Sunday, 26 February 2017

26 Feb: Sunday afternoon ride to St Ives

David S writes: Today I led my first CTC Cambridge ride. I have been riding with the club on Sunday afternoons - and joining the occasional all-day Sunday winter ride - since September. Although I have lived and cycled in Cambridge for fifty years, I have learned routes I never knew, and covered distances I had never attempted round Cambridge. I like the format and the company and I have definitely got fitter! So when a call for new leaders came round, I thought I should volunteer, even though I don't do anything to bring the average age down!

There were only four of us at Brookside at 1pm: Simon, Mike K, Ian B and me. Having experienced riders with me meant that I had no worries that we might get lost if my Garmin failed.

Our destination was St Ives. I had modified the route that Rupert suggested by going via Barton and Bourn, but my email had somehow not reached the others and I think they were a bit surprised when I set off from Brookside going south instead of north!

Despite a strong headwind we had a good ride to St Ives. Keeping to 12mph average was a challenge in the wind, but we all dreamt of a strong tailwind for the return along the busway.

Our tea stop was in the about-to-be-refurbished River Tea Rooms.

More photos below

By the time we returned the wind seemed to have swung round to the east and we battled home along the busway too! For this part of the ride we were joined by Ian W, en route from St Ives to Fen Ditton. Despite the wind we managed 11.6mph average. It is nice that the afternoon rides now finish before dark.

After the ride Simon told me that my variation was a new one for him and submitted the .gpx file for the archive (see below). Until then I had thought I was just copying a ride I had done with the group before.

Leading gave a new perspective to the ride. Before and during the ride you can weigh up the pros and cons of different variations. I expect there were things I did wrong, but my co-riders were all too polite to mention! There were no punctures or incidents, so it was a very gentle introduction and I would encourage anyone thinking of becoming a leader to do so. I look forward to leading another ride - perhaps in South Cambridgeshire next time! David Secher

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26 Feb: Sunday ride to Waresley and Moggerhanger

Nigel writes: Our leader today was Edmund. There were eight of us: Edmund, Phil, Rupert, Alan, Tom, John J, Ian W and me. After a few moments for entry formalities we were on our way.

Our first goal today was the garden centre at Waresley. This is one of the club's favourite stop, but it's not very far and it's usually necessary to add in a bit of a loop to avoid getting there too early. Edmund therefore led us west out of Cambridge, though the new West Cambridge site and onto the path to Coton.

Brookside: Edmund completes administrative formalities

On the cycle path to Coton

Through Cambridge University's West Cambridge campus

The temperature today was very mild for February, and with a little bit of sun at the start it would have felt quite spring-like if it had not been for a strong westerly wind which blew cold air in our faces and slowed our progress a little. The approach of spring was also signalled by quite a few daffodils along the way, the first I had noticed this year.

We climbed Madingley Hill and continued on the flat to Hardwick. There we turned left and dropped back down to Toft, where we joined the B1046 and picked up the classic direct through Bourn, Caxton and Great Gransden to Waresley

Pushing into the wind near Great Gransden

We arrived at Waresley Park Garden Centre bang on time at 11am. When we went in we found Adrian, Edward, Mick C, John S, Susan and one or two other already sitting down and drinking coffee.

Preparing to set off after coffee in Waresley

After coffee we regrouped and some members returned home. This left Edmund, John S, Susan, Tom, Alan and me to carry on to lunch in Moggerhanger, with Adrian heading there separately.

From Waresley we continued west to Everton where I warned Tom that we had an unexpectedly-steep hill coming up. He was clearly relieved when I added that the hill was downwards, and I think he enjoyed the 14% descent of Tempsford Hill, followed by a satisfyingly-long rollout at the bottom, as much as I did.

At the bottom we crossed over the A1 and continued to Blunham where we turned right onto the railway path towards Bedford.

On the railway path near Willington

We left the railway path at Danish Camp for a short loop through Willington and Coploe before turning back east to Moggerhanger. At last we were no longer riding directly into the wind, and for the final fast 2km to Moggerhanger we had the wind directly behind us.

Our lunch stop was The Old Kitchen at Moggerhanger Park. This is a relatively new cafe (it opened last April) and this was our first visit. It's quite a simple cafe, spread across two rooms at the back of the main house, with just the kind of menu we like: jacket potatoes, ciabattas, sandwiches and soup. The quality of the food was entirely satisfactory and I think we would all be happy to come back again.

Lunch at The Old Kitchen, Moggerhanger

About to set off after lunch at The Old Kitchen, Moggerhanger

Moggerhanger Park (The Old Kitchen is at the rear)

After lunch we set off back to Cambridge. From Moggerhanger we continued north to Blunham where we turned east onto the railway path to Sandy.

