Monday, 29 June 2015

Hildersham Anti-Clockwise Circuit

I've often done this circuit as it can be a favourite, last minute afternoon ride. Sometimes I vary it (with photos) to avoid the slightly unpleasant hill to the back of Wandlebury (due to speedy traffic, not the incline).

Only this time, the variation became doing it anti-clockwise rather than clockwise. This did show me places where there are hills I didn't know about!

A Relaxed Sunday Afternoon Ride (Go HD see * below)

00:12 Cutting through to the Guided Busway.
00:20 On the Guided Busway, a great smooth surface.
00:55 Heading over the bridge to Addenbrookes.
01:05 An irritating bit of road riding. Why!
01:18 Bumping into Jim Chisholm on the Genome path.
01:55 Into Shelford.
02:11 And onto Stapleford.
02:24 Using the shared-use path out of Stapleford, the road environment is a bit harsh.
02:45 A slightly odd crossing, not ideal for riders.
03:10 A fete going on in Sawston!
03:37 Onto the Babraham path, again smooth and quiet.
04:16 Turning through a farm in Babraham onto the path south-east
04:39 A very difficult bridge over the A14. I know of people complaining they can't use this route.
04:55 A slightly unpleasant road. Very low traffic but often well over the speed limit.
05:10 Past Granta Science Park and onto the quiet road to the back of Abington.
06:08 Crossing the A1307 carefully to get to Hildersham.
06:42 After a disk failure I've turned left onto the path from Hildersham.
06:58 Onto Worsted Street which takes me all the way home.
07:45 Back over the A14. And yet more beautiful views.
08:40 Dogs come to play! I stopped to pet.
09:05 At the back of Wandlebury.
09:55 Peaking out the climb and back onto roads down towards town.
10:15 Some good downhill speed.
10:38 Chose the path, incorrectly as lights turned immeidately!
10:55 Hills Road mid transformation. A good change but I didn't know where to go.
11:25 Finally back over Hills Road railway bridge.

* How to go HD.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

May 2015 #CamRideHome

#CamRideHome is a leisurely ride around some of the more pleasant cycle infrastructure and cut-throughs in Cambridge, ending in a short pub stop to chat about the joys of the past month. It starts at The Mill in Cambridge every last Friday of the month at 6pm. Rob at Ben Haywards has been instrumental in getting this going and is the route source on their CamRideHome page.

The May ride took advantage of the evening sunshine to explore out to Grantchester, especially as the route is blocked to rat running with the bridge closed. It was a balmy May evening, tee-shirts for some and fleeces for others!

A Relaxed Early Friday Evening Social Ride (Go HD see * below)

0:12 Setting Off from The Mill
0:23 Elliot shows off his signalling skills
0:55 Car pulls out in front, sigh.
1:22 TK Maxx lorry parking up, inches to spare!
2:42 "Daddy faster" as Elliot wants to "win"
3:27 A nice cut-through to Granchester Road
4:25 Bus!!!!
5:20 Green Man in Granchester, a few stop
5:30 Taking care on a narrow path
7:00 Back in Cambridge!
7:30 A naughty trick through ridiculous lights
8:11 Peace in the Valley
8:29 And yet more Peace, a pint!

* How to go HD.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Reach Ride - Monday 4 May 2015

The Reach Ride goes from Cambridge town hall to Reach, a village around 10 miles north east from the city. The goal is the Reach Fair which has been running for over 800 years since King John granted it a charter.

The Reach Ride has become a very popular ride amongst Cambridgeshire residents. People travel to Cambridge to do the ride from all over the county. The seat count reached over 800 again this year.

It's a good natured ride and is frequented by road racer types as well as families. The pace is aimed at the latter, so it makes it very welcoming across the widest spectrum of riders. It's great to see even quite young riders happy to take on the 27 miles round trip. When it's split into two, and with the promise of ice-cream and rides in the middle, it's a very attractive proposition!

And it's not only riders. That good humour extends across people outdoors. I don't think I've had so many smiles and friendly greetings when out riding normally. Yes, it happens, but rarely, for example, from single women out jogging or walking the dog. Perhaps it's one of those few chances we have to remind ourselves that normally people are good and we don't have to behave as if everyone is out to get us all the time.

