The Cambridge Autumnal 100 calendar event Enter this ride
9am, Saturday 21 October 2017, from the Recreation Pavilion, Girton, Cambridge (next to the church).
100km, 12.5 to 30kph (3h34m to 8h34m). 800m of climbing.
The new Audax UK season starts on 1 October, so if you're looking to keep fit over winter, or to start on the path to something a bit longer, and if 200km isn't yet your thing, this 100km event is an ideal taster to get you started — taking in fast TT-style main roads, with the smoothest tarmac in the country to narrow lanes with grass down the middle; back roads through forgotten villages and city centre streets in Cambridge, this route has it all.
This is the second running of a new route around the meeting point of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex, climbing up onto the chalk hill range to the south of Cambridge and dancing gently through the valleys cut through by streams and brooks. The scenery in October will be one vista after another of autumn at its finest — open fields, freshly ploughed and ready for over-wintering, interspersed with mature broad-leaf woodlands golden and shedding all around. Just beware leaf litter on the road if it's damp on the day.
The route takes in a big loop via Great Thurlow, then to Thaxted; over the top through Debden to Saffron Walden for a bite to eat at the cyclist-friendly Bicicletta coffee con velo café-cum-bike-shop; and finally, after a couple of decent-sized climbs and an info control in Balsham, a long, 8km descent off the chalk ridge down to Fulbourn on the Cambridge plain.
This is the perfect opportunity to give your winter steed a decent warm-up ride on what's a straigthtforward route with several decent opportunities to stop on the way. The lower minimum speed means you have 8 hours 34 minutes to complete the ride, so you would have to try really hard not to make it around in time!
This will be a glorious ride, not too challenging, but still hard enough to bring a grin to your face. We'll be riding it on fixed-gear, our preferred all-year-round mount.
Cambridge is 50 minutes from London by train and most East Anglia rail services also pass this way. Girton is also very accessible by car. There will be cake at the finish.
Who knows — it might even be sunny!
The route follows a mix of good, fast-rolling A roads, several quiet B roads, the rest comprised of very quiet lanes out at the far end of the course. The route passes through many traditional-build villages dotting the landscape, harking back to a simpler time.
The route heads east towards Newmarket before taking a south-easterly turn and rising up onto the chalk hills via the Six Mile Bottom climb. From there it's a gently rolling route to the first control at Great Thurlow. We'll be stamping cards at the first control, because the Post Office has since closed its doors (a few weeks before last year's event). Say 'hi!' to Alex as he stamps you through.
A dog-leg takes the route around Haverhill rather than through it and then it gets very laney for 30km or so before dropping into Thaxted, an Essex town of great historical importance. A garage or Post-Office stop, or altenatively any one of several pubs should be open, and there are at least two cafés we can think of.
Then it's the back road to Saffron Walden via the old villages of Debden Green and Debden, and entering Walden via the suburb of Pleasant Valley. Saffron Walden was built on the back of the trade in the saffron spice, which is still the most expensive spice by weight (closely followed by vanilla, believe it or not). The recommended control establishment is Bicicletta cyclists café, who are expecting you, but this is a free control and there are plenty of other cafés, shops and ATMs in Saffron Walden.
The final leg takes you up and over two significant climbs (for this area), first up and over to Linton and then up and over to Balsham for the ride's only information control. There follows a gentle-but-fast downhill off the chalk massif and back to Fulbourn and then Cambridge — always a crowd-pleaser and enjoyable to ride. The return through Cambridge either has half-decent cycle lanes the entire way from Cherry Hinton to Girton, or is 20MPH speed limit, so it may be busy, but it's also safe and surprisingly quick and easy. Just beware the tourists in the city centre itself — they really aren't expecting quick cyclists bearing down on them!
Start and finish at the Recreation Pavilion in Girton next to St Andrew’s Anglican church on Cambridge Road, CB3 0FH, 3km northwest of Cambridge city centre.
There is one manned control and two commercial 'free' controls; you must get a suitable proof-of-passage (receipt or stamp) from a shop/café/pub/ATM at all three:
Great Thurlow, Suffolk — There used to be a Post Office and shop, but it has gone, so we will be stamping cards at the bus stop just beyond the old Post Office.
Thaxted, Essex — There is a Post Office and shop, several pubs, a couple of cafés.
Saffron Walden, Essex — The recommended control is the cyclist-friendly Bicicletta, who are expecting you, but you are free to choose anywhere else in Walden, and there's plenty to choose from.
Finally, there is one information control at the T-junction in Balsham. You should be able to remember the answer if you don't have a pen with you, the question won't be hard!
Toilets are available at the start/finish and behind the many hedges along the route. There is a public toilet in Walden opposite Bicicletta.
The routesheet and GPS files
NOTE These are the latest update to the routesheet and GPS files, as of 12 October 2017.
There are two versions of the routesheet, depending on what you want: one has distances between instructions and holds your hand; the other contains just the turn-by-turn instructions with only as many distances as necessary for navigation and planning, as preferred by old-school audaxers: (updated 12 October 2017)
There are several versions of the GPS files, depending on your device and preference: TCX files provide turn-by-turn in Garmin Edge devices; GPX files provide a track to follow on-screen on all devices, although older devices need tracks with fewer than 500 points. They're all here, although you only need to download one.
IMPORTANT — this is a clockwise route and the GPS files give the entire route in a single file — pink-line followers need to make sure they keep to the correct route when riding out through Cambridge — just keep straight ahead and follow the bunch. (updated 12 October 2017)
- Download the GPX track for all newer devices
- Download the 500-point GPX track for older devices
- Download the TCX course for Garmin Edge and new devices
Getting to the start
Hopefully you live close enough to cycle to the start — it would really help us if you didn't need parking, as there's a local football match on the same day!
Cambridge is well-served by train and you should be able to catch an early train from King's Cross or Liverpool Street stations, London, and arrive in plenty of time for the start — if you think you'll be a few minutes late to the start then please let us know on 07500 787785 and we'll wait for you. It’s an easy 7km ride from the station to the start through the historic centre of Cambridge — routesheet | GPX | TCX — if you use these instructions, continue past the Co-op to the start on RHS in 1km next to the church. You should allow about 25-30 minutes to ride from the station to the start.
We have been asked to keep the front car park clear for a local football match and for visitors to the recreation ground while you're all away cycling and we won't know until closer to the date whether the back field will be dry enough to park on (as used on the Pork Pie in March.). Wherever you park, please park considerately.
Light refreshments will be available before the start from about 8am, after the 200km ride has departed. There will be hot’n’cold refreshments and cake at the finish, included in the entry fee.
The arrivée will be manned, so we will collect your brevet from you on completion, along with three proofs-of-passage and the answer to the info. Please remember to fill in the boxes with establishment name and time, and sign your brevet before handing it in with your PoPs!
Have a great, safe ride! Enter this ride