The bridge has been open for a number of weeks but I’ve not had a reason to try it out yet not having had a reason to venture Brighton way for quite some time. The bridge, a venture part funded by Sustrans, took an age to build but finally opened at the end of last year. We have been across by foot and, well it’s a bridge – as far as bridges go it does the job and is quite an improvement to the old narrow one. As part of National Cycle Route 2 it used to be a stretch of the “please dismount” part, which for a national route always seemed a bit daft.
You can now follow Route 2 and go right across the river, sharing the space with pedestrians, which is something which never works. The great idea with all these shared space ideas is that pedestrians wonder about without a care in the world while cyclist move at walking speed going in and out. It doesn’t work and never could do. You slow down to walking pace (at which point you wonder why don’t you “dismount”) planning your route through the pedestrians like a little computer game. You have a route nicely planned out and all is going well, until the pedestrians, rightly, get worried and move in an unexpected way, causing the whole plan to go wrong. As a pedestrian, you don’t feel free to make such sudden movements just in case, as a cyclist you feel out of place while the tutting goes on. On a day like today, blue sky, no wind, a break from the horrid weather since Christmas, everyone is out walking – and so they should be. I didn’t bother the seafront cycle path, another shared space where old grumpy people moan as you ride past, and/or cyclist dressed up in bright lycra shout out insults if they cannot get past.
To make it worse, each end of the bridge has a sign saying “End of Cycle Route”. It doesn’t tell you to dismount, but it doesn’t give you many clues of what to do next. You dismount (as you end up on a pavement anyway) and cross the road, looking out for the next sign. The other side, you don’t really have to dismount, it may say end of route but it puts you on the road and off you go. But why all the “End of Route” stuff, it’s the middle of a massive great big route that stretches the whole of the south of England? All a shame, planned from scratch and yet failing in so many different ways.
A short ride as I didn’t have much time, but enough time to try out my new brakes since replacing the pads. They were slightly rubbing but the short trip out solved this and made stopping much better. I’ve seen touring bikes, low end touring bikes, with disc brakes now and I somewhat like the idea of that, but brake pads is what it will be for many years now.
Something else I wanted to try out was the GPS. Over the last weeks I had ditched Windows on the laptop (or more to the point the evaluation period had run out and now it was asking for money) and put on Linux instead. I’m very used to Linux having used it for many years on a server level, and I’ve experimented with it on the desktop many times but never really got on with it. This time however it has been very much different, technology has come on along a lot and the only thing remaining to get working would be connecting the GPS up in order to upload and download routes. It is quite something to get this going on Windows 8 having to install not only a particular driver for the Serial->USB cable but a particular old version too (the latest for some reason does not work). I had heard it should work fine on Linux and infact once I plugged it in, looked at the syslog file, it showed me a new USB tty device. I quickly found an application called QLandKarteGT which looked like it would do all that the old Garmin Mapsource would do and more.
A bit hard to get used to in order to start with (seems to be the case a lot with Linux) but very powerful when you know how. I found it was able to download tracks from the GPS as well as upload routes. You can add photos too, taking the time the photo was taken and plotting it as a waypoint onto the route, good to see after the ride. A nifty feature too, a 3D view which includes altitude, a great way to see and feel the route both for planning and seeing where you have been. It gives you a real feel of the route, you can zoom in to get good deal on any big uphill bits, maybe giving you the chance to replan a part of a route if needed. I normally use BikeHike online to route plan but I think I may be using this tool from now on.