Saturday, 7th April 2012: At this point I was somewhere near halfway around – to be fair my route varies as I cycle. There are times when I know where I am going, times when I know roughly and times when I just go where the whim takes me. On this ride I had accomplished my goal of checking out a “new” byway – Ely Lane and thereafter was unsure where to go next. One idea was to head through Soham and down towards Cockpen Road and Tollgate Farm.
The trouble was I picked up a thorn on Ely Lane and started to pick my routes a little more cautiously. If I do have to fix a puncture I like somewhere with a bench where I can sit and fix the puncture at my leisure. Now I chose to cycle along Bracks Drove from Soham to Wicken. A nicer route to cycle along and quieter if I had to fix a puncture – but a muddier route.
Bracks Drove – looking towards Soham
And as a recap here is the map of my ride, I followed a reasonably standard route although cycled on the track around Barway rather than take the road. It does not seem to be a right of way but does have a Sustrans 11 sign on at least on pole along it. It runs alongside Soham Lode. Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. It is 70Km and rises to 7 metres above sea level and sinks to 3 metres below sea level. I also managed to cycle along a byway that I haven’t been along before (Ely Lane to Soham Cotes).
Cambridge – Ely – Soham Cycle – Cambridge Cycle ride map
The OS map shows a white road leading from Great Drove to Bracks Drove, but not quite reaching it. Well it does seem to reach it on the 1930s map and the OSM maps for that matter. Great Drove and Bracks Drove run parallel, although Great Drove is straight and Bracks Drove wiggles a bit. I like the byways and bridleways to cycle along because you don’t run into (or get run into). There are no (sorry about the clichés) white van men, or barging buses or lumbering lorries, except what was that I could see across the field – two white vans. I wonder what they are up to?
Two white vans in the middle of a field near Soham
(or maybe Great Drove, Soham)
As you can see my Longstaff was having a rest whilst I was taking pictures. The trouble is that because I was using a long lens (100-300mm or 200 to 600mm in 35mm speak) I was really too close to get all of the bike in the picture. (Or should I say Lucy – I’ve decided that my bikes should really have names and for male reasons I my bikes to be female. The simple algorithm is that the name starts with the first letter of the make – hence Lucy Longstaff.)
My Longstaff (Lucy) having a rest – Brack Drove, Soham
After passing a few people walking as I neared Wicken where the byway has switched to a bridleway and then back to a byway called Drove Lane I did wonder whether the thorn in my tyre could be safely removed. But decided to risk it. Although every now and then as you cycle you do feel a bit of a wobble or squidginess from the back (it was the rear wheel that had the thorn) and then spend some time staring down at the tyre looking for any softness.
At Wicken I joined Lodes Way to get back to Cambridge. I tried to maintain an even pace and avoided bumping the rear wheel over any stones of edges lest I drive the thorn through the tyre and into the inner tube. Not that there are too many of those for much of Lodes Way.
I did stop on the Reach lode bridge to get a picture of some more people messing about on the water. Although to be fair I don’t mean messing in any pejorative sense.
Messing about on the river – Reach Lode
This is a quiet piece of water to navigate – they were using binoculars to admire the wildlife around them.
Plenty of river to mess about on (Reach Lode)
The field in this picture has been in my pictures for the last few weeks – from a freshly drilled field to this where the plants are very much in evidence and the lines highlight the contours. The rode to the right is Split Drove along which The Lodes Way heads. There is a reel of pipe and some irrigation equipment along the edge of the field as well.
Split Drove seen from Reach Lode Bridge
with some neatly drilled fields
After Split Drove, Lodes Way heads along Headlake Drove where there has been some fly-tipping – a never-ending problem it seems in the countryside. Let’s hope they catch the culprit(s) like these two recently prosecuted.
Fly-tipping on Headlake Drove (part of Lodes Way)
After passing through White Fen I thought I would cycle up the track towards Oily Hall Farm to see whether I could spot the NT Wild Camping site. This is the view looking back down the track – Lodes Way passes between the two lines of pylons – you can just see the blue cycle sign.
The track from White Fen to Oily Hall Farm
I also remembered to take a picture of Lucy Longstaff at sufficient distance to get all of the bike in the picture. Regular readers will recognise the rackpack – it gets put on the bike that I am riding and has various items such as a multi-tool, tyre leavers, tyres patches, zip ties, pump, change, rain-proof jacket and the like. I also put my mobile phone in as well. (The ultimate “repair tool”.)
My Longstaff bicycle (Lucy) waiting patiently as I take pictures
somewhere between White Fen and Oily Hall Farm
Where the route crosses Commissioners'’ Drain there is a rather nice wooden footbridge. At this point there is almost a drainage ditch crossroads and the bridge goes from corner to corner.
The footbridge over Commissioners' Drain
(between White Fen and Oily Hall)
The view to the East along Commissioner’s Drain – looking neatly trimmed and not really that full of water.
Commissioners’ Drain – looking towards Wicken
(Between White Fen and Oily Hall)
Looking North from the bridge you can see the NT Wild campsite under construction.
National Trust secret Campsite
This is the view South-ish towards Lodes Way – I managed to get both Lucy and the bridge in the picture.
That footbridge and that bike - again
And so you might ask, what about the puncture. Well as it happens I got back without any problem. The next morning though when I went to my bike to cycle down to the shop for the newspaper there was a flat tyre. Unexpectedly the rear tyre with the thorn stuck in it was ok, it was the front tyre that was flat.
So I pulled out the thorn fragment form the rear tyre and there was no hissing – the Schwalbe Marathon Tyres are really pretty good. The cause of the puncture in the front tyre was a piece of grit that had embedded in a cut in the tyre and worked its way through. I do check my tyres for bits of grit, but obviously not thoroughly enough. The sorts of places I cycle do cause a fair bit of tyre damage and this front tyre had more than its fair share of cuts , so although there was tread left I replaced the tyre when fixing the puncture.
And finally I am a believer that you should cycle in what you are comfortable in and you don’t have to where Lycra of indeed any out of the ordinary clothing – so here have have Miley Cyrus looking very fetching although a little wary of the cameras I think, in her little black dress. Her bike handling skills look ok as well.
What happens when a Ferrari and a hedgehog meet each other on the road? Well in this case it was the Ferrari that got it.