to plan a novel route, so I was pleased that Ray also sent me a link to an evening ride Nigel had led recently, that went past today's tea stop on the way to Barrington. I decided to copy much of this route, which made my job as leader very straightforward indeed.

The forecast was for the remnants of some Atlantic storms to drop rain over Cambridge through the afternoon, so I was pleased to find that regulars Mike K, Jeff B, Sue H, Phil N, Neil S and John E, along with new member Dennis had braved the weather.

We set off past the gridlock of cars trying to get to Grand Arcade car park, and on via Silver Street and Grange Road towards the cycle path to Coton. From there we took the old Bedford road towards Cambourne and then turned into the wind towards Bourn. From there we went past Wysing Arts and onto Ermine Way – the A1198 – which wasn't too busy on this grey Sunday. We soon turned onto the quieter Old Wimpole Road and went through the woods and down to the turn for Wimpole Hall. Here we met Dave W.

The tea rooms served us cream teas and cakes, and we had the traditional discussion about the difference between Devon and Cornwall cream teas in terms of having jam or cream on top. I have since checked, and the Cream Tea Society say "etiquette gurus Debrett's say you should spread your jam before dolloping cream on top" so I’m afraid I had confirmed how badly brought up I was by doing the exact opposite. We sat outside, and by the end of our stop the strengthening wind was making the canopies flap about rather alarmingly.


We continued after tea via Orwell and Barrington, where we said goodbye to Phil and Sue. As I had promised an easy ride that avoided hills, we let Dave W tackle Chapel Hill on his own, and proceeded via the A10 cycle path to Harston. Here we had the usual dilemma between using the road or the so-called cycle path. We chose the road, but concluded that until the new cycle path is completed, the optimal route through Harston is to go another way instead. From there we went via Trumpington Meadows and onto the guided busway cycle path into Cambridge.

We were very lucky with the weather, as although it looked like rain all afternoon, not a single drop actually fell during the ride. My ride home had a final surprise, as I thought I had imagined the sound of bagpipes in the distance. As I got to the bridge over the Genome Path, I found the source of my hallucination – a cyclist who had carried a set of bagpipes to this remote location in a golf club bag, and was practising next to the cycle path.

The full ride today was just over 30 miles, and was the third in a series of shorter rides on alternate Sundays, designed to be a bit easier for new riders or Saturday morning riders who want to move on to a slightly longer ride. John Seton



Download this route (GPX).

Website under development

Welcome to the new website of CTC Cambridge. We plan to launch this very soon, but for now it's still under development whilst we make some final changes. You're welcome to look around, but some parts may not work or look strange. For a perfect browsing experience, visit our main website at ctc-cambridge.org.uk.

We have a small group of individuals reviewing and testing the new website: if you'd like to help please contact me. Nigel Deakin, web officer.

Friday, 29 September 2017

28 Sep: Thursday ride to St Neots and Kimbolton

Edward writes: By the time a dozen riders met in Haslingfield the overnight rain had cleared and all was set fair for our ride out to Kimbolton via St Neots. Susan was in charge today with Dr John doing the honours in the city. Not unexpectedly we started with a climb over Chapel Hill into Barrington where, at the re-grouping point by the church, we discovered that Averil was not with us. Immediately Mike, soon followed by Adrian and ever-ready to rescue a damsel in distress returned back over the hill to Haslingfield. Here they found Averil's chain had trapped itself between two of the front chain rings. This left the main group to carry on with the ride leaving Mike, Adrian and Averil to make their own way to St Neots.

Orwell

Our route took us through Wimpole Hall and, after Arrington and Croydon, the climb up Croydon Hill. This achieved, we took the five miles through the Hatleys to Gamlingay, but by now we were running late and we didn’t arrive at the Ambiance Cafe in St. Neots until 11.30am to find that the city group were nearly ready to leave. To our surprise we found that Averil, Mike and Adrian had already arrived and drinking their coffee.