There was a little confusion this year as the Mayor's cycle couldn't use the official route. This should really be seen as a little nudge that cycle-paths should be planned with all types of cyclist in mind. Not everyone is on two wheels. When I arrived on time for the proper start, everyone was already gone. And in trying to catch along the published route I managed to overtake main party quite early on!

As a result of trying to catch up with a group that was quickly behind me, I managed to have lots of time at the Reach end. I settled on exploring up through Wicken Fen and back round via Upware before the fair, then a brief rumble out to Burwell and back after lunch. I can't help feeling that some people, like myself, who may not have a great fascination for the actual Fair, might like to take a wander further up to Wicken Fen as a more official trip. I pushed it a little too far this time, managing a total of 47 miles. And "bonking" around 2 miles from home.

I managed to get several clips, and did manage to do several passes of the (smaller) group on the way back. Faces are always good on these rides, please tag yourself!

Click here to see the map bigger.

Slightly Lonely Journey There  (Go HD see * below)

0:11 A few people still at the start mopping up.
0:45 The normal jam under Victoria Avenue completely missing!
1:25 Relief at the first signs of a group.
1:40 Not a very big group though, huh?
2:25 Newmarket Road Park & Ride, some more groups, but not moving, huh?
2:30 Small discussion about ride. I continue.
3:25 A few stragglers at Quy, where is everyone?
3:40 Last rider? Unbeknown to me, I'd already passed the main group!
4:20 Bottisham centre.
5:05 Swaffham Bulbeck centre. Empty roads!
5:33 Road cyclists pass.
5:50 Swaffham Prior centre.
6:07 Closed Roads! Although this proved a little unreliable.
6:50 Reach Fair!

People on the Way Back (Go HD see * below)

Apologies for the sound track, it just seemed so appropriate!
0:11 Final look at the Fair
0:30 An awful lot of parked cars for a closed road?
0:43 A car, even more strange for a closed road!
1:11 Road Closed sign. Ignored by a lot of drivers. Illegally.
1:30 Nice to pass lots of riders after the mornings mix-up!
1:50 A good look at the front riders, face on!
2:30 And back to passing the group again
3:20 Another look back at the riders coming past.
4:15 A couple heading to Waterbeach, needing to walk some of the way.
4:40 And into Lode.
5:10 And the main Quy Road, nearly back up to the front.

Wicken Fen and Upware Circuit (Go HD see * below)

0:11 Leaving Reach heading north then east to Wicken Fen.
0:50 Some riders! Hmm, and a car on a closed road
0:54 Camera fail, restart at first junction.
1:35 Bridge over Reach Lode. Very nice!
1:49 Rejoined proper track
2:20 Very awkward bridge, I had trouble with just a little day bag.

              This is a barrier to quite a few riders, I expect.
2:55 Main part of Wicken Fen, lots of riders! Ely people coming to Reach Fair?
3:00 With space available and people walking and riding, a bit more path width?
3:45 Another camera stop to look up route round horrible A1123 road.
4:45 Pretty rough track, probably not good in winter.
5:00 The Upware road! 3 of 7 car passes were not good.

              This is the alternative to the problematic Wicken Fen bridge?
6:00 Upware! Always seemed so fantastically distant
6:45 This is mapped as an unclassified road, not a track!
7:30 Back on the NCN11 cycle-route.
7:45 Road Closed being ignored by drivers, again.
8:10 Pulled in to let a car pass.
8:30 Lots of non-local parked cars
8:40 To the cycle parking!

Burwell Short Circuit (Go HD see * below)

0:11 Bit confused by cyclists coming towards me on this side of the road!
0:13 And car on the other side?
0:18 Ah, all becomes clear, walking/riding one side, cars managed on other, very good!
0:24 Driver doesn't really understand road controls, can't go up to it!
0:35 Dip out into car space as none coming.
0:43 End of control section, take back road to Burwell.
0:50 Quite a few people walking and riding from Burwell.
1:03 And a driver!
1:12 Onto a back track up the Burwell Lode.
1:28 Burwell centre.
1:41 Turn back towards the Burwell Lode.
1:50 And back onto the back road back towards Reach.
2:05 Lots more people walking down the path, some the same as before!
2:11 Dad pushing young daughter learning to ride, Excellent!
2:21 Back to the road control.