Which way to Sandy? Unhelpful NCN sign on the railway path at Blunham

With the wind now mostly behind us we made much more rapid progress than in the morning. Rather unexpectedly the sun came out, and without the wind in our faces it felt relatively warm and distinctly spring-like: almost certainly our mildest day so far this year.

From Sandy we climbed up to Everton, and briefly retraced a few km of our morning route before turning off towards Gamlingay and the road through Hatley St George and East Hatley to Arrington, Wimpole, Orwell and Barrington. After climbing Chapel Hill (which was rather easier than usual with the wind behind us) we dropped back down to Haslingfield and turned right for Harston. There the group divided, with Edmund, John S and Susan continuing to Newton and the Shelfords, and Tom and me returning directly to Cambridge via the A10 and Trumpington Meadows. I arrived home at about 4.30pm, after having cycled 107km (66 miles) - which I think makes this my longest Sunday ride with the club so far this year. Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

Sunday, 19 February 2017

19 Feb: Sunday afternoon ride to Melbourn

Simon writes: Far back in the midst of a riverboat building project in a barn, a mate and I kept a makeshift kitchen, trying to fry eggs with one hand whilst wielding a welding torch with the other.

Our respective girlfriends decided to pay us a visit and their first comment was "Don't you boys ever do any washing up?" To which we triumphantly replied “Yer, we tried that but it made the bowl dirty so we gave up”

In a not dissimilar vein our club Secretary has said on several occasions recently, "Simon, you should clean your bike!"

The fear is the prospect of fighting a losing battle, against the muddy water that every ride starts with on the river tow path (from said afore mentioned boat) in a rainy season. Nevertheless, here is the photographic proof that it was treated to John's gentle but persuasive directive.

Setting off from Brookside this week was a quintet consisting of Phil N, John E, Neil S, Paul D and yours truly.

With a westerly wind the route planned was to leave Cambridge on the busway south and the DNA path, without any detour, to allow us time to spend on some of the hills south of the A505. The theory goes that wind drag increases exponentially with speed, so if we're only crawling up a hill at say 6mph, it wouldn't feel as strenuous as trying to do 14mph on the flat into it. The shelter offered by the hedgerows on the hilly lanes diffused the rest of the wind and, hey ho, it worked.

So, starting with Coploe Hill as far as Royston Lane, we picked up Quickset Road and a slight drop in altitude to pass through Elmdon.

A short climb out of Elmdon skirted the north side of Chrishall and on to Heydon. For the next three miles past the Heydon Grange Golf course I don't think any of us turned a pedal for the descent back to the A505. The Fowlmere road doesn't quite link up directly, forcing us to do exactly half a mile of the A-road, but now with a billiard-table-smooth tarmac and a tailwind that half mile disappeared like a blip.

If you've never taken a break from your saddle for a tranquil stroll around the RSPB reserve between Fowlmere and Melbourn I would thoroughly recommend it.

After tea at Wyevale Garden Centre in Melbourn, Paul insisted that he needed more hills to train for an anniversary climb up Snowdon (not on that Dolan road frame I hope) and voted we return via Barrington's Chapel hill. As always, this plays to Phil's convenience as that's where he hails from but blow me if he didn't ride over it with us and then back again, just for the hell of it!

See you all next time! Simon Gallaway

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

16 Feb: Thursday ride to Newport and Clavering Lakes

Edward writes: A touch of spring was in the air for this Thursday's ride to Newport and Clavering Lakes and this was very much welcome bearing in mind the very low temperatures we’ve had recently. In fact the sun was out, blue skies and an expected afternoon temperature in the region of 13-14C. John R (again) led the city start with eight riders and out at Hauxton Averil led a group of fifteen. Noticeable by their absence were some of our Arsenal supporters who, after last night's result, may have considered a day of quiet reflection was in order rather than being out on the bike. On the other hand we were joined by Sharon and Belinda who may have been inspired into action by last week's blog. Whether that's true or not it was good to see them out again. Also guesting with us were Greta's friends Jim and Jill from Stevenage.

Averil led us away from Hauxton in bright sunlight and was soon some distance ahead of the main group causing us to wander if she had been studying Rupert's method of leading by being almost out of sight. After the initial burst she settled into good leadership mode and stopped from time to time allowing us all to regroup. By now we had passed through Whittlesford and had come to Duxford where a slight navigational error sent us up Duxford Grange, rather than to Ickleton, to run parallel to the air museum.

