Tuesday 23 June 2020

Mediocre Mountain Challenge

#CamRideHome Challenge!

So @TheTimTraveller has challenged people over the world to take part in a "Mediocre Mountain Challenge". This seems to fit in perfectly with Cambridge, so let's do it for #CamRideHome!

So, you can choose your highest place and do a selfie or bike shot (or both) of you there with a description.

Or follow the meanderings I had to make to find Cambridge's highest point (or just jump to the end). I'd really like us to do lots of pictures at Cambridge's highest point but I leave it up to you!

So, what is the highest place in Cambridge? That should be easy I hear you say. Nope. Not a bit of it.

Where is Cambridge

We'll start with "Where is Cambridge?". Easy really, it's that city in East Anglia on the kink in the river Cam. Well, it is, but where are the boundaries?

Let's look at the parlimentary constituency borders (in red). The highest point is the south-east point on the Gog-Magog hills up Worsted St (or Worts Causeway). That's obvious and it's a lovely place. However, it's surrounded by fields with a good view of the city. It's not really "in" the city. On top of which, the nearby houses in view are NOT in the constituency. This really does make me feel like this isn't the place.

No, I think we need to look at what "feels" like the city (in blue). I don't think Grantchester should be included, or more importantly, the road over Lime Kiln Hill. Trumpington, Orchard Park, and Girton, yes. This is very subjective, I know, I just can't see how else to do it sensibly. And it's the latter location that provides our next dilemma.

Highest Place?

So, it's simple, look at the map and find the highest place. Well, not quite. Which map? Surely, they all agree. Nope. I looked at two that I trust the most, and they don't agree.

Looking at the Ordnance Survey map, they have a few places around Girton peaking at an enormous 25 metres. However, looking at the Topological map, they have a DIFFERENT place topping out at 30 metres. And both maps do NOT agree with each others points.

The highest point is either on Huntingdon Road directly outside Girton College or on the Ridgeway track to Eddington where it crosses the north-south access to the university farm.

So, I did a barometric altitude check by cycling between the two places. I know it's not accurate, but it shouldn't vary by much in a few minutes. The results favour the Ridgeway track, but only just. I think it fair to say, I still don't know.

So, What's the Challenge?

Go to either you're highest local location. Or go to Girton and take pictures at either Girton College Gate, or the Eddington Ridgeway track, or both as they are 5 minutes apart.

Take a selfie, bike photo, or both, and send them in on the #CamRideHome hashtag.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Reach Ride 2019

So the Reach Ride 2019, woo hoo!

Again, lots of people grab hold of their bikes and ride out to Reach to see the 800 year old fair. It's around 14.5 miles in length, but that's not the thing people take away from this ride. What is the big thing is cycling with so many others enjoying the chat as we go along.

I had so many conversations with people I knew and people I'd never met before and may not meet again. Some people I'd recognise from previous years, and they'd always be new people coming with joyful ideas and positive involvement with riding.

Here's the route, with the main route in red and my short cut home in blue. Note that the shortcut home isn't possible as the busy road through Stow-cum-Quy is not passable by our larger group with a wider range of abilities.

It really is worth opening this up larger in a separate window.

Open Map Larger.

So this year's video is a combination of the view forward and the reverse "faces" view. I do like ot see where we are going and it brings people in seeing what's about to happen in the facecam, possibly making it easier to spot yourself!

Here's the video of the route. Look out, music!             (Go HD see * below)

00:11 Starting from The Guildhall
00:30 And onto Sidney Street
01:30 Explaining the TdF bunting
01:45 The first jam
02:30 A patient and happy taxi driver!
02:45 Zooming along at 8mph on Jesus Green
03:45 Camera fail!
05:00 Further jams at Cutter Ferr Bridge
07:00 Getting up to the front in a record distance
07:40 New path approach to Fen Ditton Lane
08:00 Loosing the leader's flag
08:45 Stopping in Bottisham
09:35 Final big pedal in a group to Lode
11:10 Reaching Reach!

* How to go HD.

Friday 3 May 2019

Easter Suffolk eBike Ride

So, eBikes, eh? It's just cheating, isn't it! You're on a bike but don't have to do anything as the battery powers everything.

Well, that's what a lot of populist opinions will say, and who's to argue? Well, these studies for starters.

Switzerland's University of Basel worked out that e-bikes get you just as fit as non-electrics. A small sample, but reasonably vigorous with it's conclusions.

Another Norwegian study confirms that electric bike riders experience physical exertion 95% of the time. The conclusion speaks volumes.
  • “Cycling on the E-bike resulted in lower trip duration and exercise intensity, compared with the conventional bicycle. However, most of the time was spent in MVPA*. This suggests that changing the commuting mode from car to E-bike will significantly increase levels of physical activity while commuting.” (* Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity)
And a bigger study shows that there's evidence from studies that they are healthier than non-cycling alternatives.

One thing that can be said is that it's not a good for fitness as riding a normal bike. However, what happens when you don't feel capable of riding a normal bike in your local neighbourhood? This is what happened to my parents as they got toward the end of their 70s. The short hills and inclines in their area just made getting on the bike just too much. So, they would naturally go back to driving a car. And they did, and didn't as will follow.

Another study (which I've seen but have lost the link, damn it!) talks about how eBikes help soften the heartrate changes. When we go uphill, we exert more and our heartrate goes up.When we go downhill the reverse happens. With an eBike, this change in heartrate is flattened out. This is ideal for older people who need to exercise still, but the higher heartrates of going uphill put more stress on them than is healthy.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, here's me with my mother on a 14-mile ride around their local neighbourhood. This simply wouldn't happen without the eBike. Look at the amount of pedalling happening. Without that the bike just doesn't go. This was well over an hour of moderate exercise that wouldn't happen without the eBike.

