Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Last of the Summer Sun

Saturday 16th October: At the moment I seem to be cycling every other day (not including popping to the newsagents first thing to buy a newspaper). Which, if I am to hit my target mileage (kilometre-age) for the year means I have to cycle twice as far on the on-days. I am aiming for 12,000Km which works out at about 32Km a day. Which is only 10 miles twice a day, not a bad commute distance on a bike, except I work from home, which is both good and bad for my cycling. This means I have to aim to cycle 64Km (just about 40 miles every other day, which starts sounding more daunting, well to me anyway.)

For some reason I have been having a few back twinges, related to long car journeys I suspect. I could blame it on getting old, except I used to get backache far more 15 years ago than I do now. The main difference between then and now is much more cycling and much less driving. However Saturday afternoon came along, which after a dismal start was bright and sunny, I had a week of the Archers to catch up on and yet I almost convinced myself that it would be better to have a rest day. (Even though Friday had also been a rest day.) I know that a bit of cycling helps to relieve twinges, I know that a cycle in the fresh air and sunshine is always invigorating and still I was putting up barriers. I did manage to overcome the lethargy and headed out and to cut a long story short, had a very pleasant cycle around Snout Corner, Horningsea, Upware, Wicken Fen and back via the Lodes Way.

I certainly hope that we get a little bit more sunshine, but at this time of year there are more opportunities to take pictures of sunsets and when the clocks change at the end of October it means getting up an hour earlier and it being darker an hour earlier. This means sunset goes from 5:35pm on the 30th of October to 4:32pm on the 31st of October. Although I have been carrying lights with me for what seems like ages already it does mean it is time to check on my lights, their connections and batteries. (I like to have backup front and rear lights when cycling in the dark in the countryside.)

I set off after 3pm which meant I would be out and about as the sun came down. Mind you when I set off it was sunny and the skies were blue with only a few puffy white clouds. After crossing the A14 bridge along Low Fen Drove Way I came across a pile of Sugar beet, waiting to be transported to a convenient Sugar Beet factory for processing - Wissington perhaps or maybe Bury St Edmunds.


Not much further along the Drive Way there was yet more fly-tipping. Now fly-tipping is a pretty anti-social thing to do at the best of times - but to dump glass and by the looks of it break it up even more is pretty low even by fly-tipping standards. It is dangerous to pick up and a hazard for wild animals, cyclists, walkers and horse riders alike.


When the sun is low in the sky it seems to make the countryside glow, the long shadows provide the clue. Look at the shadow on the clump of grass in the middle of the picture. It was the cloud that I stopped to take a picture of.


Having taken quite a few pictures in the Wicken Fen area both recently and over the last couple of years I try to ration myself. So on this ride I had cycled to Upware, then around Wicken, back through Wicken Fen, down to Burwell and back along Newnham drove before stopping to take another picture. To be more accurate before stopping to take a picture that got selected for this Post.

I stopped at one point to chat with a couple of cyclists who live in Wicken and were doing a loop from the opposite direction. I had cycled across from Horningsea via various tracks. The last bit of which was Harvey's Droveway, which was pretty muddy and rutted. They had come via NCN51 and were wondering which route to take next and so we swapped notes on what the tracks were like.

This was taken by resting my camera on the still-locked gates across Newnham Drove, just before I lifted my bike over and then squeezed through. The NT have called this Burwell Fen, although the OS map suggests that ahead is Adventurers' Fen, to the left is Hallard's Fen and Burwell Fen is to the right. (Although it does not look it I had to rest the camera to stop any shake affecting the picture too much with the slow shutter speed necessary because it was starting to get darker.)


The path (Lodes Way) to the right heads off to Wicken Fen. Each time I pass this way I can see that the construction of the fencing, gates and cattle grids is making progress. Presumably when this is finished the gate across Newnham drove will be opened?


The sun was pretty low in the sky as I got closer to Reach lode Bridge, so low that I was able to take some pictures with the sun silhouetting the bridge.


This is the same picture but converted along with 6 other variations of exposure into an HDR picture so that you get to see more detail.


The Bridge in closeup.


The last picture but converted using Photomatix 4.0. All in all I think I prefer the first one (of the bridge sequence) - there is hope for me not using HDR in all my pictures yet!


Once I got to the bridge I had to take a picture looking up the Lode - it was so still and perfectly reflective. The picture taken does not have quite the contrast compared with looking in the direction of the sun. A caveat - you should need to be very careful when taking pictures in the direction of the sun. Don't do it unless you know what you are doing, it could damage you sight and/or camera.


As I cycled along Split Drove away from the bridge towards White Fen I noticed that the road had yellow markings along it. They were the sort of markings that you see just before a road gets patched up. Perhaps this road is going to get sorted. It is not that bad, but I did find it tricky cycling with the sun low in the sky and I struggled to see the road surface as the sun was so dazzling. (The dazzle was one of the reasons I took this picture looking back towards Reach Lode bridge.) The road has a few lumps and bumps though and is even worse when there has been a lot of activity in the fields and it is wet. The peat soil finds its way onto the road and then becomes very slippery.


As I cycled down an unnamed road towards Swaffham Bulbeck Lode I stopped to take a picture of a jet leaving a contrail high in the orange sky. Actually I saw a few jets high in the sky, but not close enough together to get them all in the same picture.


By the time I got home I was ready for some warmth. At this time of year the weather goes through some quite large changes in temperature. I had some additional clothing with me - but it was easier carrying on than stopping to put it on. The fine weather had brought out quite a few cyclists I saw 14 on the Lodes Way (including NCN11 in Wicken Fen), including a family out for a spin. Wicken Fen is a great place to go cycling with small kids.

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