Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cold weather–what cold weather?

Monday, 25th February 2013: Although the weather is pretty cold at the mo it is not that difficult to keep warm on short cycle rides. I had a couple of meetings in the centre of Cambridge and because the temperature was only hovering a few degrees above freezing I wrapped up warm.

I had to be semi-formally dressed which for me on a cold day means a pair of corduroy trousers (cords), which I reckon are just the job. I also wore a jacket and a reasonable, but moderately thick shirt and a thin jumper under my jacket (think Sports Coat as they say in the US).

I also wore a thin skull cap, (not the one in the link, but like it), scarf and moderate gloves. I set of a tad later than I had planned and so my planned roundabout route turned into a slightly more direct route – although I still avoided the main car routes through Cambridge. As a consequence I didn’t take any pictures on my way in (or out for that matter‘cos it was dark and I was on a deadline).

Although I was late, by optimising my route for speed rather than pleasure I arrived JIT, said hello to the person I was meeting and was asked whether it was raining?  Yes I was way too warm and the skull cap certainly kept my head warm, so warm that my hair was somewhat sweaty. Oh well, I’ll get the hang of this cycling lark at some stage I am sure.

The good news was that although I had another meeting elsewhere in Cambridge,  because I had sussed out the cycle parking situation on Cyclestreets.net  on their photomap it was a doddle moving on to my next meeting, parking the bicycle and strolling in on time (again). The alternative would have been unthinkable – so I won’t even go there.

I did have a look at the River Cam/Railway Line/Jubilee cycleway underpass which has been recently had its surface modified. It was dark so I didn’t take a picture, I did cycle over it though. By the power of aforementioned Cyclestreets here is a link to a recent picture and map.  Here is Radwagon’s video of the consequences of the new surface.  (Note he has an excellent set of video clips providing a cycling guide to Cambridge on his Blog.)

I would imagine that there was concern about the traction of the wooden surface (which had what looked like sandpaper, rough side up, in strips along the wooden planks. There might also have been concern about speeding cyclists although it is not something I have worried about. The reality is that the underpass is pretty narrow and so even with a ting of the bell I tend to go slow on it.

The other reason I go slow is because I ended up visiting casualty one icy day, before the sandpaper strips had been stuck down. I was going a tad too fast under the circumstances and  my front wheel slipped away from me. I clonked my head, arms and thighs and buckled the front wheel An x-ray showed no broken bones and after having various bits of my body tickled and pushed (Neuro obs stuff – although I wasn’t in Oz)  I had my head glued back together again and went to work.

At the end of the day although there was a bit of sleet in the air I had a jolly pleasant ride home and had worked up an appetite for a new recipe my wife was trying from  Hugh FWs Three Good Things. It was one of the sprout ones, and delicious, although sprouts are not on my list of yummy foods, black pudding is.

Here is a picture I took earlier (Sunday) of a woodpecker pecking in the garden. It was a woodpecker – I took quite a few pictures and that head moves are speeds beyond my camera. It has spots – so spotted, but that’s where I stop. Using Google image search throws up loads of pictures that don’t look greater, lesser or middle.

Some sort of woodpecker feeding in the garden

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pavements are for Parking, Bikes give way to cars

Sunday, 17th February 2013: I have just used the Living Streets “Say no to pavement parking” to write to my Councillor to deplore the selfish activity of motorists who park on pavements. (Here is the Living Streets briefing document.)

Why should it irritate me so, well for one if reinforces selfish behaviour by motorists on the roads. I feel that selfish behaviour is arrogant and that leads to danger. Even worse pavement parking increases the danger for the vulnerable road users -  cyclists and pedestrians. Which according to the Stats are seeing a rise in the accident statistics and need protecting more than ever.(Road.cc – DfT stats.)

The other problem is that pavements were not built for parking and so get damaged – which also increases the danger to vulnerable road users.

Why do drivers do it, well for their convenience. To shorten their walk to the shops to buy cigarettes maybe. The NT’s Anglesey Abbey is famous for its snowdrops. Apparently they have over 240 different varieties and now is the time of year to see them. As you can imagine as one of the only “shows in town” at this time of years so they tend to get loads of visitors particularly at the weekend.

