Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A bit of everything (well only a few things really)

Saturday, 9th July: No I haven’t stopped riding my bike and I certainly haven’t stopped riding around the Lodes Way, but stuff has gotten in the way. Not surprisingly I tend to find it easier to put my work to one side and cycle when the weather is lovely than when it is windy and less warm than it ought to be.

So this post is about a ride and has some recently taken pictures, but first recent news that has caught my eye. Starting with a Blog – Pushing the pedals – written by another cyclist who likes the outdoors, cycling bicycles and taking pictures and he is off to cycle the Himalayas this Summer! I really must plan something.

Whilst on the subject of Websites here is another Blog – Phil Rodgers – Cambridge local politics and data visualisation, who looks at the 20mph speed limit issue in Cambridge. This was also covered by the BBC with the headline “Cambridge’s 20mph speed trial produces mixed results”.  The significant fact is that it would seem that there is now an expectation that people want calmer streets where they live. It would appear that enforcing the limits is now a priority for the Police. Let’s hope this goes viral.  When in Napa Valley a couple of years ago I was impressed with the way that cars drove so slowly though some of the small towns and gave way to jay-walking British pedestrians who didn’t know where the pedestrian Xing was.

I have been taking digital pictures for some time now, a quick check shows digital pictures going back to 99 using a camera with just over a million pixels and from memory a battery life of 30 pictures (if we were lucky). I now have around 400Gb of picture data in 78,421 files of which the majority will be pictures. I haven’t really mastered the issue of how best to catalogue them. I tend to use Picasa and a descriptive directory name. What it does mean though is that I could go “back in time” and lift some almost relevant pictures from the Napa area.

Here they are, I was there for work, honest, but here is one of the trails we went out walking on.  I have also cycled around these parts and despite it being such a car-centric society, passed a reasonable number of cyclists and were always given space by the cars.

The towns, once you are out of “Silicon Valley” are really quite picturesque. this place does a good breakfast.

These pictures are not all from the same trip – but I did have a balloon ride down the valley one morning. As you can see it was a popular thing to do. There were many more balloons than this.

This isn’t the US, but London and the River Thames, taken as we were approaching Heathrow on the return journey. We didn’t see any bears like this unlucky but lucky cyclist who collided with a bear whilst cycling to work in Florida though.

Before I get onto my ride  another cycling Blog with some interesting numbers – Ted’s Notes on Bicycling. Here is a taster “the Government estimates that they save 2 billion Euro per year because so many people cycle in the Netherlands”. Oh yes – also “out of the total population of 765,000 around 350,000 people ride bikes in Amsterdam every day”. Just think how much nicer Cambridge would be if we could achieve that level of modal shift.

Talking about changes apparently “one in three children has never climbed a tree and half have never made a daisy chain”. How can that be, how can so many children not experience the pleasures of falling out of a conker tree into a bed of stinging nettles. I was in so much pain that it was not until the next day that I realised I had also badly sprained my ankle as well.  I also fell out of an Apple Tree “scrumping” apples. (Note if you follow the link I most definitely do not mean the definition in the first paragraph – it was a mix of 1 and 2.  In that the Apples were quite sweet and the orchard was almost abandoned. Although occasionally it was harvested and we would help out in return for a basket of apples. (We liked to go on the picking platform.) If you want to try it here is someone who did – start an orchard that is…

Flip, loads of webpages have accumulated on my browser. I’d better get them out of the way. The other day I saw some construction work in the Longstanton Park and Ride – it is a Waiting Room. It will have a ground source heat pump and solar panels apparently. 

The picture on the left shows the foundations – it surprises me how much of the CGB is being added after the handover, I guess the Cambridge County Council did not want all their eggs in one basket. In hindsight it was perhaps a good thing, There has been nothing reported on the battle between the CCC and the original contractors BAM Nuttall though.

I have cycled along Riverside in Cambridge and over the new bridge quite a few times. I have often wondered quite what the construction on the other side was. Well it is  a hotel for 200 swifts. According to the Daily mail article it also has speakers to play bird song. I thought it was some form of solar heating system.

And finally two car related items – “more than 4 million drivers have fallen asleep in the last year” – what you mean cyclists and pedestrians have to share road space with drivers of potentially dangerous metal boxes and they fall asleep as well. One thing about cycling is that it would be pretty difficult to have a ‘microsleep’ and if you did then you would soon know about it.

