Friday, November 2, 2012

A figure of 8 ride around Lodes Way

Wednesday, 3rd October 2012: When I came to load up the pictures the first one fooled me. It looks like the one I use for the header on the Blog – except that wasn’t where I went cycling.  A quick check of the GPS log and I got it. This is a different place – it was where I went cycling – but I didn’t start taking pictures for some way into the ride.

Before I touch on pleasant cycling/countryside type things time for a mini-rant. I believe that cyclists have a moral right to the roads as well as a legal right. (Alright with the exception of Motorways).  Indeed you could argue that given the small “footprint” a bicycle occupies and the benefits felt by the rider (that also benefit society) it should have a greater moral right than motorised traffic, well cars with single occupants anyway.

Which is why I think that debate being held by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign on their stance with regard to the over-promotion of helmets and high-vis safety gear is a welcome one.  Whilst I am sure that some who campaign on the important of cycling helmets genuinely believe in the importance of their arguments their concern for cyclists safety might be better aimed at lobbying for decent cycle routes. (Nottingham politicians: Cyclists should be forcer to wear helmets and carry lights). After all if helmets and lights are so important to those out at night then why are they not also compulsory for pedestrians as well?

In my adult life I reckon the number of serious bashes I have had on the head – with reasonable amounts of blood, runs at one-one (cycling-related versus non-cycling-related). Perhaps I ought to wear a helmet all the time.

Why the rant – well I cycle on the roads, pretty much every day – although sometimes it is only a trip to the local shop and back. Yesterday morning a boy-racer was tearing up the road behind me – judging from the noise, ahead there was a parked car on the left and a car coming the other way. His reaction was to break the 30mph speed limit, whizz past me with 30-50cm to spare, brake hard at the parked car as he couldn’t intimidate the oncoming car with the right of way and then swerve around that car.

That is what I want protecting from please. The Cambridge News reports on a “Cyclist whose leg was smashed by careless driver slamming the justice system”. The driver was found guilty and the cyclists is quoted as saying “… but people need to have more appreciation that they are operating what is essentially a speeding lump of metal, which can kill”. Or the “Elderly driver, 84, who mowed down cyclist leaving him with 30 broken bones Or “Hit and run driver sought by police”.

There is some improvement in road casualty new though – “Britain’s washout Spring helps cut road deaths by nearly 20% as cyclists stay home and car drivers cut speeds in bad weather”. (That was a link to the DM – promoting the idea that slower traffic is safer traffic?)Here is the DfT release Q2 2012, released 1st November 2012. One graph that is interesting is on Page 4 – which shows the quarterly killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties by road user.  For the year ending Q2 2112 (corrected) there were 3,210 cyclists and 5,970 pedestrians. (1.86 times more pedestrians than cyclist.) Perhaps walking helmets should be compulsory for pedestrians.

A more sombre way of reporting the issues for cyclists is found in the Times – “One hundred cyclists killed so far in 2012” (1st November 2012).

So what is the answer – well I have always believed in looking at the root causes of a problem rather than patching up the symptoms.  We need to make motor vehicles safer for vulnerable road users using a combination of technology and by providing attractive segregated cycle routes.  Whenever I stand on a bridge and take pictures of the traffic below it seems that there are always loads of vehicles breaking the “two second rule”.. When I drive along roads with average speed cameras the traffic seems calmer. So perhaps a bit more technology in our cars such as GPS systems that monitor the drivers skills should become compulsory. I know that people then moan about civil liberties and “big brother” – but don’t drive if you are that worried and anyway if you have a mobile phone you are effectively being tracked in any case.

Onto more pleasant things – in the build-up to my late-Summer hols, which didn’t involve cycling I was trying to get a bit more cycling in before I went. For simplicity I tended to head out towards Wicken Fen – quiet, scenic and I know the area so can ring the changes on routes. This is a figure of 8 route, 33Km/20miles in length, with the crossover point near the Reach Lode Bridge on Lodes Way. Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link to the map.

The ride involves a couple of bridleways – Straight Drove and Barston Drove which require a bit of care as they can get rutted – but they were fine on this ride. It wasn’t until Barston Drove (the brown dotted line that continues from the Barston Drove road through to the Swaffham Road) that I started taking pictures. This is a picture made up of three, side by side. The hill is Church Hill and Reach is the other side.

Church Hill, seen from Barston Drove

The map of my route – as you can see it is quite a reasonable figure of eight. I also cycled along Blackberry Drove between Barston Drove and Straight drove.

Figure of 8 cycle route between Bottisham and Wicken

This is Straight Drove – a grassy track with ruts – it wasn’t too bad. I took this picture because the hedgerows seems almost red they were laden with so many berries. It doesn’t look quite so red in the picture though.

Straight Drove, near Reach

A close-up of the berries – that’s more like it.

A mass of Red berries in the hedgerow along Straight Drove

At this point the sky seemed reasonable – that is Reach Lode Bridge.

Reach Lode Bridge from Straight Drove

At the point that Straight Drove crosses the Lodes Way I stopped to take a picture of Split Drove.

Split Drove along the Lodes Way

This is Straight Drove again with a choice of ruts to cycle in. I managed the ride without having to dab a foot down once, so it can’t have been that bad.

Straight Drove to Upware

As I was cycling along Straight Drove the clouds over Cambridge seemed a little ominous, since I would be heading back that way later.

Dark skies over Cambridge from Straight Drove

Towards the end of Straight Drove there are the remnants of a tarmac road and then you turn onto Harrison’s Drove which is tarmac. Although I regularly cycle around these parts mainly during the day, but also at night I have never felt threatened or seen cars being burnt-out I do tend to see a few burnt-out cars each year.

Burnt out car on Harrison’s Drove

It always amazes e just how completely cars seem to burn though.

Burnt out car on Harrison’s Drove

Around the Fens leaning telegraph poles are a commonplace sight.  The peat does not make for a good foundation. The roads also undulate as well. If you look closely you can see the first pole leans left then the second leans right (on the right hand side).

The Leaning poles of Harrison’s Drove

As Autumn approaches the leaves start changing colour – some trees before others – this one has stolen a march on the others.

Golden Leaves on Lower Road, Wicken

Another sign of Autumn is the gathering of the beet into clamps. They seem to pop up all over the place here in the Fens.

Beet Clamp - Wicken

On my way back through Wicken Fen I stopped to admire the blue skies.

Blues skies over Wicken Lode

The skies looked a lot less promising back along towards Cambridge though. There was rain in the distance looking over Baker’s Fen.

Rain approaching Wicken Fen?

As I cycled back over Reach Lode Bridge and along Split Drove there were a few spots of rain, but somehow I managed to skirt the rain clouds. It was luck rather than judgement though as I didn’t have my rain cape with me.

When I looked back there was a complete rainbow from Reach to Upware (well somewhere anyway).

A complete Rainbow over Lodes Way

There was a very faint double rainbow – although it was only just visible and it doesn’t seem to have come out in the picture.

Rainbow over Lodes Way – touching down at the Burwell Electricity Sub-station

I could get to like this regular daily cycled ride around the countryside.

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