Monday, November 7, 2011

After I went to St Ives I came back again

Sunday, 6th November: I know I keep on saying it, but time does seem to fly, one minute I am almost catching up on my posts and the next minute several days have gone by.

The is the second part of my ride to check out how they are getting on with section of the cycle way between St Ives and Swavesey on the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway). I got to St Ives in the light, but it was starting to get dark and I was a little worried it might be too dark to take pictures.  However it was really an opportunity to take pictures at night.

Here is the Bike route Toaster link to the map shown below. The distance was just over 55Km/34 miles and basically flat, the wind was against me going but with me on the way back, more or less. That is the one downside of such open countryside and straight cycle tracks – you can end up cycling into the wind for ages. One of the laws of cycling states that the wind is always against you even when it isn’t

It was a Sunday, so I was not expecting there too be many bikes in the Cycle racks at St Ives Park and Ride. The good thing is that they are well lit and close to the bus stop rather than tucked away somewhere inaccessible. What’s more there is not a whole load of mud around them as you try to get to a space. It would be interesting to see how much use they get during the working week.

I would like to think that if, I lived in St Ives and commuted into Cambridge, I would mix cycling with catching the bus. You could always do one-way cycle commutes and use the bus for the other return or outgoing journey. According to this CCC (Cambridgeshire County Council) link there are 50 bicycle spaces. I count 40 in the picture so there must be another 10 spaces somewhere. I must look out for them. Problem solved, the two “sheds” are different lengths.  This CycleStreets link show more of the cycle parking provision along the cycleway.

As you can see some lights but not all are on. It was also time to stop and have a drink and a snack.  Regular readers will know that I am rather partial to Jelly Babies.  I am also a fan of Jaffa Cakes – a friend (or rather her young son) bought me a “yard of Jaffa Cakes”.  This was not a full box when I set off – it was empty by the time got home though. There is only 1g of fat per cake, mind you I think of them as a biscuit.

There is tarmac up until some major works on building a “Dutch Culvert”. This is near the corner of Moore Lake as you approach from St Ives.

It would appear that this section is being raised (with the pipes underneath to drain the water)  and will have a concrete surface.  Most of the cycle way has a tarmac surface with one or two short bits of concrete. Perhaps concrete is more durable for his section?

On the CCC Walking and Cycling in the CGB link it reckons that “it will only flood for a few days, to a few weeks, a year”.

Although it doesn’t look it in the pictures it was getting dark and I had to rest my camera on bits of fence in order to keep it still for the long exposures. Now I could of course make the pictures look darker – but that would make it hard to see the detail.

I had turned my lights on once I was cycling along the cycleway. Although even in the rough bits it was actually very good. You might be able to work out what bit of fence my camera was resting on for this picture.

When cycling I tend to look around as was not paying enough attention to the cycle way surface. In places where tarmac has yet to be laid there are very sharp transitions between tarmac and no tarmac. I went over one such edge and only partially managed to jump the bike. For a few seconds afterwards I became hyper-sensitive to snake-bite punctures. I have not had a puncture for some time, which also went through my mind after hitting the edge. The next thought was that was a stupid thing to think. I didn’t puncture though – phew.

I was surprised how much of this bit of Cycleway has yet to have its tarmac surface laid. Mind you the surface is the best it has ever been, apart from the “edges”.

The last picture was taken using this fencing as a support. I wondered what my front light would look like in a picture – now I know. I can’t remember whether I had it set for maximum brightness of the next level down. From Swavesey onwards, where there was tarmac, I used it on its lowest setting.

Although it was a Sunday I saw a reasonable number of buses pass me by. I can't say I felt troubled by the oncoming headlights. Now that might be because they were running with dipped lights in the sections I happened to see them.

One of the real challenges cyclists face, both on unlit country lanes and when (unlit) cycleways are adjacent to oncoming traffic is being blinded by inconsiderate motorists.  There are times I have been so blinded that I couldn’t see anything. When that happens I tend to switch my front light to max power, which I normally only use off-road. Normally that does the trick.

I guess the problem is also going to be made worse where the cycleway is much lower than the concrete tracks.

The bus stops are well lit – is this a case of double standards – cyclists don’t need light but those poor motorists couldn’t be expected to walk to their cars without light. Or in order to encourage motorists to switch to this mode of transport we have to recognise they are more risk adverse. whereas who cares about cyclists – they are used to taking risk, after all they cycle on roads for goodness sake. And anyway, why encourage cyclists!

Conveniently a bus showed up when I took this picture. You do have to be a bit wary of the various posts and barriers that have been liberally used around the stops.

The last picture was processed a bit – this is what it really looked like. The is the Longstanton Park and Ride with its new environmentally friendly bus shelter. As it happens another bus came into view as I stopped to take this picture (once again resting my camera on a fence.)

Whilst finding the link to the bus shelter I also found these links that provide a bit of information about the art works to be found on the glass bus shelters. (Swavesey, Oakington and Longstanton.)

Although I can’t say my counting is totally accurate I must have seen 65+ cyclists out and about during my cycle ride. Most of them were during the daylight hours. I did pass three “stealth” cyclists on the cycleway. They had no lights and one had taken it to Ninja levels – he (I think) was dressed in black and had a black bicycle. The only mistake he’d made was that he had left his front reflector on his handlebar.

To be fair he was on the other side of the cycleway, but at first all I could see was a dim “light” coming towards me.

I have not real idea quite how the law operates on cycleways like this – in fact it is probably a byway or bridleway. However the users should treat each other with courtesy and that means using common sense. You occasionally see dog collars with flashing red LEDs on them which I think is a good idea. It looks a bit weird though as you can be cycling along a dark path and all you see is little flashing red lights moving around as dogs move into the verge alongside the path.

Between Histon and Milton Road I noticed this light. I think that it is the Hive. Although it is a little difficult to tell in the dark. It is the SmartLIFE building I think.

When it is dry and the wind is more or less behind you, the way ahead is smooth and not congested then cycling at night is really good fun. There are also opportunities for taking pictures that you just don’t notice during the day.

Mind you I had just read the Cambridge News Cycling blog. Number 21 is Working Sportive. A slightly tongue-in-cheek view of the cycleway, I think!

Mind you I also enjoy cycling along byways and bridleways at night – with my front light on max, it just looks so different.

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