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Our Place in Space

Monday's ride took us on a 22 mile jaunt around the solar system.  Stretching from Midsummer Common along the River Cam to Waterbeach, the Our Place in Space trail features scale models of the sun and planets recreated as art sculptures – an arch housing each planet with its name on an illuminated sign above. A blue planet on a very brown Midsummer Common Preparing for take off Brian showed some reluctance to leave his home planet Jane & Jim visiting Mars Chris at Neptune . . . . . . and Pluto 22 miles with a coffee stop at Waterbeach
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A trip to Saturn

Sometimes we end up farther from home than expected. The return leg of Monday's outing to Oakington took us past Saturn where, naturally, we stopped for a photograph. Jeremy, Hilary, Alan and Brian; way out in the solar system It was one of the installations along the  Our Place in Space  art trail that's currently visiting Cambridge. Stretching some five miles along the river from Midsummer Common to Waterbeach, it provides some perspective on our little bit of the cosmos. Saturn as viewed from the Chisholm Bridge Back on earth we clocked up 24 miles and enjoyed coffee and cake at the Station House, Histon. Maybe next week we'll tour the whole solar system. 24 miles (plus a space warp)

Ely by train

There was some consternation at Cambridge Station when the guard said he would only take six bikes. He already had two on board and our lot would bring his total to eight. Oo-er! But Jeremy's gifts of persuasion worked a treat and we were soon on our way to Ely, albeit with a warning not to test the guard's patience again. Our lesson for next time is to catch the more capacious London to Ely train rather than the smaller, more restrictive Cambridge to Ely. Lewis and Hilary - with Ely Cathedral in the background Disembarking at Ely we took to the bikes and turned southwards on Sustrans Route 11 which would take us all the way back to Cambridge, mostly on farm tracks and quiet roads. It may only take sixteen minutes by train but you can imagine it takes a bit longer on two wheels, especially when you haves to hump the bikes up and over the occasional fenland footbridge; but at least it's flat. Pausing for a breather at Burwell Lode Along the way we stopped off at Wicken Fen f

An amphibious outing

Why bother with the bridge when there's a perfectly good ford? So wondered Jeremy and Tom as, to prove the point, they pedalled across the stream not once, but three times while the rest of us looked on from the bridge. Given the heatwave, Monday's ride was short - just seven miles - and really just an excuse to visit the superb new café at Stapleford Granary. A shady spot at The Granary Stapleford - Sawston - Babraham - Stapleford: a short, hot ride of 7 miles

Sculpture trail

Five miles into Monday's ride and Lewis, Jeremy, Tom, Philippe and two Brians were contemplating the new sculpture outside Cambridge Station. Ariadne Wrapped  was unveiled only last week by sculptor Gavin Turk and his pal, Al Weiwei, as  an exploration of a classical figure that invites the audience inside a larger metaphysical maze . Well, quite. Ariadne Wrapped Perplexed, we continued on to the river and followed the towpath to Milton where, over coffee at the country park café, we quizzed Philippe about living in Reunion - and Tom revealed he had visited the Indian Ocean island not once but five times, to compete in the scary sounding  Megavalanche  race down the mountainside. Paddleboarders at Milton Country Park Back on the bikes we headed for Cambridge North Station and our second art installation of the day, Hercules Meets Galatea . Less challenging than Ariadne Unwrapped, Galatea's poise and digital production imply power and perfection over Hercules' somewhat shaki

Madingley Hall

Ten miles in to a twenty three mile outing and it was high time to pull in for refreshment. And there's nowhere more attractive to sip coffee, munch cake and generally put the world to rights than the terrace at Madingley Hall. Its only drawback, magnificent place though it is, it can take the hard-pressed staff half an hour to serve eight coffees. The terrace at Madingley Hall The conversation over coffee was wide ranging: Trollope v Dickens, favourite poets*, and was Better Call Saul the best thing ever on Netflix? Refreshed and back in the saddle, we made the return leg to Shelford via Comberton, Harlton and Haslingfield. For the record our peloton comprised: Ann, Lewis, Janet, Jenny, Jeremy, Hilary and two Brians. 23 miles anticlockwise from Shelford to Hauxton, Trumpington Meadow, Grantchester, Coton, Madingley, Comberton, Harlton, Haslingfield, Harston and Newton. *Checkout one of Lewis' favourite poems,  The Sunlight on the Garden, by Louis MacNiece

Biking botany

Needing very little excuse to pause while puffing our way up a hill, this time it was Paul's yell of "Knapweed broomrape!" that brought us to a standstill on the - admittedly very gentle - ascent between Shelford and Newton. Dismounting, we gathered around as Paul pointed to a brown spikey plant on the vergeside, explaining that it was a parasitic wildflower. Containing no chlorophyll, it steals its nutrients from the Greater Knapweed host, without which it cannot survive. Fairly common in the dry, calcareous areas near Cambridge, it's often found in road verges, quarries and railways. Knapweed broomrape Hilary, Jeremy, Lewis, Paul and Brian had set out earlier on a 23 mile circuit taking in  Newton, Thriplow, Fowlmere, Chrishall Grange, Elmdon, Ickleton, Duxford and Whittlesford. The outing also saw us try out a new coffee stop, Duxford Lodge. Very keen to encourage the cycling trade, they even promised us free cake on our next visit. We shall definitely return ther

Wheeling to Willingham

 A sunny bank holiday Monday saw Alan, Lewis and two Brian's setting off on a 30 mile loop to Willingham and back. Crossing the Cam on the Chisholm Trail bridge Shelford - Trumpington - Grantchester - Grange Rd - Eddington - Girton - Oakington - Longstanton - Willingham - Rampton - Guided busway - Cambridge North - Chisholm Trail - Cambridge Station - Shelford

Take to the hills

There is no easy way to approach Elmdon. Eight miles south of Shelford and just over the Essex border, it's a stiff climb whichever way we go. Wikipedia sums it up nicely, ' t he hilly topography of the area differentiates it from countryside to the north, which is predominantly  fenland  and flat '. Brian and Alan, wobbling and panting their way to the top . . . . . . but it's worth it for the view Freewheeling back down the hill, we stopped off at El Cafecito for coffee and cake before returning via Thriplow, where the daffodils were still much in evidence. For the record, Alan, Chris, Hilary and two Brians - Yorkie and Brummie - made it to the summit and back, clocking up 23 miles along the way. Well done, team! 23 miles anticlockwise from Shelford

Anyone for golf?

Monday morning saw nine riders head off from Winners for a 25 mile tour of the villages south and west of Shelford, visiting Harston, Haslingfield, Barrington, Shepreth, Meldreth, Melbourn, Fowlmere, Duxford and Whittlesford. Five miles in and groans were distinctly heard from the rear of the peloton as we ascended Chapel Hill - but the reward was coffee and cake at Kingsway Golf Centre. 25 miles anticlockwise For the record the turnout was: Alan, Hilary, Jenny, Jeremy, Paul and all three Brians.