Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Weymouth to Dorchester Cycle path

My... this blog is like buses... nothing for ages then two come at once. Before you get too far down the post this is a bit of an essay; a touch of the TL;DR perhaps.

Today I did indeed cycle from sunny Weymouth to not so sunny Dorchester by way of the cycle path that was built alongside the Weymouth relief road (Broadwey bypass for those in the know :) )

The outward trip, from home to the bike park space near Waitrose is 10.55 miles... not strictly true for reasons that will become clear in a while.

I set out at 8:19 AM... early enough to avoid the traffic for the short sections of road on which I was planning to travel and everything went really quite well... hmmm. Well as well as one can expect when using facilities designed by people who obviously don't ride bikes.

The first silly thing is that you have to ride round one of the major car parks in town - if you take a short cut across it you can't easily get on to the cycle path to travel up Radipole park drive.

Onwards to the start of the cycle path behind Morrisons... a nightmare to get on to if riding north. It is the opposite problem to the A35/A354 roundabout at Dorchester :).

The first section of the path is downwards and very wriggly - interesting for the antcipation of meeting foot passengers or other cyclists coming the other way. I had got warmed up by now so that when the path designers threw in a spurious slope I was not caught out too much.

Pressing on through the back of Broadwey/Littlemoor we get to another random snakey/steep bit where visibility is nil so you can't take the corners at any speed. Its a bit of a haul up the very short steep path but you get to the top and are rewarded with a view over the settling pools for the new road. They look like natural lakes now - I suppose they ought to because although the road has been open for only a few months, the ponds have been in for a couple of years.

Ah, now we are getting to the business part of this ride - the down payment on the descent into Dorchester. It is a long way up the hill to the top of Ridgeway - the highest point is on the bridge across the new road at 485 feet according to the GPS. I felt every one of those feet - but in all honesty the haul up is just a case of keep on pedalling...

Having crossed the summit of the climb, you get a fantastic run down to Dorchester... I lie; you get a fantastic run down to Winterbourne and then things start to go pear shaped. Tis is the other sillyness.

On the run from Winterbourne to Dorchester you are facing the flow of traffic - on the wrong side of the road if you like. The cycle path gets to the Tesco roundabout (A354/A35) has a couple of cyclist dismount signs (like I pay any attention to them) and then, after 50 yards, turns into a footpath only, still on the 'wrong' side of the road with no on/off ramp. I made my own by carefully cycling in to Tesco fuel station access road and then joining the A354 for the last mile into Dorchester. Total time was 51m58s door to parked bike.

I wandered lonely as a cloud in Dorchester veering into Waitrose and The Fridge for the makings of tea tonight then strolled down the high street where I pre-ordered the new pTerry Pratchett (Snuff) and the Christopher Paoulini (Inheritance)... £3 deposit for each gets me them at half price... nice one Waterstones. Have to wait until November though!
After this I saw a colleague who wanted to know where the bike was and was surprised when I told him it was round the corner. 10 miles isn't that far and it isn't a hard ride. I should do it more often.

I returned to the Orca and set off back home. Now I am not stupid (often) and once bitten twice shy... I left Dorchester the scenic route down Herrington Road which crosses the A35 by bridge. OK there is a sharp right at the bottom of a steep hill to deal with but never mind.

Back onto the cycle path to Weymouth and I dug in to the hill - it was not as bad as I thought it might be.

The highway code says that you shouldn't ride on a cycle path at speeds in excess of 18mph... so near the summit of Ridgeway I took to the new road again because I knew I would be riding...ummm.... quickly down the hill. I crested the hill under the new bridge and got stuck in. Soon in 27th gear and gaining speed... there are only 27 gears on this bike and I was running out of spin. I glanced at the rough and ready speed indicator from Aldi which was saying 71kph. I think I definitely shouldn't be on a cycle path at this point and must confess to letting out a "roller coaster" yell or two... well that was the fastest I have ever been on a bike; 71kph converts to 44.1mph - a respectable speed; indeed faster than many cars driving to Weymouth, though strangely no cars were following me.

I came the very scenic route back from the first roundabout (It has a name but it is so stupid that I can't remember it) - looping over the new road on the new Littlemoor road bridge, then riding down Dorchester road, now pleasantly devoid of traffic, slipping to the right down through Radipole and up Spa road to Radipole park drive. At this point the route becomes academic.

Anyway I get home and stop the clock on RunKeeper... the return Journey was a similar average speed to the outward bound one, even with the hill very much in my favour for some of it. I checked the profile and was slightly amazed to see that my highest speed, logged by the GPS, was 47.8mph.

Will I ride the route again - definitely. Will I go right up to the A35/A354 roundabout - not on your life (or mine for that matter) I will snake though Winterbourne Herringston and up Herringston road.

here is a link to the route on MapMyRide... It doesn't start from home for obvious reasons. I haven't bothered mapping the return journey as it is pretty much the same.

Enough already! See you later dear reader... but not for at least 4 days becasue I am away on a course in sunny Bristol.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Too many people

Well you know how it goes, what with one thing and another something has to give and, sadly, it has been this blog. Actually at least one reader thinks its a good thing that I have stopped.

The one thing I have stopped is falling off the Orca. I am now fairly confident on it - I even mixed with the holiday maker traffic the other day; I suppose I better tackle the lights of death soon, just to see if they are negotiable by bike in a direction other than straight on... I suspect that they are.

