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Look out for cowpats

Under a beautiful blue sky Janet, Jeremy, Lewis and three Brians set off for a 23 mile jaunt around the villages north of Cambridge. A flat ride, much of it off road and away from traffic, the only residual hazard being the occasional cowpat on Grantchester Meadow. Baits Bite Lock Pulling in for refreshment at the half way mark, we enjoyed coffee and cake at Histon Station House, before returning home via Milton and the River Cam towpath. 23 miles clockwise

Manning the pump

 A chilly November morning saw eight Spokers heading out of Shelford for a tour of the villages way out west. Barton, Comberton and Toft went by in a blur before we reached Kingston, where we stopped for a photo opportunity at the village pump. All hands to the pump Back on the bikes we turned south east, heading homewards via the Eversdens, Harlton and Haslingfield, where we pulled in for refreshment at the Mohak Café and jostled for service among a jolly crowd of builders and motorcyclists. It was good to see the place open again - seven days a week too - and doing a roaring trade. Sugar and caffeine levels restored, we made short work of the return leg to Shelford - Gordon, Hilary, Janet Jeremy, Lewis and three Brians clocking up 24 miles in all. Well done, team! 24 miles anticlockwise from Shelford

Back to Wimpole

Monday morning saw half a dozen Spokers gathering on Winners forecourt for a 27 mile outing to Wimpole and back. On the return leg we pulled up for a photo at the Orwell meridian marker 27 miles: Shelford - Newton - Thriplow - Foxton - Barrington - Orwell - Wimpole - Orwell - Shepreth - Fowlmere - Newton - Shelford

Flat tyres and waffles

An autumnal Monday morning saw our gang of eight heading out for a 24 mile loop around Cambridge, taking in Milton and Impington. Pulling in for refreshment at The Station House café in Histon, most opted for coffee and cake while Jeremy, our doughty trencherman, stoked up on waffles, bananas, cream and syrup. Back on the bikes - and having enjoyed a long run of puncture free rides - our luck finally ran out as Alan pulled up with a flat front tyre. There followed various attempts at a fix, albeit with wrong-sized inner tubes. Undaunted, and with a little help from a Cambridge bike shop, he was soon up and running again -  and pedalled off to visit his mum in Addenbrookes. The man is unstoppable! 24 miles anticlockwise: Shelford - DNA path - Cambridge Station - Riverside - Milton - Impington - Histon Station House - Girton - Eddington - Grange Rd - Grantchester - Trumpington - Shelford

A14 flyover

Bar Hill by car? There's no avoiding the A14. But Bar Hill by bike can be a very pleasant, traffic free experience - if you know where to find the local bridleways and cycleways. What's more, you can now exit Bar Hill via the gleaming new cycle bridge spanning the A14, which is ten lanes wide at this point.  High above the traffic So it was that Lewis, Alan, Hilary, Chris and two Brians explored a novel route to Oakington and Histon. And it was in Histon that we pulled in for refreshment at the Station House Café. Open these past two months, the coffee and cake were top notch and the service very good too; we shall return. The Station House, Histon Back on the bikes we followed the guided busway back to Cambridge and on to Shelford, clocking up some 25 miles in all.  Lewis, Alan, Hilary, Chris and Brian 25 miles clockwise: Shelford - Trumpington P&R - Grantchester - Coton - Madingley - Dry Drayton - Bar Hill - Oakington - Guided busway - Histon Station House - Cambridge Nor

Anglesey Abbey

A fine September morning saw Chris, Lewis, Gordon, Alan and two Brians labouring up the hill to Fulbourn, en route to Bottisham, Lode and Anglesey Abbey. Pulling in for coffee and cake at the National Trust tea room, we enjoyed the view across the Abbey Gardens before setting off on the return leg via Ditton Meadows and Cambridge Riverside. 25 miles anticlockwise: Shelford - DNA path - Worts Causeway - Fulbourn - Great Wilbraham - Little Wilbraham - Bottisham - Swaffham Bulbeck - Anglesey Abbey - Stow cum Quy - Newmarket Rd P&R - Ditton Meadows - Riverside - Cambridge Station - Shelford

Monday in Milton

 Alan, Lewis, Gordon and two Brian's - Yorkie and Brummie - set off for Grantchester, Cambridge and Milton, where we pulled in for coffee and cake at the café in the country park.  Refreshed, we made the return leg to Cambridge via the towpath along the river, clocking up 22 miles as we returned to Shelford.  22 miles clockwise: Shelford - Hauxton - Trumpington Meadows - Grantchester - Grange Rd - Garret Hostel Bridge - Market Square - Jesus Green - Chesterton Church - Cambridge North - Milton Country Park - Riverside - Cambridge Station - DNA path - Shelford 

Ouch!

