I normally commute after 9am but every so often I have to leave a little before. The traffic on the road has a very different feel to it. Everybody is in so much more of a rush, like at 9am the world will end if you are not at your destination.
First up, I have to cross the High Street. There is a constant stream of traffic and often I have to use the pedestrian reserve because I can only cross one lane at a time. Then down the High Street I go, past the Post Office hoping nobody will squeeze through close to blind Co-Op corner - they sometimes do. And past the lady and son on bikes hoping to cross here. They'll have a long wait, I think to myself.
Down towards the green, Village College children darting across the road near the pedestrian reserve. So many cars in and out of the College road, and drop-offs at the bus stop. It's like a small zone of chaotic behaviour with motor vehicles darting around in all directions.
Next onto Histon Road. The traffic really wants to put its foot down now. The mini-roundabout to Dunstall field is not a great place for cycling. Cars often pass here but don't think what might happen if a bus comes round the blind bend. Today was fine.
Down Histon Road, with traffic looking for every opportunity to pass now. Most give a good amount of room but some are within three feet and I hate that. The close passers are usually the ones who set off the 30mph flasher too. I am every bit alert as I am on an adrenaline filled Mountain Bike downhill run. This is not how a like to feel on a commute - I want mundane.
Nearing the start of the cycle path, the traffic gets faster and faster even though we are still in the 30 zone. Then I reach the safety of the cycle path. Time to relax a little.
An uneventful run down to Histon Green, this is the norm. Dull and safe, just keep a careful eye for cars leaving driveways. I wish the whole route could be like this.
Near Ambrose Way I catch all the cars that were in such a desperate hurry to squeeze past me in Cottenham. This is where the exhaust fumes start to build, getting worse all the way into Cambridge. You really notice it on a bicycle and its the diesel fumes you notice most - even from the new cars.
I waiting at the lights at the green now. I watch the last Amber Gambler go past and then we're off. You have to assert yourself over this junction or cars come really close as you go across the junction. Just round the corner is a queue of cars, no need to race me.
I'm following another cyclist down the cycle lane, its only 1 metre wide, not really enough room to dodge obstacles. We weave between wing mirrors and drains then suddenly he stops. There is a flat bed truck with a load too wide, the triangular gable end of a wooden shed is sticking out by about 2ft over the cycle lane, ready to garrotte anyone who didn't see it. I think about taking a picture with my camera and pass it on to the Police but on past experience they are not interested until there is a collision or witnesses.
Now passing New Road, the junction just before the bridge. Queuing traffic next to me, but a driver lets across two cars. Neither look to see if any cyclists are coming and I hit the brakes. It's such a common cause of accidents. At the same time, someone hoots aggressively, unrelated I'm sure, people get so angry and frustrated driving. I don't know why they do it.
I pop over the bridge and down to the Holiday Inn junction. Again, a car comes across, a taxi this time, and I have so much time to watch the driver I can see that as soon as the oncoming driver left a gap, he never looked up the road towards me. It's beyond a SMIDSY, he didn't even look.
Up to the A14 roundabout now and I have to cross the slip road without a crossing. I have a guess as to which cars might be hurtling off the roundabout towards me, I gamble correctly, I'm actually pretty good at reading driving situations, but I've seen so many teenagers who don't yet have the skill.
Today, I think cars might be queuing on Histon Road, so I gamble and take the direct route to Cambridge. Blast! ... they are moving and I constantly worry that a bus might come and attempt to pass. Thankfully not this time. Normally I take Arbury Road.
I watch more Ambler Gamblers at Gilbert Road and Victoria Road, plus a yellow box blocker. From here the traffic gets lighter, as the city is a no-through zone for general traffic. Then its an easy uneventful ride into central Cambridge just watching for the odd lorry back door, and zombie pedestrian.
To be honest, that is a reasonably typical commute before 9am. That's why its still mostly assertive males 30-50 who commute by bike.
The next day I commuted by motorcycle.