Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sustrans 11 - South From Cambridge to some hills and back

Cycling has been hitting the local news again recently - one of the reasons is probably because cycling is a significant form of transport in Cambridge which in turn means more people are interested in news about cycling - good or bad. Although given the high percentage of journeys to work by bicycle in Cambridge I guess I am surprised that more resources are not devoted to the provision of better facilities. According to 2001 census data 27.3% of journeys to work were by bike/motorbike/walk, with 57.4% by car. I found this in an interesting document published by Cambridge City Council each year - Annual Monitoring Report. I am not sure why there is not more recent data - 2001 was quite a long time ago - a lot has happened in the last 9 years.

So the latest cycling news? "Dad's fury as cyclist suffers injuries during police chase". I am not sure of the rights or wrong in this case - but I do thinks that in the UK the relationship between the public and the Police has lost the respect element along with a rise in the so-called "compensation culture" - it is always easy to blame others.

The other bit of "cycling-related" news - well to me anyway, is also reported in the Cambridge News: "Guided bus work 'could be finished by June'". I know that the CGB is not really there for cyclists - however it does represent a potentially significant route for cyclists. Unfortunately it seems that although there could be buses running by June the Maintenance track will not have its repairs completed until July and that buses could run at the same time. Is this a sign that Cyclists are being treated as second class citizens again. Why wait? and what can we expect from the fix - the track has been out of commission for months at the St Ives end - fix it now whilst cyclists can still use the concrete tracks to bypass the flooded bits please. It also worries me that they refer to the Track as a Maintenance Track which will also accommodate walkers and cyclists. Are these ways of trying to reset expectations!

Talking about lack concern by car drivers for cyclists and pedestrians. Whilst cycling along Sustrans 51 near to the airfield on Newmarket Road how about this bit of total disregard. A car parked right across the shared use path - not in the drive of the house, or on the road to the right, (which is not a through road and only serves 3/4 houses). Deliberate or ignorance - who knows - and many non-cyclists will wonder why it is an issue - well when you slow a bike down it takes significant physical effort to regain the speed you lose - personal effort (which for those of you who remember Physics at School that effort is proportional to the square of the speed you wish to attain! - so being slowed on a fast track is much worse than being unnecessarily slowed on a slow path.)

My car shows the fuel consumption and there are two factors that really increase fuel consumption; going fast and continually slowing down and accelerating. Both are things that the intelligent driver can significantly improve upon.


I chose the route I took today for no other reason than I have not been out that way for a while. Also as it was not so windy I didn't let the wind direction influence my choice of ride. It was once again a lovely, sunny day and reasonably warm for the season. At the weekend I cycled in fingerless cycling gloves but reverted back to thinnish but full finger gloves for this ride - still riding in shorts though. My legs are starting to regain their sun tan.

Normally when I cycle (or drive for that matter) I like to avoid returning on the same route there and back - but I was a little pushed for time - this was a cycling ride I sneaked in because the weather was so nice. So for simplicity it was down the Sustrans 11 route for 20 miles /32 Km and then back again. When you look at the Sustrans map quite a lot shows as off-road - which means in this case on shared pavement alongside the roads. There is an exception though the bit between Addenbrooke's Hospital and Great Shelford which in part runs alongside the Cambridge to London "used" Railway Line and seems to be a well used path.

When pushed for time I tend not to take so many pictures - I did stop to take a picture of the Sawston Bridge where the A1301 crosses the River Granta. There is a separate bridge for the pedestrian/cycle route - it is quite narrow, two cyclists have to be careful when they pass each other. It is funny how brick bridges look so much more "picturesque" compared with concrete bridges. I am not sure why the bridge is called the Sawston Bride - it is much closer to Stapleford.


The view downstream - here the route of the Cambridge, Haverhill and Sudbury Branch line briefly ran alongside the river before joining the Cambridge to London railway line.


The route rejoins the road in Sawston - which at the far end has traffic calming measure - obstructions on half of the road - cars hate to give way to cyclists, their interpretation of "Give Way" does not include giving way to cyclists. The route then crosses the very busy A505 which connects the M11 and A11. This is a terrible road to cross during the rush hour- be careful. Actually a car stopped to allow me to cross the road - the age of courtesy is not dead.

The route then appears on the map as off-road - this is what it means - a shared path alongside the A1301 with a white line acting as no-mans land between the cyclists and the pedestrians. I did not see any other cyclists or pedestrians - I did see this lorry driver who had stopped though - the lay-by was not enough - he wanted to block the cyclists bit of the shared path as well. The curtains were down on the windscreen so perhaps he wanted to sleep? If he had just parked on the lay-by then he would probably have ended up being rocked by the slip-stream of passing lorries - at least that is my guess for why he (or she) is encroaching on the path. No issue today - but it will cause damage to the path and crossing the painted line in the wet can sometimes be a bit interesting on thinner tyred bicycles.


The route carries on through two very picturesque villages - Hinxton and Ickleton where it crosses the Cambridge to Liverpool Street Railway Line, River Cam or Granta (as it appears on the OS map) and the M11. I stopped in between the two villages to take a picture from a footbridge across the river - this is looking upstream towards Cambridge.


This is looking downstream. When I don't stop so often I tend to take several pictures at the same spot!


After Ickleton the route climbs up to the dizzy heights of around 90m with some great views back towards Cambridge the M11. I stopped at a crossroads just before Strethall where the Icknield Way Trail crosses the road. The path is marked as a bridleway but where it crossed this field it would have made for unpleasant cycling. This is made from 6 ( x7 different exposures) pictures. The road is the cycle route and here is looking North - the hill is Coploe Hill the high point around these parts. The pictures must have been slightly different as you can see the field appears slightly darker in the middle.

Nr icklington_Panorama1.jpg

On the way back there was time for a quick stop to take a picture of this recently sold house in Hinxton.


Although it was not too windy it was against me on the way back - but at least I had a hill to go down first. This plot shows the gradient as recorded by my GPS. I have a Garmin 605 EDGE which measures the altitude from the GPS trace rather than Barometrically and is prone to significant fluctuations. It does show the hills in the middle of the ride though.

Sus11 nr Icklington.JPG

On my way back I did check out the work on the Southern part of the CGB - not enough change to be worth taking pictures of though - at least from the vantage points I had. There is still a significant caravan park just off Long Road though. I wonder what they are all doing. The work seems to be focusing on the Station end.

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