Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tour de France 2014 Yorkshire Stage Two


After the joy of watching Stage One in Masham, the next day was to the joy of the first climb of the day, Côte de Blubberhouses (the Guardian's take on French Yorkshire climbs).

Blubberhouses

The journey there this time managed to get more convoluted than stage one's in that we tacked on a walking section. I was keen to ride, having a penchant for off-roading, but when I saw the height of the bracken I sharply changed my views.


View Pateley Bridge to Blubberhouses in a larger map

The car journey was quite dull, apart from going up past Two Stoops on Naught Bank Road. Luckily I've got that here from another time, just so you don't get to miss out.

The really useful thing here is that the nearby Thrusscross Reservoir has a visitors car park. It wasn't quite full when we got there, just because many people where using the verges for the next mile until the road closed sign. And there was even a car park at the end of that. We stuck to our plan, always a good idea not to dither! It was only a short hill to start!



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

Again, our seven year old make short shrift of the slope. Then, lots more parking space! In fact so much, one of our cars is here. Cars are passing, along with faster riders. None too fast or close making it a great riding experience.

And then, the end of the cars! Stopped cars get passed and we head up towards the race through the road closed signs. Although that didn't seem to stop some car drivers, not quite sure why, but heh, still slowed considerably by lots of walking people, also our main concern. I'd suggest that we are still quicker than any car passing us by now. We'll get to the viewing points much quicker than them!


We had scouted out a good place to see the race. Not right on the road side but with a view of over a mile of racing up to the King of the Mountains line. The hillside was scattered with people who'd also thought the same thing. Luckily it was a big hillside! And the whole place came alive, much like yesterday in Masham. People where cheering, despite there being no chance of it carrying to the road side. Except that it was loud enough with enough people that it did.

Anyway it was a short while until the publicity caravanne made it's way along our section. I'm not sure if quite such a bizarre view has been seen nestling in the Yorkshire ferns.


Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Then onto waiting again. Lunchtime, talking, a picnic, games, it seemed to become a day out with friends on a summer's Sunday. Surrounded by thousands. Also in the bracken. With a lot of bicycles.

The mela was punctuated with the odd "Ooo" and "Ahh" as vehicles passed on the below road. I did that "I know what's happening, no need to do anything yet" nonchalance and lounged around with a pork pie for company. Well, that and the others trying to get at the pork pie.

Time passed easily and, taking me by surprise, the escapees appeared.


Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

We watched the few riders and plethora of support cars as they raced for the top. Well, raced-ish. It wasn't a fantastic challenge as the riders seemed to focus on trying to get all the way to the finish and not waste energy on scraping for the morsels of a category 4 climb.

And back to waiting. This time I stood and surveyed the horizon. This time I'm looking for helicopters, the first sign of the main race coming through. Then, three dots appeared which rapidly swelled to five rolling around the countryside. Now, four of these are carrying VIP guests, only one is the TV. It becomes obvious with it's positioning and a big bulb under the front housing the camera. As it passed it went right over us, filming the crowd on the hillside. It was close!


Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

In fact it was so close as can be seen from this video from the other side of the road. We're near the rock opposite down the valley, and the helicopter is just above us!

Yes, yes, I know, there's a biek race going on, what's happening. Here they are coming up the valley.


Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

And finally cresting the King of the Mountains.


Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

And with that, it was just time to head back. This time as everyone wanted to head back at the same times, the roads were a little crammed. It was great to see so many different bikes, in slow motion. Notice that the real way to clog up a road completely is to use a car when there's so many others around. They are going at walking pace slowing everyone. Simply, they would have got out quicker by pulling over, waiting ofr it to clear, then trying.


Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

And back in the car, at the end, where the roads have opened up. Everyone else stayed up in Yorkshire whilst I hit the A1 south to get to my home town of Cambridge to see the joys of the start of Stage Three. Another adventure to come! Last thing that day was this sighting on the way home.


Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Tour de France 2014 Yorkshire Stage One


As the days get colder, it's worth thinking back through this year and remembering happy times.

This year, of course, we had the fantastic visit of the Tour de France that seemed to light up the country and Yorkshire in particular. I know, I know, what am I saying as someone who was massively involved in the Tour de France visit to Cambridge. Genuinely, both places had a fantastic few days, I'm going to talk about Yorkshire for now. Well, talk, eh, I've got 5 videos and a myriad of photos!

The Journey There

I go up to Nidderdale regularly (as if that's not obvious from all the posts). The route from the A1 takes me through Knaresborough and up the valley to Pateley Bridge.


View A1 to Nidderdale in a larger map

Travelling up on Friday 4th July, the valley had gone to town on decorating all their houses, pubs, cafés, shops, restaurants, bridges, in fact, any space that could seemed to have something stuffed in it. This video pulls in views of some of the more obvious.

Knaresborough was well decked out with yellow bikes and little knitted jersey bunting everywhere. Also, French, English, and UK flags flew from many flagpoles. The pièce de résistance was the polka dot Royal Oak pub! Someone spent a lot of time and effort getting that done. And it still is like that months afterwards. The next small town, Summerbridge, also had a lot of decoration, mainly with yellow bikes. Finally, on the approach to Pateley Bridge the bikes appear again, and the High Street was sufficiently decorated to require two passes!


Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

Pateley Bridge High Street

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Masham

So, Saturday dawned, the day of the first stage. We had decided to see it in Masham, the location of the famous Black Sheep Brewery as it would have plenty of entertainment on tap, as well as the beer. The journey was pretty easy, straight up the valley and straight over Masham Moor, the only moor crossing for 20 miles. Can you see how I've tried to mislead you there? Equating "up the valley" with "straight over"? Did you fall for it? Ha!