They get more visitors than can park in their own extended car park and so provide an over-spill car parking in Lode. The trouble is lots of their visitors just don’t give a toss about the residents of Lode and seem to park in all sorts of spaces including along Lode Road and as you can see here they are shy about parking on the pavement. Now the legality of pavement parking is a little less clear than you might hope (Highway code 238 to 252 – Waiting and parking). Certainly less clear than the law about cycling on the pavement. The Highway code rule 244 say YOU MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.

How thoughtful of the driver of this car to have pulled the door mirrors in to make it easier for pedestrians to squeeze past. Or was it more a case of wanting to minimise any risk of damage to the car?  I am not sure who the bloke in red is, he did seem to look in the boot of the car though.

Whilst on the subject of cars – “Government invests another £37million in electric cars… despite only 2,000 being sold last year”. Apparently the problem with uptake is due to lack of suitable charging points rather than the cost and limited lifespan of the batteries and limited range of the vehicles. Apparently the electric cars can depreciate by 90% in five years, the same article suggests that the batteries might last 8 years and then require £8,000 to replace. I hope the batteries are recyclable.

And – whilst on the subject of energy – Fuel bills will keep soaring warns energy watchdog. Energy is not free.  The trouble is I worry that the reports of Shale Oil reserves for the UK will lead our politicians to believe that have a free “get out of jail card”. That is not so – Shale Oil – Good News?

Pavement Parking – Lode

Small wonder that I like to cycle away from traffic – all this ranting is bad for my blood pressure. Now one way of reducing blood pressure is through regular exercise. I stopped at the Lode end of White Fen Drove and took this picture of a couple of cyclists ahead.

Two Cyclists on Lodes Way (White Fen Drove)

Whilst there I noticed a cyclist turning around in the road along Lug Fen Droveway. I wonder if he thinks that the missing link to Waterbeach is complete? Those undulations are typical of small roads in the fens.

Lug Fen Droveway

And I am pleased to report that I overtook those two cyclists and reached the other end of White Fen in time to take a picture of them.

Cyclists on Lodes Way (White Fen)

There were a couple more cyclists on their Folders at the picnic tables on White Fen.  They look like a brace of Bromptons.

A Brace of Bromptons on White Fen

For a change I didn’t carry along the Lodes Way, instead I cycled along  Great Drove to Upware. I did see a couple of cyclists in the distance heading back along the Lodes Way in the bit of Headlake Drove just after Split Drove. Perhaps I ought to mention that I was using my long lens (100mm – 300mm – ~ 200mm – 600mm in 35mm terms).

Cyclists in the distance on Headlake Drove

This is what Great Drove looks like, being a Sunday there were more cars than usual along this bit of road. The car occupants look a little serious – perhaps wondering what I was doing – a speed gun perhaps?

As you can see this road undulates and most drivers tend to stick to a moderate speed – well if they are driving their own vehicles they do.

Great Drove

After Upware the soil changes colour to a more reddy-brown hue. This kite of prey was keeping watch over the newly drilled field.

Bird Scaring Kite (Near Upware)

I didn’t intend to take a picture of the kite again, but it snuck in. It was the clump of tree in the distance that interested me. For some reason I associated this with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album, it should have been Bare Trees. You can see the soil is redder.

Bare Trees

I checked out the Docking’s Lane byway, it was way too muddy so I cycled along to Way Lane and into Wicken along Lower Road. As expected the car park at Wicken Fen was packed. I assume most visitors use the board walk route. The paths are pretty muddy in Wicken Fen at the moment.

There were cars parked alongside Burwell Lode in the car park built for workers who did the ground works for the planned but unfunded bridge for animals and people.

The fine weather certainly had brought out a lot of people. There were people walking along the banks of Burwell Lode and a boat heading down towards Burwell.

Boat on Burwell Lode

With my long lens you can get quite a reasonable picture of the Reach lode Bridge. There were some complaints about it being larger than it needed to be. As far as I am concerned it looks pretty good. The extra railings don’t help, but it is the Pylons in the background and the poles along the Lode there that are the real eyesores.

Reach Lode Bridge (as seen from Burwell Lode Footbridge)

Here is Burwell Fen Farm – or rather the old tin hut – although it has an interesting construction and was recently cleaned up.

Burwell Fen Farm barn

That boat on Burwell Lode is getting closer. More people walking on the banks.

Boat on Burwell Lode

The left bank (of Burwell Lode) wasn’t quite so busy.

Left Bank of Burwell Lode

This is Reach Lode – more people out enjoying the sunshine. Shame about the pylons!

