Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not another month, yet, but another trip to St Ives and back along the CGB

Sunday, 27th February: I was let off of blind and curtain fitting duty. After re-decorating our living room it was time to putt the stuff back into the room, starting with the curtains/blinds and then various bits of furniture and I also had to re-connect the TV system. Gone are the days when you just hooked up the power and the aerial. However my wife was feeling a bit under the weather and wanted to do some floor polishing before letting me in which meant I could go cycling after all as postponed the floor polishing a bit.

When I opened my eyes on Sunday morning I thought my wife had turned on the bedroom lights early, but it was the sun - yes the sun streaming in the window, strong enough to light up the room even with drawn curtains. Unfortunately the air temperature didn't live up to my expectation, but it made a very pleasant change from the grey days we have been having. Anyway i wasn't going to turn down the cycling opportunity and I could also catch up on the week's Archers!

So with little time to think about where to go I settled for a good Sunday afternoon leg-stretcher - up to St Ives and back. I tend to use the NCN51 route up to St Ives, but with various modifications. I wasn't expecting the Cambridge Guided Busway (CGB) high quality path to be up to much at the St Ives end as we've been having quite a bit of rain, but whilst the buses aren't running you can avoid the flooded bits by using the concrete tracks. In my mind I did think about taking a few pictures of the track using my long lens to get a sense of how wiggly it appears in places. At first I thought I'd cycle up to Histon and then across (back to NCN 51) via New Road. That way I'd find myself getting more opportunities to take pictures of the CGB whilst it was still daylight. But I changed my mind and decided to go up via Gilbert Road and Huntingdon road in the end. I did divert through Over though before returning to the NCN51 in Swavesey for a couple of CGB pictures.

This is the route I took in the end, around 52Km (just over 30 miles) and it was pretty still and really quite pleasant. I am not really looking forward to the time when the CGB is running and the High quality path flooding problems are still waiting to be fixed. That is going to make the route impassable at the St Ives end and so unavailable. I was going to cycle up NCN51 to Hemingford Abbots to see whether any progress has been made on the route back to St Ives on the other side of the river. It was getting towards sunset by that time and so I cut short the ride just in case there were some interesting sunset shots of the CGB.

Cambridge to St Ives Loop 6Annt.jpg

Gilbert Road is so much nicer now that the cycle lanes have been "sorted" out. It seems to work because the road is pretty wide and so can take the cycle lanes and road traffic. The fews times I have cycled along, since the work, I have not found the passing traffic to speed excessively but the trouble is traffic adapts to road conditions so we shall see. As you might hope, there were no cars parked on either side of Gilbert Road. You can also just about see the "No Loading" restrictions painted on the kerbs.


Unfortunately the same is not true of the shared-use path between (NCN51) between Girton and Oakington. I frequently see cars/vans parked across the shared-use pavement. Perhaps this is the shared-pain concept. By parking on the road and path everybody gets a bit of aggravation. It would seem that the Law prohibits parking (partially or otherwise) on the pavement in London but only makes it a Highway Code piece of advice "should not do so" elsewhere (Highway Code Rule 244). However I believe that an obstruction is illegal - so I suppose that technically this car is not doing something illegal, although it is going against the advice in the Highway code. Mind you it would be difficult to get a wide pram through there (one for twins for example) so perhaps it is illegal.

I do use this shared use path, but I do wonder whether it increases my risk because of the large number of house entrances it passes.


As it was Sunday I was not expecting to see cars go through the Oakington Airfield Road which is banned to motor vehicles except for access (and apparently emergency vehicles, taxis, mopeds and public service vehicles.) Allowing Taxis to go through seems odd, is a bus a public service vehicle?) I did stop though to take pictures of the low sun on the horizon and three cars went by me so here is one of them. Perhaps it is a soft-top taxi?


This is the picture I actually stopped to take - looking out to the North-West. There seemed to be quite a bit of cloud around.


The next stop was Gravel Hill Bridge, by the Comms Tower and Windmill, although I have taken pictures from this bridge quite a few times. This is the view looking towards St Ives. You can see how the maintenance path is wearing into two tracks. I believe that the two smooth tracks are predominantly caused by the bicycle traffic - although I could be wrong. There seems to be vegetation growing between the tracks further along and then in the foreground just the rock infill is apparent.


