Thursday, February 11, 2010

When the North wind doth blow - your toes freeze when cycling in the Fens

I have had the sniffles for the last couple of days - at least that is the excuse I use for not cycling. Fortunately the sore throat does not seem to have developed into anything more annoying. I have popped to the shops a few times though and the weather has gotten colder again. We have had a few light snow falls here in the Flatlands.

The good news is that my Marin hybrid bike is now back from Ben Hayward Cycles. I do like visiting the new shop, they have loads of bikes including a space frame Moulton and and Airnimal (both capable of some degree of folding - as a Brompton owner I have to stay loyal :-) When I wheeled it out they did say it should be as good as new. It was - you tend to overlook niggles on bikes - but having a new Bottom bracket meant the pedalling was smooth, gears that change easily and with the new wheels (and rims) the brakes could be set up to come on quickly without having to allow extra space for a wheel wibble.

I have been following cycling related news on the web though. Apparently the Cambridge "Guided bus delays spark anger". After reading the quote from Cllr Roy Pegram (in charge of the Busway) I feel that the lack of information is because there is a need to maintain some form of negotiation position with the contractors. Presumably there is an argument about who pays for what. I am worried though that such secrecy can also be used as an excuse to hide incompetence. I await further news with interest - I am looking forward to both cycling on the CGB and seeing what impact it has on the transport situation in Cambridge.

Slightly more disturbing news was of a cyclist injured in a collision with a car near one of my oft-cycled routes which closed the road. (Sustrans 51 Cambridge to Burwell and beyond). I was knocked off my bike in February last year by a car fortunately for me the car hit me but did not run over me so I suffered the "classic" cyclists injury a broken collar bone as was back cycling after 6 weeks. Lance Armstrong broke his last year not long after I had mine broken. One of the Sky cycling team broke his in the Tour of Qatar (and he broke the other side last year in the Tour de France as well.)

Anyway after a couple of days prevaricating it was time to cycle again. I did put a new speedometer on my Marin - partly because I broke the other one when my wheels got clogged with mud and partly because Ben Hayward cycles had not put the replaced the magnet on the new front wheel. I am now using a wireless speedometer. I am not a great fan of wireless speedos, they can be prone to interference and it is two things that require batteries. However I can now longer get spare parts for the old speedometer so time for a new one. It all seems to work, so far so good. As I generally ride with both a GPS and speedo then I have a back up. Although the GPS unit is still reporting a low battery every now and then. I could send it back for repair/replacement for around £80 - but whilst it is still ok I will probably wait and then buy a new one later on.

There was snow on the ground this morning, but it has also been sunny and there has been a cold north wind. The temperatures have been between 0C and 3C but the wind chill has been noticeable. It does not seem to have stopped the snowdrops from popping up though. We had a passer-by stop to take a picture of ours in the garden for her website. These are from a patch of common land in Lode.


My recently repaired bike - with one of my fluorescent yellow gloves on the handlebars.


The sky was blue with some darker clouds in the sky, this HDR picture (made from 7 exposures) suffers a little bit though because the wind blew the grass around in the foreground so some stalks appear in several different places.


The same picture - but using a single exposure - it is much clearer although the clouds do not look as menacing as they did to the naked eye.


You can see more clearly on this picture that the twigs at the top of the picture appear to have a shadow - I must get better at bracing the camera when taking multiple exposures.


The same shot, but a single exposure, for me it lacks the drama of the sky and track that comes out on the HDR version.


Although in most places there was very little snow left - here along one of the paths in Wicken Fen the ground was frozen and the coating of snow still present.


By the time I got home again my toes were numb - I almost had to stop and stamp around they were very uncomfortable. The steaming hot bath I had when I did get back was wonderful though. A very civilised way to clean up after cycling in the winter.

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