Arriving at St Neots

Susan cracked the whip and had us on the road again by 11.50 am only to find that Averil's front tyre had punctured and consequently one group became two whilst some waited for Mike to do the honours with the tyre. After the repairs we handed over the reins to Adrian to lead us as quickly as possible to Kimbolton. This took us through Duloe, Staploe, Little Staughton and Pertenhall and as we approached Kimbolton Averil’s back tyre punctured - she certainly likes to spread the pain around! As ever Mike took charge, assisted by Adrian, while Averil looked on. As you would expect Mike by now is quite good at fixing punctures (especially Averil's) and so we were not delayed long and arrived in Kimbolton at 1.30pm.

Puncture No. 2 in Kimbolton

Lunch was at Oliver's cafe and by all accounts they coped pretty well with us all. Dr John led his group away at 2pm and at 2.15pm Susan assembled her group and we started the return leg. This took us east along the B645 until the turning for Perry and after Grafham it was mainly downhill to Buckden and the Offords.

What little wind there was assisted us as we passed through Graveley, Hilton and Fenstanton. Next came the sluggish ride through Connington and Knapwell before arriving at the St Neots old road. We finished the ride through Hardwick and Coton and arrived home by 5pm and with 68 miles under our belts. Our thanks to John and Susan and, for the village group at least, an eventful day out. (Note for Averil: Make an early appointment at Shelford Cycle Engineering Company.) Edward Elmer



Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 28 September 2017

27 Sep: Evening ride to Babraham

Nigel writes: Despite sunset taking place only fifteen minutes after the start of tonight's ride, and a forecast of rain from mid-evening, four other riders turned out at Brookside for tonight's ride: Yasmin, Sophie, Tom and Andrew. We set off east along the river to Fen Ditton and Quy and then along the long straight road to Six Mile Bottom.

Ditton Meadows just before sunset

By the time we reached Six Mile Bottom it was completely dark for the climb up past Wadlow Farm to West Wratting. This is a rather undulating climb, with varying gradients and short sections of downhill along the way. Several riders remarked that it was surprisingly difficult to judge the gradient in the dark, so I gave regular updates on our progress ("short steep section coming up", "nearly at the top" and so on) using the elevation profile displayed on my Garmin.

When we reached Balsham it started to rain. It was fairly light, but since the rain was expected to persist for the rest of the evening we stopped to put on waterproofs before the long descent to Hildersham and Abington.

I didn't fancy taking the group over the A11 footbridge and across the fields to Babraham, so we took a rather longer route via the A505 cycleway to get to The George Inn in Babraham, which we reached at about 8.25pm.

Afterwards we returned to Cambridge via the cycleway through the Babraham Institute (very good) and the cycleway along the Babraham Road (less good). Just before we reached the Addenbrooke's roundabout Sophie sustained a puncture, but since she lived a little over a mile away she announced she would simply wheel her bike home and fix it at the weekend. So we dispersed and rode home. I arrived home at 10pm, having cycled 50km (33 miles). Nigel Deakin



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Sunday, 24 September 2017

24 Sep: Sunday ride to Finchingfield, Terling and Thaxted

Rupert writes: There are some people who seem to like early starts - let's call them the smarm-mites - and some who struggle to get to Brookside by 8.30am. I fall into the latter category. It doesn't matter how early I get up, my cycling legs are not ready to go until 9.15am due to years of Thursday ride conditioning.

Fortunately, the smarm-mites were in the majority today so that six riders were ready and raring to go at the start and a seventh was at least ready. We set off along Hills Road enjoying the new section of cycleway outside Addenbrookes before being dumped back into the road for the Addenbookes roundabout - which is about to be remodelled to handle increased volumes of motor vehicles as part of the not-very-joined-up road planning by Cambridge traffic engineers.

Happy riders at the end of the ride

From there we took the nice ascent of the Gogs with unhappy legs still protesting but eyes enjoying the open view of sunny uplands as we whoosh down into Fulbourn. Then we have the grim drag from Fulbourn to Balsham as we are forced to share the road with the Sunday drag racers. From Balsham we can start to relax and enjoy the back roads to head via Horseheath and Steeple Bumpstead before taking the long straight road past Spains Hall to arrive at Finchingfield even earlier than planned.