Ten miles into our Monday outing, Gordon - poor chap - was stung on the face by a wasp. Stout fellow that he is, he pedalled on and, by the time we pulled in for coffee at El Cafecito, he had quite recovered his composure. Otherwise, it was a pleasant ride and we clocked up some 25 miles zigzagging our way around the nearby villages. For the record, the turnout was: Alan, Chris, Jeremy, Brummie Brian, and poor old Gordon - who took it on the chin (or more precisely, the cheek). A 25 mile, back and forth route taking in Whittlesford, Newton, Thriplow, Fowlmere, Foxton, Fowlmere, Chrisall Grange, Duxford, Whittlesford and Sawston

Dodging the showers

The forecast was for heavy showers, but we thought we'd take our chances; Alan, Gordon, Jenny, Jeremy and Brian, hoping for the best but dressing for the worst. The gamble paid off; it did rain - but only while we were safely inside the café at Burwash Manor. And judging by the flooded roads we encountered in Harston it must have been quite a downpour. Miraculously, we stayed dry, despite tempting fate by stopping for a picture in Haslingfield churchyard. The graveyard shift: Brian, Jeremy, Gordon and Jenny at All Saints, Haslingfield. Note the sunshine! 25 miles clockwise: Shelford - Newton - Harston - Haslingfield - Harlton - Eversden - Kingston - Toft - Hardwick - Comberton - Barton - Haslingfield - Harston - Hauxton - Shelford

Wildlife photography

Chris, Gordon, Jeremy, Lewis and two Brian's set off on a sunny August Monday, destination Willingham and the excellent café there at the auction rooms. Along the way, Jeremy managed to creep up on - and photograph - a heron at close range, quite a feat in hi-viz lycra. We speculated it might be one of those plastic herons you can buy in garden centres but - as you will see below - it was real enough. Ardea cinerea, the g rey heron to you and me, fishing in the Cam 31 miles clockwise: Shelford - Trumpington - Grantchester - Grange Rd - Eddington - Girton - Oakington - Longstanton - Willingham - Rampton - guided busway - Chesterton - Riverside - Cambridge Station - busway - Shelford

Head for the hills

With an all male turnout - six mature, grizzled types - Monday's ride scored none too highly on diversity and inclusion. Pausing for a breather atop Coploe Hill Moreover, compared with recent outings, this one was hot and hilly. Labouring our way up to Littlebury Green, much puffing and panting, not to mention the odd oath, was heard from the rear of the peloton. And there was little in the way of refreshment for the first 20 miles, so it was with relief that our gang of six - some of them looking distinctly pink - pulled in at Duxford Community Centre for coffee and cake. Refreshed and revived, we made short work of the return leg - thankfully just 5 miles - to Shelford. Brian promises a flatter ride next week. 25 miles clockwise from Shelford: Newton - Fowlmere - Chrishall Grange - Elmdon - Littlebury Green - Ickleton - Duxford - Whittlesford - Shelford

The morning after . . .

After a heavy night watching England go down to Italy on penalties, it was good to put the weekend behind us and get the wind in our hair, riding out to Ickleton and making the long climb up to Elmdon. Cruising back down towards Fowlmere was a delight, all the more so as we called in at El Cafecito for coffee and cake. For the record, Monday's peloton comprised Alan, Jenny, Jeremy, Hilary, Lewis and two Brians - and we clocked up a respectable 24 miles. 24 miles clockwise: Shelford - Whittlesford - Duxford - Hinxton - Ickleton - Elmdon - Chrishall Grange - Fowlmere - El Cafecito - Thriplow - Newton - Shelford

A sourdough outing

Realising we were passing the posh bakery, quick as a flash, Hilary was off the bike and into the shop, emerging moments later with an artisinal sourdough. "That's my lunch sorted," she said, popping it in her voluminous saddle bag. Six of us - Alan, Hilary, Jenny, Lewis and two Brians - were passing through Eddington, mid-way to Girton on our regular Monday morning jaunt. The Eddington architecture - Cambridge University's new development - isn't to everyone's taste, but the area around the lake is very pleasant, dotted as it is with some interesting artwork installations, including the reflective Pixel Wall .  Pausing for reflection at the Pixel Wall, Eddington Heading back to Cambridge along the cycleway from Girton, we had planned to stop on the riverside at Kerb Kollective - but alas it was closed. (Subsequent enquiries reveal it's being refurbished and will re-open). So instead we carried on to Mill Road where we pulled in at Hot Numbers. Sitting out