Anyway, setting off in the car.... Now there's no need for that is there, a car is a valid transport device. It was for a party of 12 (including 2 toddlers and 1 young child), most of which would not be able to ride the moor section. We planned to drive until a few miles away then ride the last bit into town.



So, setting off by car, there already was a big bike presence on the roads. Clearly many had identified this way of getting to various locations along the route. This first day, the actual TdF route almost completely encircled Nidderdale, going up Wharfedale to the west, crossing into Wensleydale to the north, before coming back south through Uredale to the east. We'd left plenty of time to allow for traffic snarl ups on the small road network. Luckily, these didn't materialise as most people had stayed out of Nidderdale, unless on a bike.



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

The sheer number of riders going up over the moors was impressive, even if many had dismounted for the dreaded 20% Trapping Hill. Do note that I took great care over passing riders. I only did so as far over to the right as I could when they'd acknowledged my presence and adjusted their road position to indicate passing was okay.

After passing the top, the descent had great views across Wensleydale (or Uredale?) until Leighton Reservoir where farms, fields, and villages started appearing dotted across the landscape. As we descend, more roads join in "draining" traffic from dead end valleys. Finally we stop in the idyllic village of Fearby. Despite there being no parking restictions here whatsoever, we are persuaded to park in a field donating to the village greens cause to do so.

So, onto bikes! All kinds of cycling abilities within our bunch from a very energetic and capable 7 year old, to newly-returned riders, to toddler carriers, to heavy old-schoolers like me. This way was easy, pretty much all downhill.

Fearby Stopping place

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.


Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

We got into town to "Road Closed" signs. Just not for bikes yet! There was an incredible turnout in town. Everyone was out enjoying the festival atmosphere. Either biking, walking, cheering, drinking, eating, there didn't seem and end to the smiles.

There were big screens to watch the race, a massive amount of stalls selling food and anything else that'd go, open park space for running around and relaxing, and easy access to the road to make sure we had spots for the Publicity Caravanne.

Big Screen, park, and stalls

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

I decided to wander around town to see if I could find the local tourist board who'd twittered with me about the joys of having the race come through, and a slightly odd story about the council asking locals to take bunting down as it might damage lamp-posts (radio on YouTube). I was slightly trepidatious in case my addition to the debate was taken badly. And this might go some wat to explain the little jerseys in front of screen above. I've brought Cambridgeshire knited jerseys to Yorkshire. SHOCK HORROR!

The town was highly decorated, even more than previous standards. Just the lengths people had gone to get something, often huge, onto the streets was astounding.

Tour Decoration in Masham

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Of course, the place with the radio bunting discussion had managed to make sure they had bunting up.

Tour Decoration in Masham

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Of course, once found, the welcome was fully open! Tessa and I laughed about the whole ridiculous thing that seemed to want media people to pitch us against each other. We both loved that we'd done so much to promote the Tour and our local area.

Tessa from Visit Masham

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Returning back to the big screen, and the Publicity Caravanne was due. I've explained this many times. It's a series of oddly shaped cars that drive past with dancing music throwing out freebies. It lasts about 20 minutes and keeps kids busy chasing after absolutely anything. I've bought back many a haul from France. Mind you, that's an 8-visit, 2-person haul. And in places that had fewer people. Masham was heaving, and the passing caravanne riders looked shell-shocked by the sheer number of cheering people. A few things came my way, but I found everything anywhere near and this bloke right in front of me was snatching out of the air. I laughed after a while and muttered something about a goalkeeper. Yes, he was. For the local team.

Publicity Caravanne

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

So, that was it, yes? Ah, yes, a bike race. That's why we were here! We moved up through the Black Sheep Visitor Centre, where we'd locked up the bikes, to get to a place with a better view. As we waited, the crowd humour was just amazing.

I don't think I've been in such a cheery crowd, laughing at everything and cheering absolutely nothing, all the time. This was it. The time had come home to roost. Everyone was beyond excited and wanted to share it with every single neighbour, stood next to them. Whether they knew them or not. IT was electrifying that just got stronger and stronger as time passed and the race got closure.

Suddenly, after the 25th false dawn with a passing motorbike, the race charged through. Here's the pictures with riders listed next to them in the four photos that I picked up numbers.

The Race!

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Afterwards, although the race had passed, the crowd as still cheery. It just couldn't be help back. And I wandered across the road for the trophy I'd spotted earlier. Can anyone see the thing that's in the photos above that's not in the one below? Clue, check out the blue lamp-post!

Fin de Course

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Slightly embarrassingly, I'm a bit early as the Fin de Course is just passing, and I've got my trophy!

Anyway, this is where camera batteries died and thus my story runs out of media leaving me with the humble word. We travelled back as easy as going. Our ride back up the hill was fine with everyone coping admirably. It showed that actually it's not too difficult to ride these hills, the bigger issue is sharing roadspace with vehicles. Every so often on the car journey we stopped to make sure stopped riders were okay. A few punctures and loose chains, but plenty of good humour!

And so, to food, beer, wine, and bed, knowing we had a whole new day on stage two to do it all over again. Oh, and watching it all over again on the PVR box!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Mill Road Winter Fair

Another delightful day at the Mill Road Winter Fair. Thousands wander the street unimpeded by cars, enjoying the music, stalls, shops, and each other. This is how a community comes together and creates a vibrant happy place, whilst building up local trade in local, independent businesses.


In super HD, click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

And that's a really important point. The current Communities Minister, Erice Pickles, believes that the best way to encourage shopping is allow people driving cars to go where they want, park where they want. This demonstrates that doing exactly the opposite does far, far more. Just try to imagine this amount of people trying to shop here, but in cars. It's just not physically possible.

By stopping people driving here, two things have been created.
  • A pleasant place that people on foot or bike want to come to
  • Many, many more people can fit in the space
So, the real question here isn't whether it should or should not happen, by why doesn't it happen more often, even once a month.