And there our first taste of cycling cafe disaster strikes. The cafe is heaving with a recently arrived group of motor-bikers and a coach party of older ladies. Of course I could be guilty of stereotyping here - maybe the Harleys belonged to the ladies and the lads in leather had arrived by coach - but somehow I doubt it. The cafe staff were working hard, but the big groups meant that we had a long wait for our drinks and our early start advantage was rather lost.

But while sitting in the cafe we were entertained by multiple groups of cyclists speeding through Finchingfield with steely determination. It turns out they were taking part in the L'Etape London". Our back road route kept us clear of these riders for the first few miles but at Shalford we rejoined their speeding flow and were soon being overtaken by hundreds of cyclists. On occasions, we felt more at risk from a cycle-cycle collision than the cars but all was well despite a near miss on one of the junctions.

In a few villages there were groups of spectators cheering the riders on - possibly confused by the cycle route markers which seemed to have been "borrowed" from the Tour de France (the Tour followed the same route through Essex a few years ago). Our group was evenly divided in opinion (in proper CTC style) with half acknowledging the cheers and others protesting "we're not with them!". Our slower pace than the Etapers was softened by a brief moment of success when our leader took us along the Flitch Way shortcut into Rayne to emrge ahead of a speeding group that had passed us just moments earlier. But eventually (and with some relief) our routes diverged as we turned to head across to Terling arriving just a few minutes behind schedule.

After a nice lunch in the sunshine it was time to head back, once again sharing another route that mixed with the Etape cycle race but by this time their numbers were reduced and anyway we were now going in opposite directions. After the obligatory wriggles to cross those pesky A131 and A120 main roads we emerged at Andrewsfield airfield in Great Saling - a club favourite but not a stop for today - before pressing on along the bridleway and more nice roads to arrive at Thaxted for our tea stop. Another potential cafe disaster loomed when they ran out of lemon drizzle cake, but we had toughened up now and shrugged it off.

As we left the tea stop, real disaster struck. Rupert managed to break the valve in Alex's rear tyre by offering to pump it up and snapping off the valve with his pump head when the bike moved. Bit like Brexit I thought, where the offer of free air corresponds to the promised nirvana of new trade deals and the broken valve and unrideable flat tyre is the reality. Apologies somehow don't seem enough in this situation, but a brave Alex offered to repair it himself while the rest of us could set off, in part because the late hour highlighted (not!) that a few folk had forgotten to bring lights.

From Thaxted it was the direct ride home via Debden and Saffron Walden, then opting for the B-road to Ickleton to avoid Coploe Hill in recognition of tired legs. By now my legs had finally woken up and I seemed to riding well as others were started to fade. But it was still a welcome shortcut, and we arrived back at Shelford just before 6pm. Best of all, after pausing for the end-of-ride group photo (thanks to a timely encounter with John S) we were joined by our lost leader Alex who had managed a speedy repair of his tyre, slightly assuaging my guilt. This blog was my agreed penance.

So thankyou to Alex for planning and leading one of our longest rides of the year at 91 miles, taking in lots of nice roads and dealing graciously with my valve bending "brexit" disaster. Rupert Goodings



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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Adrian's holiday in the Isle of Wight

Mike writes: Adrian took 17 members of CTC Cambridge to the Isle of Wight. Initially we were concerned that the weather would be a problem but in fact it all worked out well. We had to keep a sharp eye on the forecast so as to cycle either with the wind behind us or on sheltered roads. We had one huge storm, fortunately in the evening when we were having our dinner. It was dramatic. You could hardly stand up in the wind outside and the sea at in Freshwater Bay was a seething cauldron of white foam.

Freshwater Bay (good)

We had one bad bit to the ride on Sunday when we came home over the hills straight into a very strong wind. We were buffeted about and I did hear someone got blown off but saw no evidence of injury. It was only about two miles but everyone commented on it.