This is the view South. It is good to see the path getting good use. There is always someone on the path when I have been cycling by. In this case there are two dog walkers in the foreground and a cyclist further down the track. This side of the bridge there is no vegetation growing between the tracks.


Whilst I was stopped I also took a picture of the Over Water Tower - near, well Over. This looks like a conventional tower and if you are interested there is a British Water Tower Appreciation Society.


My route took me to Over and then down Station Road into Swavesey and on the way crossed the route of the CGB. I stopped to take a picture of these Horse riders negotiating the crossing. They were on the CGB path and had to weave through the obstructions on the way to the crossing whilst also trying to reach the button to get the lights to change. After they had passed through I noticed that the CGB lights kept changing and stopping the traffic on the road. The entrance to the CGB bus tracks is blocked by large chunks of concrete at the moment and I parked my bike against one of them whilst taking pictures. The blocks must be near the sensors that cause the traffic lights to switch automatically when buses come through because they kept changing as I took my pictures - oops.


This is the view looking South from the CGB/Station Road crossing. The bridge in the distance is where I was taking my previous pictures. You can see the Windmill just peeping out on the left and the lower legs of the Comms Tower on the right. Those blurry things in the foreground, one is red and white and the other concrete coloured, are the obstructions used to block the CGB - perhaps they don't trust the car traps? Since these will be removed when it is in use then are they relying on passing buses to stop whatever it is they are worried about from using the CGB. I believe that the buses will have cameras to record any incidents.


By the time I got to St Ives it was getting darker so I didn't hang around except I did take a picture of this Pub Sign - The Oliver Cromwell. (I also found the main road into St Ives easy to cross as it was Sunday.


On the way through St Ives back to the CGB Station Road now leads to traffic lights and onto the CGB, the route is specifically for CGB buses with various signs to let drivers know this. As I crossed Harrison Way at the pedestrian crossing a car pulled up at the CGB traffic lights. However either they twigged when the lights changed or read the signs whilst waiting for the lights to change because after a while it reversed and headed down Station Road back towards St Ives. As a cyclist my physical safety depends on drivers of metal boxes remaining alert and ware. I can tell you this, it hurts when you encounter a dozy driver.

The sunset wasn't quite as spectacular as the last time I was up here and with my long lens it was tricky getting much of the sky in the picture. However they don't call this time of day the golden hour for nothing. Here is a duck on one of the slightly golden lakes.


With a 300-600mm (in 35mm terms) lens you tend to focus (forgive the pun) on close-ups rather than wide-angle shots.


This time around I wasn't planning to take pictures of all the flooded bits of path, although it is as bad as I've seen it for a while. There is even flooded path between the Great Ouse Viaduct and St Ives. I thought they sorted this bit out - but clearly not. It was dark and in the shade of trees so I just took a picture of one representative bit of flooded path. They don't look so much like an unintended puddle as a purpose-built pond. Perhaps thats what happened, someone stuck a few natural ponds into the design of the high-quality path. Perhaps I'll be able to get some frog spawn later in the season.


This is the CGB taken from the same place, you can just see the tail-end of the pond on the bottom right of the picture. I wonder if they used earth from the path area to build up the foundations for the concrete track of the CGB which is why the path is worse than expected.


Although the CGB seems to ripple and wiggle in places I have to give BAM Nuttall there due in parts it looks very flat and straight - as you can see in this picture - nary a wiggle.


The nicer weather is bringing out cyclists I passed around 70 on today's ride. Nine of those were using the CGB route - all of them were on the concrete tracks though. I did not pass anyone cycling on the high-quality path. As I got back to cambridge the skies got darjer and darker - and it was not just the sunset. There were clouds looming and I felt a few spots of rain, I managed to avoid it though.

Whilst checking something (why a comment hadn't appeared) I realised that I have now written (and posted) over 500 Posts on this Blog. I must check and see how many pictures that works out to be - well over 6,200 if you were wondering, which takes around 15Gb of space.

And finally I like to listen to music when working at my computer. I listen to the radio (streams), (my) ripped CDs and Spotify. I have just signed up to - I like it - it creates a set of tracks from an initial choice and it works for me.

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