Anyway, here's a proper speed version of the fantastic @jacquiandgeoff playing at @OutspokenCycle powered music, showing how well biking and music fit!


Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Squabbling for the Bottom that is Destroying Our Transport System


So, after the last post (possibly the appropriate piece of music), where the Tories announced billions of pounds of going backwards, repeating the same mistakes expecting different results, we have Labour going the same way. As before, the soundbite riposte:
    "Building more ‪#‎road‬ lanes to solve ‪#‎congestion‬ is like loosening your belt to solve obesity. "
After a lifetime of voting Labour they've managed to thoroughly put me off. As they squabble for the 15% of ill-informed vote by trying to out-UKIP UKIP, many more, like me, are deserting them because they fail to engage intelligently.

Where are the speeches that set the agenda rather than follow it? Inspiring people to be better isn't a bad thing. Because, as they do fight for that lowest ground, the only people who win are those who truly peddle it, UKIP.


Here's a report on the actual costs of motoring from the IPPR. For a slightly easier read (with pictures), try this iPayRoadTax article.

Currently, motoring is still subsidised by the taxpayer, and continues to ensure we are held back from helping our economy grow and trap ourselves in an unsustainable system that mires the health of the nation.

Driving cars is the least efficient road space use



Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Going Up And Down Nought Bank Road near Two Stoops


I've often thought about riding up this hill. And then I've laughed out loud! I've come down it on several occasions but simply think I'd not make it up. At some point I may try, but in warmer times maybe and when I can work out when there are lower traffic levels.

It's a steep hill for quite a section. However, I've recently done Peat Lane, the next lane to the north west. It was at the edge of my capabilities but looks like it's a bit harder than Nought Bank Road. Traffic is a big thing as that differs greatly. Traffic will stop me, and it's the getting going again that might prove difficult. Both climbs have a steep section of around 17% for around 350-400m and 2 sections of 20% within that. And both hills do the main 11% climb in 1400-1600m.


At the moment @GoogleMaps is going through a transistion phase and the scale zooming seems to not work when embedding. Please zoom out of this map!


View Route in a larger map

Anyway, here are two clips of ascending and descending it. Whilst cheating. In a car. *Shame faced*

Ascending



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!


Descending



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!




View from near Two Stoops

There are plenty more pictures, videos, and writings about Nidderdale here with the latest about the Greenway towards Harogate and Knaresborough.

Taking Roadspace from Cars Speeds Up ALL Traffic


Just a quick post as this can't be said enough.

In an open letter earlier this month, Brent Toderian (an international consultant on advanced urbanism), made the point that far from creating more congestion, taking roadspace away from cars actually improves travel for EVERYONE not just those who don't use cars.

It works on a fairly simple mechanism, that making protected space for active travel, including cycling, makes people change their behaviour and step out of the car. The result is less people in cars than the space they used to take up, so more space for those who remain in cars for whatever reason. Thus, less congestion.

This is the key passage.
    You have to prioritise active mobility to make it inviting. In this context, the notion of “balancing” travel modes is a myth, and often code for the status quo.
    The good news is, when you prioritise active mobility, it makes getting around easier for everyone, INCLUDING drivers.  
    I know that can seem counter-intuitive, but smart cities have proven it’s true. 
    If you design a city for cars, it fails for everyone, including drivers.  
    If you design a multi-modal city that prioritizes walking, biking and public transport, it works for everyone, including drivers.  
    In other words, there’s no “war on cars” here. That’s a lazy political and media narrative.  
    There’s an old saying about what’s called “The Law of Congestion” – building more road lanes to solve congestion is like loosening your belt to solve obesity. 
    The whole idea of justifying more roads is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. You justify the road project based on the projected number of cars and the cars come because of the road project you’ve built.
We know that many cities in North Europe have discovered this and are charging their way forward along these lines. What is possibly more surprising is that many cities in the USA have discovered this.

wrote in Vox that bike lanes have actually sped up car traffic in New York City. And this is just one example of this. It's noted here that narrower lanes played a big effect even though traffic levels hadn't dropped much.

So why is the UK so far behind on this? Surely we want to make our cities nice places to be as well as easy to use by whatever transport choices we make? As I spotted on the Perne Road Roundabout debacle, we don't take any account of people's changing transport choices when we do make active travel more appealing, we just estimate car flow.

Our way of estimating how we estimate the effect of change for EVERYONE is fundamentally flawed.



Thursday, 6 November 2014

Autonomous Cars


Here's some of the detail surrounding the exciting new development of self-driving cars.



Setting the bar that the autonomous car has to acheive needs to be seen in context, and clearly by many of the comments on the article it's not.

Many people seem to think that unless it can perform perfectly it shouldn't be allowed. This leaves us stuck with a less safe system, killing and maiming more.

I like to think that the bar that should be set is that it is just better than us humans, that killed 1700 people on the roads in the past year in the UK alone. At the moment it exceeds that massively!

It runs alongside the constant removal of responsibility we seem to deem acceptable by people driving. Both by insisting that more vulnerable road users should behave in a way that enables people driving to stop paying attention and by the way we constantly mollycoddle people inside cars away from their actions.

It would seem the best thing to do is completely remove responsibility and hand it over to a machine capable of making many more decisions, much quicker and without anger, impatience, or belligerence we experience when behind the wheel.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Nidderdale Greenway



Contents.

I have the fortune of regularly visiting Nidderdale in North Yorkshire and have posted a number of blogs about it to date, including multiple cycle route videos and an attempt at a fuller guide. There are lots of photos of the stunning scenery along the way as well as the videos and mapping.

