Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Drookit round Duxford

Saturday, 18th June: Allegedly there is a Chinese proverb along the lines of “be careful what you wish for it might come true”. Well there is no doubt that we have needed some rain in these drought-stricken parts. Wee we have had a bit of welcome rain, although not enough. I was appalled to read this article suggesting that “Water firms tried to gag hosepipe ban forecasters because it could ‘damage share prices’”. Flip – they’ll be taking out super-injunctions on the weather next.  I wonder what will happen to the Guardian with this headline – “Warning: extreme weather ahead”. 

Perhaps I also ought to explain the Post title – drookitdrenched. Sometimes, in this part of the world, even when there is rain around I go for weeks with barely a spot getting through to me when cycling and then in the space of a few days I get soaked twice. I can’t complain, it really doesn’t happen that often.

By Saturday I was ready for a ride, after the small commuting rides in the week and this time the weather wasn’t looking bad enough to put me off. It wasn’t super-warm so I put on a long-sleeved jacket, but still wore shorts and (cycling) sandals. The wind was up though and so my route planning basically led on from that. I say route planning it was more direction planning and then see where that led me.  Given the wind direction it meant heading South-West ish on the way out in order to get the benefit of the wind on the way back.

If you check out the Cambridge University DTG Weather info for the 18th June 2011, you can see how strong the wind got to in the afternoon. But you’ll probably wonder why I was moaning about the soaking, as the blip of rain in the afternoon does not look impressive. Well there were showers in the area and some places got more than others apparently.

Here is the Bike Route Toaster link to the map shown below. The ride length was around 55Km/ 34 miles with a brief climb in the middle up to around 75m above sea level having started at 7m. Actually this ride obeys two of the various rules of cycling – out against the wind and back with the wind, being one of them. The other is ride up the hills on the way out and back down the hills on the way back. The second rule is not one I have to bother about much. When I lived in Somerset it was more relevant to cycle up into the Mendips at the start of the ride and then back down at the end.

Although the title mentions Duxford I tend to think of Duxford as the Imperial War Museum  rather than the village. The route went through the village and around the airfield. There seemed to be rain all the way down, but I dried out on the way back. One thing that I did notice was how the countryside is more  “rolling” as you head south. The route is a combination (after the fact) of the NCN11 route and the secret National Byway Route. Our bit in the East of England is still under development. Having said that someone has kindly mapped it on the OSM Cycle map in the area (Tom?).  It does make for a pleasant change from the NCN routes and helps in the creation of circular routes. In fact I really must give it (the National Byway NB) a try across to Gamlingay one of these days – it looks rather nice.

The route out of town was basically along NCN11 after Addenbrookes, before turning of at Great Shelford.  As I cycled by one of the new railway bridges built near the hospital my resolve did falter a little. I turned off the route and cycled under the bridge wondering why I was cycling in the rain, but I figured I would actually be warmer on the move than stopped so I carried on again. I caught up with the NB at Whittlesford and followed it through down to Duxford.

I really should have detoured over the ford and via Hinxton. Although the Ickleton/Duxford Road is a country road it is somewhat straight and quite wide and so I find that cars whizz along it and some drivers don’t understand (or don’t give a toss as to) what is going on with airflows when a large moving object passes a smaller slower moving object. The cyclist gets a lot of buffeting.  Now I also thought this the last tie – but forgot.

Matters became much more peaceful once I turned off along Grange Road, this is a quieter road that does not seem to encourage such anti-social driving behaviour. I took the low road, but there is a high road (Quickset Road) I could have taken somewhere up behind this ridge. I wonder what that construction is near Rectory Farm? I think this picture was take opposite the driveway to Rectory Farm

Grange Road reached a T-junction where I relied more on my compass than my GPS and headed back North. As you can see the countryside is definitely rolling. The building you an see peeping out is marked as Ickleton Granges but might also be known as Ickleton Old Grange. It was established in the late 17th Century as a private residence apparently and has listed buildings.

In the last picture the skies looked promising this is what I had been heading down into. This view looks South and you can see how the rainwater had been running down the edges of the road..

Another view of the clouds behind me. As I was now heading North at least I was moving away, but the wind was behind me (more or less) and so the rain clouds might also be following me. The puddles we everywhere. What I should have done is turned off the road I was on in order to minimise the ride down the A505, which really is a fast and busy road. Mind you it is also quite a wide road and whilst not pleasant did not feel that unsafe. It took me a little while to cross the A505 onto the Chrishall Road though.

I had been thinking of cycling home via Barrington (and maybe even Melbourn) but in the end the lure of the wind was too strong so I cycled up the Cambridge Road (B1368)  from Fowlmere to Newton.

On joining the A10 they had pretty much sorted out the share-used cycle path, which the last time I cycled along here was being repaired. It is great to see shared-use paths. If they are half-way decent I tend to use them in preference to the road pretty much most of the time.  They are not without their own problems though.  In places the paths can be quite narrow. This is Hauxton Mill Bridge and as you can see if you are heading south then there is also a streetlight in the middle of the path.

On the outskirts of Cambridge I thought I would check out the Cambridge Guided Busway. As I tuned of through the Trumpington Park and Ride I was amazed to see all these bikes chained up to the fence. Which makes me wonder – what attracts so many cyclists to this area and why isn’t there more cycle parking? I assume that is associated with the park and Ride. Using cyclestreets here is a picture of the P&R cycle parking – full at 07.30 on a Sunday morning. Apparently another cycle shed was removed because of the CGB works. So clearly there is an unmet need which I would guess can only get larger when the CGB is up and running.

We should “prepare to be wowed” according to Transport Chiefs as it will transform the lives of Cambridge’s commuters and residents. (You’ll be pleased to hear that unlike the high-quality cycle path the CCC feel that the CGB contract is water tight.)

Here it is – the tarmac surfacing has been completed at this end of the CGB. Now I am not the only one to have surreptitiously tried it out - the Cycling Blog on the Cambridge News (Blog 9) also extols its virtues.

They are not the only ones. Whilst I am not young, I don’t feel old and tend to view other cyclists as older than me even if they are perhaps 5 or 10 years younger. So I thought of this group as an old-age pensioner outing, certainly enjoying the safety of this track.

I wonder if the other busways that are still on course despite (the CGB) blunders will have similar high-quality tracks.

By the time I got home I was dry, except for the bits which were damp from sweat. Ah well you can’t win them all.  Although it was more of a road ride it was a pleasant route none the less.

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