Duxford Grange (Duxford End)

This was a bit unfortunate as the road was very wet and muddy following last night's rain, mainly near the farm half way along. (Averil will clean bikes by appointment only.)

Duxford Grange

Royston Lane

To bring us back on track we turned into Chrishall Grange and then into Royston Lane which is another of our pot-holed third-world roads and great care was needed especially on the descent side. This soon brought us back to Coploe Hill and the short distance up to Catmere End. More dirty roads followed as we made our way through to Telegraph Hill where we descended to Wendens Ambo; this just left a mile or so along the B1383 into Newport.

At Dorrington's we found the city riders already there plus some independent riders including Geoff, Peter W, Jacob, Craig and Frances and probably one or two others. Dorrington's is always popular and with the sun out and a springlike feeling to the day many chose to sit outside.

It was midday when we started again and John took a small group away before Averil led a larger group south along the B1383 to the Henham turning beside the motorway.

As we were leaving Newport Simon had a puncture and he agreed to take a shorter route by himself to Clavering. We turned to rejoin the B1383 at Ugley but this time heading north to the Rickling Green turning. This was followed by Rickling and soon after we found ourselves at Clavering Lakes after a relatively short ride of ten miles from Newport.

The turning for Ugley

The turning for Ugley

Rickling Green


Meanwhile Adrian made his own way to Clavering on one of his off-road routes. We could see him to our right on a hill in the distance. A telephoto lens would have made a good picture.

It was just as well we were early for lunch because we hadn’t made a booking and the twenty-one riders had to wait quite a long time to be served. Simon arrived after everyone else having had another puncture.

It was 2.15 pm before we left for home and during the lunch break the blue skies had given way to an overcast sky and it felt quite a bit cooler. The brisk westerly wind, though, was now more in our favour as we headed north to Langley Lower Green.

Another sign that better weather is on the way is the appearance of snowdrops and aconites in the grass verges, sadly having to compete for attention with all the roadside litter. On our way to Little Chishill, Adrian and Simon left to do some off-road work with all the rest, after Little Chishill, making the last climb of the day into Great Chishill. There we found David T and John R assisting Anne who had also become another puncture victim.

Between Langley and Little Chishill

Between Langley and Little Chishill

After Great Chishill it's all downhill for more than two miles to Flint Cross on the A505. The last few miles took us through Fowlmere, Thriplow, Newton and Little Shelford. With the ride at an end at 4pm, those doing the full circuit back to Hauxton would have cycled 47 miles. Our thanks to our two leaders, John and Averil. Edward Elmer

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

12 Feb: Sunday ride to Ickleton and Wimbish

Nigel writes: The weather today was similar to last Sunday: dull and damp all day. When I arrived at Brookside for the start of today's ride I found seven other riders waiting: Rupert, Alex, Eva, Tom, John R, Nick W and John Seton, our leader for today.

Brookside, Cambridge

It's not far from Cambridge to Ickleton, so I was expecting John to fill the time by taking us on a loop before heading to the cafe. And so it turned out, though since John had forgotten his wallet, the loop was quite a short one, to John's house to collect it, after which we rode more or less directly to our coffee stop at Ickleton Barns. That meant we were there by 10.30am, allowing us plenty of time for a relaxing and sociable breakfast. After a while a number of other members arrived: Mick, Edmind and Adrian.

Coffee at Ickleton

After coffee we re-grouped, with John S leading Tom, Eva, Alex, Edmund and me on to lunch, and everyone else returning back to Cambridge.

About to climb Coploe Hill


Our lunch stop today was the Elder Street Cafe at Debden Barns. I've only been here a couple of times before, but it's already become one of my favourite places to visit, and one of the few where the quality of the food leads some of my companions to reach for the wine list. I think this is a nice feature of our short winter rides: since we're going to be riding home afterwards we're not in a hurry and can enjoy a sociable, leisurely lunch.

Lunch at Elder Street Cafe, Debden Barns

John's "Fen Man's Dockey"

Afterwards we didn't take the shortest route home but instead turned north-east towards Radwinter and Ashdon before turning west towards Cambridge. This involved lifting our bikes over the A11 footbridge at Abington followed by an unsurfaced path across a field to Babraham.

Approaching Babraham

At Babraham we took the opportunity to try out the new cycleway through the Babraham Research Campus which opened last week. This was entirely satisfactory and brought us out on the A1307 opposite the point where the cycleway from Cambridge ends.

