The Cambridge Pork Pie 200 calendar event 2018

8am, Saturday 17 March 2018, from the Recreation Pavilion, Girton, Cambridge (next to the church).

215km, 15 to 30kph (6h48m to 13h32m).  1900m of climbing.

This event has taken place.  A brief report and photos are available here.

IMPORTANT — the rides are going ahead in spite of the weather warning.  I have emailed all riders, but if you didn't receive it then read it here.

We love a good pork pie!  Melton Mowbray is synonymous with that tasty, pastry-covered block of jelly-enshrined meat!  Nom-nom!  Wikipedia suggests that Melton Mowbray promotes itself as the Rural Capital of Food and that it is also one of the five homes of Stilton cheese.  This all adds up to a very good reason to go there: food.

Pork Pie    Pork Pie   

I like the look of this, bringing pies to the people, almost like a British version of the Beaujolais run but with pork pies! I think I could be in.

— Paul, January 2016

This is a surprisingly hilly — and fun! — route for one starting from Cambridge: made more fun because most of the hills are concentrated at the far end.  However, a flat and quick run-out for the first leg, and a mostly flat and quick run back in again on the final leg mean that you should easily make back any time you lose climbing les Alpes de Leicestershire.

The end goal 

The destination of this ride — Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton Mowbray

This event takes place in mid-March, so expect a bit of weather en route — and pray for a north-westerly to blow you back home after all that winching!

You pass through a number of small towns on this route and there are one or two well-placed village shops as well, if you need to rest, although don't dilly-dally on the way out if you want to beat the cut-offs!  And, of course, your taste buds can be tempted with treats in The Rural Capital of Food

We've posted a report from our side from a previous year here (clickety).


The route

This year's event is once again just a single control at Melton Mowbray — it is up to individual riders to decide for themselves whether they wish to push on thru without stopping in a single 105km stage, or instead to stop for a break in Oundle or Oakham on the way out, and in Oundle, Huntingdon or St Ives on the return leg.  You are never that far from sustenance, but it's up to you to decide when you need to stop.

Starting from Girton on the northern edge of Cambridge, this ride heads north-west to St Ives and onwards, flirting with the fens and providing a very fast run-out to the most historic Northamptonshire town of Oundle, famous for its centuries-old school, as well as the one-time home of Billy Bragg.  (Note: Oundle is not a control this year — you are welcome to stop for a cup of tea, but you don't have to if you're feeling strong.)  From Oundle, the route climbs steadily before dropping down into Melton Mowbray, where you can sample some really great food (there's also a MacDonald's and a Gregg's should you wish).

The return leg takes a distinctly scenic route out of Melton Mowbray and the 60km to Oundle will likely challenge flatlanders (although not uplanders), which is good and character-building.  The upside is that the run from Oundle back to Cambridge is very flat and any time you lost in the hills you should easily gain on the flat — the final 50km has only two hills, they're really only bumps, and the very final 30km is pan-flat and lit with fairy lights along the Busway — just look at the elevation profile above.

This is definitely a route of two halves.  Flattish to Oundle and back, with hills between Oundle and Melton Mowbray … All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable ride with much fine scenery, mostly very quiet roads, and challenging but not punishing hills.  I'd give it a 10/10.

— Steve, April 2015

The route passes through traditional sandstone villages in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Leicestershire, as well as the ancient market towns of St Ives, Huntingdon, Oundle, Oakham, and Melton Mowbray.  If you are lucky you will see lots of red kites and other hawks flying overhead — when we tested this route we saw dozens of individual raptors a-wing, a real pleasure!

Tom climbing yet another hill on the way to Melton Mowbray 

All in all a great route that has the makings of a tough, early-season classic  :thumbsup:

— Tom, March 2016

Also, for those who like a bit of an extra challenge, or who rode it last year and would like to try something else, then there is an alternative and rather scenic route available — the “Extra Slice”.  This route includes even more hills and is borderline AAA, at the cost of an additional 10km, so 225km in all, but no extra time allowed.  If you're a Flatlander like me then the Classic (this page) is probably hard enough for March!  This year, the Extra route is leftwards and so you'll see the scenery from the other side compared to last year.

The route was last ridden (as a perm) in February 2018, with nothing to report.  From experience, this route can get somewhat agricultural in places, although last year's farm-yard conditions aren't present this year, phew!  Mudguards are requested for the benefit of café proprietors and other riders.

Important notes

  • The route can be agricultural in places and therefore mudguards are requested for the benefit of café proprietors and other riders — and us cleaning up the pavilion afterwards.
  • There are some steep descents — you should definitely check that your brakes are in good working order before starting.
  • This is an x-rated event — you must get just one proof-of-passage – a receipt – from a commercial establishment in Melton Mowbray, of which there are plenty.  Please check that the time and date on the receipt is correct and that the place name (Melton Mowbray) is clearly shown (note that we are familiar with Greggs' receipts for Melton)
  • You are on a private excursion on public roads.  The given route is advisory.
  • You should carry a lock to secure your bike at the controls.

The controls

Start and finish at the Recreation Pavilion in Girton next to St Andrew’s Anglican church on Cambridge Road, CB3 0FH, 2km northwest of Cambridge city centre.

There is just one commercial control:

Melton Mowbray — Lots of cafés — Gracies, More Coffee Co, Café 54A recommended — pubs, Greggs, McDonalds, Wetherspoon, banks (ATMs), and of course Dickinson & Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe on High Street (walk through the market, it’s on the RHS opp Santander).

Toilets are available at the start/finish and in Oundle and Melton Mowbray, or behind the many hedges along the route.


The routesheet and GPS files

We rode the route to check the route, routesheet and GPS files on 4 March 2017, and it has been ridden many times on the permanent event, and we checked parts on .  There are no major issues with the route, one or two minor signage changes that's all.  You can use either last year's or this year's routesheet and GPS files

Note that if you're looking for the extra-slice route details then see this page — if you don't know what that is, it's probably not for you!

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 5 March 2017)

There are two versions of the GPS files, depending on your device: the standard GPX files will work with all modern devices; the 500-point GPX files are required for eTrex and similar legacy devices.  You need to download only one, unzip the two GPX files and install BOTH GPX files to your device.  NOTE you need both GPS files from whichever ZIP file you download from below — one gives the route from Girton to Melton Mowbray, and one back to Girton.  (updated 5 March 2017)

You can browse the route and view the elevation profiles on RideWithGPS here


Getting to the start

Hopefully you live close enough to cycle to the start. 

Cambridge is well-served by train and you should be able to catch the 06.44 from King's Cross, London, and arrive just about in time for the start — don’t worry if you’re a few minutes late to the start, we will still be there for the start of the 100km event.  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.

If you intend to drive, aim for St Andrews Church on Cambridge Road, CB3 0FH.  The Parish Council has let us use Ten Acre Field for parking once again.  We have been asked to keep the front car park clear during the day as this is a active and busy Rec on Saturdays, so you will be directed to the field by a volunteer.  Wherever you park, please park considerately.

Due to the large numbers of entrants, if you could ride to the start instead of driving, that would be an great help!

Refreshments

Light refreshments will be available before the start from about 7am.  There will be hot’n’cold refreshments and cake at the finish.  All refreshments at the start/finish are included in the entry fee.

On completion

The arrivée will be manned, so we will collect your brevet from you on completion, along with the single proof-of-passage from Melton Mowbray.  Please remember to fill out the box with establishment name and time, and sign your brevet before handing it in with your PoPs!

Have a great, safe ride!