This October I revisted with the aim of getting a much higher quality video of a variety of routes I'd not yet tried. I've put up a lot of clips centred on Pateley Bridge separately to this post about the new Nidderdale Greenway starting near the castle in Ripley and trying the routes to Knaresborough and riding in the town itself.

I was a tad misty when we tried the route from Ripley down to Knaresborough along the Nidderdale Greenway. Note that riding in wet weather is far from unpleasant. If your only experience of wet weather is from the inside of a car or house, you lack any knowledge of how easy and fun it is to be out in it. When riding, walking, or just being out in it, your activity becomes your central heating (without the quarterly bill), and the endorphins created ensure you remain happy (without the presciption costs). If you take outdoors activity as something to be moped about, you'll do the same indoors. Also, after being outdoors you CAN eat cake.



View Nidderdale Oct 2014, Ripley Cycle Route in a larger map

Ripley to Knaresborough on the Old Railway (blue).



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

This clip starts near the castle in Ripley and is a extension of a previous trip from Summerbridge, the connecting clip of which is here.


Ripley Castle from Hedgehog Cycling

The new Nidderdale Greenway proper starts in the car park just round the corner. Sadly for a new route it starts with a gate. Hmm, slightly worrying. However, at the next field boundary a cattle grid appears. Hooray! Why not in the first boundary? The first section is pleasantly away from the the Harrogate road.


Ripley Stone Sculpture from Hedgehog Cycling

At 1:17, the railway route begins in earnest. This is along the remnants of the railway that went up Nidderdale to Pateley Bridge and beyond. The first part of it wiggles more than the railway would have done, but soon there's a steady straight incline across a depression that reeks of trains.


Nidderdale Greenway from Hedgehog Cycling

Given the success of the current cycleways, there's some suggestion that the entire route up to Pateley Bridge (and further) could get the same treatment. It would make a fabulous tourist draw for the locale, encouraging families to spend a week riding the valley, exploring, and visiting attractions, without the need to get the car busy, much like the Camel Trail in Cornwall. And, yes, this is aimed at families rather than the experienced road rider.

At 2:20 there's a reminder that this is not for cycles only, which does detract a little from it's shine. There are several more reminders of this along the way, although no horses.


Sculpture and bench from Yorkshire Trails

At 2:34 there's a concrete slab crossing for farm vehicles. This is a clever way to get round the often objections from some places that the size of vehicles would damage any cycle infrastructure put in. Nice views as the trees fall away, although it's not quite the same as the upper Nidd valley. It doesn't have the same inclines either!

At 4:05, after a pleasant and straight route, there appears some "roadworks". Bizarrely, the sign asks horse and bike riders to dismount. The route is at least 3 metres wide even through the "roadworks". Why on earth do bike riders need to get off? I understand that you might not want horses to be ridden here (although I'll confess ignorance, horse riders?), but to lump the two together seems like a anachronistic mess. Luckily, the viaduct over the river Nidd directly after is impressive and takes thoughts away from prior stupidness.


Nidd Viaduct View from Hedgehog Cycling

At 4:31 I decided to give the path a speed check. Notice the riders behind disappearing! Nice smooth surface at speed. Tick, successful test. Note that I did this then slowed when other people appeared. Riding at speed is something that needs to be done with good awareness of all that is around, including side entrances. Note that this doesn't get anywhere near the same risk posed with driving at speed.

At 5:15 the road to Bilton Park crosses. This is also where the route that connects the the Beryl Burton Cycleway (below) goes to the left. Just after this the cycleway splits in two with the right fork going right into central Harrogate (great access for shopping) and the left fork going to Starbeck between Harrogate and Knaresborough. We follow this route.

Immediately the route is downgraded with a hardcore surface rather than tarmac. This doesn't bother me much, but I understand those who don't like this. Then, at 5:53, the real trouble with this route throws up it's ugly head: highly restrictive width barriers. The idea is it should stop someone riding a motorbike down here. However, it also stops many types of bike coming down here. No cargo bikes, no box bikes, no trikes or other wider ability-modified bikes. Indeed, it's quite difficult for a standard bike to get through here, as is obvious here. It'd be quite a struggle to get through here with minimal shopping. I'd much rather have he odd motorbike than limit who can ride their cycles down here. At least the tarmac has returned.

At 6:47 there's a link up to the roads. This, in hindsight, would have been a better route as it's a quiet road that gets round a slightly less pleasant part for riding near the centre of Starbeck. And finally another awkward wobble to get into a town estate. Hmm. No signposts, no idea where the route goes from here. Is there a route? Straight on down the road would seem sensible, but then at 7:54, yet again no signposts. Have we accidentally strayed off the cycle route?

Heading up the main road, it's not clear if either pavement is a shared-use route. This seems a bit of a sudden end to a reasonable route, being dumped on a main busy urban road with no signs saying where to go. Eventually we decide that the other side is shared-use, cross to it and proceed. The little signage up doesn't tell us much.

At 9:05 we get some confirmation that we are indeed on a shared-use path, with some odd segregation painted on the road. The implication is that the cycle part is one way despite there being no definition of this in law. Then at 9:13, bizarrely a sign declares that this isn't shared-use, it's cycling only, no pedestrians! I frankly don't believe it, especially when passing the bus stop!

Finally at 9:39, there's a clue why we've had arrows painted against us on this cycle route, it drops the route straight into the road without any drop kerb opposite. We carefully cross and continue down past Mother Shipton's Cave into Waterside, Knaresborough.

So, all in all, this part has been poorly signed, has no encouragement for those who are only just comfortable using the off-road cycleroute and end up being dumped in town. Ironically, the much earlier Beryl Burton Cycleway would have been a much better option. I'm not saying it isn't a welcome addition to the local infrastructure, but it could be done an awful lot better without spending much more money. Certainly, the other branches of the new Nidderdale Greenway are very helpful, just a little disappointed by the end of this one.


