Sunday, 20 June 2010

• Cycle Route - 35 miles

"Today's ride was planned meticulously before we even got out of bed. For the first time this year we set off to the southwest of Cambridge, initially heading for Shelford via the amazing DNA Cycle Way. From there we went from village to village out as far as Shepreth and then climbed the hill between Barrington and Haslingfield on our way to Toft. By this time, the nagging wind and cool weather had left us feeling rather drained. The return to Cambridge via Coton and Grantchester left us feeling very tired but the day's total distance of 35 miles was the most we've done this year, so far." - Steve

We were able to plan today's ride in so much detail because we found a cycle route-planning website that allows users to plot routes using Google Maps. This website, Cycle Routes UK, is a goldmine of resources and information for cyclists. The route-planning side of this site lets you plan routes which you can then share with the Cycle Routes community. The site also calculates the mileages of the routes and organises users' routes by area so that you can choose a route near where you live (or want to cycle) to use. Route planners are encouraged to rank their routes in terms of difficulty and to provide useful information on the route such as points of interest, warnings about obstructions or detours and reasons to try the route out. It's a fantastic resource - indeed it is exactly the sort of thing that we were wishing we had last Summer!

This was an ambitious ride and to our credit, we set out in spite of the fact that conditions were not perfect. The weather was uneven - it wasn't particularly warm and, as we were to discover, it was windy. Not the blustery destabilising sort of wind but the kind of wind that seems to know where you want to go and adjusts its force and direction so that you are faced with wind the whole way 'round! We rarely were able to freewheel and we had to peddle against either the wind or gravity, most of the way. Not my favourite sort of ride. There were not very many leisure riders out today - perhaps on account of the doubtful weather.

On the bright side, it was mostly sunny and the landscape was lovely; the villages were as beautiful as we remembered them from last years' rides. At Toft we met an older man walking his dog. We recognised each other as we'd met in the same spot last year! We chatted a bit (mostly about the weather!) before moving onto Hardwick, then Coton, Grantchester and, finally, home.

Once home, we rested while busying ourselves gathering our ride data from various heart rate monitors, cycle computers and GPS mapping iPhone Apps. A meal of pizzas and a blog post later we are ready to retire for the night! zzzzzzzzzzz...

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