Here's the video of the route. Look out, music!             (Go HD see * below)

0:11 Starting from Wenhaston, near The Star
0:28    Ah, uphill
1:02    Flat riding
1:28    Another incline
1:45    Into Darsham
2:45    Smaller inclines towards the end
3:30    Last incline, I can't keep up!

So, lots of populist opinion can be split on he "it's cheating" meme. And lots of purists can take about how riding a "proper" bike is better. But neither of them cater for my parents, so I'm not interested.

* How to go HD.

Monday 29 April 2019

#CamRideHome April 2019 Great Kneighton and Trumpington Meadows Permeations

So with a lot of the development in Great Keighton and Trumpington Meadows getting closer to completion, how about a little look around to see what it's like cycling (and walking) around these places.

Here's the route, with the main route in blue and cut-throughs marked with sissors. There are a couple of exploratory routes and an idea for a fantastic linking route on the East bank of the Cam. It really is worth opening this up larger in a separate window.

Open Map Larger.

Lots of good traffic concepts with these developments.

First, all the sides roads are narrow, winding, and have only a small amount of parking spaces. This slows all vehicles down and ensures not many will be coming in anyway. An interesting caveat to this is the main junction into Kneighton, a huge multi-lane affair with traffic lights. And it's hardly used. For some reason the developers simply couldn't get their head around that lack of vehicle transport mixing here.

Also, there are a lot of cut-throughs for people walking and cycling. Specically ways that make journeys like this shorter and more convenient. There were a few niggly bits, but mostly pretty good.

We did stop to look at the new cycle racks in the Trumpington Park & Ride. This does look like a big step backwards. Poor access, fewer racks, and all to add in a few more parking spaces.

Finally finishing at The Blue Ball in Grantchester for a chat and a beer.

Just for comparison, here's a local link to the National Library of Scotland maps from the late 1940s to 60s.

Here's the video of the route. Look out, music!             (Go HD see * below)

0:11 Starting from The Mill
0:24 Lathams Lane, a nice new surface
0:57 Accessing Hobsons Conduit Path via uni road
1:09 Hobsons Conduit Path, lots of care and slow speeds
1:36 Stopping on the start of Vicars Brook
2:11 Builders access directly opposite, should have been opened up by now?
2:24 First cut into Great Kneighton, but gravel?
2:33 Narrow winding streets to slow vehicles
3:08 Dual-use "segregated" path outside (secondary) school
3:32 Onto the original public bridleway from Addenbrookes
4:27 Crossing the Guided Busway and on towards Shelford Road
5:15 Cut-trough from new to old developments
5:37 Up Bishops Road to last Great Kneighton cut-through
6:11 Poor barriers forcing active travellers into conflict without slowing vehicles
6:28 Loking at the new poor P&R bike racks
6:50 Out the back of the P&R and into Trumpington Meadows with lots of cut-throughs
7:34 Turning down onto the Meadows themselves
8:00 Heading onto The Ball Blue in Grantchester

* How to go HD.

Saturday 26 May 2018

#CamRideHome Visits Trumpington Meadows Country Park

Finally we get a pleasant, sunny, evening ride after a wet couple. So, what better than to look to the sun and the south city Trumpington Meadows Country Park?

The start point, as always, is from from The Mill by the river in the centre of town.

The Mill in Sunnier Times (from their twitter stream)

Here's the route.

Open Map Larger.

A short meander around west Cambridge, with the sun dripping off the tops of the hedges and verdant trees, but constantly heading towards Grantchester. Getting out of the city feels great on this lackadaisical Friday early evening, even cars are a rare and hardly noticed event.

Once through the beautiful Grantchester and across the river valley, the turn ito the route to Byron's Pool was welcome. We decided to drop the bikes (quite hard!) and walk down to the pool. Discovering ducks and the fish route round the weir was a little special.

So then off across Trumpington Meadows Country Park. It was just lovely. And clearly not well known about. When I had a look for any online activity about it I could only find rather awkward PDF history, and the local residents association run down which, whilst enabling lots of images, could really do with someone with website design experience (a bit like I might need to!).

So, it's great for people to walk and ride for a place to go. In some sense, it also could be used as a route through for people cycling from Harston and beyond into the city centre. Staying away from the awful road from the M11 to Trumpington High Street would be great. This could be the beginning of a green route in just like the other end of the river going out across Ditton Meadows. Of course it needs to be done right, but that should be easy with the space that's here.

On the way back we had a look at the new Clay Farm developments near the Guided Busway. It's great to see a new community centre appear, I hope it's well used.

We did wander up Limes Avenue and were quite disappointed. For a new development with so much space, why no dedicated cycle infrastructure? This would have been so easy to do, but there's absolutely nothing. On top of that, the development sticks to 1970s design models by making lots of straight roads, encouraging speeding by drivers. Again, and I know there are other issues, why not look at Cambourne? A place where few people drive faster than 20mph because it's too hard to go faster. Just like Eddington we seemed to have gone backwards. And this is a town where you'd have thought they would be thinking about these kind of things. But no. A poor development, infrastructure wise.

Here's the video of the route. Look out, music!             (Go HD see * below)

0:11 Starting from The Mill
0:43 The road to Grantchester
1:01 The Blue Ball
1:14 The Green Man
1:37 Heading for Byrons Pool
2:03 Entering Trumpington Meadows Country Park 

2:25 The Lark Sculpture
2:36 The Hare Sculpture
2:48 Pool
3:42 Harston cycle route
3:53 Clay Farm Centre
4:14 Limes Avenue
4:45 Returning to The Mill for a pint and a natter

* How to go HD.