Reach Lode

Reach Lode bridge is another vantage point and so with my long lens – a picture of a car heading down the rather lumpy and bumpy Split Drove. I have driven along there once (there and back) in the Winter when there was snow on the roads. It is pretty lumpy and I was in my 4x4 and had switched on the snow program. Personally I prefer to cycle along it.

The road heads left – along the line of small trees in the mid-ground. The cyclists in the sixth picture were heading along there.

Car driving along Split drove

It was not quite so warm, although still sunny. It was also somewhat misty – hence the atmospheric picture of more trees taken from Reach Lode Bridge.

Trees in the Misty Fens

I stuck to the Lodes Way for my route back. Yesterday’s ride had tired me out with all the mud. This road doesn’t seem to have a name and using this website, if you select the bigger map and the 19th C map the likelihood is that the farm used the track alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode for access. In fact the 20th C map also shows no road. (Nor does the 1930s map on WTP). The farm is called Slades Farm – that much I know.

This car drove down to the bridge, turned around then then came back again!

Car heading towards Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge (Lodes Way)

I had to wait for the car to reverse before taking the picture I stopped for – the trees. Shame about the pylons.

The road to Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge (Lodes Way)

As I made my way back through Lode again, my lane was clear and the other side of the road had a load of parked cars. Some of the parked cars had gone so there were gaps. As I cycled up with, the right of way, a fat Merc Estate driver coming the other way (alright I couldn’t tell whether he was fat) decided, rather than let me go by pulling into a gap instead put his foot down and headed towards me, forcing me to pull into the kerb and stop.

What a tosser, a chap on the pavement even commented that was a close thing. When I was younger cars always tended to give way to other vehicles, and such courtesy was rewarded with a wave. Nowadays that courtesy is sadly missing. Unfortunately it has increased the danger for vulnerable road users. What is annoying is that such behaviour is so common that most motorists probably don’t thing anything of it. After all cars trump bicycles every time!

I reckon that we have all been infected by the idea that the only goal on the roads is to maximise the flow of people. So he probably reckoned that it was better for him and his car load of fat b*ggers passengers to force me to stop for a short time, rather than wait for me to slowly pedal past on my bicycle. Hey. that approach is probably less polluting as well.

Cars are now so important that they are allowed to park in bus stops – as you see here on, just after the crossroads on the road towards Bottisham. Yes that is a bus stop, the shelter is partly hidden by the bushes.  Hey, they run so few bus services on a Sunday they felt that they were making much better use of the space. Lazy motorists.

Cars parked in the Bus stop area along by the Lode crossroad

I must admit, I did feel slightly smug as I cycled past a broken-down car being lifted onto a truck. Although that was making it even more difficult for the inhabitants of Lode to get home.

Broken Down Car being picked up in Lode

There were still cyclists about though.  I am not sure where these were heading. I was taking the long way back.

Cyclists – Lode Crossroads

As I cycled into Bottisham there is a lane obstruction, not the technical term I know.  Whilst parking there might not be illegal, it shows very little consideration for cyclists as it brings a cyclist back into conflict with traffic heading in either direction.

Whilst I am ranting – the general Highway Code advice is: Rule 201

Do not reverse from a side road into a main road. When using a driveway, reverse in and drive out if you can.

This driver must find reversing into a drive tricky.

Parking – lack on consideration for others

So for those who can’t get to see the snowdrops here are some.





I wonder if there is just a total lack of awareness about how dangerous cars can be –

Women spared jail after driving car at group of children with special needs what they threw snowballs at her vehicle.

Moment bus passengers saw women killed … cash for crash plot.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

People everywhere–and undercarriage problems

Saturday, 16th February 2013: Yesterday was a busy day, including getting the week’s shopping done. However my wife was off to see some friends perform at lunchtime (music). Which meant that I had an opportunity to get out slightly earlier and have an afternoon’s sunny sycling.

Before I start I probably ought to warn the squeamish that I am going to mention posterioral matters. I do reckon that us MAMILs in Lycra are one of the worst adverts for cycling there is. Although perhaps I am more LMA than MA – I am not quite sure when these things set in mind – I still feel young. Although in the Times today (behind a paywall so no link) it indicated that most people give up exercise completely by 56. Why?

I do have some cycling-specific clothing, including Lycra, but I have never used chamois cream. In fact I used to wonder why the chamois needed so much attention. I also can’t say that I like cycling  Eventually I twigged that it was cream you applied to the bits of you body that rested on the saddle – rather than something to soften the chamois.

