Busways, Canals, and Punting (August 2)

Brampton to Cambridge

To say there have been a lot of short riding days lately would be a bit of an understatement. It’s been a very strange tour in that regard. And today looked to be another short day on the bike. Again, the reason for all these short days is that I’m booked on the ferry to Holland on August 4th and I’m well ahead of schedule in that regard. In hindsight, I should’ve booked the ferry on an earlier date to allow more time in Amsterdam.

Another wise T-shirt.

Another wise T-shirt.

Today’s ride was to be a very short jaunt to Cambridge. Less than 40 km away. The upside to the short ride was that it would allow plenty of time to wander around Cambridge. As such, the plan was to arrive in Cambridge between 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM … and that’s what I told Geoff, tonight’s Warm Showers host.

My Warm Showers host last night, John, offered to ride with me out of town thus eliminating the need to navigate my way through more than a few turns that I’m surely would’ve messed up a few times along the way. That’s not defeatist, it’s just the nature of the beast. Anyway, as usual I aimed to be on the road for 9:00 knowing that it would more likely be closer to 10:00. In reality, it ended up being closer to 10:30.

Thanks to John and Leslie!

Thanks to John and Leslie!

Part of the reason for the somewhat late departure was the leisurely breakfast that I had. Leslie had made fresh bread and, well … it was more than just a little bit good. It was so good (and still warm, I might add) that John and I ended up eating the whole loaf. Admittedly, I probably ate more than my share. I couldn’t help it. Fresh bread that was still warm PLUS there was hazelnut chocolate spread. There was also Marmite. I’d heard of Marmite before but never tasted it. In all honesty, my only knowledge of Marmite comes from the movie “Paul” (“Oooh, Marmite!”). Anyway, apparently it’s one of those “love it or hate it” kind of things. As such, I only had a small bit to sample it. I didn’t love it. The hazelnut chocolate spread on the other hand, well … that’s a no brainer.

As mentioned earlier, the ride to Cambridge finally began around 10:30. I’m not going to lie, it was great to have a guide leading the way and freeing me from having to look at a map every two minutes.. John led me as far as the guided busway that would take me directly to Cambridge – and, conveniently enough, very close to tonight’s accommodations. It’s kind of funny, because today’s ride was so short, by the time John and I went our separate ways he actually had further to go than I did.

In what has become the norm, the weather for the day was a mixed bag. It started wet, then very wet, then damp, then clear, then sunny, then rainy, the sunny again. It was quite the meteorological rollercoaster. Fortunately, when the rollercoaster finally ended it did so during a sunny phase.

Guided busway.  Obviously.

Guided busway. Obviously.

The guided busways that led my way to Cambridge were pretty interesting. They’re exactly what they sound like. A pathway for buses. They’re just wide enough for the buses to fit and there’s only tarmac (actually, I think it was concrete) along the tire tracks. Anything more narrow than a bus would not fare very well on these tracks. That said, the bike lanes that run parallel to the busways make for very easy navigation.

I arrived in Cambridge on schedule, around 12:30, where I met tonight’s host, Geoff. We chatted for a while before we walked into town to do some touristy exploring. Well, Geoff actually stopped at the local swimming pool. I continued on to act like a tourist.

Punting in Cambridge.

Punting in Cambridge.

The next few hours were spent walking the streets of Cambridge. Despite my best efforts, I’m pretty sure I ended up going in circles a few times. That said, there were a lot of beautiful old building to admire – many of which are schools. And while school may be out at the moment, there wasn’t a shortage of people wandering around. Apparently the number of tourists to the area has really increased over the years.

Other than the schools, one of the popular tourist attractions is punting. Small boats pushed along the canals, gondola style. There were more than a few punts available for hire and more than a few people encouraging people to do so. That said, it looked to be a slow day in the punting business as there were a lot more docked than in use.

As the afternoon turned to evening, I returned to Geoff’s place where we then went to The Haymaker, a local pub, for dinner and a pint. As would be expected, it was a good combination.

The rest of the night was essentially a bit of a geek-fest. By coincidence, Geoff happened to have the exact same GPS unit as mine (eTrex 20). I’d not used it at all so far because I couldn’t get it to recognize the maps that I had copied onto the micro-SD card. That issue never got resolved but Geoff did manage to put a UK map onto the internal storage of the unit PLUS he added a very specific route that would lead me to Harwich from Cambridge. I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to testing it out tomorrow.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I really hope that it works out because, well … we spent a lot of time and effort in an attempt try to save time and effort. And by “we” it was mostly Geoff’s efforts that got it working. Thanks to Geoff!

Side note: The 2,000 km threshold has officially been crossed on this trip. Technically, that happened yesterday but I didn’t notice until now because I only just updated my spreadsheet moments ago. Spreadsheets are great by the way. Anyway, about 1,700 of those 2,000 kilometres have been on the new bike.

Today’s totals:
Distance travelled: 37.41 km
Ride time: 1:50:12
Average speed: 20.37 km/h (remarkably, this the first time I averaged more than 20 km/h)
Maximum speed: 30.90 km/h (you know it’s a flat ride when the maximum is less than 40 km/h)

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