Although I clearly pretend to be a newcomer, what with all my evangelical views on commuting to work on the bike, in reality I have a history, provenance if you like. It has to be at least ten years since I first tried the cycle commute from my current home to my current work place. Oh yes, I have staying power and have remained in the same places for 13 years.
It started to get boring, the same options of routes in and routes out. I had two routes, one which took me north of Manchester City Centre and another which takes me into town and out again with a couple of mild diversions I can select between depending on whim and where I think the fittest blokes will be seen.
Since the early days when I first worked out my routes, Sustrans, it seems, have been busy and now in place are all these clearly numbered routes. So, methinks, let's give one a go. Because I'm a worrier, and I worry about being late to work through schoolgirlerror (getting lost) I did a Recce on Tuesday night of Route 55. This is the boy: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/what-we-do/national-cycle-network/route-numbering-system/route-55
What was interesting was seeing how someone else, someone possibly more experienced approached the route planning. Also obvious was that it wasn't someone in a hurry to get to town! The first bit of the route took me around some back streets instead of the direct route out of my local area. All very well but the roads were as pot holed and bumpy as they come and even if it didn't slow me up, it definitely had every not firmly attached bit of the bike rattled to death. Then weirdly there was a Cyclists Dismount sign. A brief length of alley way then appeared. That, in my view, is Not The Cyclist's Way. Why would you create a bike route where you have to dismount? It wasn't the only time. Pedalling on a bit further and the time comes to cross the motorway. There are perfectly good roads that go over this. One has a traffic lighted roundabout but Sustrans feeling is clearly that the pedestrian bridge and another jolly Cyclists Dismount sign is appropriate. No, it's not. I am trying to get to work, and I want the journey to be as flowing and quick as it can be; I'm not out for a leisure dawdle here folks.
From there on it was kind of decent, took me along a long stretch of really really flat road (felt weird, no hilly bits at all), with cycle segregation or cycle path all the way. Some of it shared with pavement which always slows me up a little as people walking are less predictable than cars, and will randomly step in front of you and then there's small children, cats, push chairs etc. to contend with. Signage could have been a little better - in two places the section I was on suddenly broke and recommenced in the right hand lane of traffic meaning crossing the traffic without warning. The final bit as I got into town took me unexpectedly onto the pavement on the other side of the road where there was cycle provision. That would have been complex in rush hour I feel.
What I realised is that these are routes for dawdling pedallists, not for a woman on a mission. Horses for course I guess, and it has added some options into my ride possibilities.