Geoff, Adrian, Davie and Jackie at the goat farm

The next day because of the wind four including Vic and Adrian abandoned our bikes and went by car to the Steam Railway at Haven Street. It is superb and we spent several hours riding the trains and viewing the exhibitions. The train connected with the Tube Trains used on the main Island Line at Smallbrook Junction.


There is a large new shed with three tracks of carriages and other rolling stock at various stages of restoration. Most have been repaired and there is a staging so you can look inside at the inside of the carriages. Others that have still to be repaired are arranged on tracks where you look up to the carriages. They even have some very early carriages that look like stage coaches. Vic and Adrian love old trains. Vic used to work at Cambridge station in the fifties when they had about 150 locos in the yard. I recommend visiting the Isle of Wight Steam Railway as it is one of the best preserved railways I have ever seen.

Vic

Various groups visited various places on the island. I don't think any of us got to the east coast at Sandown and Ryde but one group went to Ventnor. Ventnor has spectacular climbs up toward St Boniface Down. The riders claimed one in four gradients which is quite possible. On the last day ten of us went to West Cowes. The wind had eased and the sun was out. Several of us repaired to the Anchor Inn which has a balcony looking out over the entrance to Cowes harbour. We felt like Royalty. We saw lots of boats sailing in and out and the Southampton ferries including the cheeky Red Funnel Ferries which love to compete with the big liners by tooting their horns. Return home was difficult as the climb from the promenade is 20% but it is very short. Fortunately further on the road goes over a bridge under repair which has a footbridge so no traffic. They have almost finished it and have just painted the parapet black and white which looks very nice. The workers were very friendly. Six of the group continued to East Cowes via the foot ferry and then headed south to Chale Green before returning on the military road.

Model village at Godshill Church

The roads on the Island are generally a cyclists' paradise. Several old railways have been converted for cyclists. There are lots country roads. There are lots of hills. We were led up Strawberry hill near Brighstone. The maps says it is one in seven but it was far the hardest hill we tackled. I only just made it with my ebike helping for all it was worth. It took nearly a quarter of its charge in just 6 miles, phew! Adrian took us to Winkle Street near Calbourne. Very picturesque.

Bridge under repair

I had a fantastic ride on my own with the wind behind me on the military road from Freshwater bay to Chale. You start with an easy climb up at about one in ten that looks very steep and then on and upwards for about a mile. Then you dive back down nearly to the sea and the up and down along the road near the cliff edge. There are virtually no trees for over ten miles.

New town altar centre

Adrian led his traditional walk from Poets Corner along the cliffs past the Tennyson Memorial to the Needles. It is a surprising distance of over two miles. The wind was very strong in exposed places.

We had the usual gang of cyclists. We make a varied crew with Jim, Val, Averil, and Mick, who did longer rides. Edgar, Tom, Lorraine, John, Geoff, Doug, Edgar and me (electric Mike) generally rode with groups. David W was up for anything.

We were accommodated in two fantastic houses. There were ten in the house on the hill, called Greystones, and the other seven at Peots Corner. The latter was named after the poets including Tennyson who live nearby. Both houses were very well appointed. Poets Corner was so near the sea that the brochure said you could see the sea from it which was just true.

We were worried by the news on Wednesday that one of the two Wight Ferries was out of commission having had an engine fire during the storm. By Thursday a spare ferry had brought in and everything returned to normal. John went to East Cowes on Thursday and reported that the Cowes Chain Ferry was also out of action. A new ferry had been built for the route but when it arrived it did not fit the landings and was the wrong height so cars were grounding as the drove on board.

Other members of the group are welcome to add their own experiences to this report: just send your text and photos to Nigel. I have many more photos, and video, for those interested. Mike Stapleton

Thursday, 21 September 2017

21 Sep: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Castle Hedingham

Edward writes: This Thursday Edmund our leader took us out to Horseheath for coffee and Castle Hedingham for lunch, with Rupert leading the city six from Brookside. The start time had been brought forward to 9.15am but this didn't prevent a latecomer who has to remains nameless.