Waterside from M Hillier on Flickr

The challenge of Knaresborough by bike is it's steep river side. Obviously the town is here precisely because of the defensive qualities of this nook in the river, but it means getting up into town is a bit awkward. Rolling along Waterside is very pleasant, but there's always an eye on the left side climb up to town.

At 10:27, the first sign of access looks utterly soul destroying. Water Bag Bank goes appears like a wall and is, yes, cobbled. Round cobbles covered in a thin layer of slightly damp moss. There's just no way I'll get a bike up there.


Water Bag Bank from NuttyJo

So keep going along Waterside, under the railway bridge. It is a great way to come into the area by train. It's all flat plain from York and you com into Knaresborough through a short tunnel, stop at the stationand know nothing of the bridge ahead. When you do pull out a stunning drop suddenly appears all around with great views along this valley gorge.

Anyway, back to cycling. Waterside is very pleasant but there's still no way up, even into the castle. Then, at 11:00, just before the busy Briggate, Castle Ings turns back round with the contours, rising gently. Once round the corner, it becomes obvious why it was hidden. The incline ramps up and up. Down through almost all the gears. Eventually after several corners and false hope, the top appears. And the market square isn't far away.


Blind Jack in the Market Square from Wikimedia

Descent of Water Bag Bank, Knaresborough (yellow).



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

This was really just a bit of fun, to see if I could negotiate a steep incline on damp, mossy round cobbles.

The first part from Market Square and down Kirkgate is pretty easy. Nice gently sloping tarmac with enough visibility even if a bit narrow. Then, at 0:38, the railway acts as a blockage. I believe the crossing gates where locked so we had to go underneath. Note that it's not easy to get even a light bike through here, let alone if you had shopping as well.

At 0:59 it's great to see houses still decked out with Tour de France bikes and bunting from the summer. However, this is the beginning of Water Bag Bank and cobbles. Just to the right of the yellow car is a walkway that is a route for riding as well I believe. That's the sensible way down. But I didn't want "sensible" right now. Also looking at the houses gives some idea of the incline here.


Water Bag Bank from Geograph

I was on the brakes all the way down here. There's no way I'd let go as I'd never get it back after a millisecond of acceleration. I finally let go when I've got a few yards of cobble left, see how quickly I gain speed!

Finally back along Waterside to the bridge next to Mother Shipton's Cave.

Return using Beryl Burton Cycleway (red).


Sadly the camera had (surprisingly) run out of battery by now. The Beryl Burton Cycleway starts along the riverbank from the bridge next to Mother Shipton's Cave then swiftly turns up and out of the gorge. This is a little steep but isn't for that long. This is followed by a steady slight climb across a field and along a track until reaching Bilton Hall Drive.


Beryl Burton Cycleway from Geograph

From here there's about a mile of track steadily improving to a good road surface passing Bilton Park until the Nidderdale Greenway crosses, as seen at 5:15 on the Ripley to Knaresborough on the Old Railway (blue) clip.

Hedgehog Cycling have a good write up of the Beryl Burton Cycleway.

Encouraging Cycling


The people riding with me are newly returned to cycling. They were excited when this trail was opened and asked me to come up and ride it with them. Our experiences of it were positive with some low points.

  • Width restrictions are a very big negative on rides like this. I understand why some people think there's a need, but when it makes it as difficult at it did at points, it rather belies the original purpose.
  • A lack of signage at the end of routes is also not great. There may have been routes onwards into that part of town or not, we had no idea.
  • Also, just ending a route at a busy road is another big negative. Joined up routes are a nice add-on, they're a requirement.

On the postive side, it's a great off-road route away from traffic. The other route into town offers a genuine alternative to queueing in cars on the way into Harrogate, queueing to get into the car park, paying for it, then queueing on the way out again. I say this as that's exactly what my friends plan on doing, using it as an alternative way to go shopping in town. Well done, Harrogate, you've made your town centre a more attractive destination to shoppers.

Next post: A look at experiences of people taking up cycling this year.

Nidderdale in Autumn




Contents.

I have the fortune of regularly visiting Nidderdale in North Yorkshire and have posted a number of blogs about it to date, including multiple cycle route videos and an attempt at a fuller guide. There are lots of photos of the stunning scenery along the way as well as the videos and mapping.

This October I revisted with the aim of getting a much higher quality video of a variety of routes I'd not yet tried. I've also included the new Nidderdale Greenway starting in Ripley and trying the routes to Knaresborough and riding in the town itself. This I've written up separately.

I was rewarded the day I arrived with glorious sunshine. Sadly, I didn't have time to get much riding in and just did a short Pateley Bridge to Wath circuit, passing The Sportsman at the most northerly point (yellow on the map). After that, with more inclement weather, it was a trip up to Coldstone Cuts beating a couple of 20% inclines and some rough downhilling (red and purple on the map). And a final trip up to Ramsgill, home of The Yorke Arms, to show even travelling along the valley can have some challenges (blue and orange on the map).

Note that riding in wet weather is far from unpleasant. If your only experience of wet weather is from the inside of a car or house, you lack any knowledge of how easy and fun it is to be out in it. When riding, walking, or just being out in it, your activity becomes your central heating (without the quarterly bill), and the endorphins created ensure you remain happy (without the presciption costs). If you take outdoors activity as something to be moped about, you'll do the same indoors. Also, after being outdoors you CAN eat cake.


View Nidderdale Oct 2014 in a larger map

A Quick Guide to the Icons on the Map.

