Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sundays are for cycling

Sunday 31st March 2013: The long Easter weekend seems to have changed quite a lot from when I was a lad. For a start my brother and I were hustled off to church every Sunday to sing in the choir and Easter was a busy time for the choir. Looking back I think it was to get us out of the house for an hour or so for a bit of peace and quiet. In fact we would end up going to the morning service and Evensong. We had no choice, there were a good bunch of lads in the choir though, and we had some fun. We even had our own club – the Choir Boy’s Fellowship, run by a lady who become a Deaconess. We also got paid, 1d a service (that was one old penny – pre-decimalisation). Even in those days I used to think that there were some rather strange rules.

Nowadays apart from the appearance of Easter eggs in the shops, at what seems like the beginning of the year Easter seems to have less consequence. This year it crept up on me and I almost arranged a meeting on Easter Monday, the other person declined. As it turns out my daughter who is studying in Scotland doesn’t get the Easter Monday as a holiday. I feel I ought to have some inkling as to why, but I don’t. In fact even that is variable.

We did have to take my daughter to the airport though so she could get back to college in order to start work on the Monday. The plan was to have a traditional tea – with various sandwiches and cakes, as well as cheese and pineapple on sticks. My kids are a bit retro in their tastes!  Half the fun was in the preparation so as I was in the other half I snuck out to build a hearty appetite.

I did think about heading up the CGB cycle way to St Ives, for a change, but didn’t – it was (yet another) ride out to Wicken Fen and back. It was a grey and cold day with the temperature just about getting above 4oC, fortunately there was not much wind, so it wasn’t difficult to keep warm. I didn’t wear shorts though, or rather I wore my shorts over leggings.

There was still some snow around in sheltered spots – such as this ditch along  Fen Road after passing through Lode.

I also noticed a new sign on the post pointing towards Wicken – C.C. Polo Club which seems to be based at Frolic Farm. Their website points at some local things of interest – two caught my eye – the River Boat Georgina, which I have seen on the river. The idea is a slow journey up the Cam wining and dining sound rather appealing. (Well it is almost lunchtime and any dining sound appealing at the moment.) This is the other website to an Cambridge Artist – Ashley Baldwin-Smith, the link points to his Fenland landscapes.

White Fen Drove

Although on the OSM map  White Fen Drove is a continuous bit of road with a dog leg of an unnamed byway on the OS map White Fen drove doglegs and the straight-on bit is called Sandy Road.  The OSM map does seem logical, but I have always believed the OS map in this case.

Now I have cycled along here many times without really putting two and two together. Well this time I was admiring the freshly ploughed field that Sandy Road runs alongside including the sand. Now in the fens farmers are sometimes advised to plough up a bit of underlying clay into the peaty soil to improve the structure. So at first I assumed that the farmer had ploughed a bit of sand into the soil for similar reasons.

It then occurred to me that perhaps it was the sand that gave rise to the name of the Road.  I haven’t been able to find anything, but did find this rather nice hand-drawn map of Bottisham and Lode Fen. There were a fair number of beerhouses in the area.

Sandy Road – Lodes Way

And here is a closeup – there is a fair bit of sand around.

Sandy Road – Lodes Way

And yet another picture of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode – just to show how still it was.

Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

As I cycled along Lodes Way past Burwell Fen it looks as someone has been riding up an down here on a motorbike. The ground is soft and the horses hooves have also made quite an impression.

Lodes Way alongside Burwell Fen


Although the new “viewing” ramp alongside the location of the planned Lodes Way bridge over Burwell Lode has not quite been finished I sneaked under the rope and cycled up to take a look from the top. As you might expect, it is around the same height as the footbridge so there isn’t a lot more to see.

View from the Burwell Lode viewing Ramp

And the same direction, but with more zoom brings into view Burwell Ren Farm with quite a lot of water lying in the fen behind.

Burwell Fen Farm

When I crossed over the footbridge there was a mum and two kids, all going for a cycle ride. She was having to carry all the bikes over. I did offer to help but she had done the hard bit.

Dog walking alongside Burwell Lode

After circling Wicken Fen and passing a fair number of people I headed back via Burwell and. Newnham Drove. Although just as I reached Burwell I was surprised to see a burnt out car. It seems to have burnt there, vandalism or electrical fault?

The Cambridgeshire Fire incident log notes a fire in the open in Dyson Drove Burwell on the 30th March 2013.

Burnt out car – Dyson Drove, Burwell

Despite the cold there were quite a few cyclists out and about. This one passed me as I ambled along. Talking about fires they had one at the troubles recycling plant in Waterbeach.

Cyclist on White Fen

A few posts ago I mentioned how being both a cyclist and car driver helps me understand how either group behaves. One thing I have been thinking about is the “signature” of a cyclist at night. Even when a cyclist has no lights the orange reflectors on the pedals are quite eye catching and immediately recognisable when you are behind a cyclist in a car.

The trouble is most SPD pedals don’t come with reflectors and although I have switched to using pedals with a cleat on one side and flat on the other to make it easier to cycle in ordinary shoes they still don’t come with reflectors.  Legally, though in the UK bikes should have pedal reflectors at night (if manufactured after 1/10/85).

I have recently switched to these pedals – flat on one side and clips on the other – with orange reflectors. They are these Shimano PD-T780 XT MTB Trekking pedals. They use an 8mm allen key for fitting and have a nice large pedal flat. I have not used them with cleats in my shoes, but with ordinary everyday shoes they are great.

The only downside that I have noticed so far is that the pedals add slightly to the width of the bike, so I have to be a but more careful when cornering to avoid pedal scrape or when cycling in ruts.

Shimano Trekking Pedals

And finally – a Bylaw plan has been put on hold for the Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits – a win for common sense versus bureaucracy.

It would appear that Britain’s butterflies have suffered their worst year on record. It is shameful really.


  1. Great pics as ever. The Wiki link over complicates the holiday issue. Traditionally we (the Scots) don't get Easter Monday, but take the 2nd of Jan instead to sober up.

    1. Thank you. We left Scotland when I was a toddler so bank holidays didn't really mean anything to me then.