Return from Lode (Go HD see * below)

0:11 Last big cluster of people, going forward
0:49 Bottisham centre.
1:10 And back towards Quy, be good when the Lode-Quy cyclepath is done!
1:15 Got caught by another faster rider, good chat along the way!
1:28 One of the fast little groups.
2:02 Road crossing in Stow-cum-Quy.
3:10 Newmarket Road Park and Ride.
3:45 Road Crossing in Fen Ditton.
4:40 Back to Riverside.
5:00 My final bit on the main route, I bonked after this!

* How to go HD.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

CamRideHome in March 2015

#CamRideHome is a leisurely ride around some of the more pleasant cycle infrastructure and cut-throughs in Cambridge, ending in a short pub stop to chat about the joys of the past month. It starts at The Mill in Cambridge every last Friday of the month at 6pm. Rob at Ben Haywards has been instrumental in getting this going and is the route source on their CamRideHome page.

The March ride was the first which occurs mainly in daylight. This year we explored some of the new developments to the south of the city in Great Kneighton. New paths are being added to link in with the Southern section of the Guided Busway.

Click here to see the map bigger.

I managed to get video footage until it was quite dark, co-incidentally as my battery failed (how to go HD*).

March 2015 Ride

All together a very pleasant little ride, aimed at the pace of the slowest and with a couple of beers and good chat afterwards. Who's up for April, when we'll be in balmy evening sun all the way?

* How to go HD.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Addenbrookes Quirky Cycle Provision

Addenbrookes does make a lot more provision for people riding to the hospital than most. But it should.

Addenbrookes is a health provider, it should be seeking to help people develop a healthier lifestyle. And it's in the city in the UK with the highest cycling levels. It's already got a good user base (15 times the UK average), although there still should be a lot more cycling in Cambridge and getting people comfortable with a great healthy transport alternative should be the standard.

Old Development

So, it's a little concerning that the provision is quite piecemeal. This is mostly down to sticking plaster solutions. Doing a little bit here, doing a little bit there, adding a bit here, changing a bit there.

Here I look at a couple of places in the centre of the hospital. This piecemeal approach is clearly shown by:
  • stopping a shared-use route a few metres from the road it's going to;
  • not signing the shared-use route because it doesn't go all the way;
  • not putting enough cycle parking where it's needed;
  • sticking plaster adjustments to old, unused routing;
  • trackstand skills requirement to stick to cycle routing; and
  • inconsistent signing all within a few metres.

The central experience

Of course this is in the middle of quite a lot of development. And there's a level of juggling about within tight spaces. I'd suggest the sticking plaster approach does nothing to help this. It's time someone took a big red pen to the layer-upon-layer map and drew a clean slate. I'd bet it'd work out better for all people coming to the hospital.

New Development

Now, wouldn't it be great if the planners would learn from their earlier mistakes and plan in cycleroutes rather than fixing it in later. Yep, that'd be great, it's a shame it's not happening.

This post about Francis Crick Avenue from a little while back shows the usual approach of skimping on as much as possible. Despite having a clean slate and acres of space, cycle routes are squeezed in on roads  with drains, puddles, and rubbish. Not only that, the road is not designed to reduce speeds but encourages people driving to exceed the speed limit, thus making it really unpleasant on a bike. This seems to be a usual response to the hospitals roads. Other places realise that if you make straight roads speeding happens, if you make them twist and turn speeding doesn't. It has little overall effect on journey times, as it's simply rushing to the next junction, the real controller of average speeds.

One of the most damning indicators is on the new-ish Dame Archer Avenue which has a cycle route around the (pointless) lights (if you're on a bike*). This would seem good. But if there's space of a off road cycle route, why isn't it all the way long the road?

Again, routes from the hospital are good, but where the hospital has had control over the development the result has been very poor.

* Note that traffic lights are needed on a road to let two lines of motor traffic merge. If it were two lines of cycle traffic, would the lights be needed? No.