This article was published in 2019, in Magazine 143.
In the UK’s cycling capital, there’s no need to ride alone! The city and surrounding area are full of cycling clubs and groups to get involved in. We asked local group organisers to tell us more…
CTC Cambridge (part of Cycling UK)
CTC Cambridge is the local group of Cycling UK, the national cycling charity founded as the Cyclists’ Touring Club 140 years ago. We have around 1,300 members in Cambridgeshire. Our main activity is a programme of social and touring rides of varying lengths that take place throughout the year, on Wednesday evenings, Thursdays and at weekends. These range from short social rides of 20-30 miles to longer all-day rides of up to 90 miles in the summer months.
There’s a joke that CTC stands for ‘Cake to Cake’, and refreshment stops are an important part of our rides! Most of our rides start in or near to Cambridge, though we have occasional car- or train-assisted rides so we can explore other areas. You don’t have to be fit or fast or have a fancy bike to ride with us, and our active members range from 5 to 91 years of age. The social nature of the rides is important – we always ride as a group, with a designated leader who takes care of route-finding, and we never leave people behind!
As part of Cycling UK, we also get involved in their national activities and campaigns, such as Close Pass and Space for Cycling. Members also get involved in local cycle campaigning such as the A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign. Several of our members are also members of Camcycle so we collaborate on cycle campaigning issues, as appropriate.
So, if you are a Camcycle member and want to explore some of the wonderful countryside around Cambridge, we hope you will try a few of our rides. Camcycle is an affiliated member of Cycling UK, so Camcycle members can join Cycling UK at a reduced rate.
Burwell Bike Club
Apply to join via Burwell Bike Club Facebook or Strava pages
Burwell Bike Club is a social cycling club, not a racing cycling club. It is relatively new, started in March 2018 by Paul Webb and John Smith, both Burwell residents who wanted to encourage cycling as a group in the village. From a standing start we now have around 220 members and cycle all year round, through rain, wind and shine – as long as it’s safe to do so.
We have a regular Sunday Social Ride, currently leaving The Anchor pub at 9am – generally two routes: a shorter route of around 20/25 miles and a longer route of around 30/35 miles. We always have a coffee/cake stop and over the last 12 months have tried all that the local area has to offer! Both routes have two ride leaders, one at the front and one at the back to ensure no one is left behind.
Prior to the Sunday Social we have a ride entitled ‘The Gallops’. This is aimed at faster riders, starting at 7.15am with an average speed of 18-20mph and is always back in time for the Sunday Social at 9am.
Our Wednesday Leisurely Ride leaves at 9.30am from The Anchor, cycling around 15 miles at a steady pace. Cyclists on this ride have gained the nickname ‘The Cake Crusaders’, for obvious reasons.
The Wednesday Evening Ride, leaves from The Anchor again, but at 6.30pm, cycling at 14mph plus, although this may be reviewed subject to demand.
Many members have also arranged impromptu rides as and when they have time. Last December we organised a Santa Sleigh ride to raise money for the Milton-based charity ‘You Can Bike Too’, raising around £350 in total. The friendships made via the Club have been tremendous: we have a wide variety of occupations amongst us, there is no need for a solitary ride if you don’t want one.
Follow the hashtag on Twitter for details of the next monthly ride
Cambridge has a marvellous cycle network and ever-improving links from surrounding villages. Used with care and commonsense, the network enables local journeys to be completed with great enjoyment, benefits to your health and the environment, in complete safety.
#CamRideHome is a ride aimed at encouraging safe commuting. Experienced riders cycle around the urban cycle network with those less experienced, passing on hints and tips on riding, clothing, lights, and getting to know each other. Explore the network and find treasures of Cambridge outside your usual radar!
Join us at 6pm every last Friday of the month at The Mill pub on Mill Lane – for an hour’s easy ride, returning to The Mill afterwards. A different route is ridden each month – it may be themed or inspired by new cycling infrastructure. The Cam Bridges ride is popular each year: a ride crossing the Cam and tributaries as many times as possible!
