Orientation

Day 8: Buying a Bicycle

My goal for the day was to purchase my new bicycle. I had thought long and hard about what I would get, and I wanted to peruse the available options from the innumerate number of bicycle stores. Unfortunately, many of the more reputable stores were outside of the city centre, so required a long walk to the suburbs of Cambridge. My first stop was in Cherry Hinton, on the other side of the railway line about a half hour walk from the city centre.

I arrived at the first store, Blazing Saddles, which had some nice bikes, but most of them were brand-new Dutch bikes, which wasn’t what I was going for. So I walked up to Mill Road. There were a number of shops along here, which ranged from all-new bikes, to rather dodgy second-hand bikes. I did come across a nice-ish second hand road bike for about £200, but it wasn’t really what I was after. I crossed back across the railway and through a few more shops, but I was met with no success.

On my way towards the Grafton centre, I passed by Anglia Ruskin University, the other university in Cambridge. Then, on a quite backstreet I came across the rather inconspicuous Kingsway Cycles. My attention was drawn to a Dawes Galaxy AL touring bike, which I was quite fond of. Before I committed, I walked back into town to get some wifi access to do some quick research to find out how much bicycle theft insurance was. I decided it was affordable and returned to make my purchase. Such a bike wasn’t cheap; it came to about £469, plus another £100 for accessories, mainly a good quality lock. I could simply justify such an expense because it wasn’t even half of the “excess” money that I had been granted due to the crashing pound after Brexit. I test rode it up the street and back, and made my purchase. Unfortunately, I needed to shift some money around between my accounts, which meant I needed to connect to the internet. This meant I needed to connect to wifi, not an easy feat when in the middle of suburban Cambridge. Fortunately, I recalled that Anglia Ruskin was nearby, so I walked there to connect to their eduroam wifi.

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The transaction worked, and I took my now purchased bike for a ride back home through the centre of town. The feeling was fantastic, riding through the streets and weaving between pedestrians and cycling past the famous monuments. I returned home and laid low for much of the afternoon, performing that final few steps of finding everything a new home.

As the evening approached, I knew that there was a formal welcome dinner for the Gates Scholars. But I also really wanted to test ride my new bike on the open roads. So I checked the time, and the map, and decided I could make a round trip to the tiny village of Grantchester and back. So I set off, but at the roundabout less than a hundred meters south of where I started, I intended to go straight, but was forced to go left by a car coming around the roundabout. This was okay, I had intended to return down this road anyway, so I continued on without much notice. I crossed the Fen Causeway over the Cam, and turned up Trumpington Road, which heads towards the village of Trumpington. This was fine, I kept a look out for Church Road, but when it came along, I was in the wrong lane. No matter, I would take the next right and it would be fine again. But when the next right did come along, it lead into a very new housing estate, Trumpington Meadows. The streets here were especially quiet, with raised cobbled sections near the intersections. But at the far end of the estate, the way was blocked by construction fences, invariably trying to extend the estate. I tried several times to find a pathway that led to the open field beyond, but none could be found. It took several minutes to find a way out of the block, and I had to venture through a shopping centre car park. A few roads later and I think I had found the right road again, confirmed when I found the town sign for Grantchester.

It was now time to head back to Cambridge. I was originally intending to head straight up the main road, but there was a rather appealing cycle trail, so I took that instead. It was only narrow, barely a foot and a half wide, but was paved all the way, and took me through various meadows and fields. As the sun began to set, I returned into the Cambridge suburbs. The pathway turned into a street, which I followed, only to find myself in a dead-end apartment block owned by Queen’s College, which I had to back out of to find the main road again. I managed to, and returned to the college, but at least a quarter of an hour later than I had originally intended. I met Ryan on the way in; he was leaving to the formal dinner. I locked my bike and raced inside, jumped through the shower and prepared my clothes, all in less than 10 minutes.

I left home aimed for Corpus Christi College. Google Maps suggested this was at Free School Lane, the original home to the Cavendish and a place that I had been trying to happen across for a while. I navigated successfully there, but I could not find the entrance to the college. I circled around for a while, and did almost a full lap, back onto King’s Parade before I found the entrance. One of the porters ushered me in and up the stairs, to a pair of rooms where many of the Gates scholars were congregating. I met with several, eagerly telling the story of how I now had my bike. At 7:30, we were ushered into the main hall. The seating was pre-assigned. There were three long tables that stretched the length of the hall, and a shorter table that sat on a dais across the hall. From the high ceiling hung several chandeliers, and around the room were several large portraits of past academics associated with college. I was seated at the near end of the third table from the door. Beside me sat Marissa, a new scholar from America, and Kersten, a fourth year scholar in biophysics from Germany. Opposite sat Gabika, another commencing scholar from Slovakia.

The gong sounded and we were served our three course meal. For our entrée, we were served mozzarella aranchini balls. For mains, we had what I think was a sautéed chicken breast in a cheese sauce. Finally, for desert, we had cheesecake with a raspberry sauce. After mains, the provost of the Gates foundation gave a welcoming speech, followed by Paul Bergen the outgoing president of the scholar’s council. Finally, Alex and Rebecca, the organises of the orientation camp gave a small final speech as well.

After dinner, we mingled slightly more, but many of the scholars left to go to Lola lo night club. Being half past ten, I decided to return to my college, exhausted and full from the delicious food.

 

 

 

 

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