Wednesday, 24 August 2016

24 Aug: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today was yet another hot, humid, August day. During the afternoon the temperature in Cambridge had risen to nearly 29C, and by the time I set off to Brookside for tonight's ride, it was still about 23C. At the start I was joined by seven other riders: Gareth, Mike CC, John R, Sven, Dimitris, Kenny and newcomer Dave, here on his first evening ride with us.

The start at Brookside

Today's route was a run along the northern busway. After a brief discussion about alternative routes to the busway (via King's Hedges or via Arbury) we agreed to go there by the shortest route which was via Girton.

We set off, rode through the City Centre and headed out of the city along Huntington Road. Several riders were quite frisky this evening and pushed up the pace, though we stayed together until Mike CC and John suggested that the rest of us went ahead at a faster pace whilst they followed on behind.

On the busway

After we joined the busway our pace relaxed and we paused briefly to allow Mike CC and John to catch up with us. Nevertheless the pace for the journey was fairly brisk, despite a light headwind, and we made good progress to St Ives and then along the Thicket Path to Houghton. There we dismounted briefly to walk past the mill before getting back on our bikes to ride across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots.

Crossing the Ouse Meadows

Crossing the Ouse Meadows

We arrived at The Axe and Compass in Hemingford Abbots at about 7.50pm, slightly ahead of schedule, and went inside to order drinks and food, with several of us ordering burgers and others ordering bowls of chips.

After a slightly longer-than-usual 50-minute session in the pub we all got ready to ride back to Cambridge. It was now well after sunset so we turned on our lights.

Mike CC and John didn't have far to go so they said goodbye and invited the rest of us to go on ahead of them. Our route home took us back to St Ives via Hemingford Gray and back along the busway.

When we reached St Ives we crossed the river by the old bridge and rode down Bridge Street towards the town centre. As we approached the end of the street Gareth suddenly turned left into Merryland, taking him in completely the wrong direction. I called on the others to ignore him and we continued to the end of the street before turning right towards Market Hill and the busway.

A minute later Gareth caught back up with us, and explained that the route we had taken had actually taken us past a no-entry sign and the wrong way down a very short (10 metres or so) one-way section of the street. Later inspection using Street View confirms what he said; cyclists wanting to get to the market place (which is a through route only for cyclists) are presumably expected to turn left down Merryland and loop back at the mini-roundabout, or perhaps take a completely different route from the bridge via The Quay. In any case this seems unnecessary and if I get around to it I'll write to the County Council to request a cycle exemption here.

A couple of minutes later we were on the busway and making our way along the busway back to Cambridge. We had a slight tailwind (certainly we had no headwind) and our pace was quite high, and this was a fast and enjoyable ride back.

As we rode back through the darkness we enjoyed the spectacle of a thunderstorm in the distance, directly ahead of us. At first we could see only the lightning bolts across the sky; as we approached the edge of Cambridge we heard thunder as well.

After having lost two members from my ride on Sunday I was anxious not to do so again. It's easy to get separated in the dark, so as we rode along I kept looking back and counting how many white lights I could see. As we approached Longstanton we realised we had lost two riders, so the remaining four of us stopped under a street light to wait for them. Dimitris and Kenny were not in sight, so I phoned Dimitris to find out what had happened. He explained he had sustained another puncture (he'd had one on Sunday), but Kenny was keeping him company so he urged us to continue without them.

The rest of us carried on. After a short while it started to rain a little, with sporadic but fairly large rainsrops. Although we expected this to turn into a deluge at any point, it never did, and we managed to get all the way back to Cambridge without getting more than slightly damp.

I arrived back at home at 10.05pm having cycled 58km (36 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. The short stretch of one-way on Bridge Street is completely ridiculous — it's more like 3 metres than 10 metres. There's absolutely no reason why there shouldn't be an exception for cyclists, especially now that the DfT no longer insists upon having a segregated entry point, so the exception could be implemented cheaply by attaching an "Except cycles" sign to the "No entry" signpost (as on Hope Street, Cambridge).

    I used to take the route via the Quay and Wellington Street, but recently a new set of barriers have been put up by the Oliver Cromwell pub, making it awkward to go this way.