Tuesday 30 November 2010

Chalford Canal Path

A short route along the Golden Valley near Stroud

A technical and emotional note about the reasoning behind these blogs.

The map of the route alongside a very down at heels section of the Thames & Severn Canal.

It's possible to extend the route at both ends but it's not for too much longer and gets a bit rougher.

The canal is part of the Cotswold Canals Restoration Project with this section being led by Stroud District Council. This map seems to show it a little better than we found.

Old Neighbouring, the Chalford Climb

A short route up the side of the Golden Valley near Stroud

A technical and emotional note about the reasoning behind these blogs.

The map of the route (on Bikely) up the hill. The climb goes up the side of the Golden Valley from the west end of Chalford. It's dominated by the lower slopes that have a sharp slope. The road, called Old Neighbourhood, twists it's way up. The path, our choice, just goes straight up the side.

A few stills from the video. The first is at the junction with the A419 at hte bottom of the hill. The roadsign on the left warns of a 12% slope, but that's by the road and we're doing the steeper path!

This is a bit beyond halfway along the path. The leaves are starting to get thicker on a slope that's hard to ride when clean. This path starts at an impossible slope and just gets steeper. For the stats freaks, it averages 15.2% (673m-312m=361m distance with 143m-88m=55m gain) with the last 46m going up 10m to give 21.7%.

Finally, out of the top of the path and everything seems easy. Apart from it's still around 7% and drags on for another 1300m.

Yes, this is nothing like climbing the Alpes or Pyrenees, but does rate for the UK.

I did Plateau de Beille in 2007, which is one of the top rated Tour climbs. It’s 1220m up in 15.6km averaging 7.8%. That rates 150 on the widely adopted climb rating scale. On the same scale this climb comes in at 73. This is pretty high given it takes me around 5% of the time of the French ride. And, if you do the path, then shoot back down by road to the bottom and do it again 9 further times (thus taking half the time as Plateau de Beille), the rating is 152!

And finally, the video. It's cut in two places for adjustment stops. At first my gears needed to be checked to get to the very bottom ratio and then the weather changed sufficiently by the top requiring some camera protection.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Cycling Videos

A series of videos of routes in and around Cambridge, Oxfordshire, and other rural places

This series of videos were taken by a simple Canon IXUS 105 running 640x480 (and converted smaller) on a homemade lightweight wooden mount on the front of my bike. I've gone away from specialised helmet-mounted cameras as they seem very expensive and deliver very little. The foreshortening of the video pictures does make this series seem a little racy in sections. I was not dangerous at any time, despite the view!

This blog was put together with a few aims in mind.

  • To encourage cycling, taking town cyclists out into the lovely country around and getting new cyclists on their bikes
  • To show easier ways to handle certain junctions
  • To highlight good and poor road layout and design
  • To highlight good and poor behaviour by (other!) road users

Sometimes I do get on my high horse about some aspects of poor behaviour. I think all I'd like to say is that it's a adenaline buzz usually, caused by feeling very vunerable next to anything between 1 and 10 tons of metal.

I want more people to get out on their bikes to challenge that kind of behaviour. It's been shown that the more bikes on the road leads to less accidents due to more familarity.

I cannot emphasise enough that despite some ranting and rolling, there's nothing better than getting out on your bike and the joys of the cycling and being out in the countryside far, far outweigh the perceived dangers. This blog can help people to find the right way to reduce the sometimes scary moments and good ways of avoiding them completely.

I have tri-bars (yes, I'm that fast!) which give me a nice mount position.

I've fashioned a wooden mount for the Canon Ixus camera. It does need the odd tweak to keep the camera steady, although road noise coming up the frame is a problem.

And this is how the screw mounting works.

Recently I've also adjusted the bars to handle maps. The paper create-by-yourself kind. Found it really worked. Cable ties are used to clip keyring mounts for multiple pages. Elastic bands enable a sheet to be rolled up and kept out of the way.

It flaps a bit in the wind, but not enough to be unreadable.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Wenhaston, Bramfield, Sibton Green, Warpole, Halesworth

A short route round Coastal Suffolk

A technical and emotional note about the reasoning behind these blogs.

The map of the route.

The Route sectioned into Videos.
Wenhaston to Bramfield
- The Street
- Hall Road
- Blackheath Road
- Bramfield Road
- Thorington Road
- Pitman's Grove
- Bridge Street
Bramfield to Sibton Green
- The Street
- Sibton Green
Sibton Green to East Warpole
- (unnamed lane)
- Warpole Road
- (unnamed lane)
East Warpole to Halesworth
- Halesworth Road
- Warpole Road
- London Road
Halesworth to Mells Lane
- London Road
- Bramfield Road
Some of Mells Lane
- Mells Lane
- Heath Road (unvideoed)
- Back Road (unvideoed)

Wenhaston to Bramfield.

A steady section of uphill through Wenhaston leading past the village hall and school and then a nice 25mph descent past The Star pub before turning onto Blackheath Road and past Wootons. The heath has got a couple of small hills just to get the blood pumping before turning left to cross a stream tributary of the river Blyth. This is where cyclists notice the sand, which has been drained by rain water into one place. It's sometimes piled up so high that cycling is really awkward. Then turn up and over the hill (ish) to Bramfield. Alomst a 30mph descent into the village and a turn left onto the main A road.

Bramfield to Sibton Green.

The A144 is possibly the busiest section of this route. Off it quickly and up the hill (ish) to the railway and past Bridge Farm. A steady pace all the way gently up to White Post Farm in Sibton Green.

Sibton Green to East Warpole.

Turning right towards Warpole joins National Cycle Route One! Yep, the middle of nowhere has this main cycle route in it. The route of this cycle-route is best described as "interesting". It's clearly not designed for getting from one point ot another but to swirl around the interesting and quiet places of this area. Hmmm. Anyway, after crossing Warpole Road, a nice downhill section to the B road into Halesworth.

East Warpole to Halesworth.

After joining the B road into Halesworth, the National Cycle Route wanders off to the left to do a nice loop to Cookley Grange before coming back to this route in Halesworth. And, yes, this section of B road is possbiyl also the busiest on this route. It's quickly over and Halesworth looms. The road surface just into town is fantastically smooth, and needs to be as downhill to the Co-op can almost reach 30mph before whipping into the garage for a newspaper.

Halesworth to Mells Lane.

Back out of the Co-op garage and up the hill (ish) out of town. Back onto the A144 to get out of Halesworth. This is where one or two motor vehicles seem to do silly things. Regularly on this section I will get up to, but not exceed, 30mph. Despite being a 30mph limit I've regularly been overtaken, even taking into consideration the turns onto the road adn number of houses close by.

Some of Mells Lane.

And Mells Lane is a nice, back route all the way to Wenhaston. Occasional tractors and locals, and the very odd lorry, as seen towards the end, going to the gravel pit. I managed to run out of camera battery, so didn't get it all.