The new cycleway through the Babraham Research Campus


When we reached the edge of Cambridge we parted ways and I continued the short distance home, arriving there by about 4pm, having cycled a modest but pleasant 91km (56 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

9 Feb: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Brampton

Edward writes: Although it was very cold in Haslingfield, it was a cold with a really raw feeling about it, but there hadn’t been an overnight frost which relieved us of the concern of icy roads. There was only a trace of wind but it was from a very cold north east which meant it would be facing us for most of the trip to Cottenham. Today's ride would take in Cottenham for coffee and then on to Brampton for lunch with John R doing the honours from Brookside where six riders met and out in Haslingfield nine riders gathered.


After the formalities were completed we started our journey from Haslingfield to Barton and then along Barton Road into Cambridge as far as Grange Road where Averil joined us. We now took a route through Cambridge passing down Sidgewick Avenue, Silver Street, Pembroke Street, Downing Street, Parkside, Clarendon Street and Fair Street which brought us to Midsummer Common. Going through the city makes a change from our usual rural routes, but does require an extra level of vigilance.

Water Street, Chesterton

Water Street, Chesterton

Midsummer Common has had its shared cycle and footpaths widened and this is a big improvement, so congratulations to those responsible. This took us to the river which we cycled beside as far as the Green Dragon Bridge and over to the west side of the river for the four miles of riverbank riding to Waterbeach.

Slap Up junction, Waterbeach

Somewhere in the Waterbeach area we were joined by Peter W. We crossed the A10 taking us to Landbeach and soon after we arrived at the Community Centre Cafe in Cottenham shortly after 11 am. The City group were already well established and also there we found the indestructible Vic plus one or two others who had made their own way there.

By about 11.30am John led his group off but their country cousins spent a further twenty minutes in the cafe and left at 11.50 am. We were a group of eight with Simon joining us having noticed us earlier as we cycled past his residence on the river. We went from Cottenham through Rampton, Willingham and Over and down to Swavesey where we joined the busway. Yasmin left us at Swavesey while we set forth to St Ives. Yesterday it was reported that there were waxwings feeding off the berries on the busway but apparently this was further back nearer to Cambridge so we were not lucky enough to see any. When we reached St Ives we went straight through the town and joined the Thicket Path to Houghton Mill.

Ouse Meadows

We crossed over the meadows into millionaires' row in Hemingford Abbots to go down to the common and shortly after into Godmanchester. We successfully navigated our way through to Huntingdon and onto the road out to Brampton where we came to Frosts Garden Centre for lunch and once again we found those city slickers having nearly finished their meal and ready for their homeward journey. We found this a good lunch stop with a nice variety of food and their hot soup of the day was much in demand on such a cold day.

With the time at 2.20pm, and Susan and Avril still talking, we needed to get out into the cold and start our return journey which would be over twenty-five miles. We left the Garden centre on the B1514 up as far as the A1 where we were able to turn into Buckden. (Sharon and Belinda where were you?). We had to wait for three trains at Offord Cluny letting us get cold again before setting off through Offord Darcy. We made the climb up to Graveley and the temperature was still only two degrees and when the wind was in our faces it was decidedly chilly. We know two riders cycling in somewhat different weather in a country some miles east of here who may be having a laugh at our expense.

Croxton and Great Gransden came next and then Caxton and Bourn. At the Kingston turning we spilt into two groups with some heading for Cambridge and I went with Susan back to Haslingfield where the ride ended at 4.20pm and sixty miles under our belts. This was long for a winter ride but, with light available until 5pm, perfectly doable. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

8 Feb: Evening ride to Lode

Nigel writes: My companions this evening, for what will probably be our coldest evening ride this winter, were John S, Gareth and Alex. The temperature was about 1C at the start and dropped slightly as the evening progressed, but there was very little wind and as a result I felt relatively comfortable inside my four layers of clothing. Nevertheless a cold night is not a time to linger, so we rode one of our classic evening loops at a relatively brisk pace.

Our route took us out of Cambridge along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's, where we turned left onto Wort's Causeway for the climb over the Gogs to Fulbourn.

John (left) and Alex climb The Gogs, with the Biomedical Cranes behind

From Fulbourn we continued through Great and Little Wilbraham to Six Mile Bottom. Here we divided, with Alex, Gareth and me carrying on up Brinkley Hill to Cemetery Crossroads and then turning left for a loop round via Dullingham and Swaffham Bulbeck, whilst John took a short-cut via the A1304.

Alex, Gareth and I reached Swaffham Bulbeck at about 8.15pm, which allowed time for a short loop around Commercial End before arriving in Lode at 8.20pm. We stopped at "The Shed", a new pub which we first visited in December, where John was already settling comfortably into a drink.

