Monday, February 7, 2011

First ride in shorts of 2011 - despite the wind

Sunday, 6th February: The weather seems quite changeable at the moment, when I got up today it was almost balmy. So with the back twinges getting better I figured the only thing to do was to get a bit of exercise. Normally I find cycling to be beneficial, its the sitting at my computer that is bad for my back! And that is despite having a decent chair, properly adjusted and the screen at the right height...

It was so pleasant when I got up that I put on shorts and when I cycled to the shop for the Sunday papers it was really quite Spring-like. So, even though it was quite windy I just had to get out and wore cycling shorts as well. There is nothing like the wind in your hair and er legs when cycling. (It also meant I could catch up with the week's Archers podcasts.)

Since it was the weekend and I haven't been around Low Fen Droveway for a while that is the way I went. Here is a BikeRouteToaster link to the route which is flat and around 57Km in length. The only downside was that the wind was from the South-West and so I broke my first (well one of them) rule of cycling - go out into the wind and back with the wind. If you follow the link the average speed was around 20Knots and peaked at close to 40Knots. (Which is 23mph to 46mph, or 37 K/hr to 74K/hr).

One thing I did note was that Wadloes Footpath (towards Fen Ditton) has had some more work done to it. A while back it had white lines painted along the middle, now there are solar-powered LED lights, also down the middle.


Here is a close-up of one, as I am still getting used to my long lens (100-300mm or 200mm - 600mm in 35mm money) it seemed like the thing to do. The thing in the middle is the solar cell and the LEDs are angled on each side of the cell. You can check out the serial number as well. The ones on the Newmarket Road (NCN51) had three "prongs" holding them in, this only seems to have one (by the mud on the left hand side).


At the Fen Ditton end of Wadloes Footpath the single pole in the middle has been replaced by two poles, one on each side of the path. The poles had also got red lights set into the tarmac next to them. On balance I like the lights and they are probably useful for all users (cyclists and pedestrians) of this shared-use path. I wonder how reliable the lights are over time and how much light is required to charge them up. Mind you the important time I presume is early evening, there are probably not so many people using the path in the early hours of the next day.


I then headed towards Low Fen Drove Way and crossed the A14 by way of what is a pretty good bridge for a byway. What's more the asbestos and other stuff that had been fly-tipped had also been removed. Thank you to the Council - I appreciate the efforts to keep these paths clear. (Mind you I am not quite sure what Council has responsibility.) The track also looked pretty dry, so I was hoping that I would not have to cycle along wet muddy byways further along.


This is a picture of the Horningsea Road bridge over the A14, 1.6Km (1mile) down the road. I didn't see any cyclists pass over it (it is the route of the Horningsea Cycleway).


Low Fen droveway passes over the route of the dismantled Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway. The track itself is marked as private, which is a shame it would have made an excellent cycleway between Cambridge and Burwell if it had been available. This view is looking East towards Lode. The OSM Cyclemap shows it clearly.


The same track but looking towards Cambridge. The A14 now takes precedence so a bridge would be need to reinstate it. It looks as if there have been problems with vehicles accessing the track - hence the barrier.


When I returned to the Horningsea Cycleway I was surprised to see that LED lights have also been set into this path. In this case on each side, with a healthy margin before the kerb. When I joined the Cycleway there was a group of walkers, around 20 or so coming down, it is good to see the facilities getting used.


I also took a picture of Biggin Abbey, or at least what I think is Biggin Abbey from the road. I am surprised just how much cabling there is around and about - I guess we tend to overlook it normally.


There are loads of Snowdrops growing in the garden and some Aconites as well. It is good to see flowers popping up, a reminder that Spring can't be that far off - can it? These were growing along the Drove Way near Lode. I forgot to mention, all the wind has really dried out the byways, they were surprisingly dry and solid and pleasant to ride along.


The wind had also blown down a few trees here and there, although nothing too serious. There were one or two like this, trees that were covered in Ivy. I assume that the Ivy weakens the tree and the Ivy leaves act like a sail and catch the wind.


There were quite a few people out walking, well it was Sunday afternoon. I also passed some cyclists as I was heading out towards Wicken. They seemed to be struggling somewhat - I was fine with the wind behind me. This picture is an HDR picture made from three exposures, you can see how the trees seem to have multiple branches as the wind blew them around between the three exposures. The Wind vanes were not rotating. I wonder if they have thought of connecting the Windmill to an electricity generator when they don't need water pumping. Come to think of it they could have built at Wind generator connected to an electric pump for maximum flexibility.


When I turned back towards Cambridge it was surprisingly windy, when it is behind you and you are cycling you hardly notice it, when you are battling against it is both hard work and noisy. I had to turn up the volume on my MP3 player a bit. It was also getting dark on my way back, I had set off later than planned. I did stop at the Burwell side of Wicken Fen and tokk a couple of pictures of the trees silhouetted against the low-lying sun.


I headed down towards Burwell and then back up Newnham Drove, not only to get in some extra distance it also meant I avoided cycling head on into the wind, at least for a short while


I bumped into MikeC on Newnham Drove and stopped for a chat. I haven't seem him for a while, I guess we both have been avoiding the unpleasant weather, but now Spring is in the air. The interesting thing is that we have both noticed more people out along the Lodes Way, both cycling and walking which goes to show that there was a latent demand and that not all routes have to be in towns and cities. The Lodes Way is both a route (Cambridge to Wicken Fen) and an amenity in its own right. I also saw some more solar cells, (actually Mike pointed them out to me), there is a Solar powered counter just by the Newnham Drove/ Lodes Way cross-way. I guess someone somewhere wanted to see some bureaucratic evidence that the path is being put to good use. I certainly see people out on it.

I also found that despite it being a warm day (for the time of year) whilst standing talking to Mike the windchill got quite unpleasant. Mind you I soon warmed up again when I got moving, its the legs that do the work and according to a Podcast I was listening to (Dr Karl) muscles are only about 20% efficient there is quite a lot of heated generated as waste - although not so unwelcome in this case.


  1. Jamie you should have been at the junction of Newnham Drove and the Lodes Way at dusk this evening (Tuesday) instead of yesterday. Two Short-eared Owls flying around each other -- looked more like courtship than fighting. One Short-eared perched on a fence 70 metres away (very likely one of the previous two). One Barn Owl, and 45 Roe Deer, plus another 7 that may have been counted earlier and sneaked into a new field while I was watching the owls.

    I rode the length of Newnham Drove three times. Once on my way home, once while going back looking for the rear light that fell off somewhere between the Lodes Way and the Burwell end, and once more home with the light now properly pushed into its holder.

    Oh, the cycle counter is a requirement of funding from Sustrans/Big Lottery Fund. Showing that the £600,000 the Lodes Way scheme received is making an improvement to local cycling. It actually belongs to the County Council and to the best of my knowledge they paid for the installation.

  2. Hi Mike,

    That is an amazing collection of wildlife - it does makes you wonder whether the deer will need to be managed.

    I once had my front light bounce off after cycling over a dodgy drain cover. It ended up in several pieces, but fortunately worked when I reassembled it. Which was a good thing as I was 30 miles from home and no convenient railway lines around to let the train take the strain.

    Well I can certainly confirm anecdotally that there are more cyclists around - even though Spring has yet to.