I did use Lycra and padded shorts when I cycled from Land’s End to John O’ Groats and I also used Sudocrem, daily – it worked for me and was a tip I was able to pass on to one of my fellow cyclists who after a few days appeared to be very, very uncomfortable on his saddle. For other long rides I have only used it sparingly – even in hot climates.

For general leisure cycling I wear unpadded MTB shorts, mainly because they are tougher. One thing I have noticed is that decent trousers I wear for work (or suit trousers)  tend to wear more quickly at the crotch, which I suppose is an added expense. Although I would imagine people who drive a lot probably wear their trousers out fairly quickly.

I also wear underpants – even with Lycra and padding, it feels to weird not to and although there are extra seams around I tend not to have problems even on day-long rides. My guilty secret is that at the moment I have been wearing the same pair of MTB shorts on most leisure rides over the winter. Well they have finally worn so thin in the nether regions that they have started to split open. So it is probably a good job I also wear underpants.

I have Brooks saddles on four of my bikes and although they might be heavier find them hard wearing and extremely comfortable  – pretty much from the get-go.

So I am going to have to buy some new pairs of shorts – the trouble is I tend to buy some new piece of clothing and then carry on using the old gear so I don’t get the new stuff dirty! The choice will be the subject of another post.

I have been avoiding the bridleways and byways for the last few months. I don’t mind a bit of mud, however I really don’t like it when the mud makes it impossible to cycle on. Anyway for a change I decided to cycle around Low Fen Droveway from High Ditch Road to the Horningsea Road and then across to Lode via the off-road routes. It seems like ages I cycled that way. High Ditch Road is bit of a rat-run road, it is fairly narrow, straight and undulates. Google Maps mark it as a Cycle friendly road. It is not a route I would happily take a young family cycling along, I’d feel intimidated. I do cycle along it on my own though.

I think part of the problem is that the road surface is more uneven at the edges and cars zoom down the middle at what I think are inappropriate speeds. Although I do wonder whether I am becoming less road-tolerant because I do so much cycling off-road or on quiet roads. Perhaps that is why there is a split amongst cyclists who want safe roads and those (non-cyclists) who want safe cycle routes. Personally I feel we need more safe routes to get more people cycling.

As many are aware there has been quite a lot of rain recently and although the flatlands has quite an extensive drainage network I reckon that we have become less attentive to many of the smaller ditches and drains.  Well that has changed this year – there seems to be a lot of ditch clearing taking place, including along High Ditch Road. Clear ditches allow the water to flow faster as you can see here there is quite a lot of water in the ditch. There seems to be a problem further up the way where this road meets the Newmarket Road with a constant stream of water flowing across the road because of blocked drains/ditches.

The cycle route, NCN51 avoids that problem being off-road.

High Ditch Road – Cambridge, ditch clearance/hedge trimming

This is the view looking towards Cambridge, along High Ditch Road, the water seems to have disappeared. Here is rather a nice map of the area c 1790, pre-railway. Talking of the railway there is still an old humpback bridge along  High Ditch Road – which is what counts as a hill in these parts. That can be a bit scary I have seen a car lift of the road speeding over that bridge. Under it there is graffiti.

The area between High Ditch Road and Newmarket Road is set for change as Marshall of Cambridge owns 125 acres of it and wants to develop it with plans for a school, 1,500 homes a petrol station, commercial development and playing fields.  Apparently top quality land in Cambridge can sell for between £3m and £4m an acre, but the building boom is not as strong as it was, even in Cambridge.

For me the issues, is that the area is close to the A14, a very noisy road but we probably do need more housing – so how do we make it a nice and pleasant area to live in. Which means prioritising people over cars. One of the employment hubs in Cambridge is the Cambridge Science Park, another is the Cambridge Bio-Medical Campus (Addenbrookes), so I would hope that thought and investment is given to ensuring pleasant cycle routes to work that positively entice people on to their bikes and prioritise cycling over cars. Perhaps that means  houses don’t have garages for cars but do have decent storage for bicycles or if they do have garages there is a premium to pay. Perhaps High Ditch Road should either become cycle only, or a no through road, or a wide cycle track built alongside.

Enough dreaming!

High Ditch Road – Cambridge, ditch clearance/hedge trimming

As I was taking pictures I noticed some people admiring the view from the A14 bridge along Low Fen Drove Way. I think they were having a Titanic moment.  When I cycled up over the bridge I passed them – they were out for a cycle.