Edmund got a grip on matters from the start and divided the sixteen or so riders into two groups. His plans, though, had to be changed owing to the level crossing at Sawston being closed. This meant a diversion through Great Shelford, a bit busy at this time of the morning, which took us past the Gog Magog golf course and the climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

Gogs Summit, but business as usual

This now meant a long straight road to Balsham which must be about five miles and all of it uphill; not a pleasant ride but we reached Balsham unscathed.

Fulbourn to Balsham

Now further out into the country we arrived at Balsham by way of Streetly End. As is usual with the Old Red Lion in Horseheath we found a number of 'independents', including Malcolm and Gwen, such that we more or less took over the pub.

Preparing to leave Horseheath

After coffee we seemed to leave in a number of different groups with the usual smattering returning home. As we crossed the A1307 for Cardinal's Green we encountered a lone cyclist pedalling this main road and it turned out that he was cycle-touring and was heading to the Harwich ferry to his home in Holland. Adrian persuaded him that he would be better off with us rather than staying on the A1307 as directed by his GPS. He was quite prominent in that he was riding bare-chested and he stayed with us all the way to Castle Hedingham where he also lunched with us.

Towards Castle Camps

We made slow but steady progress through the Bumpsteads, Stambourne and Toppesfield. All went well through good cycling countryside until a junction caused some confusion, but not to Adrian. It never pays to go against Adrian and those who did found themselves having to turn back and shamefacedly returning to the junction and going the way the Adrian had originally said. What would Homer Simpson have said!

Helions Bumpstead

Finally we arrived in Castle Hedingham but only as the leading group was leaving. It seems that Buckley's, our lunch stop, had coped well despite the numbers exceeding our estimate.

Sible Hedingham to Wethersfield

Sible Hedingham to Wethersfield

Our now small group left Castle Hedingham at 2.20pm and made our way to Wethersfield which now shows little sign of the large American airbase which closed some years ago. This proved the turning point as now we were no longer riding into the wind as we had all morning but now faced more north-westerly and the wind was more or less behind us.

Finchingfield came next and then back to Helions Bumpstead and as we were obviously far behind the leading group we carried on to Castle Camps rather than Edmund's chosen route via Olmstead Green.

At least after Castle Camps it was all downhill to Bartlow and Linton. We completed the ride through Little Abington, over the farm track to Babraham, Sawston and Great Shelford, arriving at 5 pm and for those doing the route correctly about 68 miles. Although we didn't see much of our leaders our thanks to both of them for their efforts. Edward Elmer



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Saturday, 16 September 2017

6 Sep: Evening ride to Balsham

Nigel writes: There were six of us on tonight's ride, with a seventh joining us at the pub. The nights are drawing in rapidly now, and the sun set after little more than an hour. The Bull in Balsham is still a relatively new stop on these evening rides, but it has already become a firm fixture due to its excellent location which allows a nice route from Cambridge: over the Gogs to Fulbourn, through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom, up Brinkley Hill to Brinkley and finally a loop through Carlton and West Wickham back to Balsham.

On the way to Great Wilbraham

As always these are chatty, sociable rides and I was probably distracted when I added an unplanned diversion via West Wratting, but we were soon back on track and arrived at the pub in good time at 8.20pm.

Dinner in Balsham

After a pleasant hour or so we set off back towards Cambridge. It was now completely dark, and I encouraged the group to stay close together for the fast descent down to Charterhouse Bridge and Fulbourn. This proved a good road to use in the dark: simple to navigate and free from unexpected bumps and potholes.

From Fulbourn we took the Old Drift route to Cherry Hinton and along the tins to Mill Road, where the group dispersed. I arrived back home in Cambridge at about 10.10pm, having cycled 56km (35 miles).Nigel Deakin



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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Rides in Sept and Oct

We are pleased to announce our rides lists for September and October. We have squeezed a few more longer rides on Sundays and Thursdays to take advantage of your well-honed cycling legs after a good summer of riding. And we've also added a last set of visits to the popular church hall teas in Braughing and Wicken to keep the club cakeaholics happy.

