Not a description of the author (or, not intended as such – though you may wish to draw your own conclusions) though there will be a rather limited autobiographical element to the post. My journey into Cambridge this morning led me to muse on the importance of having the apposite tool for each occasion.
In the first incident, one of my unvoiced prayers seems to have been answered – or, perhaps this blog has a rather wider mustelid readership than I had hitherto supposed. As I was cycling towards the area in which, during the hours of darkness, I am plagued by suicidal bunnies I saw a curious moving shape. At first I thought it was a blackbird hopping about, but then it seemed more mammalian. As I got closer, I could weaselly see that it was a stoat – behaving as an archetypal stoat should, i.e. leaping around like a complete eejit without an apparent care in the world. I have occasionally seen stoats before – but only at night and running rapidly across the path some distance away from me. However, this time, even as I drew along side, it did not flee into the undergrowth nor did it try and hurl itself under my wheels, like a suffragette faced with the King’s horse, but continued to play in its own little world – offering me Springwatch-quality views (though in glorious 3D) of its antics. Given the idiocy of the local rabbit population, I think it will become a very fat stoat in very short order: for foolish as they may sometimes look and dwarfed as they may be by their prey, stoats are the perfect tool for managing an overly populous warren. I do hope it brings along some friends (or family) to partake in the plentiful local food supply as I fear it would find leaping much harder when morbidly obese after bunny-based over-indulgence. With my new friend in residence, I am anticipating much safer night-time cycle rides in future. Truly, nature is a wonderful thing – and I like to think that GofaDM has done its small part in enabling the exploitation of this ecological niche.
After passing the stoat I was soon able to continue my journey into town on the new guided busway – or, more accurately, on the cycle path which runs adjacent to it. The busway is the subject of much controversy in Cambridge (but, I suspect news may not have reached the world beyond) and is very late and over-budget (though unlike the virtual trams of Edinburgh, I think most of the cost over-runs have fallen to the contractors). I cannot comment on its use as a busway – as I have never used it as such, and only once seen a bus doing so – but the cycle path is a marvel. Beautifully smooth tar macadam with no motorised transport (and its associated paraphernalia: junctions, traffic lights, motorists et al) getting in the way. (The absence of heavy motorised vehicular transport should also mean that the surface remains undamaged for a good few years to come.) The busway makes for a much swifter and more pleasant journey as far as Cambridge station for the Sawston-based cyclist. Only two minor niggles: some of the on/off-ramps haven’t quite been finished yet and the bridge to cross the railway as you join the busway has awfully steep ramps which offer the sort of gradient with which we Cambridgeshire cyclists are far from familiar (I have had to use previously neglected gears on my bike when the wind has been against me!). Nonetheless, the busway is an excellent tool for the cyclist – one day I shall have to try its extent beyond Cambridge to the west and sample some of the excellent pubs that lie in that direction.
Eventually, the southern portion of the busway expires as you reach Cambridge station and I was forced onto the backstreets around Mill Road. Here I found myself stuck behind a very slow moving Ferrari – eventually, I was forced to overtake it (I did try not to smile too broadly as I did so – though I fear I may have failed abjectly). Whilst the Ferrari may be an excellent tool on the track, it is really not at home in the crowded back streets of Cambridge. In that domain, my velocipede, at less than a fiftieth of the upfront cost and with vastly lower running costs, is the right tool. Not only was my mode of transport quicker, but in the morning sunshine I could work on my tan whilst the stiff nor-westerly I’d been battling against on my journey provided free air conditioning, plus I was obtaining a free cardiovascular workout (or as I like to view it, a free pass to eat as much as I want come lunch-time).
A triumvirate of appropriate apparatus anecdotes. What more could a chap ask for? I fear it can only be downhill from here (or, as a cyclist, should that be uphill?).