Bridge over the A14 (Low Fen Drove Way)

The first half of the drove way was full of puddles after crossing over the path of the old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line it became rather less pleasant. – very muddy. I managed to cycle, rather than walk, but it was hard work and felt like was cycling three times further than bike moved forwards.

My front mudguard also started clogging up pretty badly – which also added to the drag as I cycled. I consoled myself with the thought that it was good exercise. Near Snouts corner there are two paths the byway and a concrete track. Google Maps’ Satellite view shows the drove way going along the concrete bit. However if you look closely there is a track between two hedges that I reckon is actually the right of way.

It would seem that whoever owns the concrete track also thinks the same thing as a ditch has ben (re)dug to block access to it. In my cycling travels I tend to head for byways and bridleways. Now I am never quite clear what level of repair a byway should be in, or whose responsibility.  Given that many byways are used by farmers to get from field to field, when the weather is wet and soggy then it is hardly surprising that the byways get chewed up. The Byways & Bridleways Trust makes the point that it used to be whether a route was founderous? Would it bring a horse to its knees? Well I reckon that the bit from here to the right around honey hill is founderous. I would imagine that whilst the alternate route existed no-one bothered but if the concrete track is no longer accessible then perhaps it need fixing.

Low Fen Drove Way – pretty muddy and a barrier to the concrete track

Although having said that, this is the view from the other end of the byway with an inaccessible concrete track bypass. It doesn’t look as bad at this end. You’d get a horse along there – the ruts are a bit deep for a bicycle though as the pedals would foul the sides. (Here is a byway map that I found in my travels in the internet – Low Fen Drove Way.)

Low Fen Drove Way – pretty muddy in places

It was rather pleasant to get onto a decent bit of tarmac on the Fen Ditton – Horningsea shared-use cycleway. Now the cycleway ends as you get to Horningsea.  It would seem that this village suffers a bit from being on a rat-run route. It is mentioned in the British History section on Horningsea with respect to traffic calming.  As far as I am concerned an awful lot of money is p*ssed away on traffic-calming that either has a temporary effect of  hardly does anything.

The reason it happens is that it is cheap and keeps the natives happy. When entering villages you see gates on the verge at the boundary, or painted SLOW signs on the road, or “Kill Your Speed” signs on lampposts in fact that’s a topic for a set of pictures.

Cambs County Council do have information on what to expect from Traffic Calming, bumps can effect reductions of up to 10mph. Islands – not very effective (2-3mph) and for a cyclists they act as pinch points, come to that so do speed bumps.  Rumble strips – not sure – 3mph maybe. Gateway Features – 4-5mph but speeds creep back up again. So there you have it – not much good but cheap – the lot. The other thing that traffic calming schemes do is they alter the patterns of traffic flow in other parts of the network. If you put a barrier to free traffic flow then some percentage of traffic will take an alternate route and might even increase speed to compensate for the new route being longer. (Sustrans take on traffic calming measures.)

It would seem that owners of cars in Horningsea do not feel confident in the driving skills of other road users and feel the only answer is to take to the pavement for their parking.

Pavement Parking Horningsea

After passing through Horningsea with its red tarmac I then headed out along a bridleway, to the north of the village, that heads east. I have looked for a reference to the track – but until seeing the Horningsea c. 1800 map had not come up with a name – well it is called Hundred Acres Road (or Lane) and is marked as going to Stow-cum-Quy. This is The Drove Way as it intersects the old railway line (Cambridge to Mildenhall).

Muddy but not impossible to cycle down – the silver lining was to consider how I was getting more exercise and improving my bike handling skills.

The Drove Way, near Quy – muddier than usual

I had stopped to take a picture of these flowers – Winter Aconites – not for a rest honest.

Winter Aconites on The Drove Way

If you think I am whingeing too much about how much effort it takes – well the track is reasonably long (360m). In general this route is pretty good – even in bad weather.

The Drove Way, near Quy – muddier than usual

I then turned on to the track of the old Cambridge to Mildenhall line – the first half is as bad as I have ever seen it. There was a field of beet (on the right of this picture) and the vehicles used on the lifting and transportation seem to have lifted some of the tracks foundations, as well as churning up the mud.

Old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line – near Anglesey Abbey

The same view – but with more zoom. You can see my cycle tracks on the picture.

Old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line – near Anglesey Abbey

Towards Lode there has been some tree management.