This is intended to be a fun ride, free and informative. Come for the full hour, or join us until you’re close to home. All are welcome for a well deserved drink in The Mill after the ride.
Cambridge Junior Cycling Club
Visit Cambridge Junior Cycling Club facebook page or find more details at miltoncountrypark.org
Cambridge Junior Cycling Club is a British Cycling Go-Ride Club for all girls and boys who want to improve their cycling ability, whether for leisure and everyday riding or if they want to progress to cycle racing.
Milton Country Park has a dedicated off-road cycle course, and club coaches are experienced and British Cycling-trained. These sessions offer a great opportunity to practise different cycling disciplines like ascending and descending skills. There are also opportunities to take part in off-road races. Alternatively, tarmac sessions are held at Cottenham Village College tennis courts, where skills like group riding and cornering are practised.
Mountain bike coaching is available in the park on alternate Saturdays during term time: Saturday 1-2pm for 5-10 year olds and Saturday 2-3pm for 11-16 year olds.
The tarmac sessions are held on floodlit tennis courts, usually on the first and third Mondays of each month from 6.30 to 7.30pm during term time.
The cost for members is just £5 per session for one hour of coaching.
Cam Sight Tandem Cycling
Find out more or book a taster session by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 01223 420033 ext. 29
Cam Sight is a local charity supporting local people of all ages with low vision and blindness. If you’d like to try tandem cycling, Cam Sight can arrange a tandem taster session for you with a trained pilot.
Tandem cycling is a great opportunity to take part in an enjoyable and healthy exercise, getting out and about in the city and countryside. Our members and volunteers organise regular rides and a group enters the London to Cambridge bike ride every year.
Critical Mass rides with Extinction Rebellion
Find more about Cambridge Critical Mass rides on xrcambridge.org or on Extinction Rebellion’s facebook page
Back in 1996, the Campaign’s newsletter included a short description of Critical Mass – a monthly cycle ride for everyone. Now, Critical Mass rides take place along urban routes around the world. They are celebrations of cycling intended to attract riders who, through strength of numbers, are visible and assert their right to be on the road.
Critical Mass rides have been attributed to many causes over the years. Recently, they made Cambridge headlines as part of Extinction Rebellion’s local action, urging governments to declare a climate emergency. Once a month, Critical Mass riders gather at Reality Check Point on Parker’s Piece. Cycling slowly, they follow a pre-arranged route around Cambridge. Rides usually last for about an hour, during Thursday lunchtime or Friday evening. People can join and leave the ride along the way.
The aims are simple: to raise the profile of cycling and to raise awareness of climate crisis and the contribution made by polluting vehicles. They want the council (and ultimately, central government) to commit to reducing emissions. They obey traffic laws (noting traffic lights, allowing emergency services through etc), but they don’t stick to cycle lanes, taking the full traffic lane for safety and visibility.
Freedom of expression
Helen Mulligan, a local Critical Mass rider, talked with us about her experience of the gatherings:
‘I love cycling. Being on a bike is, for me, about independence and freedom. There’s a connection between this and expressing my views: part of what we are doing with the monthly ride is about being free to communicate with those who govern, without confrontation. It isn’t about arguing with motorists along the route, although we are happy to discuss what we are doing if they want to know. We chat together, there’s music and singing – it’s sociable with a good atmosphere. Because we ride slowly, the event is accessible to children and walkers, too. Promoting cycling in central Cambridge seems such an obvious way of helping to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and riding to express my view is something I feel I can do honestly and sustainably and without high levels of confrontation which can be uncomfortable.’
In January’s Critical Mass ride, around 60 cyclists rode through Cambridge’s streets. In February, it was 80; in March, 100. With these numbers, the rides easily reach the critical level of offering a welcoming and inspiring community event with lots of interaction among participants. As the event grows, it should gain enough critical mass to be noticed by elected officials, both locally and nationally.
If you’re a member of a local cycling club or group, why not tell us more about it for a future issue of our magazine and encourage others to get involved? Get in touch with us at email@example.com or drop us a line on social media.