The last item – relates to the awful Tour de France crash where a TV car  just barged cyclists out of the way – well a US commentator claimed in a tweet to laugh at it. He tried to brazen it out but eventually made an apology. Although i for one did not find it to be very sincere. So even in the car-centric society of the US the cycling community has a voice.  This reminds me of the Mathew Parris comment on why cyclists deserve beheading. I read the Times (someone has to) but always skip anything he has written – someone capable of writing that, even as a joke, is not someone I would consider having sufficient judgement to be worth reading. (If you are interested I started reading the Times when commuting to London – it was a conveniently-sized paper on the crowded Cambridge to London train. More convenient than the Guardian unfortunately, although I find the Guardian more thoughtful.

Here is the ride – I broke my rule, again, of cycling on the River Cam towpath during the weekend. Although to be fair my rules aren’t really rules, just guidelines. If you look at the map wouldn't it be marvellous if that towpath carried on all the way to Ely. Of course I’d still want the Lodes Way and NCN51 as well.

The ride is 58Km/ 36 miles long and uses a few bridleways and byways to join the dots. So it is better in the dryer months of the year than during the Winter. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link to the map.

Being a Saturday there are more people out enjoying the reasonable weather. I passed 29 people walking and 18 cyclists along with a bunch of people sitting on the river bank holding sticks.

Winking smile

There were people out rowing, but also larger boats making their way along the river. If you look on the right of the picture you will also see a cyclist. Although 18 cyclists isn’t the largest of numbers it does show that cyclists like to be away from the potentially-dangerous motor vehicle routes.

Not much further along the river and there were a couple of canoes making their way as well.  This nice thing about this route is that although it is secluded it is not isolated.

This is the byway from near Clayhithe over towards Quy – whilst it looks empty in the picture it is popular with dog walkers.

This is Lodes Way as it passes through White Fen. The last path is an “accidental” cycle route this one is purpose built – the thing they have in common is that they both make for pleasant cycling .

The Lodes Way does follow bits of country lane on an off. At this point the road (Split Drove) ends and this track was built between the Drove and Reach Lode Bridge.  I believe there were concerns about how the bridge would stand out – as you can see those fears were groundless (IMHO). Those electricity pylons – well they are a different matter.

After Split Drove there is almost no road until Wicken Fen.  As you pass through the Fens the designers of this route have thoughtfully providing demounting blocks for cyclists like myself who are not getting any younger. They have also designed it for use by Penny-farthing cyclists.

I like the chap’s cycle helmet I suppose that the higher up you are the more squish-ability you need in your helmet.

He could do with some slightly more knobbly tyres though as the mounting blocks are off-off-road.

I have yet to see one of these mounting blocks in use, but I have seen some horse riders on Lodes Way.

This is how you make them, build a wooden frame and fill it with concrete. I wonder if they will put reflective or better still, fluorescent material on them so that the wild deer don’t bash into them as they pass though.

After heaving my bike over the footbridge over Burwell Lode I then left the Lodes Way and cycled on up Harrison’s Drove – half concrete half mud track.  This is the concrete half. This was an impromptu stop, but having stopped I took a picture. The reason I stopped was that my GPS unit flew of into the grass at the side.

The GPS mounts on a plastic base held onto the handlebars by zip-ties. Because of the routes I tend to take there is quite a bit of vibration that gets through and the plastic clips break. I first notice that there is a problem because the wobble gets quite pronounced. As a stop-gap I tend to stick elastic bands on. This time I had forgotten them and when the last connection broke the GPS flew off. This is the second bracket that has broken I do have a spare though.

Now I know that a “stitch in time saves nine”, but I get my pleasure from riding bikes not fixing them and didn’t quite get around to sorting it.  Mind you I stuck the GPS in the top pocket of my rack pack and it worked perfectly well.

Although I didn’t take any pictures the byway called Docking’s Lane between Dimmock’s Cote Road and Lower Drove has had some flattening work which makes it a bit easier although there are still some ruts to watch out for.

The byway from Reach towards Swaffham Prior (Black Droveway) has settled down nicely. Just after it had been flattened it was tricky because some of the ruts were filled with loose soil which were difficult to cycle through. The rain and  farm traffic has helped to compact them down a bit.

This is the view back from the road, Black Droveway follows that line of trees.

AI keep looking out for the Swallows nesting in the tunnel under the A14 near Quy Mill Hotel (NCN51) but have not spotted them so far. You can see the nest material hanging down from the light though.

And finally – I rather liked this video, I know it is an advert but still it shows cycling as fun.

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