Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oxford - Cambridge (and back again)...

I visited Cambridge over the weekend. By bike! This was amazing fun, and I'd encourage anyone with even the most minor reason to make the trip, to go for it. It's 85 miles each way, though, so best to be sure you'll make it, or know where there are buses / trains along the route.
Saturday, I left Oxford at about 10.15. The route i used, for anyone keen, was borrowed from Richard Griffin (and is online, at http://www.squarewheels.org.uk/bike/routeCamOx/ ). He's plotted a pleasant course, using little country roads, avoiding the main ones. That is, imagine that if cars travel along two sides of a triangle, bikes go along the third side, a ~straight line. Which is also incredibly picturesque.

It took about 8 hours, stopping for lunch, to reach Cambridge (pulling up outside King's). There I met PW, a friend of mine from primary school, who's just finished a Law degree there. We ate out with a Historian and some Comp-Scis, all of good (/strange) humour); all-you-can-eat Chinese food, which is ideal for someone after 85 miles by bike. Then took in a Cambridge pub. (Their city's really not that different to here).

Slept on a floor in Corpus, then had breakfast in their (v v ornate Victorian) hall. Then, at about 10.15 again, set off for Oxford! Making it there about 8.5 hours later. Having had an excellent weekend, doing a (mildly crazy) thing - 170 miles in 2 days, for an overnight visit - which i'd planned and looked forward to during my Finals.

There are many photos; ask if you want them!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

CTC Cycle ride 01/03/2008: Oxford - Waterperry - Chearsley - Oxford

A moderate route this time; just over 40 miles. Still more than a year's cycling for an average adult in the UK, though - I should remember that. So, this pastime is a little out of the ordinary, a bit unusual. This weekend, I tried to understand why people do it, why those people spend their Sunday out on quiet roads, on their bikes.

The first thing to note is, they can't all have the same reasons; these are dissimilar people, aged 12 to (um, 70?), brought together by a single shared interest. That said, there is a common thread.

Apart from the 12 yr old, all have jobs, or family, or other commitments to the world. Not one of them is alt lifestyle or itinerant; i'd guess every one of them is on the electoral register. Respectable people! So, on Sundays, they get to act like children. Out in the air and sun all day, looking at the trees and listening to the birds, plodding up hills and whizzing down them on their bikes. (Um, that would be healthy well-behaved children, then, not the C21st UK variety).

Who can blame them? It's fun, even before you add in meeting people with non-overlapping knowledge / specialist fields. There was a new Classics senior lecturer and a physicist out this Sunday, for example, so conversation can include both electromagnetic induction and Pompeii.

Maybe it is escapism. But once a week, why not? This month, Monday to Friday, I'm on an anatomy course, 9 to 5; if i get on a bike at the weekends, who's to know?