Starting in September, we are trialling a new shorter afternoon ride on alternate Sundays. These are aimed at beginners who would like to try a Sunday afternoon ride and find our normal afternoon rides a little too arduous, though of course we hope it will be attractive to afternoon regulars too. We also hope some new leaders will volunteer to try their hand at leading with these shorter rides.

Leaders are still needed for many of our other rides as well. A big club thank you to everyone who has already volunteered. But more volunteers are needed to fill the gaps - please do take a look at the ride lists and get in touch with me if you are able to lead one. Rupert Goodings

31 Aug: Thursday ride to Saffron Walden and Clare

Edward writes:Twenty cyclists met at Haslingfield Green in near ideal conditions for today's ride out to Saffron Walden and lunch at Clare. There was only the gentlest of wind, a nice temperature and only the prospect of rain in the late afternoon, and so it proved for any late finishers with torrential rain at 5.30pm (Averil!). Once again Mike C was our leader and back at Brookside Alan had a party of six.

We left Haslingfield in two groups and made our way towards Harston and over the hill into Newton, Whittlesford and down to the A505. This was quite busy but we all crossed safely into Duxford and took the route through the factory area and after a brief wait at the level crossing, over the ford into Hinxton. We rolled along at a leisurely pace and at the Ickleton level crossing we had to wait for another train; not very often that happens.

Hinxton level crossing

Ickleton level crossing

By the time we were going up Coploe Hill, Mike with the second group, had caught us up and we all assembled at the summit for the regulation photo.

Coploe Hill summit

After the run down Chestnut Avenue and the climb up from Audley End mansion we arrived in Saffron Walden and The Temeraire at 11am and as expected found the city group already installed.

Saffron Walden

The Temeraire has extended the outside sitting-out area even further from the last time we were here. It is all laid out on artificial grass and it looks very attractive making it a nice pleasant area to sit out in, especially on a nice day like today. Not only were the city group here but several others who had cycled out independently, including Bill P, Mike S and the indefatigable Vic. Despite our numbers the staff dealt very quickly with us all and we were soon sitting out in the sun.

After the usual comings and goings we left in two manageable groups with Alan's group heading off up the hill towards the war memorial and Mike took his group out of town along Ashdon Road. And after so long in a terrible state of repair it was such a pleasure to find that the road has been resurfaced; previously it was always a nightmare to cycle on. At the top of hill we turned into Newhouse Lane which is always very nice and then into Radwinter and down to Great Sampford.

Ridgewell

Just out of Little Sampford we branched off the main road into the quieter roads to Cornish Hall End. We were now away from most of the traffic and conditions were ideal for a good ride. Cornish Hall End was followed by Stambourne and Ridgewell where we met the A1017. This was only for a few yards before taking the turning for Ashen and from there it was an easy run, mainly downhill into Clare.

As usual some went to local cafes in the town but many others went to the park and found a newly opened cafe in the old station buildings. This was very nice and now makes the trip to Clare and even better destination. Being a former railway station there was some railway memorabilia, including a timetable from 1961 which showed Sudbury to Cambridge took an hour and a quarter, which didn’t seem bad.

Cafe at the old station, Clare

The old station, Clare

Alan first led a smaller group away and Mike followed at 2.35pm with a dozen. After heading north for a short while we turned west and went through Chilton Street and Brockley Green before passing through Kedington. After we had crossed the A143 our journey home took us through Great Wratting and Withersfield where we noticed that one of occasional coffee venues, the pub, formerly Bradman’s is now called the White Horse, so it might be worth checking if they would still do coffee for us.

We finished our ride through West Wickham, Balsham, Hildersham, Abington, Sawston and Great Shelford. Those going back to Haslingfield would have completed 70 miles. As always thanks to both our leaders for another good late summer’s ride.
Edward Elmer



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