Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Lodes way Return

With having to attend various meetings I have been wearing long trousers most of the week - but the good news is that, at least when I don't have meetings, I am back in shorts again. Coincidentally the weather seems to have also turned warm. Although if you'd asked me a while ago I would not really have thought of 6C as warm - it seems it now though.

It turns out that the Council's eagerness to please motorists has caused a bit of a problem for cyclists - but this being Cambridge something is being done about it. It turns out that a junction was having a raised table at a crossing to make it easier for pedestrians, cyclists (it is a shared use path) and disabled people. But road works are being suspended for the Christmas period because the "Council has committed not to impede the flow of traffic during the Christmas period". So it really is an accident of timing I suppose.

I have mentioned the medical charity Magpas before - it turns out they are in desperate need of funds to keep running. It seems they have been so busy doing that they have not been able to focus on fund-raising.

And finally - well in terms of looking at the news - that old chestnut about, well cyclists' chestnuts. The Daily mail, who else, reports "Cycling just five hours a week 'could damage a man's fertility'". It is not easy to ascertain quite what is going on in a news article on research (perhaps I'll wait for New Scientist!). And since I've got kids I am not going to worry about it - but, in my mind, it is a classic report which creates FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) without really giving much context. It did end with a quote from the Researcher that "more research would be needed before concluding that cycling was causing the sperm problems".

Talking of problems as I have not managed to get out much into the Countryside the warmer temperatures on Saturday were very welcome. I did buy some new cycling boots, via Wiggle. They were not the cheapest, but they were in stock and my experience of Wiggle is that it is easy to send things back and get things that don't fit sorted. I got Shimano MW80 boots in the end. I have been struggling to keep my toes warm on sub-zero days after more than around 2 hours of cycling and in the past have not been very impressed with overshoes. I have a pair of older Shimano MTB boots but the soles are cracking and the fabric around the ankle has torn.

The challenge was choosing a size, I would normally buy this sort of thing from a shop - but I failed to find one in the Cambridge area - cycling shops aren't quite at the level of some of the larger IT savvy chains where you can check stock levels and reserve on-line and collect items in person. The reviews I'd read did imply that it was better to choose a size larger than you might normally choose. So the conundrum for me was I had a range of sizes to choose from - Cycling (Keen) Sandal size: 42, Cycling (Shimano) Shoe size: 43, Cycling (Shimano) old MTB Boot size: 44. But my MTB boots felt a little tight with Sealskinz socks. In the end I went for 45. At this time of year some of the On-line organisations seem to really have their skates on in getting their parcels delivered - my Wiggle order turned up the next day - perhaps they'd been "watching me" browse on-line and had a cache of boots ready at my local Post Office.

This ride was the moment of truth - cycling shoes/boots are means to be firm and supportive - were these OK? The quick answer is yes - just the right size. Although I didn't both putting cleats in them for the first ride. The trouble is with the warmer temperatures (6C) my feet were almost too warm (some people are never happy eh!). The weather is going to turn colder again during the week so I'll be able to give a more measured assessment. The boots did feel a little stiff at first and I did slacken the Velcro fastenings around the ankle after a few miles.

I have not been out and around Lodes Way for a couple of weeks - what with lethargy and having to go cycling elsewhere. (Technically it was more having to go elsewhere and I chose to cycle.) So I popped out round Low Fen Droveway up to Horningsea and then over to Lode via the Harcamlow Way. Then it was up to Upware, Wicken, Burwell and back along the Lodes Way to NCN51.

This is the rubbish dump Bridge over the A14 heading towards Low Fen Drove Way. As you can see it has gotten so bad that even the illegal tippers are struggling to leave their rubbish. What is really appalling is that this is not just any old household rubbish, the pile to the right is corrugated asbestos roofing - and yes is is not safe and subject to HSE additional regulations.


The thaw has meant that the frozen bridleways are now muddy and soggy. It was all passable, but my wheels picked up a lot of mud and I did get a fair bit of wheel-spin. It was hard work and perhaps another reason why I was very warm.

The Horningsea Cycleway and Car park - kind of them to leave a gap wasn't it and so thoughtful not to park where the car would block the road


Although the sunset was not as spectacular as some I have seen recently the clouds over White Fen had a nice tinge to them.


I wanted to try and get round before it got too dark so did not have time to stop and chat with MikeC (sorry Mike) as we passed on Headlake drove. There was a lot of mud around. I also had a brief chat with another cyclist I met heading into Wicken (village) he reported that the NCN11 route to Ely was also pretty muddy in places. I returned detouring through Burwell and back up Newnham Drove onto Lodes Way. Newnham Drove is a bit lot of a trial at the moment with lots of mud, ruts and then the rubble works at the Lodes Way end. At one point there are strips of rusty metal across the road and at first I thought something had dropped off my bike and then I thought I had a rear puncture. Fortunately it was neither.

I did stop to take a picture of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode - mainly because I had taken so few pictures on my way round.


I also noticed that the concrete anti-car bollards at each end of the tunnel under the A14 near Quy on NCN51 have had yellow tape put around them to make them more visible - well done to whoever made this happen.


I had to use chose to use my lights from about White Fen and realised that the Speedo was showing a speed of 0 Kmh - I might not be fast but I am not that slow. The strange thing is that the sensor was still blinking when the wheel magnet passed it and even more strangely the distance cycled was still registered. Thinking about it I wonder if there might be some interference with my new, more powerful light. LED lights are not on permanently, but rather switched on and off at high frequency. It allows them to operate more efficiently and generate more light and use less power. It also means that they can generate a small amount of radio frequency interference which might be "jamming" my wireless speedo. I have not noticed it before because I normally only use the light at night when it is dark and I can't see the speedo. This time around I had started using it at around dusk - something to look out for.

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