Monday, November 7, 2011

As I was going to St Ives

Sunday, 6th November: After yesterday’s grey but most enjoyable ride it was time to venture slightly further afield – but only slightly.  A couple of weeks had passed since I last checked out the progress being made on the cycleway alongside the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) between St Ives and Swavesey.  Also as the evenings are now getting darker much earlier my route plan was to head out along a few byways and bridleways and country lanes and then back on the cycleway. My feeling is that despite the lack of lighting on big sections of the CGB Cycleway it is still makes for a more pleasant and safer ride even with stealth walkers, runners and cyclists.

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.

For a change and to get out into the countryside I cycled up to Milton and then along Butt Lane to Impington.  There is a partial cycleway along this road, but it is quite difficult trying to find out when (and if) the rest of the work is to be carried out. The bit between Impington and the former poultry farm on Butt Lane is in place. As it currently stands I would rate Butt Lane as a dangerous road to cycle along at night – it is relatively narrow but fairy straight, a bad combination when cyclists have to share the road.  It would seem that the remainder awaits a re-development of the Poultry Farm (as the develop will be contributing to the cycle way).

As you cycle into Impington you pass by this rather picturesque church - St Andrew’s Church. It was reconstructed in the 14th Century and the porch was added in the 15th Century. Apparently the traffic streaming past also caused the wall damage and it had to be re-built . It is a retaining wall, the one in my picture does look newer than the one in the link.

After passing through Histon, a place I cycle with some trepidation as a car ran into me a few years ago. It was a SMIDSY – and my broken collar bone was certainly very sore. I was back on my bike within 6 weeks though and apart from it costing me extra on my travel insurance I don’t really think about it much. (I can feel the nobble in the collar bone where it mended though.)

There is an excellent bridleway out of Histon called along Gun’s Lane. Although watch the bit where you join it, the nearby house owner has applied a liberal helping of small stones to minimise damage from the cars that use that bit to get to their drive and your bicycle wheels can bog down in it.

View Larger Map

Although the track was wet it wasn’t too bad for cycling along – being pretty flat I didn’t slip around too much.

Near Lamb’s Cross, where the track crosses the Oakington Road, there was an unusual sight.  The field was turning yellow. Actually it is not that unusual, it was a field of Winter Oil Seed Rape. Apparently a typical yield would be around 3 tonnes per hectare – this is the production cycle.

After the crossing the bridleway becomes a byway and is called Rampton Drift. It is more of a track and I ended up playing a game of dodge the puddles. Once or twice my back wheel did try and skid away – but no cyclists were hurt in the cycling.

I have mentioned how bad it can be finding a space to park your bike a the Cambridge Railway Station and mentioned recently the Julian Huppert had commented on the need for more cycle racks in Cambridge. It seems to me that this cyclist has gone to extremes to fins a place to park.

As I was cycling there were some miracles in the distance, to the left. (My son used to refer to the beams of sunlight as miracles as a small boy – so we still do in my family.  They didn’t look quite as dramatic in the picture as they did in real life.

As you can see they looked even less impressive with this wide-angle picture. The fields were green though.

The track has a gravel surface a bit further along, although it didn’t cause me to fall of my bike.  The day was not quite as uniformly grey as the day before.

I then turned off along Reynolds’ Drove, which used to be a byway but was down-graded when they built the CGB – was that so they didn’t have to put in a proper break in the concrete tracks?

These are the tracks – they are quite large and although nicely painted it doesn’t help you lug a bike or pram over them. I think you also need to plan on crossing the entire track in one go – there is really no space in the middle.

Just after taking that last picture a bus appeared – they aren’t hanging around and although the view along the track is quite good it surprised me how quickly the bus crept up.  The concrete tracks help deaden any tyre noise and so the warning is not great. The bus is a bit blurry because it was moving pretty fast – the driver looks like he is following advice and his hands are off the wheel.

This is the view down the track. On the way back I meant to measure out the sight line, but forgot. A quick play on Bike Route Toaster and I reckon that the bus has a view of this side of the crossing at about 120m down the track. Assuming the bus is travelling at 50mph (80Km/hour) that means the bus is travelling at around 20m every second. So You have six seconds form seeing the bus to it being at the crossing – not much is it? (Now this is an estimate so take it with a pinch of salt.)

After crossing the CGB I cycled through Longstanton and up to Windmill Hill – well the place where Gravel Bridge Road passes over the CGB – it gives a good view of the CGB. From the looks of things there is work taking place. I hope that they don’t have heavy lorries destroying the flipping tarmac already.

I also went through the Fen Drayton Lakes, along with quite a few cars – it was a popular place.  The Elephant grass at the entrance looks a little browner.

It would seem that motor scooters also find parking difficult in Cambridge as well!

A pet hate of mine is that School warning lights seem to operate at weekends and during the holidays. Have they never heard of the cry wolf syndrome. Yes I know it is a bit pernickety of me, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to make them programmable.

Next stop St Ives, it was getting dark and I was hoping I’d still be able to take pictures of the progress being made on putting down the tarmac.

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