Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The missing cycle ride

Tuesday, 19th October: Today I had a lunchtime meeting with a friend, not normally something that would stop me from cycling, except our plan was to meet at the Missing Sock near Quy which is quite close to Cambridge and when I got up this morning I had the sniffles. To be more accurate I sneezed quite a lot, but didn't have any other cold symptoms apart from a runny nose. So I was not feeling sorry for myself, but decided that it would probably be better not to cycle too far. So the Missing Sock it was er not. Just to be clear I did cycle, but not so far.

I did not bother wearing cycle clothing for such a short trip out. I have to say my Brooks leather saddle has moulded nicely to my shape, even without padding it is very comfortable, albeit it was a little cold when I first sat upon it. (I did wear shorts though and my least smelly cycle gloves - they have an inner glove and are very comfortable - Altura Night Vision Waterproof Winter Cycling Gloves.)The other advantage of the inner glove is that I can easily stop and slip off one outer glove to take pictures without to much palaver.

The Missing Sock is easy to find - just head out East on NCN51 along the Quy Cycleway Newmarket Road (aka A1303), actually it does not have a name, but I rather like the trend of giving names to the various Cycleways around Cambridge - it gives them an identity that is separate from the roads and reinforces the idea that they are to make "life" easier for cyclists. Some might argue that we just want better and safer roads - but whilst I used to buy into that argument a while ago I think it is unattainable. I do believe that, with the exception of Motorways, roads should be unconditionally available to cyclists and if a cyclist chooses a road over a "Cycleway" it should have no bearing (on things like damages/blame) in the event of an accident. Having said all that I now generally choose cycleways. For one thing roads are too flippin' noisy.

Anyway I turned up at the Missing Sock and was just taking a picture of my bike locked up in the shiny new red cycle stands when my friend turned up in a car. Although he assures me he cycled yesterday. I took my small Sony DSC W200, which is now showing its age, but is a good camera none the less. The problem is I don't use it that often and the battery was flat, but I did have a spare which still had some charge so I swapped them around and took this picture. (The good thing about this Post is that it has reminded me to put the other battery on charge - which i have just done.) I am afraid in my excitement I forgot to hold the camera steady so the picture isn't as sharp as I would like. I have no complaints about the brightness of the cycle stands though. The camera is quite small and has a viewing screen so I tend to hold it at arm's length which makes it harder to hold steady. With my larger camera I use the viewfinder when taking pictures which means the camera is both closer and with your eye right up close and personal shake becomes much more obvious.

After all that it turns out that the Missing Sock is closing on Mondays and Tuesdays during October and November except by pre-arrangement. So we headed into Quy (car and cycle) to the White Swan which was open - the bangers and mash was delicious and the Cornish beer was very nice too - St Austell Tribute.


During lunch it started to rain and I had not bothered taking a shower jacket with me - fortunately it was not too bad and once home I dried out whilst slaving away at a hot computer.

I mentioned how I now tend to cycle on Cycleways far more - well it turns out the there is "Little respect for fellow motorists" in Cambridge. The measures of lack of courtesy being; running red lights, failing to stop at pedestrian crossings and failing to indicate correctly. I am not surprised, when out cycling and driving in Cambridge I often see cars jumping red lights and failing to indicate. The problem is that behaviour makes the roads much more dangerous for vulnerable road users than they used to be. Mind you cyclists don't help their case by jumping red lights.

Another way in which such lack of courtesy manifests itself is in speeding - doubly worse when it is "Speeding school run drivers endanger children". The link includes a bunch more examples of lack of courtesy. Why does it matter - well when accidents happen they can have very serious life-changing implications. This cyclist was knocked of his bike by a van and left with head injuries and broken ribs and as been told as a top horse racing worker that he may never be able to train horses again. Such behaviour is also a threat to pedestrians as in this hit and run driver who tried to escape the scene of the accident.

Normally I try to put in a photograph with some connection to what I have just written about, except I don't make a habit of taking pictures of accidents. So here is a picture with a loose connection.

The cyclist's enemy is the wind unless it is blowing from behind and then it can be your friend. So i was surprised to see that the winds are slowing down in the Northern Hemisphere. Apparently afforestation and climate change could be causing a slowing down of up to 60% of the wind speed across the Northern Hemisphere. I am not so sure I have noticed that here in the windy flatlands, although come to think of it it wasn't windy today. It was colder today though and we have been warned to brace ourselves for a cold snap. Apparently daytime temperatures on the east coast will be between 5C and 8C, but those (slower) winds will turn more westerly from Thursday.

The good news is that Cambridge Highway teams have plans to clear ice on cycle-paths and footpaths this winter using Quadbikes. Cycling on a winter's day can actually be very pleasant when you are wearing the right gear.

This next piece has nothing to do with anything really, except that I often see gangs of workers harvesting crops on the fields and there have been two similar accidents with workers getting limbs trapped in potato harvesting machinery yesterday.

And finally, only because I visited Dry Drayton earlier this week - there is a possibility for a New zero-carbon homes vision for village settlement in Dry Drayton using former agricultural buildings on the Land Settlement Association estate. I can't find much on the web about it though.

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