A good soaking

The photos are misleading; sunny skies over Elmdon gave way to blustery squalls at Duxford, so blustery indeed that the tables outside Café 19 were upended and the parasols blown away. Brian H made a dash for home while the rest of us sheltered under the eaves of the Community Centre. Ultimately there was no avoiding a soaking and we all arrived home looking like drowned rats. We are truly an all weather club! Admiring the view near Elmdon Before the deluge

Old Butchers

It's quite a workout, hauling the bikes up and over the A11 footbridge. Eight hardy cyclists - Chris, Janet, Paul, Alan, Jenny, Lewis, Brian and Brian - were on their way to Balsham and some much anticipated refreshment at the Old Butchers Coffee Shop. As if the bridge wasn't enough, there's the long climb up the hill to Balsham itself. Taking our life in our hands crossing the A1307 Excellent coffee and cake at The Old Butchers Four more old butchers Refreshed, we returned to Shelford via Linton, Hildersham, Pampisford and Sawston, having clocked up a respectable 24 miles.

Windy at Wimpole

Given the ongoing traffic chaos in Great Shelford - a ruptured water main having led to the closure of Tunwells Lane - Brian took the decision to start Monday's outing well away from the trouble, at Winners in Little Shelford. But somehow that message didn't get through to Brian H who ended up touring the village looking for his pals. No worries; a phone call later, we were reunited and ready to roll. Coffee stop at Wimpole stables Another no-hills route saw us visit Newton, Thriplow, Foxton, Barrington and Orwell before pulling in at Wimpole for refreshment at the Stables Café. Sipping our drinks, we lamented Cambridge United's inability to seal promotion; all hopes are now pinned on their final game. The return leg, via Shepreth and Fowlmere - and against a buffeting headwind - saw us return to Shelford just before midday, having clocked up a total of 28 miles.

Back to Madingley

It's been a while - not to mention a lockdown - since we last visted Madingley Hall. Monday morning saw us revisiting the place for coffee and cake, mid way round our 24 mile circuit taking in Newton, Haslingfield, Comberton and Grantchester. Lewis, Brian C, Brian H, Janet, Jenny and Alan at Madingley Hall 24 miles clockwise

Let it snow

The morning may have been chilly, just 3°C with snow flurries and a stiff wind but, being an all-season club, that was no reason to forgo Monday's outing. Admittedly, there were only three riders, but they came from hardy Irish and Yorkshire stock and were all called Brian. Brian, Brian and Brian - note the snow It was a repeat of last week's ride only this time we took our refreshments at El Cafecito, just outside Fowlmere. Last time Brian C visited the place, he somehow managed to fall off his bike right outside the front door, though thankfully hurting nothing except his pride. This time there were no such high jinks and we enjoyed some excellent coffee, albeit on an exposed picnic bench, huddled against the wind. Otherwise, we clocked up 24 miles on a ride notable for wildlife (hares, buzzards and red kites), daffodils (still showing well in Thriplow) and self denial (Brian H turned down a sausage roll!)

Thriplow Daffs

After a seemingly endless lockdown it felt good to finally get out with the gang on this, our first club ride for three and a half months. There was much catching up to do and, with everyone nattering away, Brian somehow managed to lose the peloton at Whittlesford. A phone call later and we all caught up with each other again down the road at Newton. The daffodil display at Thriplow was spectacular and enjoyed all the better as we had the roads virtually to ourselves. Along the way, we chanced upon Jeremy and a pal on an off-road expedition, though they looked far too clean to have done much off-roading. Then it was on to Foxton, Barrington, Shepreth and Frog End, where we pulled in at Hot Numbers for coffee and and a sugar fix, Eccles cake seeming to win the popular vote. For the record the team roster was: Janet, Paul, Jenny, Alan, Lewis and two Brians - and we clocked up a very respectable 24 miles

A year ago today . . .

 This day last year Jenny, Hilary, Lewis and Brian turned out for Shelford Spokes' inaugural outing. You can read all about it here . Since then - and despite three lockdowns - we have grown to a dozen or so regulars, enjoyed 22 outings, clocked up 500-ish miles, downed at least 150 coffees, and necked something like 100 cakes - plus a sausage roll or two for Brian H. We will get going again soon; fingers crossed for a return of group rides - albeit Rule of Six style - at the end of the month.