Neatly Stacked Logs – Lode

At the gate by Harvey’s Drove a view back down the line – not quite as badly chewed up at this end.

Old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line – Anglesey Abbey

On my way to White Fen I bumped into Doug, who farms in the area and is the man behind the popular LodeStar festival (opening on the 30th August 2013 at 9am this year). We had a chat about the Festival and the crops he has planned to grow.  I really must get along this year, the trouble is my wife is not into this type of music.

 Sad smile

White Fen

I know I mentioned seeing people – well I did, lots of people on all bits of the off-road routes. People walking their dogs, riding horses walking their humans, cycling. In fact I was amazed at just how popular the area has become in a relatively short space of time. It was officially opened on September 12th, 2010. Less than a year and a half later and with no other evidence than my eyes I reckon it has attracted good numbers of people.

When I got to Reach Lode Bridge I took some pictures. Two walkers coming across from the footbridge at Burwell lode (I am guessing) by way of what is now looking like a causeway with the water levels rising.)

Walking on a causeway on Burwell Fen

Also as I cycled from Headlake Drove onto Split drove I passed a horse rider. Usually I call out – or rather say hello. It isn't a good thing to cycle past a horse particularly if it has blinkers as it can get a surprise to see a cyclist appear out of nowhere.

This time around I gave some gentle tings on my bell whilst I was still some distance from the rider as she approached the corner (Headlake and Split Drove). That allowed them to realise I was there and for me to pass on the corner with a wide berth. With the sun shining and spring flowers out it felt like Spring was in the air.

Here s that rider and her horse having made their way down Split Drove

Horse rider on Split Drove

As you can see the last picture had a bit of zoom. I didn’t notice at the time, when I was taking the pictures. However on the right of the bridge one of the rails has come loose and is pointing up in the air. This hunk of invisible wood then appeared in all oft he pictures of the horse and rider. You’d think I would be wise to that sort of photography problem by now.

Horse rider on Lodes Way (near Reach Lode Bridge)

So two of these pictures got cropped to exclude the errant plank of wood. I didn’t look to see which way they went!

Horse rider on Lodes Way (near Reach Lode Bridge)

As bridges are a high point around these parts they also make good places to take pictures.  There are golden rays beaming down from the sun on Burwell Fen Farm

Burwell Fen Farm – lit by Sunbeams

This is my last picture – the clouds reflections in Burwell Lode. At this point it was starting to get a bit darker. Although the days are getting longer sunset was at 5.15pm. I had my Knog light with me, so was “street legal”, however what with the time it took for me to get around the muddy bits and then talking to people I met on the way I was out later than planned.

Burwell Lode

My tiny Knog front light is good for alerting others to my presence, however I wouldn’t want to cycle along a dark and muddy byway relying on it as my sole source of front light though. Some cycle paths are a bit convoluted and I prefer to have lights that illuminate the eccentric nature of those paths. It was fine for my journey back in the twilight though.

As an experiment I have inserted what the app I am using with Windows Live Writer calls a Slideshow. It just looks like a black rectangle to me.


Now I have finished writing the post – I will find out what it looks like.

UPDATE – It appears as a white empty space – I won’t be using that again then!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Poet’s Day - yahay

Friday, 15th February 2013: After yesterday’s ride I noticed two three things – my goodness me I felt pretty tired in the evening. I like a hot soak in the tub after a long ride – and in this case after a short ride as well. I could quite easily have fallen asleep – but didn’t. The second thing was it was a pleasant weariness – the sort that invites you to pleasant dreams when you go to bed. The last thing was I didn’t feel too bad in the morning.

Now there are some folk who probably wonder why I sometimes mention motivation when it comes to getting out for a ride.  Sometimes you need a reason to ride – afterwards you wonder why. For me cycling provides a combination of things, from transport through to physical peace and from doing my bit for the world through to saving a few pennies. Not necessarily in that order and frankly they change on a daily basis.

Now I haven’t been getting out on my bike that much in January. I don’t count my daily ride to the shops as anything more than a brief leg-stretch – although I still enjoy that early morning ride. Working from home theoretically throws up more time but much of that has been spent trying to get my computer sorted. Frankly the weather has also been a bit changeable.