  • Pateley Bridge High Street: A thriving small town with many independent shops supplying great locally sourced food and including the oldest sweet shop!
  • Toft Gate Café: on Trip Advisor with reviews including "service has been excellent", "food was excellent", and "scenery is breathtaking"
  • The Yorke Arms: it's website describes it as "Michelin starred Yorke Arms is one of the UK's leading Restaurant with Rooms."
  • The Sportsman: It's website has quoted "The continuing popularity of The Sportsman’s Arms is proof that a personal recommendation is worth any number of stars or rosettes in a guide book."
  • Coldstone Cuts: it's website has quoted "Stimulate your senses and explore your wilder self at Yorkshires biggest and highest public artwork."

The Cycle Routes.

The videos are all now HD and most have rear windows as well. A combination of a new GoPro 3+ and my old Canon Ixus 105 using Adobe Premiere Elements to combine (although if anyone knows of a more intuitive piece of software, please let me know!). If you don't like the soundtrack (I like upbeat & energetic!), turn it down and switch on the radio/internet/media player track of your choice. Skip forward if you want, there are some good bits and some less good. It is worth making these clips fullscreen to get all the detail they show.

Pateley Bridge to Wath Circuit (yellow).



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

This starts down Pateley Bridge High Street showing this small town is just so vibrant. Whether this is due to the lack of any big chain supermarkets anywhere nearby is up to your imagination. Crossing the Nidd at the bottom end and you move into Bridgehouse Gate in the Beweley parish (from Low and High Bishopside parish) and the showground and the recreation ground. Turning up the valley starts to show some of the Autumn colours in the leaves. Passing the school and we're getting out of town.

At 1:22, The Bridge Inn appears on the left next to the bridge over Foster Beck (Or Ashfold Side Beck). Just after this the turn up to Heathfield appears on the left which I come down on the "Ramsgill to Pateley Bridge via Heathfield" clip below.

As a side note, see what road position I'm using here. This is a narrow two-lane road where there is no space to overtake me if there is oncoming traffic. I take Control (or Primary) position as a result. This means I'm helping people driving to understand there isn't space to squeeze through, they need all of the other side of the road. Note that at 1:33 a Landrover appears behind me, waits for a space and then passes when it's clear. I help by indicating I'm slowing down and pulling a bit over as the road becomes clear with full visibility. You don't have to do this, but being pragmatic, it's always good to be polite to others!

After a few bends and dropping back down to the river, at 2:19 it's a right turn up and over the Nidd again. Almost immediately the village of Wath, with The Sportsman, appears ahead. The road has become a narrow single lane road, cosily nestling between two stone walls. Houses and cottages are clothed in the same stone, juxaposing the yellow, red, and green of the nearby oaks and lush grass.


Wath in warmer times

At 3:00 the first real hill challenge of Pie Gill Green Hill starts. It's not very far but does get me down to my lowest gears. At the top there's a left which heads up to High Bishopside Moor which has some very challenging water drain crossings, even for a car. Still, got to get the water off the road somehow!


Wath Lane View in warmer times

The leavy lane flattens out giving majestic views across the valley, sadly not visible from my camera position even with the reverse view taken out. After a speedy slight drop at 3:58 the bottom of the bottom half of Silver Hill comes into view. This is registered on Ordnance Survey maps as being over 14% and does really challenge. Again not for too long and at the top there's a left to the top part of Silver Hill. This is much more challenging going up to nearly 20% for quite some time! Missing it this time and slowly descending, again through yet more stunning views, the start of north east Pateley Bridge looms into view.

Just in town, at 4:55, Bishops Garth goes to the left allowing a route through the estates to get to the bottom of Old Church Lane Hill and allow a full run back through the High Street.

At 5:08 I go along a path connecting estates. Please note that it's illegal to ride along footways (as per the 1835 Highways Act). A footway is what we call pavements nowadays. Paths between roads are not included in this law. It's perfectly possible that this path is covered in local bylaws but it needs signing if so. Whatever, if riding please always take great care around people walking and when emerging back onto roadways. (Also note that almost certainly all the cars parked on the pavement just after here have broken the 1835 Highways Act.)

At 5:16 turning right onto the bottom of Old Church Lane Hill will allow a full run back through the High Street. Just after there's the left turn into the estate opposite with access to the path up to Panorama Walk.

And finally back into town with the thoughts turning to the variety of outlets to get restoration of the calorific burn just made, cafés and pubs to mind.


Pateley Bridge to Coldstone Cuts via Peat Lane (red).



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

This starts down Pateley Bridge High Street showing this small town is just so vibrant. Hmm, again, lack of any big chain supermarkets? Crossing the Nidd at the bottom end and you move into Bridgehouse Gate in the Bewerley parish (from Low and High Bishopside parish) and the showground and the recreation ground. Keeping on going up the road and the bottom of Greenhow Hill looms.

Greenhow Hill consists of 2.5 miles of narrow winding B-road climbing just short of 300 metres with 4 sections over 14%. This sounds like a great challenge until the mix of a good smattering of medium to heavy lorries, fast cars, tractors are thrown in. Then it's just somewhere to avoid to me. Both up and down.

Turning left towards the centre of Bewerley village makes for a much more pleasant ride. Well, a lot less traffic at least, there's still 300 metres to climb!

Although the climbing is essentially always there, it begins in earnest at 0:40 just before the centre of Bewerley. Slightly depressingly, there's a short drop through the village and just after before the main climb of Peat Lane begins at 1:16. Great views up to Two Stoops up the Fosse Gill valley to the left. This is where you offer thanks that you are not going up Two Stoops (or Yorke's Folly), mainly as that's walking for me. And then there's that, again slightly dispiriting, drop down to false teeth bridge (there's some buried in the road surface!).