Anyway, back on topic. Today there were just too many people on the shared path. I knew it was going to be a tricky ride home when as I turned right by the bridge at a rare green light I heard the local youth demanding the bike (at least this time without death threats). Meeting a cyclist coming the other way is fairly rare so the one at the path junction was a bit of a surprise... but he was the calm before the storm!

Round the corner and suddenly there was all of Weymouth, scooters, bikes and obstinate people with walking sticks. At least I wasn't going very fast at all. What still bugs me a bit, 5 hours later and watching the video, it the codger with the stick didn't actually go to the side at all, forcing me to get rather closer than I would like to the children on my left. As he seemed t use his stick as a 'you there!' stick, he could have moved just a little and everyone (me) would have been happy.

The rest of the trip home was similarly encumbered - there was a bit of a premonition moment by the yacht club - I thought someone would be joining the path so was positioned OK... and lo two young women started to join the path one on a bike the other pushing her bike. Another time highlander!

Well I am going to cycle to Dorchester tomorrow along the new cycle path... If you are (un)lucky I will blog about it!

Friday, 17 December 2010


Well a brief post from the phone... it is easier than getting the picture on to a pc and then uploading it.

Today in Weymouth we had some snow. It was falling a bit then thawing a bit so nice and icy. I waited till it stopped then ventured out to defrost the bike... interesting times I think as I chip ice from the seat.

Cycling on the snow isn't too bad at all though I take things easy just in case. This is a.mixed blessing because I need to pedal to keep warm... I am still wearing shorts.

On the way up the hill I get wheel spin... the Orca has slick tyres so grip isn't its strong point. I take the decision to ride away from the edge of the road, holding up traffic. Oddly none of the passing vehicles object.

Hope this silly white stuff goes away by Monday.

Ah well, dear reader, I am finding typing on this phone tricky, so for the moment I bid you adieu.
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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snow 2...

Well, as promised, what video I could salvage from this mornings very interesting ride to work. Unfortunately the battery on the camera stopped recording after 21 minutes or so, and consequently missed the other fall and wobbliness which caused me to walk up the hill and down the other side until I reached the cycle track.

Would I do it again? Yep. It was fun, and I need to practice falling off a bit more.
Was it bonkers? Yep. A fairly silly thing to do but hey, you only live once! I rode to college 20 odd years ago, albeit on a diamond Frame bike, in much much worse snow and ice than today.

The trip home this evening was massively uneventful; the cars having cleared the road somewhat and I cycled along the roads rather than the railway track.

Will I cycle tomorrow? nope; I need to get fuel in the car ready for the weekend and the snow will have all turned to ice, a surface on which the slick tyres of the Orca will have even less grip than today. The roads will still be clearish unless it snows again tonight, which is unlikely.

Still got a silly grin on, falling off notwithstanding!

See you later people



Well people, there may be snow however cycling has to go on... and yes, there will be a video collection later of all the falls I managed to make today. For now you will have to put up with a bit of waffle about how different the Orca is to a normal bike.

It is days like today when I wish I had managed to afford a trike - then there would be no falling off and a lot of sillyness!

Here is a post I made on cyclechat for those of you who don't read that website....

I got up this morning to be greeted by the first snow of the year. Lovely. I thought oh I am commuting to work, how hard can it be?

Well not too bad. The Orca is a very different kettle of fish in the snow than a DF... especially with slick tyres.

Balancing is interesting especially with tiller steering.
Applying any sort of power with slick tyres was a no no so I had to find flat/downhill bits to recover from the inevitable "offs".

Fell off 4 times, all low speed, two within 2 yards on fresh snow after a right turn, the next on a slight uphill incline which also requires a sharp left at the top, and the last one after negotiating a road pillow on a well packed snowy road.

Smiles all round though I think I may have bruised my shoulder a little.

Unfortunately there isn't any video because, as a result of wearing a hat under my camera mount, the Muvi was pointing at the sky.

Tonight I will be cycling home along main roads, rather than along my usual mainly off road route.

And after I get home I will edit what video I have... and post it here of course.


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Idiots on the trail

The ride home started so well today. Left work as usual, remembered to switch on the camera. As it happens, I am glad I did. Saw a lovely rainbow which the Muvi failed completely to capture.

The first incident, unfortunately, was not caught on camera as I don't have a sideways facing device - some impatient chap in a Ford Mondeo tried to fit between me and an oncoming vehicle near the Vets on Chickerell Road. I duly held him up for a while then, when he finally over took, it transpired that he only made about 15s progress as he stopped in Prince of Wales Road, just past the path on to the Rodwell Trail. I failed to stop and discuss his lack of driving skills because, in general, motons aren't worth the effort.

Anyway I haul up to the Rodwell trail and just as it starts to rain I pass through the tunnel towards Rodwell station, a well known drinking haunt for the local youth with nothing better to do.
As you can perhaps see, I anticipate trouble and move over to the right of the trail, yet one hard man decided to block the path.
I wonder just how hard he would be with a chain ring and pedals embedded in his nether regions? As it happens I don't get to find out because I win the game of chicken. I hardly ever lose that particular game.

Oh well better luck next time I guess.

If you are wondering just what would happen had I made contact - well I may have fallen off but with feet clipped to bike I would have been up and fighting fit fairly quickly, your man in the hoodie would have been in a private world of pain...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

YouTube FAIL

I must apologise for the lack of video in the "How Close" post. YouTube scores another fail. Perhaps it will fix itself?