Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A circular ride: Cambridge to Over and back part 3

Saturday, 14th April 2012: This was a shakedown ride for my new/old Marin bicycle. My Marin San Anselmo had suffered a cracked seat tube and been replaced under warranty some 7.5 years later by Ben Hayward Cycles/Marin – that’s what I call service. So it would have been rude not to go out for a cycle ride at the earliest opportunity. Clearly it also needed to be a ride over the rough and the smooth. As a result I seem to have also taken quite a few pictures so I split the Post into 3 bits. (It also helps me in the writing of them as well.)

So I turned off the CGB not far after Longstanton where there is a bridleway crossing between Oakington and Rampton. (It used to be a byway but my guess it they downgraded it to avoid having to build a gap in the concrete tracks. The track I took was Reynold’s Drove which reached Cuckoo Lane – left to Rampton or right to Cambridge. I turned right onto the track also called Cuckoo Lane – a byway, with a decent gravel surface – well it allowed me to test Maisie’s handling on loose gravel.

Cuckoo Lane (track) near Rampton

Here is the map of my route – and here is the Bike Route Toaster link. It was 56Km in length/35 miles and flat – well this is the flatlands after all. This post starts from where I turned off the CGB.

A map of my ride around Quy, Cottenham, Over and Histon and back to Cambridge

The OS map shows another track called Cuckoo Drift which passes the other side of Cuckoo Hill Farm. After a short bit of grit track which at some stage looks like connected at Cuckoo Bridge. (The bridge appears to cross Beck Brook.) At some stage the gravel track became a mud/grass track – at this stage I tended to try and avoid the muddy puddles – I am still at  the stage where I am keeping my new frame clean.

This is quite a pleasant change from the CGB and is normally easily cycle-able. You do pass people occasionally along this path walking and on bikes, but not at the same time.

Rampton Drift (Near Westwick)

A little way along the sheer greenness of the fields was quite amazing.

The view from Rampton Drift (Near Westwick)

When I reached the road between Westwick and Oakington I could have carried along Gun’s Lane into Histon (another track) or along the road. However there was a new choice of route since the last time I have been out this way. There is a new bridleway which runs along the edge of the road towards Westwick and then skirts around Westwick Hall to join an existing bridleway between Histon and Westwick. I think the completion must be relatively recent it gets a mention under Footpaths and Bridleways as new in these Histon Parish Council minutes – 29th September 2011 (pdf). The OS map on Where’s The Path does not yet show it. The OSM map does have it though – the OSM map is really quite impressive – or rather the people who do the work to update it are.

So it would have been rude not to try out the new bridleway and I was interested in what sort of surface the track had. This is is, after turning off from the road and then skirting the next corner – the path then turns left along the line of trees. It wasn’t too bad – I cycled along far bumpier bridleways (Archie’s Way for instance). Although the picture makes it look like a bit of a hill it isn’t really.

New Bridleway skirting Westwick Hall (Westwick)

The new bridleway then joins the old bridleway from Westwick to Histon, which runs somewhat parallel with the CGB. The sign point the way to Gun’s Lane and Rampton Drift and includes pictograms of a walker, cyclist and horse rider. Strangely the sign does not include a pointer to Westwick through the field with sheep in it. You can also see Westwick Hall in the picture.

New Bridleway around Westwick Hall

In case you were wondering and even if you weren't this is what the sign is pointing to the track along the left hand side of the field.

New Bridleway around Westwick Hall

As I cycled back into Histon alongside Cottenham Lode the fields turned yellow – or rather the fields were yellow. I also passed some people out walking and saw a few more walking dogs. There is quite a bit of space here and so I didn’t have any problems with dog leads stretched across the path. After a short while the path crosses over Cottenham Lode and past Meadow Farm – somewhere in the clump of trees just to the right of the track.

Bridleway joining Park Lane Histon

I then cycled through Histon, fearlessly passing the place where a motorist knocked me off my bike and broke my collar bone (Windmill Lane). It was a simple SMIDSY – no mad driving just lack of attention.

I also passed these two unicyclists – although by the time I had stopped and gotten my camera out they had stopped unicycling and were walking.  Every now and then I do toy with the idea of getting a unicycle, it would be pretty neat to be able to ride one – but common sense always seems to stop me. They aren’t that uncommon in Cambridge, I’ve seen one a few times on the CGB and here is a picture of a unicyclist on Milton Road.

As I had stopped to take that picture I didn’t want Maisie to feel left out – so here is a picture of my old/new hybrid. There is quite a gleam from the frame. I have ordered a new rack pack from Ben Hayward Cycles as well. (Much cheaper than a new bike as well.) A nice shadow as well the chainstays are also pretty curvy.

It is also much cheaper than the sort of bike you need if you are to impress Ferrari owning friends. It is still a lot of fun though.

There are times when a cycle ride just seems really pleasant and that was one of those times. I didn’t really go anyway new, nor did I exert myself particularly, but there were quite a few changes of scenery and Spring is here.

Whilst we think that Cambridge is probably better than many places for cycling I feel that there is still a long, long way to go. So it is good that the Cambridge Cycle Campaign playing its part in testing just how supportive of cycling the candidates for the forthcoming City Council elections are.

The Cambridge News has an interesting bit on their Cycling Blog (number 39 Slogans). Cars run on money and make you fat, cycles run on fat and save you money -  sounds reasonable to me. Although you could also mention the benefit to the planet and society of cycling as well.

What does surprise me is that a Gas Fitter, who was responsible for the death of a woman because of his faulty boiler installation, got three years in prison whilst being responsible for the deaths of cyclists on the road seems to be treated more leniently as reported by the Cycling Lawyer (a link to his table of recent offences and the punishment).

I am also a little surprised to find out that the City Council is looking at enabling Council Staff to issue fines to cyclists jumping red lights. What on earth is this all about. Yes I deplore cyclists who jump red lights, but for heaven’s sake do we really want to waste tax-payers money on what seems to be a peeve. Is this really best value for money in terms of making our roads safer for all!  What about cars that enter Mandatory Cycle Lanes, or jump red lights. It is a sad fact that motor vehicles kill cyclists, have there been any cases where a cyclist has killed  driver? Whilst it might be theoretically possible what does the evidence tell us. (I have found one case where a cyclist punched a driver in a moment of road rage and killed a driver – he got 18 months.)

Surely local politics such not be about pet peeves, localism not parochialism.

And almost finally –if they fill potholes with Silly putty will it mean softer landings for cyclists knocked off their bikes?

And finally – I shall have to keep a lookout for these Tulip fields in Norfolk.


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