Dinner in Lode

We all ordered food and spent a pleasant half hour before returning back home to Cambridge via Quy. I arrived home at about 9.50pm, having cycled 51km (31 miles). Nigel Deakin

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Sunday, 5 February 2017

5 Feb: Sunday afternoon ride to Waresley

Simon writes: Today was my first experience of trialling the prototype rider registration forms. An insurance requisite we're told. Waiting for me at Brookside or arriving soon after were John E, Phil M, Peter W, Matt E, Paul D and I'm very pleased to say we had a new guest rider to join the group in the shape of Andrew S.

As is my custom when heading for Barton to start a ride I favour the Granchester Bridleway, over the M11, rather than the Barton road cycle path, as being not so narrow, not so noisy and nowhere near the busy fast traffic of the A603.

Sadly this confused Stan, who, guessing roughly which way we would go, had planned to try and meet us on the Barton road and so it took him all the way to tea at Waresley Park garden centre to catch up with us. I'm sure it was still worth the effort in the end.

For my sinful neglect of the chain on the bike I developed one, if not several, sticky links and my chain kept jumping a tooth when applying pressure up hills. It had been treated to some oil for last Thursday's gruelling ride to Clavering, but had got rained on and then sat in the shed until today.

The plan had been to get to Gamlingay via the shortest route so as to be able to do a 7-mile loop through Gamlingay Cinques and Abbotsley before dropping back down the B1040 into Waresley from the North.

The group was becoming a little strung out near "Simon's Rodents" (nothing to do with me) on Tetworth Hill. As I turned my dutiful attention to shepherding riders at the rear through the turns at the road junctions, the ones at the front took the first signposted road to Waresley instead of taking Pitsdean road through Abbotsley as I had planned. This cut the loop short by a few miles but wasn't without its serendipitous rewards.

Manor Farm Road, as it becomes at the other end, is a beautiful and sheltered quiet leafy lane, the absence of traffic allowing it to become the domain of couples out for a Sunday stroll, some with dogs, some unaware that it's almost immoral to go for a Sunday walk without an appreciative puppy. The shock wave of a propane crow scarer rumbled from afar like a distant battle field gun. "There was something in the air that day, the skies were grey..." We’ll get to Waresley but where's my guitar?

The owners of a country house were landscaping a small lake in their front garden with a duck nesting box in the middle.

After the short-cut through Manor farm road we arrived in Waresley, slicing it so finely as to be within three nano-seconds of 3pm, where we met Paul D after his earlier announcement to sacrifice the loop selflessly and reserve our tea table. Simon Gallaway

Tea at Waresley Park Garden Centre

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5 Feb: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Hinxworth

Ray writes: I'm always reluctant to volunteer to lead full-day rides in the winter as you never know how the weather is going to turn out. Today it was cold, foggy, and damp and, although the fog lifted shortly after coffee, the temperature never got above 4℃. Despite the unpromising weather, I was joined at Brookside by nine riders: Alex, Mike CC, Sheila, Rupert, John J, Dimitrios, Alan, Ian B and Tom. John S was also there to make sure the new rider registration procedure went smoothly (it did!).

Setting off from Brookside (Photo: John Seton)

I had considered two routes for the day, one suggested by Rupert and Alex's route from this ride last year. I opted to follow Rupert's suggestion as it went fairly directly to coffee and afterwards included a little-used road through Sutton.

We left Cambridge via the Coton footpath and continued to Hardwick, where we turned south for Toft then took a direct route to Gamlingay via Bourn and Longstowe. We met Susan by the roadside near Bourn, and arrived at coffee to find Richard, Mike S, and Edmund already there. Adrian, who had also made his own way there, arrived shortly after us. Several riders left the group after coffee to make their way home, but we were joined by Edmund and Mike S, making our number back up to nine continuing to lunch.

Rupert's route took us south through Potton, but we ran into a closed road as we entered the town that was impassable even to cyclists. I briefly discussed the options with Alex and we agreed to go via Cockayne Hatley and Wrestlingworth instead, picking up our planned route at Eyeworth. We bypassed Ashwell on the way out, heading fairly directly to the lunch stop at Farrowby Farm. It had been a relatively short ride from coffee, so most of made do with a sandwich or panini for lunch.

After lunch we retraced our steps to Ashwell, then took a very familiar route home via Steeple Morden (where we were joined by John S, who had spent the morning repairing his bike), Litlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington. People started to leave the group to make their way home, first Mike at Meldreth, then Ian in Shepreth, and almost everyone else in Haslingfield, leaving just me and Dimitrios to ride into Cambridge down Barton road. I arrived home at 4pm after a round trip of 60 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).