Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cycling around wet, cold and windy Wicken Fen

After getting back from the US and voting in the General Election I couldn't resist staying up to watch the results as they came in. I think I kept expecting something to happen - but it didn't. I did manage to go out for a cycle ride the next day though (Friday - the Post did not make it first time around I have now added it). Yesterday (Friday) it was OK-ish today (Saturday) I was amazed just how cold it seems to have gotten over the last week here in the flatlands of Cambridgeshire. When I left England the temperature was reaching the dizzy heights of 22C when I returned it was around 8C - I was beginning to think I should have stayed in California.

In fact it was so cold and rainy that I wore waterproof leggings and long-fingered gloves as well as a waterproof jacket. I needed to stretch my legs though and I think that exercise helps overcome jet-lag - mind you I also believe that it gets harder to deal with jet-lag as you get older!

Being tired probably also means I get a little grumpier and less tolerant. As a cyclist I worry that quite a lot of the traffic calming schemes designed with good intentions, presumably to reduce traffic speeds through certain areas are actually a cheap and politically expedient way of avoiding the issue of how to genuinely slow traffic down and more importantly gain general acceptance that slowing traffic speeds does matter in both improving the quality of life of village inhabitants and other road users.

This is a photograph of the traffic calming in Wicken Village. Typically one side of the road is restricted and cars have to give way. This is the Soham side of the village. You can see that this particular restriction has not got a by-pass for cyclists - because it is more important that cars be allowed to park immediately after the restriction. More worrying though is that quite often cars do not slow down but just move to the right of the road as they speed past the restriction. The trouble is there is a minor road junction just by the restriction. Now clearly you should always look both ways at a junction - but there is a tendency to assume that you have right of way if there is nothing coming from the right when turning right. However you can find that there is a car hurtling at you when you look left - not pleasant. Perhaps we should always expect the unexpected - but I believe that safe driving is also based upon some degree of predictability as well.


This is a rather random set of photographs - but does reflect my rather grumpy feelings - it was wet, windy and cold after all. I do like to be able to cycle away from noisy motor traffic and quite often cycle up farm tracks. This picture shows why you have to have your wits about you - brambles across the path. No I am not complaining that someone should go round cutting them - off-road is fun because it is a little unpredictable. This is why it can be a good thing to wear a helmet - it protects you against nasty brambles as well as bumps on the head. Sunglasses are also helpful as well in this sort of situation. Mind you I still think it should be a matter of choice - helmets are not an excuse for poor driving. There have been cases where a cyclist's damages could have been reduced for not wearing a helmet despite the accident not being their fault. In that case I would like to see a situation in which damages are increased when motorists are speeding and/or intoxicated.


Just to show that I was not grumpy throughout the cycle ride this cottage in Reach caught my eye, despite the gloom and rainy there was a bit of sun now and then.


Mind you just to top up the grumpy levels on my way back towards White Fen from the Upware side I waited at a side road (a farm track) for a green van to go by. I find that it always helps to let vehicles by when there are opportunities to do so. As the van went by I realised it was a good choice - the driver (she) was on the phone. I then followed her struggling to maintain any speed all the way to White Fen - and no I was not cycling that fast. Clearly she was struggling to focus on the driving and the phone call. She parked on near the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode - Lodes Way Bridge, still on the phone - unabashed she carried on talking - as her dog waited for its walk.

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