Peat Lane

Now is when your metal is tested. If you look at the houses on the right, you can get some idea how steep the road is right here. Then a couple of corners with crunchy acorn shells underneath to really take your grip away. And it's getting steeper. Finally, at 2:27, there's the sweet relief of just 12%. The corners section has been challenging you up to 20% so this seems easy in comparison, even if your lungs are still bursting.

Trying to catch all of your breath back, you meander along for a short while, turn a slight corner and a wall confronts you. Again, it's pedal to the metal with an all out push up to the top of the visible route, again up to 20%. Unfortunately as you get to that corner, there's more road stretched out before you in a more vertical manner than appreciated. If you can't see the incline, look at the gate to the left at 3:29.

Finally, at 3:55, the route relents. Looking back you realise the last 400 metres have been at 17.5% average and has taken you up 25% of the total climb in just 7% of the total journey. Of course you would think you'd think that, but no, you are thinking "must ..... keep ..... breathing ..... heart ..... about ..... to ..... burst". After a little while the 10% incline gets nearer 5% and other brain functions kick in.

The first section of the top includes a series of shorter trees interspersed with farm buildings balanced next to upper gills running with peaty moor water. Then these give way to the true moor. Views across to Coldstone Cuts start to appear and, at over a mile away it seems small but slowly it registered that it must be enormous. To the right is the building that must be the Toft Gate Café with it's obvious great views all the way down Nidderdale.


Coldstone Cuts Skyline


There is a last push to get to the Coldstone Cuts entrance but by now it's seems like riding up anything is possible.


Coldstone Cuts

Coldstone Cuts to Pateley Bridge via Eagle Hall (purple).



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

Leaving Coldstone Cuts and heading up towards Greenhow seems a little foolish given earler statements. However, once on the main road, it's clear that the road is now wide, straight and with plenty of visibility. Even with lorries and cars passing they have enough space to give a wide berth.

After doing the final 30 metre climb, turning right at 1:12 in the Coldstone Fold valley is a small relief. The road drops away sharply and a strong stop is required not to miss the bridleway turn to the right. I suspect this is gated not just to stop wandering livestock but as a disincentive to use this route back into Pateley Bridge. I note that the route is rough for a little while, then gets back to good ole tarmac.

There's plenty of great view from here, good in this weather and stunning in sunshine. A few rainwater drain culverts need special attention. Avoiding going over the highest part of these very important on a bike! By the time the tarmac runs out again at 1:58, a descent of 100 metres has already happened since the top turn.


View down Foster Beck valley

The track gets pretty thin here, more resembling a path and giving a reason to not come up this way. A final gate leads to a more substantial track and back onto tarmac. With the tarmac returns the bigger drain culverts as rainwater cannot penetrate it to leave and runs down it much more than the previous track.

Whilst meandering around at 2:43 it becomes clear that it's not so much a hill but a fairly flat area on the top of a ridge. This rises slightly before descending all the way through Ladies Riggs. Strangely there seem to be a lot of added speed bumps. There isn't anything but local farms here, so it's purely local traffic. A bit odd that neighbours need to tell each other to slow down in this way. The last part of this ridge descent goes through the woods near Eagle Hall.

Finally at 4:09, the left turn back onto the B-road just above Bridgehouse Gate appears. As it's quite twisty still but not far into town, I stick to the road but again use Control (or Primary) position. A car does appear behind me, but soon can't keep up with a much more manoeuvrable and smaller bike in the roadspaces available.

Coming back into town at 4:25, turn left up King Street leading past yet more businesses and up past the police station and the offices of Nidderdale Plus and towards the back lane to Wath. This route can be used as an alternative start to the Pateley Bridge to Ramsgill via Silver Hill (blue) below.

Pateley Bridge to Ramsgill via Silver Hill (blue).



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

This starts going up Pateley Bridge High Street, looking busy, even in the rain. The High Street is steep but not too bad. Then Old Church Lane Hill does make it a mite tougher (coming down is fun, though). Turning into Springfield Way gives a route through to the back road to Wath.

At 1:06 I go along a path connecting estates. Please note that it's illegal to ride along footways (as per the 1835 Highways Act). A footway is what we call pavements nowadays. Paths between roads are not included in this law. It's perfectly possible that this path is covered in local bylaws but it needs signing if so. Whatever, if riding please always take great care around people walking and when emerging back onto roadways. (Also note that almost certainly all the cars parked on the pavement just after here have broken the 1835 Highways Act.)

At 1:17 turn right out of Bishops Garth onto the back road to Wath. As an alternative start to this route use the last 55 seconds of the Coldstone Cuts to Pateley Bridge via Eagle Hall (purple) clip which joins up with this part of the this video.

The first 3:29 of this clip is the reverse of the last 3:26 of the Pateley Bridge to Wath Circuit (yellow) which makes an interesting comparison for direction and weather, leading to a very similar journey time. So all those ups and downs seem to even out. I'd guess I ride a bit more slowly in the wet, but how much is difficult to say. If I just don't push the peak speeds quite as much it may not make much difference over a longer distance. Whatever the case, even in the grey there are some great views from this lane.

At 2:14 a right turn up the top half of Silver Hill appears, which heads up to High Bishopside Moor with a very challenging nearly 20% for quite some time! Missing it this time and descending the bottom half of Silver Hill seems quite appealing.


Wath Lane View in warmer times

At 3:09 the descent of Pie Gill Green Hill into the little village of Wath eases the legs towards the The Sportsman and the crossing of the Nidd. Once crossed the road ascends to get to the height of the water behind Gouthewaite Reservoir dam. This piece of water has some fame as it appeared in the opening credits of Emmerdale. From 4:08 the views across the water are fantastic.

The road alongside the reservoir is quite twisty and narrow. In my experience people do drive at a reasonable speed along here. Not to fast and don't try to pass on bends. I'd suggest anyone who regularly uses this road knows that oncoming traffic appears out of nowhere so don't behave riskily as a result. Again, I adopt Control (or Primary) position at times and try to help people pass of they get stuck behind me.


