Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A muddy mid-week ride–you can’t beet it

Wednesday, 7th November: Well one way to catch up on my posts is not to ride as much.  It was a busy weekend but I did manage to get out for a mid-week ride. Although the skies had once again reverted to their greyness. It was yet another ride around the Lodes Way.

Talking if cycle rides apparently “Cycling and walking ‘must be norm’ for short journeys”. This is a recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE – no I am not sure where the “H” went either.) The report calls for making walking and cycling an easier option in local communities. It misses the elephant in the room that proper walking and cycling facilities will cost money and need to take priority from and space off motor vehicles. Try going past most schools at the start or end of the school day and see just how many cars there are parked in and around the streets.

The last link was from the BBC, whilst not always the most bike-friendly broadcaster they do steer clear of too much hyperbole. The same item as reported by the Daily Mail: “Raise cost of parking to force motorists to walk! Nanny watchdog’s plan to get Britain fit”. Notice the different tone – perhaps it reflects the different readership. Are people who get their news from the BBC fitter and less threatened by such an approach than the Daily Mail readership?

Whilst on the subject of getting kids more interested in road safety and maybe cycling to school this ambassador for motoring had his say “Is this what you f* teach kids!?: Businessman’s alleged foul mouthed rant in front of primary pupils after being pulled over for speeding during school project”.

Or this “Two lollipop men patrolling Britain's ‘most dangerous school crossing’ are fitted with body cameras after being knocked down FIVE times by hit-and-run drivers”. Mental note to self – don’t go cycling in that part of Lincoln – ever. Fortunately there are some cycling routes nearby, although they do cross that road! Indeed I have cycled on that road briefly once.

The trouble is, in this car-centric world the car always comes first – people second. “‘School run is like a festival mudbath’: Parents’ fury as new £4million school opens – without a pedestrian footpath” – clever bit of planning that then. Or perhaps the muddy path gives them more exercise.

I mentioned the pressure on the UK countryside in yesterday’s post – “Two million acres of fields ‘may be lost’ to tackle growing housing crisis” – that is an area of land large than the county of Devon. The Planning minister (Nick Boles) talks about “pig ugly” houses – well he ought to get together with the Minister with responsibility for the department of Health (Jeremy Hunt) and also build proper infrastructure for walking and cycling  - not driving.

Although you do wonder quite what is going on when you get reports of hospitals prioritizing smoking over cycling – “Addenbrooke’s Hospital under fire for swapping cycle shelter for smoking hut”. You couldn’t make it up could you.

And finally – well before the ride – “Call for cameras to catch drivers using cycle lanes”. If you want a laugh just read the extensive comments. Personally I think that an inconsistent approach to upholding the law is almost as bad as an inconsistent law. Whether I am driving or cycling I do find there are a lot of arrogant motorists who seem to think that they are a special case when it comes to the bus and cycle lanes along the Newmarket Road.

Just for the record this picture was taken at the crossroads into Lode. The main road (B1102) is certainly much easier to cross now there is a light-controlled crossing there. After crossing you then enter Lode on the side where the van is parked and have to cross to the other side of the road.  Vans parked like this obscure the view of cyclists as they try to cross  the Lode Road – thank.

Van parked on the Pavement – Lode

Although it was a Wednesday, or perhaps because it was a Wednesday I passed quite a few cyclists including this group (there are two more just out of shot. They didn’t give me much room as they cycled through!

Cyclists on White Fen, Lodes Way

I went to Wicken via Upware and after passing through Upware noticed this kite flying – an attempt to protect the newly drilled seed.

Bird-scaring Kite near Upware

As I cycled along Lower Road into Wicken there was another bird scarer.  A while back I reported that the Google map (with the cycling option) had a disconnect on the route from Wicken to Ely, near Barway.  Well I reported it and got a very nice email back saying thank you and we will fix it – well they have done. I am not a great fan of Google’s support – they tend to favour an approach that is less communicative than I would like. However this time around they have done what I might expect. Unlike the response to my report of problems along  the cycle way of the Guided Busway in Histon.

Scarecrow – Lower Road, Wicken

Lower Road showed signs of muddy traffic and pretty soon that muddy traffic showed up. It is the beet harvesting season and when you have to harvest you have to harvest. Apparently in Lincolnshire it was coming of the fields at 50t/ha. With three beet factories opening on 20th September, (Bury St Edmunds, Newark and Wissington.)

Beet tractor – Lower Road, Wicken

Actually the road wasn’t too bad – but they peaty mud is very slippery – at night it can feel pretty dicey.

Beet tractor – Lower Road, Wicken

After going through Wicken Fen and down into Burwell (to avoid the detour along the Burwell Lode bank whilst they build the new bridge footings) I passed another beet clamp.

Beet clamp near Burwell

Not much further down was a farmer busy harvesting.

Beet being harvested – near Burwell

At this point I should mention I have bumped into MikeC and the Swaffham Bulbeck Cyclist a few times, often bird watching on Reach Lode Bridge. I can’t remember which rides though. I did see an owl and recently (26th Nov) saw a shot-eared owl flying. The trouble is I am not quick enough when it comes to seeing them, getting my camera pointing in the right direction and zooming in – so no pictures yet.

I think it was on this ride that I had forgotten to bring a front light with me – so I had to leave the meeting of the Lodes Way irregulars (early although SBC did offer to lend me a front light – thanks).

In this picture taken from the Reach Lode Bridge you can see the portrait bench and then a little further along a water-logged field.

Lodes Way Portrait Bench,near Reach Lode Bridge

Although it was getting darker I couldn’t resist a couple of stops to take pictures of the sunsets. The processing of the picture has lifted the green of the turf growing in the field – although it is a bit noisy (speckles of red in the green) as a result.

Sunset – Lodes Way

Another shot – this time with less zoom – the contrails in the now blue sky stood out quite well.

Sunset – Lodes Way

This is with more zoom again – I like the silhouettes of the trees, a pity about the overhead cables though.

Sunset – Lodes Way

As you can see there was a little time before the sun disappeared over the horizon. Although this was the last picture of the ride.

Pylons marching of to the sunset – White Fen

And finally – now for something completely different – America’s steam engines.

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