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.

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