As I have gotten older I seem to have gotten worse at selecting the right cycling gear – my brain knows that less is generally better, my heart makes me put on too much and I tend to overheat. Only when the weather stays constant do I settle on a sensible selection. The good news is that this was a day like the day before – a day when shorts are just right for cycling. Now I don’t tend to look at winter and go all miserable – although it was something that my Dad suffered from. What I do notice though is that there is an extra bounce in my pedals when Spring looks like it is springing.

So with Snowdrops and Aconites in flower and the knowledge that whilst I was unfit, my old bones were still capable of recovering overnight it just had to get out for a POET’s ride.

The sun is out it’s time to rove
I’ll head off down to White Fen Drove

Sorry, that was a bit corny, however despite the fact that I have been cycling around these parts many times it is still uplifting to be out in the fresh air with the weekend ahead. Although it was also going to be a busy weekend and the weekly shopping had to be done in the evening.

The only downers were that there has been so much water and so much of it is still lying that I have become a little conservative in  my choice of riding routes. Alright very conservative.  So for a change I cycled to Wicken via Upware and then back via Burwell and then the Lodes Way. I wish there was an alternative route to the Lodes Way rather than only along NCN51 to Bottisham. I rather like the old railway line behind Anglesey Abbey – but I  reckon that it will be rather muddy. The road between Quy and Lode is far too unpleasant and I tend to avoid it at all costs.

As you can see blue skies – lovely.

White Fen Drove (part of the Lodes Way)

Near Upware I noticed that this place was on the market again – I guess Spring is a good time to sell.

Chapel Farm for Sale, near Upware

Although the land rises slightly after passing through Upware and getting close to the A1123 it would seem that the water-logging has called for a bit of action. The farmer has cut a drain along the edge of the field and as you can see it has already filled with water.

Newly cut drain – a field near Dimmock’s Cote Road

The left spur doesn’t go right into the field, the right spur does seems to have been dug along the entire edge of the field.

Newly cut drain – a field near Dimmock’s Cote Road

After passing through Wicken and then down the entrance into Wicken Fen I was amazed at how many cars were in the car park – it looked full. A good sign for the NT but not such a good sign when you want to cycle through. It struck me that pedestrians can’t really view cyclists as that dangerous – well judging by the way they resolutely carried on walking and blocking the paths. Fortunately it seems that many of the visitors are fair-weather walkers and don’t venture far along the beaten track (that is NCN51). So the hold-ups don’t last long.

This is the Maltings path which become Priory Drove. In this case looking back towards Wicken. There is a lot of water lying in the fields this year. it used to be an open path – but was turned into a walkers corridor.

The Maltings Path  - Wicken Fen

As you can see the amount of rain/snow we have had has also made things difficult for operations on Wicken Fen. I think that the notice mentioned something about mending/replacing fences on the Guinea Hall Farm part of the area.

Is it me or has the Wicken Fen website been altered? It seems that the Wicken Fen website has been hacked down and the NT’s website is missing a lode load of stuff. They might know how to look after property and land – they ain’t so good at the internet.

The Wicken Fen vision no longer appears on the front page of Wicken.org.uk – what is there has been “streamlined” and some of the links fail. I am sorry NT – but 3/10 for your web presence – I reckon you focus on the productions values too much and not enough on making the information clearly available.

Here is the Lodes Way Leaflet (pdf) if you are interested – with a map! Ah here is a map on the NT site (pdf) -  as it happens I have eaten (and drunk beer) in quite a few of the places mentioned.  They have also put in a few more cycle routes – well done. Is it just me or does this shift in information feel a bit too corporate?

Muddy paths – Wicken Fen

On my way back I cycled into Burwell and then back up Newnham Drove – a combination of the Village Explorer cycle route and the Wildlife Watching Cycle Route!  Newnham Drove is the bounce you fillings out route as well.

When I go back onto the Lodes Way I stopped to take a picture of the pit left behind by the creation of the Bund. It must have been wet – look how much water is in it.

I took the picture standing on one of the gates in the airlock.

Burwell Fen borrow pit -  filling up

I have also not invested in a 3D camera – these are multi-exposure pictures and I wobbled whilst perched on the gate taking the picture – it does look a little as if the lettering on the sign is coming out to meet you.

Newnham drove/ Lodes Way

There is quite a lot of ditching going on – when I cycled past on the way out there were two cutters – now there was one.

Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

As I cycled into Lode for the last leg of the journey – there were miracles coming down from the sky (as my son used to call them).

Sunbeams near Lode

If I was tired yesterday – I was even more tired today – but roll on Spring is all I can say.