Gouthwaite in warmer times

The road itself is quite rough and feels like going uphill either way along the waterside. Of course the clue is that the water is flat and the road follows that, so the road isn't gaining height either way!


Ramsgill Church

Finally at 6:39, the church at the top of the water appears signalling the beginning of Ramsgill with The Yorke Arms. I stop and look at the Ramsgill brook which is one of the main tributaries of the upper Nidd. Again, stunning scenery throughout.


Ramsgill Stream


Ramsgill Stream


The Yorke Arms in warmer times


Ramsgill to Pateley Bridge via Heathfield (orange).



Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

Starting at the Ramsgill brook, which is one of the main tributaries of the upper Nidd, and almost immediately passing The Yorke Arms on the left.


The Yorke Arms

After the village at 0:35, Gouthewaite Reservoir appears on the left. This piece of water has some fame as it appeared in the opening credits of Emmerdale. The views across the water are fantastic.

The road alongside the reservoir is quite twisty and narrow. In my experience people do drive at a reasonable speed along here. Not to fast and don't try to pass on bends. I'd suggest anyone who regularly uses this road knows that oncoming traffic appears out of nowhere so don't behave riskily as a result. Again, I adopt Control (or Primary) position at times and try to help people pass of they get stuck behind me.


A Lonely Tree at the Top of Gouthwaite

The road itself is quite rough and feels like going uphill either way along the waterside. Of course the clue is that the water is flat and the road follows that, so the road isn't gaining height either way!


Gouthwaite in warmer times

At 2:32, turning right is an unclassified track. It's not obvious on the Ordnance Survey and heads up to a small hamlet of Heathfield, which also lends it's name to the caravan park at the other side of the hill. It's interesting that the county sees fit to fix this track and I approve! This is a challenging incline that exceeds 15% at times (around 3:05). It seems quite different going the other direction! However the more height, the more the views across the water gets better and better!


Gouthwaite from West Wood House


Gouthwaite from West Wood House in warmer times

At 3:35 entering the woods and the incline relents a little bit. And this is certainly over half way up the hill vertically with a bit more than half distance still to cover.

At 4:22 there's a slightly strange cut through the wall between fields and a long line of pines. It feels very remote up here and pleasantly airy. And not long after glorious views all the way down Nidderdale appear.

Just after the top at 5:05, the descent starts by going through the few houses and farm that makes up Heathfield. Despite appearances, I descend really carefully covering the brakes all the way. It's wet, narrow, and every chance of oncoming tractors! Again, this seemed very different from the other direction.


Heathfield in warmer times

At 5:43 turning right back onto the valley road just before crossing Foster Beck (Or Ashfold Side Beck) and passing the Bridge Inn. Then I drop my hat! A quick retreival, whilst signalling my intentions all the way.

At 6:26 the first signs of Pateley Bridge whilst passing the school. At 6:53 the bandstand is the centre of the recreation ground.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Cherry Hinton Useless Cyclelane


I filmed the cyclelane on Cherry Hinton Road from a drivers perspective whilst viewing other people's treatment and driving around it. It becomes apparent that people driving can't cope with it and regularly fail to respond to it correctly.

I'd argue that the cyclelane itself is thus useless and that it could be considered dangerous to use by people riding.

I believe the cyclelane is relatively new as not on the Google satellite image but do appear on the Google Streetview here. Note that looking through the Google Streetview photos, I'm not alone in finding issue with the cyclelane!

Looking in detail we have several issues.
  • Evidence shows that if a cyclelane is painted on the side of a road, people driving tend to place their vehicles closer to riders as they pass. So to include one on a road you have to be fairly sure that it will help people driving stay well clear. In most cases this simply doesn't work.
    • Essentially, people driving tend to view the cyclelane as another lane on the road where simply being inside the lines either side is good enough.
    • People riding need space on the road bigger than the cyclelane. This is recognised in BikeAbility cycle training and the Highway Code (Rules 163 and 213). This is for wobble room (a gust of wind, a large pothole), just in case they fall over (same reasons), and to avoid airwash from passing vehicles.
  • This road is only just wide enough to include an on-road cyclelane and the two lanes going either way. (Note that there is plenty of space a lot of the way down the road outside of the roadspace.) A non-mandatory (dashed lines) cyclelane means cars can use it when necessary. Obviously this is open to interpretation. 
    • However, if when necessary includes simply when is a straighter line along the road than if not, the whole concept of having a cyclelane in the first place is pointless. It adds no safety to anyone riding. If a painted lane can't train people driving to avoid space for cycling then what's the point in having it?
  • On a section towards the end, the cyclelane passes some off-road space where cars are parked. Again, BikeAbility cycle training (PDF page 20) tells anyone riding to not use the cyclelane space. If a door opens, anyone riding in the cyclelane will have their safety seriously compromised. 
    • Training says move out to being in a space that'd be just outside the cyclelane (where the left handlebar would have plenty of space from an opened door).
  • On several occasions, the cyclelane passes a side road. Again, BikeAbility cycle training (PDF page 21) tells anyone riding to not use the cyclelane space. If someone drives from the side road but fails to stop accurately at the Give Way line (which happens a lot), anyone riding in the cyclelane will have their safety seriously compromised. 
    • Training says move out to being in a space that'd be just outside the cyclelane.

Quite why, in the leading city for cycling in the UK, we are still getting such awful infrastructure diminishing any budget for proper, safe build is laughable if it wasn't so serious.





Here's a few more pictures from Google Streetview showing the failure of people to deal with this cyclelane along with the satellite view showing no cyclelane up until recently.