The Cambridge Spring Dash 100 calendar event Enter this event »

9am, Saturday 17 March 2018, from the Recreation Pavilion, Girton, Cambridge (next to the church).

111km, 12.5 to 30kph (3h24m to 8h10m).  900m of climbing.

Early spring is one of the most exciting times to ride a bike — everything's just beginning to bounce back into life and there's earnestness in the air for the business of living to get underway again.  No matter the excuse, it feels so good be back on the bike after the winter!

Spring in Barley (aptly named)    Audley End House   

Spring is a lovely time of year — barley in Barley and Audley End House (May 2015)

A few months of winter, our legs have atrophied and distances seem far greater than they did at the end of summer.  100km is a long way, but only if you're unused to the distance — it's only just over 60 miles.  If you're looking for an easy first audax, or if you're not ready for a 200, or if you prefer to think of it as an organised Saturday Club Run, or if you simply don't have time to ride the full Pork Pie, then this is the ride for you: a fun route of three parts, easy navigation, great scenery, two pubs, cake at the finish, what's not to like?!

Also, this route is fixed-friendly: the climbs are gradual and easily rideable on 72-inches — it's an ideal test event if you're looking to try riding fixed-gear over longer distances.

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

The route

Starting from Girton on the northern edge of Cambridge the ride heads south on quiet C roads to Duxford and Ickleton, where it starts to climb the Chilterns-chalk hill to Elmdon.  Some elevated fun across the ridgeline past the highest points in both Cambridge (Great Chishill) and Essex (Chishill Common) before joining the main road through Barkway to the Tally Ho pub for coffee and breakfast.

Map of the route 

The route then heads into the lanes to go cross-country via classic cycling territory thru picturesque country villages to the beautiful National Trust house at Audley End and into the historic centre of Saffron Walden, where there's the opportunity to stop for coffee at Bicicletta café con velo — they know you may be stopping by.

The route continues with a few lumps and bumps — nothing that should worry any but the pure-bred flatlander, and even then nothing that should need to be walked — through big-skies territory and some interesting quick descents on minor B-roads and lanes to Bradman's public house at Withersfield — recently renamed after a famous cricketer, whose family once owned it, but locals still know it as The White Horse Inn

The final leg heads up-and-over to Balsham thru more wide, rolling fields to a long, gentle 8km descent to Fulbourn and back through Cambridge city centre to the arrivée in Girton where there will be tea and cake of the homemade variety (included in the entry price).

The roads are likely to be clear most of the way, however mudguards are still recommended in heavy weather for the benefit of our friendly pubs and their clientèle, as well as other riders.

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Important notes

  • The route can be damp in places and therefore mudguards are recommended for the benefit of café proprietors and other riders – and us cleaning up the pavilion afterwards.
  • There are some steep-ish descents — you should check that your brakes are in good working order before starting.
  • This is an x-rated event — you must get two proofs-of-passage – receipts or stamp-marks – from the Tally Ho and Bradman's public houses.  If using a stamp, please mark your time on the brevet, too.
  • 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, Cambridge CB3 0FH, next to the church.

The event starts from the Recreation Pavilion in Girton, where we'll provide tea and biscuits before you set off.  We'll open up from about 7.15am for The Pork Pie-ers and remain open until The Spring Dashers have left.  There are toilets and changing facilities.  There is a large, free car park, although hopefully you'll be cycling to the start.

The first control is The Tally Ho pub in Barkway where you'll be greeted with the possibility of one of the best coffees I've tasted outside Italy — so good I recommended it on TripAdvisor!  The Tally Ho opens for breakfast and they stock croissants and pastries for hungry cyclists on-the-go or a full breakfast menu.  The Spring Dash is two days after St Patrick's Day: I've been told their decorations will still be up and they may even have a proper Irish band in residence for the weekend, so this could be a proper party stop!

There is an unfortunate but necessary info control just 6km after The Tally Ho — answer the question on the brevet — you will need to slow down to spot it, but you shouldn't need to dismount.  Please write the answer on your brevet.

The second control is The White Horse Inn in Withersfield near Haverhill.  Recently returned to its former glory as a well-established and much-loved country pub (it was briefly renamed Bradman's), this traditional hostelry serves fine beers and has a good lunchtime menu and they're looking forward to meeting you.  You will probably arrive around 1pm, perfect timing for some chips or a sandwich, or something more substantial.

Note due to another change of ownership, we aren't yet sure if the new owners of Bradman's / The White Horse Inn will let us use them as a control — they may not even be up-and-running by then.  If not then we'll run a boot-of-the-car control just outside the pub and there are plenty more pubs in Balsham, a few kilometres further on should you need refreshment.

There will be a manned arrivée, but the rest of the event is x-rated and you'll have to get proofs-of-passage — receipts or stamp-marks — at both pubs, or nearby establishments (of which there are few).  There will be ink-stamps at both pubs to avoid requesting a receipt — please mark your time next to the stamp-mark on your brevet.

Toilets are available at the start/finish and opposite Bicicletta in Saffron Walden (these are somewhat posh for public loos!).

The routesheet and GPS files

The routesheet and GPS files were checked on 4 February 2017.  No changes to report, except minor sign updates, and the relocation of the info control.

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 10 March 2016)

The GPS files were exported from this page on RideWithGPS.

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:  (updated 10 March 2016)

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.  We hope that the Parish Council will allow us to use the football field at the back of the recreation ground for parking, depending on the state of the ground — one of the helpers will guide you in.  I expect we will again be asked to keep the front car park clear for visitors to the recreation ground while you're all away cycling.  Wherever you park, please park considerately.

Due to the large numbers of entrants, if you could ride to the start instead of driving, or park outside the village and ride in, that would be an enormous help!

Refreshments

Light refreshments will be available before the start from about 8am.  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 two stamp marks or receipts and one info-question answer.  Please remember to sign your brevet before handing it in!

Have a great, safe ride!  Enter this event »